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Seasonal superfoods with whole foods

When the weather turns chilly, I look forward to three things: pulling out my well-worn, favorite pair of boots, enjoying the glow of the fireplace, and making some soul-satisfying comfort food. I'm sure you're thinking a hearty bowl of chili or maybe Mom's chicken noodle soup, but don't forget your veggies. Did you know fresh seasonal vegetables can actually help boost your immune system? Superfoods, as they're called, are nutrient powerhouses that pack healthy doses of antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins, and minerals. Not to mention, when you cook with in-season produce, you often get them at great prices because of the abundance of the crops. Hungry yet? Give these superfood recipes from our friends at Whole Foods a try.


Serves 6

Fresh okra is the seasonal star in this delicious rendition of chicken gumbo with a simple roux, but zucchini can be substituted with success if you prefer. For convenience, this can easily be made in a slow cooker. Add a fresh green salad and crusty, hot whole wheat rolls.


4 tablespoons canola oil, divided

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Ground black pepper

4 tablespoons unbleached flour

1 cup diced onion

1 cup diced green pepper

1/2 cup diced celery

2 cups sliced fresh okra

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

2 bay leaves

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 tablespoon hot sauce, to taste

3/4 pound cooked chicken sausage, sliced into 1/2-inch rounds

12 raw peeled large shrimp, fresh or frozen, (optional)

Cooked long-grain white or brown rice


  • In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon of oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper and add to skillet. Brown chicken on all sides, about 5 minutes total. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  • Add remaining 3 tablespoons oil to the pan and heat until hot. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. The mixture should be about the color of peanut butter. It is extremely hot, so be careful not to splatter.
  • Add onion, green pepper, celery and okra. Carefully stir in the chicken broth. Return chicken and any juices to the pan.
  • Add chicken sausage, bay leaves and tomatoes. Cover and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. If desired, add shrimp and continue to cook another 5 minutes or until the shrimp are done. Serve over rice.

To make this recipe in a slow cooker, after browning the chicken, place in slow cooker. Scrape up any brown bits from the pan and add to the cooker.

Add remaining 3 tablespoons oil to the pan, and heat until hot. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. The mixture is extremely hot, so be careful not to splatter. Add the onion, green pepper and celery, and cook until the vegetables start to wilt, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth and stir until smooth and incorporated. Pour mixture into the slow cooker. Add the okra, bay leaf, tomatoes and hot sauce. Cover, and turn cooker to low. Cook for 7 to 8 hours, adding another 1/2 cup chicken broth or water if necessary. Thirty minutes before serving, add the sausages and turn cooker to high. Five minutes before serving, add the shrimp. Serve over cooked rice.

Nutritional Information:
Per Serving: 550 calories;240 from fat; 27g total fat*; 6g saturated fat; 125mg cholesterol;1160mg sodium; 41g carbohydrates; 4 g dietary fiber; 6g sugar; 34g protein
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000-calorie diet


Serves 4

This simple salad is the perfect accompaniment for sandwiches or soups. Adjust the salad's tartness by using apples that best suit your taste. For a tart salad use Granny Smith apples. For a sweeter version, use Pink Lady or Gala apples.


3 carrots, grated

1 apple, cored and grated

1 1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

Ground black pepper, to taste


  • Mix together carrots and apple in a medium bowl.
  • In a separate small bowl, whisk together olive oil and lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Drizzle dressing over carrot and apple and toss to combine well. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Nutrition Information:
Per serving: 90 calories; 50 from fat; 5g total fat*, 1g saturated fat; 320mg sodium; 11g carbohydrates; 2 g dietary fiber; 7g sugar; 1g protein.
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000-calorie diet.


Makes about 3 cups

Create a seasonal snack by adding pumpkin to a classic hummus recipe. Serve with crudités, baked pita or black bean chips.


1 (15.5-ounce) can garbanzo beans (also called chickpeas), drained and rinsed

1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin purée

3 tablespoons tahini

1 tablespoon lemon juice

3/4 teaspoon ground cumin

3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds


  • Combine garbanzos, pumpkin purée, tahini, lemon juice, cumin and salt in a food processor, and process until creamy and smooth.
  • Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 5 days.
  • Garnish with pumpkin seeds.

