It may feel like Summer is drawing to an end (at least in the Northern hemisphere; of course the opposite is true for our readers south of the equator) but that doesn’t mean that we have to resign ourselves to tinned, dried or frozen vegetables just yet! While asparagus may be at the very end of it’s season, there are plenty of alternative fresh vegetables for autumn that should be available without needing to resort to expensive options shipped from overseas.

paprika-615171_1280Cauliflower is one option that is readily available right into the winter months, and it has far more to offer nutritionally than it’s insipid colour suggests. 100g (3.5oz) of cauliflower – either raw or cooked – contains just 25 calories but a welcome 2g each of protein and fibre. Surprisingly it also offers over 50% of your daily needs of vitamin C, as well as being a good source of vitamins B5, B6, K and folate. What is less well known is that cauliflower and broccoli are an outstanding source of glucosinolates. These are phytochemicals that the body can transform into compounds called isothiocyanates that help the liver detoxify the body and eliminate harmful substances. For maximum availability of these glucosinolates, don’t overcook your cauliflower! Try it added to salads, or add to am omelette with feta cheese and halved cherry tomatoes.

Swiss chard is a relative of the popular kale, and nutritionally is quite similar. It’s rich in vitamins C and K (so best avoided by anyone taking blood-thinning medication), calcium, magnesium and calcium. It’s also a great source of the phytochemicals lutein and zeaxanthin that protect the retina against cataracts and macular degeneration. Swiss chard can be substituted for lettuce in any salad or sandwich.

Another delicious option that should be readily available are bell peppers, particularly sweet red peppers. These are actually green bell peppers that have ripened on the vine, gaining a milder, sweeter taste. But as they mature, their antioxidant levels increase; red peppers have 8 times more beta-carotene and one third more vitamin C than their green counterparts. They are also high in B vitamins, folate, potassium and vitamins A and E. Add roasted red peppers to spinach salad – their vitamin C will help your body absorb more iron from the greens.

The eggplant, or aubergine, is a vegetable we’ve talked about before, and with good reason. Oweing it’s purple colour to anthocyanins, eating the skin of this vegetable equips you with antioxidants thought to play a role in preventing cardiovascular disease and some cancers. Eggplant is also rich in folate and other B vitamins, and tastes great when grilled and added to burgers or cooked in a classic moussaka.