Spring and summer are my favorite times of year and I thoroughly enjoy the crisp, fresh greens in lots of salads and light meals. When the weather begins to turn cooler, my refreshing, light salads don’t seem to fit the bill any longer. Thankfully, there are some delicious, seasonal replacements.
Eating seasonally, which just means including foods in your diet that are grown and harvested at the same time of the year you buy and cook them, has numerous benefits.
You save money because those foods are usually the ones on sale, and you get the healthiest, tastiest food available. So the cost goes down and quality goes up – that’s definitely a win-win in my book! The food is grown closer to you, usually locally; it’s harvested and sold during its season, before it spoils. So you get fruits and vegetables that haven’t had time to lose their flavor or health benefits by sitting in a shipping container and traveling across the ocean.
That being said, most produce is available year ’round, including those below. So you are not limited to just eating them when they are in season. But there are benefits to rotating your diet and not eating all the same foods all the time. Besides adding interest to your meals, they prevent you from developing food sensitivities and allergies.
Here are a few of my very favorite fruits and veggies for the fall season:
Antioxidant-rich apples are a satisfying and delicious snack eaten raw, baked or as a crisp or crumble. Just be sure to always choose organic so you can safely eat the skin which contains most of the heart-healthy flavonoids. They also provide 4 grams of fiber per serving.
Sweet and juicy pears are a crowd-pleaser. Their flavor is enhanced by cooking so try baking them into a crumble or muffins or poaching them. Pears are a good source of copper and vitamin C and they also provide 4 grams of fiber per serving.
Pomegranates are antioxidant superstars with higher levels of antioxidants than red wine. Use their juice as a tangy base for marinades. Toss the seeds into salads and smoothies to bump up flavor and nutrition.
Sweet, delicious kiwi fruit provides a tropical flavor to a fruit salad while providing more vitamin C than an orange as well as potassium and copper.
One of my favorite vegetables, Brussels sprouts are delicious when cooked correctly. My favorite method is to roast them to bring out the sweet, nuttiness. They’re also delicious topped with balsamic vinegar. Besides being a great source of folate and iron, one-half cup provides more than your daily requirement of vitamin K.
Parsnips look like beige-white carrots but they have a sweet, nutty flavor and can be a great mashed potato substitute. They are a delicious change from potatoes in delicious fall stews and soups and provide plenty of potassium and fiber.
Another veggie you may be unfamiliar with is rutabagas, which are a cross between a turnip and a cabbage. They are delicious added to casseroles, pureed with turnips and carrots to make a sweet soup, or roasted with ginger, honey, and lemon.
Tender and mild turnips are a great alternative to cabbage. Why not try a fall veggie roast with turnips, parsnips, rutabagas and sweet potatoes! A great side dish on a chilly night and a good source of vitamin C as well.
Winter squashes like butternut, acorn, spaghetti, delicata, hubbard and kabocha are so versatile! They can be roasted and made into soups, used as a side dish and even as a pasta replacement! The spaghetti squash is a ready-made pasta substitute and butternut and other firmer squashes can be spiralized like zucchini! They can be stored for months and taste best when combined with fall flavorings, like cinnamon and ginger. They are excellent sources of vitamin A and omega-3s.
Pumpkin is type of winter squash and its sweetness and moist texture make it a natural for pies, cakes, muffins, cookies and even pudding! I love adding a few tablespoons to my morning smoothies to add a fall flair! They are rich in B vitamins, beta carotene and potassium as well as providing lots of fiber.
Sweet potatoes are for much more than Thanksgiving casseroles. They are more nutritionally dense than white potatoes. My favorite method is to roast them. I find roasting with salt, pepper and some cinnamon brings out their sweetness, they don’t get water-logged as they do when boiled and maintain more nutritional value. They’re another great source of vitamin A and beta carotene as well as iron.
What are your favorite fall fruits and vegetables?
Ann Musico is a certified holistic health coach, independent nutritional consultant, author of Today is Still the Day and other books. She works with women of all ages to empower them to live well so they can model health and wholeness – spirit, soul and body – to their families and beyond. Visit her website at www.annmusico.com to learn about the coaching options and weight loss plans she offers as well as numerous free resources you can access.