Fall is my favorite time of year. I love everything about it—from the brightly-colored foliage to the smell of sweet cider donuts—it's a season that brings me great joy. Once that slight chill in the air arrives, I immediately start to crave all of my favorite seasonal dishes. Farmers markets and my local grocery store are bursting with fresh produce right now, so warming up in the kitchen is that much more appealing. Here are some easy and delicious ideas to get creative with this season's produce.
Butternut squash is one of my favorite fall treats (yes, treats)! It's naturally sweet (and loaded with vitamin A and potassium), so it's delicious mixed into baked goods (butternut squash can be substituted in pretty much any recipe that calls for pumpkin), soups, pancakes, or eaten alone with maple syrup and a sprinkle of brown sugar.
These purple-red gems are packed with iron, folic acid, and fiber. Roast or saute them with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, or toss them diced and raw in your favorite salad mixture.
Apples provide two kinds of fiber (soluble and insoluble) and a whole slew of antioxidants, which protect against free radical damage, so they're both a satisfying and healthy food. Try sauteing sliced apples and serving them with chicken or pork, or chopping them tiny and adding them to whole-grain rice.
Did you know a medium sweet potato provides more than 438% of the daily requirement of vitamin A, which is essential to eyes, skin, bones, and teeth? And sweet potatoes are delicious in so many ways. One of my favorite ways to enjoy this spud is the simplest way: Baked Sweet Potato Wedges.
Parsnips are a great root vegetable but might not be the first variety you reach for. Try them roasted, baked, mashed or as parsnip "fries." Just preheat your oven to 425 degrees F and chop one pound of parsnips into "fries." In a large plastic zipped baggie add parsnips, 1 tbsp. olive oil, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1 tsp. paprika, and salt and pepper to taste. Seal the bag and shake thoroughly to coat. Bake for 25-30 minutes, turning fries every 10 minutes or so.
Kale is one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables available this time of year. It also has a number of anti-oxidant- and anti-inflammatory-related health benefits. Try raw, chopped kale tossed in olive oil as part of a salad, sauteed with red pepper flakes, or as kale chips (the perfect alternative to greasy potato chips).
Packed with vitamin C, and full of cancer-fighting phytonutrients, cauliflower is quite the versatile vegetable. You've probably eaten it raw, roasted, or steamed, but have you tried it mashed? Here's a quick how to: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil with 2 garlic cloves. Add head of florets and cook until tender (10-12 minutes). Drain, return to pot, mix 1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil and 1/2 cup milk. Mash until thick. Season with salt and pepper to taste.