Although I love scanning the farmer’s market for fresh, local food all year round, fall has got to be my favorite time to go. The bounty of fall produce gets me in the mood to cook, bake and EAT more than any other season (plus, I get to pick out mums for my front stoop)! Another great thing about fall produce is the incredible nutritional benefits it has. Here are my top three picks for the most delicious and nutritious fall farmer’s market finds!
Yes, you’ll probably be picking up a few of these for the kids’ Halloween activities, but pumpkins are good for a lot more than just jack-o-lanterns. Half a cup of pumpkin has almost a full serving of vitamin A in its beta carotene form, and more than 10 percent the recommended daily amount of potassium! Slice it up and roast it, blend it into a soup or stuff it inside raviolis.
Save the seeds, too! Pumpkin seeds are packed with fiber, antioxidants and magnesium, which can boost your metabolism and give you energy. Plus, baked with a little salt, they are a perfectly satisfying crunchy snack.
Although you can get frozen kale all year long, autumn is the season for fresh kale. One cup of chopped, raw kale has more vitamin K than any other green, and lots of beta carotene to boost the immune system and ward off cancer. Plus, one (36-calorie!) cup gives you 20 percent of your recommended fiber for the day.
Fall is the perfect time to enjoy kale, too! Bake it into crispy, salty kale chips (a much healthier option than potato chips for Sunday afternoon football) or blend it up with pumpkin seeds, parmesan cheese, garlic, olive oil and basil to make a perfect pesto to use on the aforementioned pumpkin ravioli. Yum!
Apples may be ubiquitous with fall, but that doesn’t mean it’s nutritional benefits are any less! There is some truth to that whole “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” thing – these fiber-filled fruits also have a compound called quercetin in their skin, which is a powerful antioxidant. Plus, they come with plenty of calcium, vitamin C and folate.
You can pack them into a pie, but you can do so much more than that with these fierce fruits. Roast them with some chicken and sage or blend them up with beets for a tasty (and super-nutritious) fall soup!