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Autumn and winter fruit and vegetables

Summer might be over, but there’s still plenty of great fruits and vegetables available to add colour, taste, and texture to your favourite meals. 

Apples

We all still need to aim for a minimum of five portions of fruit and vegetables every day as part of a healthy, balanced diet. Fruit and vegetables provide fibre, which is essential for a healthy gut.

They can also help us manage our blood pressure and blood cholesterol too.

There are plenty more benefits to fruit and vegetables, but sometimes we’re not getting quite enough as we’re not always eating a whole portion. 

Below is a selection of our favourite seasonal fruits and vegetables. 

Some important points:

  • The portion sizes for fresh, frozen or tinned are the same. Double check your label for tinned fruit, swap those in syrup to those in juice to reduce your intake of free sugars. 
  • Check the label on tinned vegetables too, and opt for those in unsalted water if you can.
  • A smaller portion of dried fruit counts towards your five-a-day. But it’s best to limit the amount of dried fruit you eat. Try to include it as part of a meal rather than eating as a snack, to protect your teeth from decay. 
  • Be aware of your portions when you drink fruit juice. Adults shouldn’t have more than 30g of added (free) sugar a day, and a small glass of fruit juice provides around half of this. Because it contains so much sugar, you can use fruit juice to treat a hypo

Apples 

Apples are arguably one of the best portable healthy snacks you can get your hands on. And with around 3,000 apple varieties available in the UK throughout autumn and winter, you’re spoilt for choice. 

Nutrition from apples

Apples are rich in antioxidants, with many of them included in the skin, so leave the peel on where possible – apples have some brilliant health benefits. They help control cholesterol, thanks to the soluble fibre pectin. This forms a gel on the gut and binds with cholesterol, which prevents it from getting into the blood.

What’s a portion?

  • 1 medium apple (100g eaten with skin) provides approximately 50 kcal, 10g carbohydrates and 1.2g fibre. 
  • 30g dried apple provides approximately 70 kcal, 20g carbohydrates and 4g fibre.
  • 150ml apple juice provides approximately 55 kcal, 14.5g carbohydrate all from free sugars (that’s about 50% of your daily allowance) and 0g fibre. It’s better to have the whole fruit.

Try our Stuffed Baked Apples recipe

Aubergine  

Other names include eggplant, brinjal or garden eggs depending on where you were first introduced to this versatile vegetable. You can add aubergines to anything from curries to noodles and salads, and more. 

What’s a portion? 

  • A third of a raw aubergine provides approximately 20 kcals, 3g carbohydrates and 2.5g fibre. 
  • Three tablespoons of cooked aubergine (fried in oil) provides approximately 240kcal, 2.5g carbohydrates and 2.5g fibre. 

Try our Aubergine & chickpea curry.

Beetroot

Don’t be put off if you’ve only ever tried it soaked in vinegar – beetroot has a delicious, sweet flavour of its own, and goes great in salads. 

What’s a portion?

  • Three 'baby' whole, or seven slices (105g) provides approximately 50kcal, 10g carbohydrate and 2.6g fibre.
  • 150ml beetroot juice (90% beetroot juice blended with 10% apple juice) provides approximately 65kcal, 13.5g carbohydrate all from free (added) sugars (that’s 45% of your daily allowance) and 0.7g fibre. 

Try our Beetroot hummus.

Blackberries

The end of summer is synonymous with blackberries, which are in abundance across the UK until October. You can pick wild ones – often called brambles – yourself for free from hedgerows around the country, even in towns and cities. 

What’s a portion?

  • 1 handful (9 to 10 blackberries) provides approximately 20 kcal, 4g carbohydrates and 3.3g fibre. 

Try our Apple, blackberry, oat and seed crumble

Broccoli

Broccoli, and its colourful cousin purple sprouting broccoli, is grown in the UK almost all year round and harvested between June and November. Nicknamed ““Crown Jewel of Nutrition” as it is a good source of vitamins A, C, E and Folate. You can eat both the florets and the stalk, chopped and added into the stir fry for extra fibre. 

What’s a portion?

  • Two spears (90g) provides approximately 30kcal, 3g carbohydrate and 3.4g fibre.

Try our: Lower-fat cauliflower and broccoli cheese

Brussels sprouts

Love them or hate them, Brussels sprouts sum up the festive season like no other vegetable.

