It’s that time of year again! The temperature drops, the leaves turn beautiful colors and the smell of autumn is in the air. Hopefully some of those pleasant smells are coming from your kitchen as you cook and bake with the colorful foods of the season. Let’s look at some fall fruits and vegetables that are great for your table and your budget.
The most plentiful of fall fruits is the apple. With all the different colors and flavors, it’s easy to find a variety that will please even the pickiest eater. They can be munched, baked, sauteed and cooked in many ways. Apples pack a nutritional punch with fiber, calcium, folic acid and vitamin C. There are plenty of ways to use apples beyond pies and sauce. Try a sliced Granny Smith apple in your grilled cheese sandwich or combine a Gala apple, sliced turkey, cheddar cheese and bacon between two tortillas for a new twist on a quesadilla. One of my kids’ favorite snacks is a peanut butter and jelly apple sandwich. Apples combine well with pork chops for a main dish. You can find a guide to apples and their uses at the US Apple website. Remember that the less cooked and sugared your foods are, the more nutritional value they retain.
The attractive looking pumpkin isn’t just for carving. Jam-packed with vitamins A, C and E as well as iron and folate, this harvest vegetable is perfect for all your cooking and baking needs. Pies, muffins and bread made with low sugar are a great way to eat pumpkin if you want to slowly introduce it to your diet. There are some great pumpkin soup and chili recipes that will shake up your menu. And don’t forget to roast the seeds! After you clean out the pumpkin and wash the seeds, toss them with a bit of oil and salt and bake them at 325 degrees F for about 25 minutes, stirring after 10 minutes.
Root vegetables like carrots, beets and turnips are readily available at this time of year. Seasonally, this makes it easy to prepare nutritious soups and stews, which are great comfort foods when the weather turns cooler. You can even blend beets into chocolate cake (check out this recipe from “Cook Yourself Thin”).
Sweet potatoes or yams are one of my favorite fall and winter vegetables. Sweet potatoes are an attractive vegetable to kids because of their color and sweetness. They contain high amounts of vitamin A and C and in general are considered the more nutritious counterpart to regular potatoes. An anti-oxidant rich, anti-inflammatory food, sweet potatoes can be eaten baked, pureed in soups or used in baked goods, similar to pumpkin.
One other fruit to keep handy during this fall season is the pear. Our favorite way to eat pear is chopped and mixed with raspberries. Pears taste great in your morning oatmeal sprinkled with cinnamon. Varieties such as Bosc and Concorde hold up well when heated. Green and Red Anjou are best for salads and raw snacking. And when they get too mushy to eat raw, you can make some of my Autumn Pear Bread.
Just because cold weather has arrived doesn’t mean you have to miss out on fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables. Depending on where you live, you may be able to pick them up at a fall farmers’ market or from a local farmer. Eating in-season produce gives you the maximum amount of nutrition and taste possible from your foods. Enjoy some of your favorites and try something new with the fantastic variety available from nature’s bounty.