Eating what is in season supports your local economy and helps the environment. Learn which fruits and veggies are abundant right now, and the delicious, healthy ways you can cook them up.
Thanks to advances in agricultural practices, our local grocery stores are stocked with a constant supply of fresh produce we can enjoy year-round. But there are many reasons to revolve your recipes around produce that is in season. Fruits and vegetables that are locally-grown and eaten around the time they are harvested have a richer taste and are more nutritious because they are picked when fully ripened, are usually less expensive, and lessen the carbon footprint normally needed to transport them.
What is in season right now?
Fall’s cooler temperature brings with it a collection of tasty seasonal goodies to cook with. A visit to your local farmer’s market is the best way to find and enjoy the freshest fruits and veggies this season has to offer. Read on to learn about a few of fall’s superstars:
Apples: Nothing screams fall like a crisp, juicy apple. Among the 2,500 varieties grown in the United States, the most common are the Honeycrisp, Fuji, Gala, Granny Smith, and Red Delicious. One apple provides 4.4 g of fiber and 14% daily vitamin C. When selecting, apples should be firm to the touch without any sign of bruising and have a pleasant aroma.
Cranberries: You may appreciate them for the tasty sauce they make, but cranberries also pack a nutritional punch in their own right. Providing over two dozen types of antioxidants, one cup offers 4g of fiber and 26% daily vitamin C. Ripe cranberries are slightly opaque with a deep red color and are very firm when pressed between your fingers.
Brussels sprouts: As a member of the cancer-fighting cruciferous family, Brussels sprouts are antioxidant powerhouses. Eight sprouts also provide 4.4 g of fiber, 174% daily vitamin C, 26% daily vitamin A, and 11% daily iron. Choose sprouts that are bright green, firm, and heavy for their size. Avoid any with black spots or yellowing leaves. The smaller sprouts are usually sweeter.
Sweet potatoes: We love sweet potatoes roasted, baked in a casserole, or eaten as fries. This versatile potato is exceedingly rich in beta carotene, a powerful antioxidant that gives sweet potatoes their deep orange color. One medium sweet potato offers 3.8 g of fiber, 438% daily vitamin A, and 37% daily vitamin C. Stick with red or orange-skinned varieties with deep orange flesh like Red Garnet or Jewel for a more moist, sweet option.
Winter squash: Common varieties like butternut, acorn, delicata, and kabocha boast high levels of the antioxidants beta carotene and lutein. They are most enjoyed roasted, blended into soups, baked into breads and desserts, or eaten straight from their shell after cooking. Pick a squash that is heavy for its size, has an intact stem, and a rich color. Squash with shiny skin may signal it was picked too early, so choose skin that is dull.
Looking for ways to incorporate fall produce into your cooking lineup? Check out these simple, nutritious recipes to discover the finest flavors this season has to offer.
Enjoyed for dessert or even breakfast, this lightened up crumble is free of refined sugar and features antioxidant-rich apples and raspberries. This dish also provides 16.4 g of fiber from oats and 13.6 g of protein from almond butter.
8 medium sweet apples, chopped (48 oz)
4 cups raspberries
2 cups oat flour (you can make your own using 2½ cups rolled oats)
2 cups rolled oats
¼ cup almond butter
½ cup pure maple syrup
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- In a skillet over medium heat, cook chopped apples, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer apples to a 13x9-inch baking dish and top with raspberries.
- If making your own oat flour, pulse 2½ cups of rolled oats in a blender or food processor until there is a flour-like consistency. In a bowl, combine oat flour, rolled oats, maple syrup, almond butter, baking powder, and salt; rub in with fingertips until mixture comes together in small clumps. Spread the crumble over the fruit. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.
- Serve warm.
Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries
This savory sweet dish is packed with flavor and will be sure to win over the Brussels sprouts skeptics in your house. Along with healthy cranberries, Brussels sprouts are caramelized to perfection and sweetened with high-fiber dates.
Makes 4 servings
8 pitted dates
½ cup water
3 cups fresh Brussels sprouts, halved
1 cup fresh cranberries
1 cup vegetable broth
1 red onion, chopped
2 Tbsp soy sauce
¼ cup nuts such as slivered almonds or walnuts (optional)
Pepper, to taste
1. In a food processor, blend dates and ½ cup water until creamy. Set aside.
2. In a saucepan over medium-high heat sauté the Brussels sprouts, onions, cranberries, and ½ cup broth for 10 minutes or until lightly brown. Cover.
3. Stir often and add the remaining water as needed to prevent burning. Cook until the Brussels sprouts begin to caramelize around the edges.
4. Add the soy sauce, ground pepper, and date paste.
5. Stir and combine well.
6. Garnish with nuts.
Butternut Sweet Potato Mash
This satisfying dish is a spin on mashed potatoes, supplying your daily dose of beta carotene with comforting butternut squash and sweet potatoes. A pro tip? Store-bought cubed butternut squash will make this recipe a snap.
Makes 6 servings
Squash and sweet potatoes:
3 large sweet potatoes, halved
6 cups (1 small) butternut squash, peeled and cubed
2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted (divided)
1 pinch each salt and black pepper
1 pinch ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 cup pecans, roughly chopped
1 Tbsp coconut oil
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 pinch ground cinnamon
1 pinch sea salt
1. Preheat oven to 400°F and lightly grease or line with parchment paper 2 large baking sheets. Also lightly grease an 8x8 baking dish.
2. Add halved sweet potatoes to one baking sheet and cubed butternut squash to another baking sheet. Drizzle each with half the coconut oil and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper.
3. Roast butternut squash for 15 minutes and test for doneness. It should be very fork tender. Once done, remove from oven and set aside.
4. Sweet potatoes should take around 20-35 minutes to roast. Remove from oven when very soft.
5. Reduce oven temperature to 350° F.
6. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add chopped pecans and toast for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Watch carefully to make sure they don’t smoke or brown too quickly.
7. After 5 minutes, add coconut oil, maple syrup, cinnamon, and salt. Stir to coat and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
8. Remove skins from sweet potatoes and add to a large mixing bowl with butternut squash. Thoroughly mash using a fork, potato masher, or fork.
9. Add another pinch of salt and pepper, then add ground cinnamon and maple syrup. Mash again to combine, then taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
10. Transfer the mash to a prepared 8x8 baking dish and top with toasted pecans.
11. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until completely warmed through. Let cool briefly before serving.