Named after the Belgian capital where they’re believed to have been popular during the 16th century, these leafy green vegetables are part of the Brassica family, which makes them relatives of cabbage, kale and broccoli.

One serving provides 100% of your daily recommended vitamin C (if you don’t over boil them, no-one likes soggy sprouts!). 

What’s a portion?

  • Eight sprouts (90g boiled) provides approximately 30 kcal, 3g carbohydrates and 3.7g fibre.

Try our Brussels and hash with poached egg

Butternut squash

Technically a fruit, in the same family as courgettes and pumpkins, it's the most common winter squash. Perfect for adding some colour to your plate, butternut squash is a versatile ingredient that goes a long way – whether roasted, mashed or blended. It’s a great source of Vitamin A, which is useful for healthy skin, a healthy immune system and helping our vision in the dark.

What’s a portion?

  • Three tablespoons (130g baked) provide approximately 40 kcal, 10g carbohydrates and 2.5g fibre. 

Try our Butternut squash and borlotti bean stew

Cabbage

There's a cabbage variety in season at nearly every time of year, but February is when the classic spring green and savoy varieties are at their best. Much of the UK supply are grown in Lincolnshire, home to world cabbage hurling championships, but we prefer them on our plates. 

Like other members of the brassica family, it is a good source of folate and vitamin c (don’t over boil it, as these vitamins will be washed away). 

What’s a portion?

Three tablespoons (95g cooked) provides approximately 16 kcal, 2g carbohydrates and 2g fibre. 

Try our Savoy Coleslaw.

Cauliflower

The humble cauliflower is as delicious as it is healthy. Best to store in the fridge for freshness, you can freeze it for later too if you forget. Just boil for 90 seconds and blanch it in ice cold water before freezing. 

What’s a portion?

  • Three tablespoons (80g cooked) provide approximately 23 kcal, 3g carbohydrates and 1.5g fibre. 

Try our Roasted Cauliflower recipe.

Celeriac

Celeriac may look ugly – but don’t be fooled! Its flesh has a delicate taste, similar to celery or parsley, with a slight nuttiness. It goes great mixed with potatoes and garlic for a lower carb version of mashed potatoes.

What’s a portion?

  • Three tablespoons (A quarter of celeriac boiled) provide approximately 12 kcal, 1.5g carbohydrates and 3.4g fibre. 

Try our Celeriac mash.

Courgette 

The name ‘courgette’ is the French term we’ve adopted, whereas in North America, Italy and Australia they’re known as ‘zucchini’, which comes from the Italian ‘zucchina’, meaning ‘small squash’. You can eat it raw or in soups, stews, sandwiches, salads, and more.

What’s a portion? 

Half a large courgette (80g boiled) provides approximately 15kcal, 2g carbohydrates and 1.3g fibre. 

Try our Courgette fritters with salsa.

Cranberries

These plump and sour red berries grow throughout the northern hemisphere and are a rich source of vitamin C. These berries are great over Christmas because they work well in sweet and savoury dishes. 

Naturally sour, when made into a juice drink some manufacturers will add sugar, so try and find ones with no added sugar.

What’s a portion?

  • A 150ml No Added Sugar Cranberry Juice Drink provides approximately 10 kcal, 1.8g carbohydrates and 0g fibre.  

Try our Cranberry sauce recipe

Fennel

Fennel is bulb-like in shape and has a strong aniseed flavour, and crisp texture. Eat it raw in salads, or cook it to tone down the flavour. 

What’s a portion?

  • A third of a bulb (80g) raw provides approximately 10 kcal, 1g carbohydrate and 2.6g fibre.

Try our Chargrilled fennel salad.

Kale

Unlike most green vegetables, kale is more abundant and flavourful during the coldest months of the year. It makes a great side dish and is delicious in soups. Like other dark leafy vegetables, kale is a great source of folate providing approximately 70 micrograms (35% daily recommended daily intake) in a cooked serving. 

What’s a portion?

  • Three tablespoons (80g) of cooked kale provides approximately 20 kcal, 3g carbohydrates and 3g fibre. 
  • A 125g (half a bag) portion of raw kale provides approximately 40kcal, 1.8g carbohydrates and 5g fibre.

Try our Stir-fried kale with chilli, ginger and garlic.

Leeks

Full of flavour and incredibly versatile, the humble leek is a staple vegetable during the autumn and winter months. Related to onions and garlic, but with a milder, sweeter taste, it works perfectly in comforting dishes, such as soups, pies and stews.

