What are some ways to focus on healthy eating with fall approaching and the new school year beginning?

Fall is a great time to get excited about cozy, healthy recipes. When we think of fall, we tend to think about squash and pumpkins. Both of these foods are rich in carotenoids. Carotenoids give certain fruits and vegetables a vibrant yellow, orange or red coloring – think apricots, butternut squash, carrots and tomatoes. Beta-carotene is the most common carotenoid. Foods rich in beta-carotene include: carrots, pumpkin, butternut squash, kale, turnip greens, sweet potatoes, red peppers and spinach (the carotenoid color in leafy greens is masked by the green of chlorophyll). While there is no specific Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) amount for carotenoids, we know that higher intakes of foods rich in carotenoids are associated with better health because carotenoids/beta-carotene function as antioxidants. Antioxidants are powerful anti-inflammatory agents and can help lower your risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, bone loss and vision related issues like cataracts.

Find ways to incorporate beta-carotene rich, anti-oxidant rich foods into your diet.

View a recipe for Butternut Squash and Black Bean Tostadas from EatingWell.com below:

Ingredients:

• 1 20-ounce package cubed peeled butternut squash

• 2 teaspoons ancho chile powder, divided

• ½ teaspoon salt

• 1 15-ounce can black beans or pinto beans, rinsed

• 2 scallions, sliced

• 3 tablespoons lime juice, divided

• 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil or canola oil, divided

• ½ teaspoon ground cumin

• 3 cups chopped romaine lettuce

• 8 tostada shells

• ½ cup crumbled queso blanco or feta cheese

• ¼ cup toasted unsalted pepitas

Directions:

1. Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a large saucepan fitted with a steamer basket. Add squash, cover and steam until very tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and return to the pan. Add 1½ teaspoons chile powder and salt. Mash until smooth; cover to keep warm.

2. Combine beans, scallions, 2 tablespoons lime juice, 1 tablespoon oil, cumin and the remaining ½ teaspoon chile powder in a medium bowl. Toss lettuce with the remaining 1 tablespoon each lime juice and oil in another bowl.

3. Spread ¼ cup squash on each tostada. Top each with about 3 tablespoons of the bean mixture, ¼ cup lettuce and 1 tablespoon cheese. Sprinkle with pepitas.

4. You can make your own tostadas using fresh corn tortillas. Heat ½ inch canola, peanut or avocado oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add a corn tortilla and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Flip and cook until crisp, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Repeat until all tortillas are cooked, reducing heat, if necessary, to prevent the oil from smoking or splattering.

Learn more by visiting home.army.mil/belvoir and searching “Fort Belvoir Armed Forces Wellness Center.”