Now that the cooler fall weather has arrived, our meals tend to be centered around foods that are warm and savory, rather than the lighter fare we enjoy during the summer. As nature would have it, the foods that grow abundantly during this time of year provide the nutrients we need to stay healthy and strong throughout the winter months, especially when grown organically.
Here are some of our favorite fall foods to include in your weekly menu. As you work your way through the list, be brave and look for ones you haven’t tried before. Before long, you’ll have an array of new and delicious recipes to use for the next several months.
Delicious Fall Fruits
It has been long believed that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. And given the long list of benefits found in non-sprayed apples, the saying is most likely true. Not only does the humble apple contain high amounts of vitamin C, but they are also rich in two important phytochemicals – quercetin and pectin. Quercetin has strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties while pectin is a powerful source of fiber that feeds your healthy gut bacteria. These gut bacteria then produce short-chain fatty acids that can help prevent chronic diseases including certain cancers and bowel disorders. When shopping, look for apples that are firm, unblemished, and always organic.
Even though this common fruit is available year-round, fall is when the grapes are finally ready to be harvested. Thompson seedless and red globe grapes are two of the most common varieties making them easy to find in your local grocery store. Most grapes are processed into wine or raisins, but fresh grapes are an excellent option for snacking, livening up autumn salads, and adding a tangy-sweet note to fresh salsa. They are packed with vitamin C and the list of health benefits is surprisingly long. Grapes are thought to reduce blood pressure and high cholesterol and improve immune function, sleep, and bone health. Always look for grapes that are plump, not withered, and have firm stems throughout the bunch.
Recipe: Grape Salsa
This fragrant and delicious autumn treat is surprisingly versatile. Not only are they incredibly good for you, but they’re also super easy to include in almost any recipe or as a simple side dish. Pears can be added to salads or salsa and baked, broiled, or simply eaten raw. The dense, juicy flesh of the Bartlett pear is great for snacking and when cooking, but the red pear is just as delicious. The high fiber content helps to balance out any sugar spikes making it low on the glycemic index. Look for pears that are free of blemishes and mushy spots. They will ripen at room temperature and should be stored in a cool, dry place.
Recipe: Easy Baked Pears
One of the most dramatic-looking fruits, the pomegranate is beautiful when used as a centerpiece or when split open to reveal the array of luscious, juicy seeds which are slightly tart yet savory and sweet. Extracting the seeds can be very messy so be careful as the juice can stain clothing. If you’re looking for a cleaner way to get those yummy seeds out, here’s a great way to do just that.
Pomegranate seeds add a nice touch of color and texture to any salad. They’re high in potassium (needed for heart and nerve function), manganese for strong bones and joint tissue, vitamin C to heal damaged cells, folate, and thiamine, both of which are essential for growth and development. When shopping, look for pomegranates that are firm and heavy. They can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three months.
Produce Below the Ground
Celeriac (Celery root)
Although it's also known as celery root, celeriac is not related to the long green stalk we love to use for dipping. The close relation between the two, though, is evident in celeriac's subtle and sweet celery-like flavor. A bulbous root vegetable that is most abundant from September through April can be consumed cooked or raw. It is also great when roasted or added to soups. Packed with antioxidants, fiber for feeding your gut bacteria, and plenty of vitamin K for your bones, when you include this root in salads, coleslaw, or cooked hash browns, the health benefits are impressive. Look for bulbs that feel firm and heavy. Don't worry about the number or size of the roots or stems – you'll be cutting them off when you remove the peel with a paring knife.
Recipe: Celery Root Mash
This root vegetable is highly popular in Europe but here in the States, the parsnip is not used nearly as frequently. Resembling a longer and more triangular white or off-white carrot, parsnips have a sweet flavor that is enhanced when roasted, baked, or fried but can also be eaten raw. The list of potential health benefits is quite long but most importantly, they are high in folate, otherwise known as vitamin B9 which helps prevent birth defects.
