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Keeping healthy with autumn fruits and vegetables
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Autumn is the season of 'mists and mellow fruitfulness' and it certainly is a great time for fruit, and vegetables too. Lots of delicious varieties are in season, such as blackberries, plums, apples, pears and pumpkins, just to name a few. (

Apples are a source of lots of nutrients, such as potassium, calcium, vitamin C and dietary fibre. They are great to eat raw, baked with sultanas, or in warming puddings such as crumbles, tarts and strudels. And made into sauce or chutney, apple is a perfect partner for grilled meats, especially pork.

Pears are another delicious autumn fruit. Pears contain minerals such as zinc, plus vitamins C and E, and some B vitamins. They make a great snack on their own, or with some cheese.

Blackberries are delicious on their own, added to apple crumble or made into compote to serve with yoghurt. Plums are lovely as they come, or try them sliced with brandy and brown sugar.

Pumpkins are another traditional feature of autumn, but there's much more to them than Halloween lanterns. Pumpkins are a very rich source of beta carotene, which is turned into vitamin A in our bodies. And they also contain calcium, iron, folates and vitamin C.

Pumpkin is versatile - it can be added to soups, curries, stews, bread, muffins and sweet or savory tarts. It is delicious roasted or mashed. Pumpkin seeds can be used to add crunch to salads or muesli, or eaten roasted as a snack.

Sweet corn is also in season towards the end of the year. It's a type of maize that is harvested before the grains have matured, and eaten as a vegetable. It contains magnesium, potassium and phosphorus. The best way to cook corn on the cob is by boiling it, but remember not to add salt because this can make the kernels tough. Sweet corn goes really well with Mexican-style food and it's particularly delicious in soups and chowders. Try mixing it with mango or tomato and chilies to make a fruity relish, or use it to liven up a salad.

Remember, we should all aim to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetable a day. A portion is one apple or pear, a handful of berries, two small fruit such as plums, or three heaped tablespoons of vegetables. Try to eat as wide a variety of fruit and vegetables as possible, because then you will get a wider range of nutrients that will help keep you healthy.

(Agencies via Shenzhen Daily October 15, 2007)

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