Eating a healthy diet full of fresh produce is one of the best investments you can make towards your long term health and well-being. The best news is that it doesn’t have to cost a fortune as long as you eat foods in season when they are at the peak of tastiness and nutrition.
Here are some foods to look for in the cooler months that are kind to your wallet, good for your figure and full of flavor!
1. Sweet Potatoes. These aren’t just for putting in a casserole topped with marshmalllows. Sweet potatoes can be used as a substitute for plain potatoes in many recipes, used in curries, soups and stews, used with black beans as a filling for enchiladas and burritos, served roasted in salads and even made into dessert.
2. Winter Squash. Baked acorn squash stuffed with wild rice is a wonderful, filling main dish (use sausage in the stuffing if you crave meat or a bit of cheese for protein). Butternut squash makes tasty pasta dishes and soups. Many people find spaghetti squash to be a good substitute for pasta and an easy way to ease young children into the idea of eating squash. In many places of the world, pumpkin isn’t just for decoration and pies, it’s also used as a savory ingredient like any other winter squash. Just don’t try the pumpkins grown for jack-o-lanterns, they are edible, but very watery and fibrous. You can, however, roast and eat the seeds.
3. Apples of all kinds! Honeycrisp and other artisanal apples might be on the expensive side, but plenty of places see apples go to 99 cents and less a pound during the Fall months. Don’t just think of apples as a snack or dessert ingredient – try using them as an ingredient in savory meals, too. Apples pair particularly well with roast pork and chicken sausage.
4. Brussels Sprouts. Think you don’t like brussels sprouts? Try them roasted with bacon and a hint of balsalmic vinegar or shredded into a salad. Fresh brussels sprouts are very affordable in the Fall months and are worlds better than their frozen counterparts.
5. Broccoli. One of the most versatile and widely popular vegetables. Go beyond just raw and steamed and try roasted broccoli and featuring broccoli as the centerpiece of your meals instead of the co-star. Stir fried broccoli and tofu is nutritious and inexpensive meal. And if you like broccoli soup, try this dead simple recipe from celebrity chef Gordan Ramsay that just calls for broccoli, olive oil. salt, pepper and water.
6. Cauliflower. If you’re trying to limit your carbs, cauliflower is a good and inexpensive substitute for rice and potatoes. You can grate it and steam to use in place of rice or steam and mash to use as a mashed potato analogue. Some have even made pizza crust using cauliflower! Purple and orange cauliflower might be slightly richer in certain nutrients but good old fashioned white is at it’s peak and half the price of the fancier varieties in the Fall.
7. Pecans and other nuts. Nuts are usually quite expensive, but in the Fall, you might be able to find locally grown nuts at a huge discount (or maybe even a neighbor with a tree who will let you harvest some!). Many stores put nuts of all kinds on sale during the run-up to the holiday season. If you have room in the freezer now is the time to stock up! Costco, Sams Club and Aldi all are known for having good prices on nuts.
What are your favorite Fall fruits and vegetables?