Don’t you just love the start of each new season? With it comes new fashion, new weather, and new seasonal foods. Picking your own produce is the best but farm stands and farmers’ markets are great sources and can be fun too. Grocery stores will have in-season produce at good prices too!
Eating in-season fruits and vegetables offer several benefits. Nutritionists say that they offer peak nutrition and natural nutrients because they don’t undergo lengthy travel. They also tend to be very fresh. A stop by your farmers market will prove that to you. Going home with food picked within the last 24-48 hours will taste amazing. They can also be a good deal financially. Because of the abundance of crops, as well as less transit time and effort, in-season produce can be very reasonably priced.
Buying and eating in-season produce allows us to vary our diets, without eating the same foods day in and day out all year round. Some of fall’s (September and October) top fruits and vegetables include:
- Acorn squash. Baked, roasted or stuffed, it makes a healthy and lovely side dish. Try it sweet with butter and brown sugar for a treat the kids will surely love.
- Apples. Where to start? Apple Pie of course! How about apple crisp? Apple bread? Apple dumplings. Homemade applesauce. We all know how the health benefits of apples, plus they are the perfect snack in lunch boxes, on a hike, or at home. Choose organic when possible, since apples are often high on the dirty dozen list.
- Beets. Low calorie and colorful, beets are wonderful as a little side dish or chopped in salads.
- Broccoli. The ultimate love it or hate it vegetable! If the kids (or you) hate it, try serving topped with cheese or make them into homemade broccoli bites (baked with egg, cheese, and breadcrumbs). Raw broccoli offers a healthy crunch, or you can shred for a broccoli slaw!
- Butternut Squash. Another lovely seasonal squash to bake or roast. Pureed it makes a warm rich autumn soup. My kids love it cubed, lightly coated with coconut oil, baked, and sprinkled with cinnamon.
- Cauliflower. One of my favorite vegetables, cauliflower is so versatile. Make it mashed with garlic to replace mashed potatoes. Try it roasted in a little olive oil with loads of fresh garlic and some salt and pepper.
- Eggplant. Eggplant parmesan is the ultimate meatless Italian dish for some people and is a hearty delicious fall meal.
- Figs. After spring, a second crop, from August until October comes in. Figs are a handy snack to keep in a bowl on the counter, however eat them within a day or two or store them in the fridge for an extra day of freshness.
- Grapes. Peak production of grapes is in the fall, although I still think of them as a summer treat. There is nothing like a bowl of fresh tasty grapes in the kitchen for quick snacking! They are great on the go too. Try keeping some grapes in the freezer for a treat that tastes like a popsicle!
- Okra. Early fall is the top season for okra from the south.
- Peppers. Crisp, juice, sharp, full of flavor and homegrown is how we like our peppers in the fall! Not imported, but rather, right from the garden or your local farm stand. You can do so much with peppers: stir fry in Mexican or Chinese meals, eat raw with dip, stuff them, or make a hearty sausage and pepper meal.
- Pomegranates. Starting in October, look for ripe, deep colored pomegranates. Chock full of nutrients, these are a fun fruit to eat that is an art to master. I remember every fall, my Dad brought pomegranates home and it was a ritual to sit and pick each seed-eating them one by one.
- Pumpkins. Well of course! Roast the seeds and turn the meat into a healthy hearty pumpkin soup or pumpkin bread. A quick online search yields many other recipes if you’re experimenting with pumpkin.
- Sweet Potatoes. Peak season starts late October. Perfect roasted or baked with a hearty fall meal, they also offer many nutrients and fiber, and are a great alternative to the white potato.