Summer eating is easy and breezy, but for the colder days of fall and winter, seasonal fruits and vegetables offer hearty and delicious options.

The juicy fruits and plentiful veggies of summertime offer easy-to-grab, nutritious snacks, and the sheer bounty of seasonal summer vegetables makes meal prepping and planning especially easy. Fortunately, the fall harvest also offers seasonal fruit and vegetable choices that offer excellent nutrition and tasty meal options. Look for locally grown specialty crops that are specific to your region for the freshest products.

Squash

The sheer number of different squashes available  can keep your diet packed with nutrients and variety. Squashes can form the basis of chunky stews, smooth soups, side dishes, and main courses. With a low-calorie profile and especially high levels of vitamins A and C and fiber, learning how to cook with squash in the fall can energize your typical menu.

Try butternut, acorn, spaghetti, and Hubbard to expand your squash go-tos. And you can even have these on hand all the time—you’ll find some squashes in the frozen food section of the grocery store.

Root Vegetables

Turnips, parsnips, carrots, beets—all these vegetables add flavor and substantial texture to a dish. To add sweetness to your menu without any added sugar, roast root vegetables to create a whole new flavor. As they roast on high heat, the natural sugars in these veggies are drawn out. For an easy and hearty side dish, cut up beets, carrots, and potatoes and roast them in a hot oven (about 450 degrees) for 20 to 30 minutes with a little olive oil. When they are done sprinkle with salt and pepper if you want.

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Cruciferous Veggies

Cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts are all part of the cruciferous vegetable family and contain potent cancer-fighting ingredients. Working these vegetables into your fall diet is as simple as using them as a base for warm and comforting soups and gratins. A blended cauliflower and potato soup or a broccoli cheese soup is easy to make and even easier to eat as a quick lunch or dinner at work.

Apples

Everyone thinks of apples during fall and with good reason. The fall apple harvest brings out apples that aren’t typically found in grocery stores because they are heritage or brand-new varieties that don’t have large crops. And apples pair well with meats like pork or chicken as easily as they shine in desserts like apple pie or apple crisp. Peel, core, cut, and cook apples for a homemade applesauce that can be added to oatmeal.

Pomegranates

The round red pomegranate is an antioxidant powerhouse. Filled with juicy seeds (called arils), these ruby fruits have a beautiful fall color. Like a watermelon makes you think of summer, pomegranate’s sweet-tart taste is a distinctly fall flavor. You can seed your own whole pomegranates or buy the seeds already prepared in the grocery store. Eat the seeds alone, add them to a yogurt and granola parfait, use them to top a salad, or brighten a cooked dish with the extra flavor.

Try a new dish or a new seasonable fruit or vegetable and you’ll probably find a new flavor you love.

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil
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