The root vegetable has strong links with Wales, where it is also the national symbol. They're also the mainstay of the restorative Scottish soup cock-a-leekie. 

Leeks are a tasty ingredient for soups and stews. Go for medium sized ones, as larger leeks are more likely to be tough and woody.

What’s a portion?

  • Three tablespoons (80g cooked, no oil) provides approximately 17 kcal, 2g carbohydrates and 1.6g fibre. 

Try our Welsh Leek Rarebit.

Parsnips

'Tis the season to be jolly? Yes, and 'tis the season of parsnips! Cheap and simple to prepare, their soft, slightly sweet flesh is the perfect accompaniment to any winter dish.

What’s a portion?

  • Three tablespoons (80g boiled) provides approximately 10 kcal, 1.5g carbohydrates and 2g fibre. 

Try our Parmesan parsnips.

Pears

Pears are a splendid autumn treat and come in many different varieties and flavours. Try them in desserts, salads or with after dinner cheese.

What’s a portion?

  • One medium pear (150g including the stalk) provides approximately 55 kcal, 15g carbohydrate and 3.5g fibre. 
  • A 30g dried pear provides approximately 60 kcal, 15g carbohydrates and 3.3g fibre.

Try our Pink poached pears recipe. 

Plums

In the UK we enjoy a great array of plums in early autumn, including varieties such as damsons, greengages and Victoria plums. They make a tasty, juicy and portable snack.

What’s a portion?

  • Two medium plums provide approximately 40kcal, 10g carbohydrate and 2.3g fibre.

Try our Poached fruit crumble.

Pumpkin

Instantly recognisable, pumpkins are not only associated with Halloween carved lanterns, but make an excellent ingredient for all types of dishes. 

What’s a portion?

  • Three tablespoons (80g boiled) provide approximately 10 kcal, 1.5g carbohydrates and 1.2g fibre. 

Try our Scary pumpkin soup recipe

Rhubarb

Bright pink “forced rhubarb” is famously grown in the Yorkshire Triangle from January to March. Naturally, it can have a tart flavour, so we recommend using a sweetener to help take off the edge.  A stewed portion made with sugar could provide 16 times more sugar that is naturally found in the fruit. 

What’s a portion?

  • Three tablespoons (140g) stewed in water provides approximately 10kcal, 1g carbohydrate and 2.4g fibre.

Try our Rhubarb fool recipe.

Swedes

Mashed, roasted, or stewed, swedes make a delicious side dish, and go brilliantly with mashed potato. 

Known as 'neeps' in Scotland and 'rutabaga' across the pond, the humble swede has a distinctive flavour that compliments many dishes.

They work well as a lower-calorie alternative to potatoes, and are a great way to add colour and sweetness to your meals.

What’s a portion?

  • Three tablespoons (80g cooked) provides approximately 10 kcal, 3g carbohydrates and 0.7g fibre. 

Try our Carrot and swede mash.

Sweetcorn

A form of maize, sweetcorn is delicious fresh, frozen or tinned, making it versatile and an excellent vegetable to have on standby. 

Grown extensively across southern England, sweetcorn is at its best when bought on the cob, and October is the best month to get it. Being so high in insoluble fibre, the body can’t quite digest it well enough to release all the energy and glucose in a standard typical portion. 

So if you count your carbs for insulin adjustment, unless you’re eating a large amount, you may not need to count the carbs in sweetcorn. 

What’s a portion?

Three tablespoons tinned or frozen sweetcorn (80g boiled) provides approximately 60 kcal, 20g carbohydrates and 2.6g fibre. 

  • One boiled corn cob (80g) provides approximately 53 kcal, 7.6g carbohydrates and 4.1g fibre.  
  • Six pieces of baby corn (85g boiled) provides approximately 23 kcal, 2.2g carbohydrates and 1.6g fibre.  

Try our Spinach, corn and chickpea fritters

Turnips

Turnips are rich in fibre, vitamin C and phosphorus (a mineral needed for healthy bones). They’re great in the winter, when they’re normally more mature and tastier, with a sweet, slightly peppery taste. You can serve it baked, mashed or roasted. 

What’s a portion?

  • Three tablespoons (80g cooked) provides approximately 10 kcal, 1.5g carbohydrates and 2g fibre. 

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