By Rachael Derr, RD
The air is crisp, the leaves are just beginning to turn colors… The mark of the start of the holiday season, fall offers so many wonderful fruits and veggies that are at their peak flavor. And another perk? Seasonal produce is usually cheaper, as well! So keep an eye out for these seasonal items 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, or you can slice them up and add them to your salad.
- Figs – Available for a short time during the summer months in addition to the fall, figs are a personal favorite. Packed full of soluble fiber and 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.
- 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 darker variety with orange flesh. The darker variety is sweeter. I like making mashed sweet potatoes with cinnamon or roasting them with other favorite root veggies.
- Pears – Roast whole pears for a healthy spin on dessert or slice them up and throw them onto your pizza.
- Winter squash – Acorn, butternut, spaghetti – are just a few. 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 to use in place of pasta.
- Mushrooms – A great source of B vitamins, mushrooms provide an earthy, savory flavor to dishes and are perfect for risotto, pasta or substituting for meat in dishes. Try swapping your burger patty for a Portobello mushroom!
- 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.
- Cauliflower – Available in white, purple and green varieties, try shredding cauliflower (with your cheese grater) to make cauliflower rice.
- 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 and 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 of that added sugar. Pumpkin soup, pumpkin pasta, pumpkin chili! Oh my!
So now that the weather has cooled down, it’s time to turn on your oven and fill your house with these fall flavors or look for these seasonal fruits and vegetables at a restaurant near you. Find dietitian-recommended choices at restaurants nationwide with the HealthyDiningFinder.com search.