Take advantage of fall’s bounty with these tips from Healthy HometownSM Powered by Wellmark.
Now that cooler weather is fast-approaching, it’s time to trade in light, summery produce like sweet corn, tomatoes and watermelon for foods that make you think of autumn like squash, apples and other earthy root vegetables.
Even though you can enjoy any variety of fruits and vegetables year-round, eating has healthy benefits for you and is generally more affordable. The best part about produce harvested in the fall is that it’s meant to last through the cold winter months, so depending on the item, you can store it in a cool, dark place without it spoiling.
Make the most out of the season’s bounty with five of our fall favorites.
- Apples: This grocery-store staple is freshest from September to November. With so many different varieties available, you can use them to make apple sauce (Gala and McIntosh) or added to savory dishes (Golden Delicious or Granny Smith) for a hint of tart sweetness. Plus, a crisp autumn day is the best time to go to a local orchard and get them straight from the source.
- Winter squash: Don’t be fooled by the name — winter squash varieties like butternut and acorn are harvested in the fall. Dice and roast these hardy vegetables to bring out their sweet flavor, and add them to salads, soups, chili or casseroles. They’re also sturdy enough to be cut in half and stuffed with a mix of other vegetables, legumes, and grains like quinoa, farro or wild rice.
- Leeks: Though they’re part of the onion family, leeks have a milder flavor. Most recipes call for using just the white and light green part, but you can use the dark green leaves to flavor stock or broth. Leeks hold up to many different cooking methods, including braising, sautéing, roasting, and grilling, but don’t forget to clean them thoroughly first as dirt and grit often get trapped between the onion-like layers.
- Sweet potatoes: A good source of Vitamin A and potassium, sweet potatoes are unrelated to yams and potatoes (who knew?) and can be used in a variety of ways. Pop them in the oven and eat like you would a baked potato, roast and blend into sauces, bake into casseroles and gratins, or steam and mash them into a tasty side dish.
- Brussels sprouts: Forget the boiled, sulfur-scented sprouts you may have had as a kid — this mild member of the cabbage family shines when roasted, fried or steamed. Add it to a savory gratin or mac and cheese, pan fry and add to polenta for a comforting fall dinner or skip cooking all together and shred them into a kale salad.
Want a full list of seasonal produce from September to November? You’ll find that, plus recipes and tips on how to choose and store fall fruits and vegetables, from the Produce for Better Health Foundation.