Fall Fruits and Vegetables
Fall into the flavors of autumn with these top fall fruits and vegetables and 6 tips for making the most of fall produce.
As the days turn cooler and the leaves turn from emerald to amber and scarlet, the temptations of summer’s bountiful produce may fade away. Alas, you’ll find no more luscious watermelons at the farmers’ markets or local ripe, juicy peaches at the supermarket. But just because fall is upon us, it doesn’t mean that fresh, local produce is beyond your reach. Skip imported, out-of-season produce and enjoy an array of fall fruits and vegetables, which usually are available in many regions across the country. An added incentive: By eating foods grown seasonally and locally, you can reduce the number of miles from farm to table, enjoy foods at their tastiest and ripest, and increase the number of healthy fruits and vegetable on your plate.
“Eating with the seasons gives rhythm to your meals and recipes throughout the year,” says McKenzie Hall, RDN, Los Angeles-based dietitian. “For example, it’s exciting to see the variety of pears available in the fall. By eating with what’s available and local to you, you provide your body with a variety of nutrients and your taste buds with a variety of flavors. Plus, it encourages a bit more experimentation with produce in the kitchen.”
“Enjoying seasonal produce all but guarantees you take in a wide variety of nutrients that nourish, satisfy, and promote good health,” adds Heather A. Goesch, MPH, RDN, LDN, of Heather Goesch Nutrition, based in North Carolina. “Not to mention these seasonal ingredients are more delicious and often less expensive than some summer produce. This autumn, do your taste buds and body a favor and take full advantage of the yellows, oranges, reds, whites, and deep greens that Mother Nature has to offer.”
A variety of autumn produce awaits you in the kitchen. “After summer’s beautiful bounty wanes, it’s time to enjoy some fabulous fall fruits and veggies. Favorites like butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and parsnips make fantastic baked fries,” says Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, nutrition communications specialist at Nutrition Starring YOU, based in New York.
Janice Newell Bissex, MS, RD, cofounder of Meal Makeover Moms, says, “Many people think that when summer winds down the availability of fresh, local produce diminishes as well.” But she reminds people that many fall favorites are available, such as Brussels sprouts, turnips, and cauliflower. Goesch recommends exploring local farmers’ markets or grocery stores for a variety of colorful, cooler-weather offerings, such as cabbages, root vegetables, dark leafy greens, pears, apples, persimmons, pomegranates, and nuts.
Fall Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables
According to the Produce for Better Health Foundation, the following produce is readily available during the fall season:
- Belgian endive
- Brussels sprouts
- butter lettuce
- sweet potatoes
- Swiss chard
- winter squashes, such as butternut, acorn, and spaghetti
6 Tips for Making the Most of Fall Produce
1. Don’t skip salads. “During fall months, we encourage individuals to take advantage of seasonal, nutrient-rich ingredients for delicious salads. Full meal salads don’t have to be reserved only for summertime,” says Lisa Samuel, MBA, RDN, a Washington-based dietitian. Combine seasonal greens, such as endive, radicchio, and chard with fall-forward fruits and vegetables, such as apple and pear slices, persimmons, grapes, and cauliflower. You can even stir in roasted squash, sweet potatoes, and broccoli for extra flavor.
2. Pumpkin beyond pie. Harris-Pincus suggests, “Add pumpkin to oatmeal, smoothies, and baked goods. It’s also delicious as an add-in for salad dressings, soups, and sauces.” Use those leftover pumpkins after Halloween and the holidays to make your own healthy pumpkin puree.
3. Roast them up. Bissex suggests roasting fall veggies to bring out their natural flavors through caramelization. This works for a number of vegetables, including squash, turnips, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower.
4. Load up on apples. Fall also signals the coming of apples, as well as apple pie. Use the time-honored pairing of apples and cinnamon to flavor more healthful dishes, such as oatmeal, salads, and baked fruit. The same goes for pears.
5. Put squash on the menu. It’s time to dig into those beautiful winter squashes—each with their own unique flavor, color, and texture. Butternut squash works especially well in soups, purees, entrees, or even roasted and added to salads. Spaghetti squash can be steamed and used as “pasta” with a vegetable-rich sauce. Best of all, squashes bake easily as a simple side-dish; just slice one open, scoop out the seeds (which also can be roasted as a healthful snack), season with a drizzle of olive oil and seasonings, and bake until golden and tender.
6. Turn to reliable crucifers. Broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts are available this time of year, and these nutrition powerhouses burst with flavor when they’re oven-roasted with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of seasonings. You also can feature them in casseroles, salads, and curry dishes.
For favorite fall recipes, check out the following:
Carnival Squash Soup with Fresh Turmeric
Baked Pear Trail Mix
Squash Filled with Herbed Quinoa and Cranberries
Vegan Caramel Apple Microwave Mug
Balsamic Butternut Squash and Brussels Sprouts with Farro
Written by Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN