Apples, broccoli, and pears, oh my! The fall harvest brings an abundance of produce for us to enjoy. Many of our fall fruits and vegetables are rich in health benefits and provide a variety of nutrients. Enjoy things like apples, grapes, persimmons, butternut and acorn squash, broccoli, and greens. Choosing seasonal produce can be easier on your wallet, and great for your health. Here is a simple guide on fall fruits and vegetables to help you while you shop:
Fall fruits – Apples are full of fiber, vitamin C, and are delicious! Store your apples in a brown paper bag in your refrigerator to help keep them fresh longer. Make applesauce, add apples to your chicken salad or peanut butter sandwich, or sauté them and top with cinnamon for a sweet side dish.
Pears are a crunchy, yet juicy fruit with optimal health benefits. Consume pears for a good source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. You can find vitamin C, iron, copper, and potassium in your pears. They also are a low calorie fruit, averaging 58 calories per 100 grams. Pears are delicious prepared fresh, or baked in the oven.
Fall vegetables – Winter squash is one of my favorite vegetables to consume during the fall and winter months. Winter squash is high in vitamin A and vitamin C, and is a good source of vitamin B6, vitamin K, potassium and folate. When shopping for winter squash, choose a squash that is very hard. Press firmly around the exterior to make sure there are no soft spots. Store in a cool, circulated area such as a cool pantry for up to one month. You can cube butternut squash to add to soups, puree or mash it for a texture similar to mashed sweet potatoes, or roast it with olive oil and garlic. Cut acorn squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and bake in the oven. Fill the inside with vegetables or meats and bake for a complete meal.
Pumpkin is our most thought of fall vegetable. Pumpkins are a good source of vitamin C, vitamin E, and the B complex group of vitamins. They are also very high in vitamin A, a vitamin that is good for visual sight and skin. Different varieties of pumpkins are used for different cooking methods, such as pie pumpkins for making homemade pumpkin pie. You may also roast the pumpkin and eat it like butternut squash for a savory side.
There are several other fall produce options that present a plethora of nutrients. Don’t forget your greens and root vegetables that are delicious in the cooler months. Remember to opt for a colorful diet for maximum nutrients. We are blessed with an abundance of produce here in the South East, so take advantage of it!
Sydney Johnson is an Area Family & Consumer Sciences extension agent, with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service. She can be reached by calling the Sampson County Center at 910-592-7161 or by e-mail: [email protected]