As summer with its bountiful harvest comes to a close, it is time to embrace the delicious options that fall has to offer. From September to November, the autumn harvest brings a variety of healthful and delicious produce, from squash and sweet potatoes to apples and pears.
The grocery store is filled with produce that can be grown somewhere year-round. Trucking produce across the country (or flying it across the world) is not easy and definitely not the optimal way to eat, for your body and your budget. Buying local seasonal produce not only potentially reduces your carbon footprint and helps your local economy, but it may also result in more nutritious produce.
Fall is the time to embrace fruits such as apples and cranberries, which offer essential vitamins and antioxidants. When it comes to vegetables, the entire cruciferous family including cabbage, rutabaga, and cauliflower is in season. These offer compounds known as glucosinolates that support liver detoxification and may have cancer-fighting potential. Winter squashes and gourds offer healthy alpha- and beta-carotene.
To get the best of what fall has to offer, our produce map will give you greater insight to keep track of what is available and in season near you. When eating locally and seasonally, be diverse and possibly try something new. Your palate may thank you.
Chef Pete Servold's book is loaded with seasonal recipes and offers a comprehensive guide to cooking and eating with the seasons.
Some of our favorite fall foods are:
These sweet, crunchy fall favorites are packed with antioxidants, which may help prevent chronic illness and slow aging. There are over 7,500 different types of apples available. Fuji apples have the highest concentration of phenolics and flavonoids Cortland and Empire apples have the lowest. Quince, a floral-flavored cousin of the apple, is also at its best in the fall season and makes a great addition to jams, jellies, and desserts due to its high pectin content. Be aware thought that quince is inedible raw.
Beets are usually available year-round, but are at their best in the fall. Besides the familiar reddish-purple color, you can also find golden, white, and even multicolored beets. When shopping, look for firm, smooth bulbs and bright, crisp greens (which are also edible and delicious sautéed in some bacon fat). Toss the greens in salads and roast the beets for their betaine, a compound that may help prevent heart and liver disease, and nitrate, which may increase blood flow to the brain and potentially reduce risk of dementia.
Brussels Sprouts and Cabbage
Packed with vitamins A and C, cabbage and its smaller cousin, Brussels sprouts, boast high concentrations of cancer-fighting glucosinolates. These compounds add the distinct flavor to these vegetables.
Often between the size of a blueberry and a grape, cranberries taste their best October through November. A meagre 5% of the harvested fruit actually makes it to the fresh produce section (the other 95 percent are dried, canned, or turned into juice). Research suggests cranberry concentrate can help prevent urinary tract infections and that fresh cranberries can help prevent oral diseases and slow the growth of cancer.
There are 2 main categories of pears, namely European and Asian. In North America the 2 most common varieties are Bosc and Bartlett which are of the European type, although the fall harvest season provides other varieties too. They grow and are picked on the west coast during fall. Pears are high in soluble fiber, which helps with the health of your gut microbiome. The fruit can be eaten whole or incorporated into both sweet and savory recipes.
Held sacred by many ancient religions, pomegranates have health benefits that have only been recognized more recently. Studies suggest the antioxidants found in pomegranate seeds may reduce the risk of cardiovascular complications, help prevent breast and colon cancers, reduce arthritis pain and boost memory along with being a natural aphrodisiac.
Autumn Arugula Salad with Caramelized Squash & Pomegranate Ginger Vinaigrette — substitute coconut sugar or raw honey for the brown sugar on squash to keep it strictly Paleo
Pumpkin is probably the most well known fall produce favorite. Its dark orange flesh is one of the best sources of alpha- and beta-carotene. Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of zinc and ¼ cup of pumpkin seeds contains nearly half of the recommended daily amount of magnesium. They may further benefit your heart, liver and immune system, help fight diabetes, and offer unique benefits for men’s prostate health and women’s relief of menopause symptoms as well.
Rutabagas and Turnips
Although not always the most visually appealing, these root vegetables pack a nutritional punch. Research suggests eating turnips and rutabagas may help reduce the risk of prostate and lung cancers. Turnip greens are a source of calcium, and both turnips and rutabagas contain substantial amounts of dietary fiber which supports both digestive and overall well-being
You can roast these root vegetables or add them to a stew. Rutabagas and turnips can also be mashed and served instead of mashed potatoes. You can also prepare fries with rutabaga and turnips. Cut the root vegetables into fries, drizzle with olive oil and seasonings to taste and bake in the oven until cooked.
Squash is yet another vegetable which is indicative of the coming of fall. Summer squash are still available locally until October in some parts of the country, and winter squash begin to become more readily available from September onwards. The gourd family offers varieties including acorn, butternut, and delicata squash, as well as spaghetti squash which provides a great Paleo-friendly spaghetti-like alternative.
Some of Pete’s Paleo Bone Broth makes easy work of this soup recipe
From orange to white and purple, these Paleo staples have the best flavor during fall, their peak season. Like pumpkin and squash, sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene. Containing a higher density of nutrients than regular potatoes and being less prone to causing an inflammatory response, sweet potatoes are a great way to incorporate more Paleo friendly carbohydrates along with a good dose of dietary fiber into your diet. Their nutritional profile is impressive, containing potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin B6 which support metabolic function, immunity and energy production.
Michal Ofer is a wellness and digestion expert and nutrition coach. She is focused on assisting clients to take control of their health and happiness through the sustainable food and lifestyle choices that best support them. Through strengthening the body from the inside out, her clients are able to reach new heights of health, happiness and wellness. Michal obtained her Professional Training and Certificate from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York. She has a further studied through the University of Colorado (Boulder) and Stanford University and is a Certified 21 Day Sugar Detox Coach. Michal has also received a Bachelor’s Degree in Life Sciences and a Master Life Coach Certification. For further information and to connect with Michal visit her website at www.michalofer.com