Some research shows parsnips improve vision, aid in digestion, enhance immune function, and provide anti-cancer properties. They can be peeled and chopped into small matchsticks to dip in guacamole or other wholesome sauces. Parsnips shouldn't look withered, feel limp, or have too many small roots. They can be stored for up to four weeks in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
Recipe: Creamy Paleo Parsnip Gratin
This root vegetable has grown in popularity over the last 10 years and can be found on almost any restaurant menu. Whether baked, marinated, dehydrated, or pureed for a delicious soup, sweet potatoes are rich in nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, fiber, and potassium. They are a much healthier alternative to traditional white potatoes and can easily be swapped out in almost any recipe. The skin is a reddish-brown color, and the flesh is an orange color. Avoid sweet potatoes that look shriveled or have black spots. As with any root vegetable, always store them in a cool, dry place.
Recipe: Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes
Ginger is the herb of the year in 2023, according to the International Herb Association. As a member of the family including turmeric and cardamom, ginger is rich in fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and micronutrients such as magnesium, potassium, copper, and manganese. Most often used as a spice or as an herbal medicine, ginger can be grown year-round.
When planted in late winter, this spicy root can be dug up in fall and enjoyed raw, cooked, or as a warming tea. Ginger can be dried, pickled, fermented, and used in a wide variety of dishes. To peel the skin from a slightly larger ginger root, try scraping it with the edge of a soup spoon. Fresh ginger should not be withered, and the skin should appear taut and slightly shiny.
Recipe: Paleo Soft Ginger Cookies
Above the Ground Superfoods
Available in summer and fall, Swiss chard is one of the healthiest of the super-nutritious "dark, leafy greens." Not only does it contain high amounts of fiber and vitamins A, C, E, and K, Swiss chard is known to be anti-inflammatory, liver-protective, and anti-diabetic. It is not often consumed raw but can be cooked briefly to maximize its nutrients and mild flavor which resembles beet greens (which it technically is) or spinach. Swiss chard requires little preparation but should be washed well to get rid of any dirt and sand. Leaves should look vibrant and green, without any bunches that seem wilted or dried around the edges.
Recipe: Swiss Chard with Apples
Often seen as a colorless part of the crowd on a vegetable platter, cauliflower is an incredible superfood and part of the cruciferous family. Excellent for the liver, cauliflower can help strengthen the bones, boost the cardiovascular system, and prevent cancer. It can be lightly steamed, baked, roasted, made into pizza crust, or even pulverized into ‘cauliflower rice.’ The heads should have tightly packed florets that are free of yellow spots. Cauliflower will stay fresh for up to five days in the refrigerator.
Recipe: Cauliflower Sheet Pan Dinner
The Infamous Squash Family
Acorn squash, also known as winter squash, is a cousin to the humble zucchini and pumpkin. It is small and round with a pointed top, longitudinal ridges, and dark green skin with a bright orange or yellow splotch on the outside. It can be prepared in a variety of ways – grilled, baked, roasted, stewed, pureed, or halved and stuffed. No need to peel acorn squash as the nutrient-rich skin is fully edible.
When cooked, acorn squash has a sweet, slightly nutty flavor and a velvety soft texture. A single cup contains a whopping 9 grams of fiber and plenty of vitamin A, potassium, and magnesium. Look for squash with a dull, dark green rind that's free of blemishes and feels heavy for its size. They can last for 1 month if stored in a cool, dry place.
One of the sweeter vegetables, butternut squash's velvety, orange flesh tastes great with minimal preparation. In fact, it’s referred to as a cold-weather superfood because it contains more carbohydrates than other vegetables (like leafy greens) and it provides an abundance of health benefits due to its richness in vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber. When baked and pureed, it can be used in soups, as a filling for gluten-free pasta, or as a sweet base in desserts. When shopping, look for one that is top-heavy and free of blemishes.
Recipe: Butternut Squash Soup
Including Fall Foods in Your Meals
With this broad array of delicious (and mostly easy 😊) recipes using the bounty provided for us in the fall months, your body will love the new tastes and rich nutrition provided by these amazing foods. As the seasons change, so do the nutritional needs of our bodies, which is why we need to include the foods that naturally grow during this time of year.
If you have a favorite fall recipe, please send it our way. We’d love to try it!