September is the month we hold onto the last of what summer can offer and get excited for the freshness of fall. The superfoods below will help you savor refreshing warm-weather flavors and look forward to the comforting tastes of autumn. Scroll through for creative ideas to prepare these in-season foods -- and some really smart reasons why you'll want to.
Why We Love Them: The complex carbs and four grams of fiber in each potato make this a healthy choice. The vitamin A will help build up your immune system. Plus, the beta carotene can repair your skin by boosting skin cell production.
How To Enjoy: While most people bake their sweet potatoes, Rochelle Sirota, RD, CDN, suggests steaming them in order to avoid heating up the entire home with the oven. "You can also purée two of them and put it in bean dip -- sort of like hummus -- with cashew butter," she says. "As part of a dip, you can eat them all week and it stores well in the fridge."
Why We Love It: Broccoli is a great source of antioxidants, vitamin C and potassium. The cruciferous vegetable also packs anti-cancer properties, and could possibly prevent the progression of osteoarthritis. Folate, beta carotene and calcium give this veggie the power to promote eye health, protect against heart disease, strengthen the immune system and build strong bones.
How To Enjoy: Sirota says broccoli can be added to just about anything to up the nutrient-density of a meal. The versatile vegetable can be grilled, roasted or eaten raw. Just be careful not to overcook it, as some of the potassium and vitamin C can be lost with heat.
Why We Love Them: The magenta beetroot is very high in antioxidants, calcium and potassium. The betanin and vulgaxanthin ,which give the beets their deep hue, have anti-inflammatory properties as well.
How To Enjoy: Beets can be mixed into smoothies (like Sirota's, pictured above) or dips to create a beautifully bright dish. They can also be roasted, steamed and grated and eaten raw, or made into a dressing using a food processor. And don't forget the greens, says Sirota. They're packed with folate and vitamins A and C, and make for a delicious sautée.
Why We Love Them: This small fruit is a good source of vitamins C and K. Plus, they're hydrating, thanks to all that water. The skin contains resveratrol, famous for giving red wine its health benefits, and other compounds that may reduce allergy symptoms. A recent animal study also found that resveratrol may protect against the biological effects of hearing loss.
How To Enjoy: While many of us can sit down and eat the juicy fruit like popcorn, they can also be frozen for a delicious dessert on a warm night.
Why We love Them: These beans are a good source of soluble fiber to keep you feeling fuller longer. With one cup of lima beans you add 13.4 milligrams of iron and 38.2 grams of protein to your diet. All beans pack protein, but unlike meat sources, they have little to no fat and are cholesterol-free.
How To Enjoy: It's common to buy frozen lima beans, however Sirota suggests making them into a soup or dip. You can also steam limas and add them to meat dishes, or mix them with veggies for a nutritious side dish.
What in-season produce did we leave off our list? Let us know in the comments below!