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Registered Dietitians Answer Your Questions about Restaurant Nutrition

What are the Best Fall Fruits and Vegetables?


Keep an eye out for these seasonal fruits and vegetables at your favorite restaurants and local grocery stores.
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By Rachael Derr, RD

The air is crisp, the leaves are just beginning to turn colors… fall is here.  Fall offers so many wonderful fruits and veggies that are at their peak flavor.  Seasonal produce is usually cheaper, as well! So keep an eye out for these seasonal fruits and vegetables at your favorite restaurants and local grocery stores:

  • Apples – Rich in dietary fiber, apples come in so many varieties! Tart Granny Smith or sweet Honey Crisp. Apples are great for roasting or sautéing.  Slice them up and add them to your salad or bake them with warm fall spices like cinnamon and nutmeg for a sweet treat.
  • Figs – Available for a short time during the summer months and into fall, figs are a personal favorite. Packed full of soluble fiber, vitamins A, E and K, I like them grilled on a salad, stuffed with a little goat cheese and drizzled with honey or served with yogurt and granola.  Figs are also a chef’s favorite, showing up on many restaurant menus as in appetizers and desserts.
  • Sweet potatoes – Two varieties of sweet potato are usually available in your local grocery store: a lighter version with a paler skin and light yellow flesh and the sweeter, darker variety with orange flesh.  Try roasting them at home with other favorite root veggies.  When eating out, look for mashed sweet potatoes with cinnamon.
  • Pears – Roast whole pears for a healthy spin on dessert or slice up and throw them onto your pizza.  Find them at restaurants in salads or paired with savory meats for a uniquely tempting meal.
  • Winter squash – Acorn, butternut, and spaghetti are just a few common choices. Each of these squash varieties has a unique taste and texture. Acorn squash is great for baking and stuffing. Butternut squash makes for wonderful soup, and spaghetti squash is perfect for baking and shredding for use in place of pasta.
  • Mushrooms – A great source of B vitamins, mushrooms provide an earthy, meaty flavor to dishes and are perfect for risotto, pasta or substituting for meat in dishes. Try swapping your burger patty for a Portobello mushroom or look for the latest restaurant trend of mushroom blend burgers!
  • Brussels Sprouts – Brussels sprouts are all the rage on restaurant menus! They can be a little bitter, so I love to pair them with something sweet. Dried currants, cranberries or even just a drizzle of honey and Dijon mustard can elevate these mini cabbages to another level.  Ask questions at restaurants about their preparation to avoid fried Brussels sprouts with added fat and calories.
  • Cauliflower – Available in white, purple and green varieties, try shredding cauliflower (with your cheese grater) to make cauliflower rice.  This is another popular vegetable on restaurant menus this year.  Mashed cauliflower anyone?
  • Pumpkins – ‘Tis the season for pumpkin everything! Pumpkins can be purchased whole, broken down (save the seeds) and baked. Or you can do what I do: purchase canned pumpkin. Just be on the lookout for plain pumpkin, not the canned pumpkin pie filling. There are endless pumpkin recipes available, and yes, it’s delicious in cheesecake and other sweets, but it’s also equally delicious without all that added sugar. Pumpkin soup, pumpkin pasta, pumpkin chili…oh my!  Restaurant menus are packed with seasonal favorite pumpkin this time of year.  From appetizer to dessert, pumpkin is a star.
  • Swiss Chard – This leafy green thrives in the cooler temperatures and is a star in comfort foods like soup and casserole.  Find it on restaurant menus paired with classic flavors such as lemon and garlic or unexpected ingredients such as sweet dried fruit.

Now that the weather has cooled down, it’s time to take advantage of seasonal fruits and vegetables like these at a restaurant near you.  Here are just a few of the dietitian-recommended menu choices that make the most of these fall fruits and vegetables:
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