Make the most of this year’s harvest with these tasty and nutritious fall foods both you and your dog can enjoy.

It’s harvest time! Whether you have your own garden or buy from markets, summer and fall are the best times for enjoying fresh produce. From kale and carrots to parsley, basil, apples and berries, there are all kinds of delicious veggies, fruits and herbs available right now. Fresh fall foods, especially if they’re local and organically grown, are rich in flavor, color and nutrients. You can share the goodness with your dog by incorporating fresh produce into his diet. Here’s a look at just a few healthy choices, along with some delicious recipes to try.

1. Kale

A member of the brassica family, kale is packed with nutrients, including vitamins A, B6, C and K, calcium, manganese, copper, potassium and iron. It’s a great source of fiber, and is loaded with antioxidants, phytonutrients, and carotenoids. The beta-carotene and lutein found in kale helps protect against oxidative stress and chronic inflammation, and are important to cancer-fighting diets. Isothiocyanates, produced from the glucosinolates in kale, play a valuable role too.

2. Carrots

There are over 100 varieties of carrot, from the brilliant orange we are used to seeing, to the more exotic deep purple. There are even white carrots. Each variety is a powerhouse of nutrients. Carrots contain pro-vitamin A, as well as vitamins B, C, D, E and K, calcium, copper, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and sulphur. Carrots support the immune system, promote eye health, aid digestion (even discouraging intestinal worms), and are great as a glandular tonic.

3. Zucchini

A very popular summer squash, zucchini is a good source of protein, vitamins A, B6, C and K, copper, dietary fiber, folate, magnesium, manganese, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, riboflavin and thiamin. Its carotenes, lutein and zeaxanthin help scavenge free radicals.

4. Oregano

Oregano is an excellent source of vitamin K and a very good source of vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium, dietary fiber and Omega 3 fatty acids. Research has shown that oregano’s beta-caryophyllene helps inhibit inflammation.

5. Basil

Basil is another great source of vitamin K, and also contains vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium, potassium and dietary fiber. Basil is known for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

6. Parsley

Parsley contains pro-vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, chlorophyll, iron and magnesium. It supports digestion and is beneficial to kidney and urinary tract health. Parsley even helps strengthen teeth.

7. Apples

Researchers have found that Red Delicious, Northern Spy and Ida Red apples contain more potent disease-fighting antioxidants than other types of red apple. Red Delicious apples were shown to have higher antioxidant levels than seven other varieties. Pectin, the fiber found in apple skins, is fermented in the intestines, producing short-chain fatty acids that help prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and support the cells of the intestinal lining, making them an excellent cancer-fighting whole food.

8. Wheat grass

Wheat grass offers a concentration of essential amino acids, vitamins, minerals, enzymes and chlorophyll. It is easy to grow on a windowsill, or among fruits and vegetables in the garden. One ounce of wheat grass is the equivalent of more than 2½ pounds of leafy green vegetables!

These are just a few examples of what the harvest has to offer. Take time to explore your local markets (unless you’re already growing your own produce!), and bring home something fresh and nutritious to share with your canine (just be sure to avoid onions, grapes and other foods that are toxic to dogs). He’ll enjoy the variety, and it’ll give him a wonderful health boost!

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Suzi Beber has been successfully creating special needs diets for companion animals for two decades. She founded the University of Guelph’s Smiling Blue Skies® Cancer Fund and Smiling Blue Skies® Fund for Innovative Research. She is the proud recipient of a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, and was honored with the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, for her work in cancer, from the University of Guelph/Ontario Veterinary College. The Smiling Blue Skies Cancer Fund is also the recipient of the “Pets + Us” Community Outreach Champion Award.