Nutrition information:
Serving size: about 2 tablespoons. Amount per serving: 35 calories; 20 calories from fat; 2g total fat; 75mgsodium; 4g carbohydrates;1 g dietary fiber; 1g sugar; 2g protein.


Serves 8

A delightful and elegant vegetarian entrée or side dish for holiday meals. Acorn squash is stuffed with an herbed risotto speckled with delectable chunks of butternut squash, then baked until meltingly sweet.


4 acorn squash

3 1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Salt to taste

6 cups water or gluten-free vegetable broth

1 cup finely chopped leeks

2 1/2 cup peeled and cubed butternut squash

2 cups uncooked Arborio rice

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped sage, divided

2/3 cup pine nuts

1/2 teaspoon finely chopped thyme


  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Cut each acorn squash lengthwise in half (from tip to stem) then scoop out and discard any seeds and stringy flesh.
  • Brush insides of acorn squash with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil and season with salt.
  • Place acorn squash, cut side down, in a baking pan and roast until tender but still firm, about 20 minutes.
  • Start the risotto by bringing the broth just to a simmer in a small pot over medium high heat.
  • Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a heavy 3-quart pot over medium heat.
  • Add leeks and cook, stirring often, until soft, about 5 minutes.
  • Add butternut squash and cook for 3 minutes.
  • Add rice and cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until grains are fragrant.
  • Add wine and stir constantly until almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes.
  • Add 1/2 cup of the hot broth to rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is almost completely absorbed.
  • Continue adding broth, 1/2 cup at a time, making sure that most of the liquid is absorbed before adding more.
  • Cook until rice is almost tender, but still firm to the bite, about 20 to 25 minutes total.
  • Stir in 1 tablespoon of the sage and season with salt.
  • Meanwhile, put pine nuts into a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground. Stir in thyme, remaining 1/2 teaspoon sage and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Set aside.
  • When acorn squash is cooked, remove from oven. Reduce heat to 300°F.
  • Carefully turn squash over and fill each cavity with about 1/2 cup of the risotto.
  • Gently press about 2 tablespoons of the pine nut mixture on top of the risotto in each squash half.
  • Return squash to oven and bake until topping begins to brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer to plates and serve.

Nutrition Information:
Per serving: 330 calories;130 from fat; 14g total fat; 1.5g saturated fat; 430mg sodium; 48g carbohydrates; 7 g dietary fiber; 9g sugar; 6g protein.


Serves 6 to 8

Fragrant herbs like sage and rosemary warm up this simple yet elegant sweet potato soup. Use home-cooked or canned white beans, which lend a creamy, satisfying texture


1/2 cup dried white beans, soaked overnight or 1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

2 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 1/4 pounds), peeled and diced

1 small yellow onion, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary


  • Combine beans, potatoes, onion, celery, bay leaf, sage and rosemary in a medium pot with 7 cups water (if using canned beans, use only 5 cups water).
  • Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until beans and potatoes are completely tender, 45 to 60 minutes (about 30 minutes if using canned).
  • Discard bay leaf.
  • Purée soup using an upright or immersion blender, carefully blending in batches if necessary. Add warm water, if needed, to reach desired consistency.
  • Keep warm until ready to serve.

Nutrition Information:
Serving size: about 1 cup. 120 calories;0 from fat; 60mg sodium; 25g carbohydrates; 7g dietary fiber; 5g sugar; 5g protein.

If you want a warm dessert to follow these dishes, you don't have to wait until Thanksgiving to make pie. Learn some healthy pie swaps from Methodist registered dietitian Caroline Susie.

Heart healthy recipes

As the Director of Community and Public Relations, Jan Arrant loves to tell the stories of the great successes at Methodist Richardson Medical Center. Jan joined Methodist Richardson last year, after a long career in TV journalism. She says her Mom claims she's been telling stories her whole life. When Jan's not at work, you'll probably find her working in the yard, or in the kitchen. She's foodie at heart and loves to experiment. Jan thinks every recipe needs just a little tweaking.