We have officially entered fall, my favorite season because we all start spending a bit more time in the kitchen. From warm and hearty stews to sweet, delicious pies, cooler temperatures bring a variety of seasonal produce. Here’s a shortlist of some of Foodsmart’s favorite fall produce.
There is perhaps no other type of produce that represents fall as much as the pumpkin. A long-standing staple for autumnal festivities, pumpkins are delicious, but they’re also nutritional powerhouses. One cup of cooked pumpkin contains more than 100% of your daily recommended intake of vitamin A, which is essential for vision health, especially at night. When cooked and mashed, pumpkins are also a great source of fiber, with 3 grams per cup. Having a diet rich in fiber helps to maintain a healthy digestive system and potentially protects against heart disease. Bake up a batch of Orange-Date Pumpkin muffins as part of a fall brunch spread!
Tip: Save the seeds from pumpkins. You can roast them with spices for a tasty snack.
Fall is prime apple season, and if there’s a popularity contest, apples just might take the crown. In America alone, we have more than 2,500 types of apples; internationally, there are about 7,500 kinds. However, not all apples are created equal. Some are better for baking, while others are best enjoyed fresh. Regardless of the type of apple you are eating, it is still a gem of nutrients. Apples are a great source of vitamin C, which is important as we head into flu season. They are also rich in soluble fibers, which may help lower the risk for heart disease by keeping LDL, or “bad” cholesterol down. Serve this Pork Chops with Apples and Onions on a chilly fall weeknight. It comes to the table in about 30 minutes!
Tip: Cut apples are easily oxidized. Squeeze some lemon juice over your slices to prevent them from turning brown.
Fennel is best known for its versatile seeds that can be used to flavor both savory and sweet dishes. Little did you know the fennel plant itself can be just as versatile as its seeds. The bulb is crunchy and has a mildly sweet, delicate anise-like flavor. The fronds have a complex herbaceous note, and can be used in salads and soups. In addition to fennel’s unique flavor profile, it’s a great source of immunity-boosting vitamin C. One cup of sliced fennel contains about 17% of your daily recommended intake. This Shaved Zucchini-Fennel Salad is the perfect crunchy, fresh side to serve next to some Cider Vinegar Braised Chicken.
Tip: Just like celery or lettuce, fennel contains a high water content, meaning it can be prone to freezing in a very cold refrigerator. When storing, loosely wrap it and make sure to leave it in your fridge drawer.
With a nickname like “nature’s candy,” it’s no wonder persimmons are a fall favorite for many people. There are two main types of persimmons: hachiya (astringent) and fuyu (non-astringent). If you buy hachiya persimmons, you should wait until they have ripened before eating them to avoid bitterness. When fully ripe, they provide a creamy texture and are full of sweetness. Fuyu persimmons, on the other hand, are a bit more forgiving. They have a crispier texture, and can be enjoyed alone as snacks or added to salads. Persimmons are a great source of potassium, which helps restore our electrolyte balance after working out. Just one cup sliced contains about 10% of your daily recommended intake, so why not add some of this fruit to your next post-workout smoothie?
Tip: To speed up the ripening process for hachiya persimmons, leave them in a paper bag. To keep fuyu persimmons fresh and crisp, store them in the refrigerator.