The days are getting shorter and the warmer clothes are emerging from the closet. Football games are on Sundays and pumpkin spice lattes are back. Fall is here, ladies and gentlemen, and so are some impressive seasonal produce items. Purchasing seasonal produce items is not only more affordable, but also much tastier and more nutritious.
Why Buy Seasonally?
Purchasing seasonal produce is one of the freshest ways to eat. Some items are available year round, but the best time to eat them is when they are in season. If you can connect with local growers and farmers at farmer’s markets, that’s an even better way to get your produce. Plus, you may learn a bit more about the produce you purchase from them! Buying locally and seasonally means that your produce doesn’t have to travel far from where it was picked. Unlike out of season produce, seasonal produce does not require early picking for long travel and distribution. Seasonal produce has more time to ripen on the vine, which actually increases the nutritional content.
Pears are available throughout the year, but the fall season yields a wider range of varieties and flavors. It’s important to pick pears while they are still firm and allow them to ripen on counter. Pears are what you call a hydrophilic food, meaning that they’re water-loving and fill you up quickly. According to nutritionists, the complex carbohydrate called pectin acts as a natural detoxifier.
Many people enjoy green bean casserole as a classic fall dish, but you can create much healthier recipes using fresh green beans. They are great sources vitamin K and a significant amount of silicon, which is a mineral that supports healthy connective tissues and bones. The fiber content helps to smooth out the digestive process, while the phytonutrients help to fight free radicals in the body.
Beets are edible from their bitter leafy tops down to the vibrantly crimson bulbous root. People either love or hate them, as they offer an earthy flavor. Red beets are the most popular varieties, but some stores and farmer’s markets carry other interesting varieties, including candy cane or golden beets. Beets are excellent sources of nitrates and may support healthy blood pressure levels. They also contain phytonutrients called betalains, which exhibit anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits.
Grapes are available throughout the year, but the best and freshest flavors are available during the fall. Champagne grapes, concords, and other holiday varieties are abound! Grapes contain resveratrol, which is an anti-inflammatory compound that keeps the skin looking young. They also offer various antioxidants, vitamin C, and vitamin K. Avoid wilted stems or wrinkled grapes in a bunch because the rest will soon follow suit.
Some people might say that Brussels sprouts are misunderstood, while others understand them perfectly. Belonging to the cruciferous vegetable family, Brussels sprouts are excellent sources of vitamin K and organosulfur compounds, which have antioxidant properties that protect cells. During fall, you can often find Brussels sprouts on the stalk, and they are the freshest in that form.
The persimmon is a delicacy from East Asia, but they have grown popular in recent years. These orange fruits look like smaller, yellowish tomatoes and they offer protective compounds like lycopene and beta-carotene. It’s important to only eat them when they are ripe, otherwise they have an unpleasantly tart flavor. Hachiya and Fuyu persimmons are the two varieties that grow in the U.S., and you can only buy them during fall.
Fresh cranberries, not cranberry sauce or other sugary canned varieties, are only available for a limited time during the fall. Once they are gone, you don’t see them again until next fall. This holiday staple exhibits powerful phytonutrients, manganese, dietary fiber, and lots of vitamin C. According to several studies, they help to improve skin, eyesight, and may even lower bad cholesterol levels. Look for brightly colored berries and skip the bags that have shriveled or discolored berries.
People think that okra only belongs in a deep fryer, but there are so many other ways to prepare it. Chefs worldwide use okra for its thickening properties. From gumbo and other stews to traditional Indian curries, okra is an amazing vegetable with an impressive nutritional profile. Okra pods contain vitamins C & K, lots of fiber, and folate. When shopping for okra, look for pods that are bright green, firm, and no longer than four inches.