Healthy Fall Foods
With the advent of the fall season and cooler climes, it's time to relish the flavors of a plethora of fall fruits and vegetables. While some foods such as blueberries and raspberries are also available at other times, many are only in the stores and markets during fall. Read on for some healthy and delicious fall foods around which to plan your recipes.
Pear slices are wonderful in salads. You can also cook them. Go ahead and buy hard pears, as these will become soft over a couple of days according to registered dietitian Kathy Cooley, RD, president of her local Food and Growers Association.
Blueberries and Raspberries
Cooley, who's also a blueberry farmer in Batesville, Indiana, says that she gets her biggest crop of blueberries during fall. She suggests you look for berries which are plump and uniform in color. Both raspberries and blueberries can be frozen for use during winter.
These berries are a rich source of nutrients and can add a touch of sweetness when you don't want a lot of sugar. Dorothy Blair, PhD, assistant professor in the department of nutritional sciences at Penn State University in University Park, Pa. says it's worth buying organic cranberries, as the regular ones are heavily laced with pesticides.
These are abundant in fall and you can choose from several varieties such as Golden Delicious, Honeygold and Gala. But as Cooley says, be adventurous and try other varieties. You'll discover new flavors and textures. Look for firm and plump apples. You may even be able to get your hands on apples which are specially grown to store for longer periods, so you can still enjoy apples in winter.
Cooley says that it's smart to choose smaller pumpkins for your recipes because the large ones are not as flavorful. She purees pumpkin by cutting them in halves and roasting them face down on a cookie sheet until soft.
Then she purees the flesh she scrapes from the thick peel. Cooley freezes the puree and uses it for pumpkin bread and soup. She mixes the puree with her bread batter. Since the puree is runnier than the canned variety, she adds extra flour until the consistency of the batter is just right.
Winter squash (yes it grows in the fall too) is another vegetable Cooley likes to roast. You can store squash for quite a long time and the flavour is consistent. She also likes the taste of roasted acorns and butternut.
According to Cooley, "Brussels sprouts are one of the best things about fall." She roasts the sprouts, cuts off the bottom core, halves the sprouts and adds sliced onions and olive oil. The best time to get Brussel Sprouts is just after the first frost.
Also grown in the spring, broccoli with its delicate flavor makes a perfect side dish when steamed. It may be added to a soup or stir fried. Broccoli heads should be tight and firm.
Grown in both spring and fall, cauliflower is another vegetable that's good roasted with olive oil. Or you can steam it. Choose cauliflower heads with fresh, heavy, unblemished leaves.
Leeks taste best when they're crisp. Cooley warns that they're dirty inside and should be thoroughly washed.
Cold weather makes parsnips sweeter. Pick the smaller ones which have a smaller woody core. Roast them along with carrots and a sprinkling of olive oil.
Where to Buy Fall Foods
You'll find Fall's bounty in supermarkets, farmer's markets, pick-your-own farms
and community supported agriculture outlets (CSA). Check out LocalHarvest.org and LocalHarvest.org/CSA for a list of farmer's markets and CSAs. For pick-your-own, try PickYourOwn.org.