Updated: Sep 4, 2018
Do you know which seasonal favorites the fall harvest brings? While many people assume that the end of summer means the end of farmer's markets and in-season produce, the truth is, the fall is full of nutritious, delicious foods that peak during this season. Keep reading to learn about my top 5 picks and how to use them! Also, don't forget to participate in my Fall Social Media Challenge - simply tag your fall inspired recipe with #alyssalavyfallrecipe and give a shoutout to @alyssalavyrd to be entered to have your recipe featured on my social media channels and potentially snag some major savings on a service of your choice!
*See Contest Rules and Regulations at the bottom of this post
Apples are, quite possibly, the perfect portable snack - providing soluble fiber and a nutritious vehicle for dips and other toppings. While you can purchase apples year round, the fall harvest is often overrun with different apple varieties, each offering their own, unique taste. Although they're great tasting on their own, below are some of my favorite recommendations for making the most of this fall favorite:
Baked apple slices (preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, sprinkle with cinnamon and bake for approximately 20-30 minutes, until slightly browned and tender
Slice raw and use to scoop up dip such as peanut butter, almond butter, sunflower butter, or a yogurt based dip
Slice and insert into a peanut butter (or other nut/seed butter) sandwich in place of jam to decrease added sugar - and enjoy a delicious, sweet crunch
Make a kid-friendly snack by stacking slices with nut/seed butter, seeds and some chocolate shavings for a crunchy, sweet after-school treat
Add to salads for a refreshing, unique flavor
Add to a fall-themed soup, such as butternut squash or pumpkin
Roast apples with your favorite fall vegetable (such as kale or Brussels sprouts) for an unexpected flavor
2. Butternut Squash
The creamy tasting, mildly sweet, misshapen butternut squash is a staple in my household as soon as the temperature starts dropping. Aside from cutting this winter squash (because let's face it, that's the hardest part about preparing this food), it's so simple to make a variety of dishes with and the flavors just taste and smell like fall! Full of beta carotene (which our bodies convert to vitamin A), potassium and soluble fiber, the butternut squash is a tasty, nutrition powerhouse. Stumped on how to work with this fall veggie? Below are some tips!
Boil chopped butternut squash with veggie broth and use an immersion blender to make a simple, butternut squash puree soup (add a dash of nutmeg, cinnamon and pepper if desired for an extra taste of fall flavor)
Roast butternut squash as an easy side dish or meal prep item! Simply chop butternut squash, lay on baking sheet sprayed with nonstick oil, drizzle with oil (I like to use avocado oil) and sprinkle with salt, pepper and cinnamon, then bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for about 45 minutes, until tender and browned
Add roasted butternut squash to another dish, such as a farro or quinoa salad, or a veggie-filled dish! I like to top sautéed kale with roasted butternut squash for a beautiful, hearty side dish that combines nonstarchy and starchy vegetables
3. Spaghetti Squash
Similar to butternut squash, the spaghetti squash is technically a winter squash that is harvested in the fall. This stringy squash looks similar to spaghetti once cooked, hence its name, and is versatile to work with in the kitchen. While spaghetti squash is a starchy vegetable, it contains significantly fewer carbohydrates per cup than pasta and using it is a fun way to mix up flavors and increase your veggie variety. Cooking spaghetti squash is easy and, similar to butternut squash, cutting the large gourd in half is the most troublesome part! Once sliced in half lengthwise, remove pulp and seeds, rub ~1-2 Tbsp oil on top of each half, sprinkle with salt and pepper and use your finger to gently rub the oil and spices all over the squash. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 40 minutes. You will know it's cooked when you can pull the squash in spaghetti-like strands using a fork (careful - it's hot! I like to place a paper towel on top of an oven mitt in order to turn the squash over, hold it in my hand face-up and use my dominant hand to peel the strands from the squash with a fork. The paper towel prevents oil from staining the oven mitt). Keep removing the spaghetti-like strands until the thick skin is all that is left, discard skin and use spaghetti squash however you'd like! Replace a common pasta dish with spaghetti squash, or combine pasta with spaghetti squash and zoodles for a medley of veggies and noodles!
Pumpkin is essentially the hallmark of fall, but this gourd is good for so much more than a jack-o-lantern sitting on your front doorstep on Halloween. Packed with fiber and beta carotene, this tasty, creamy gourd is easy to add to baked goods, pastas, and so much more! Not to mention, the seeds offer their own nutrition benefits, full of magnesium, manganese, zinc, iron and about 8 grams of complete, plant-based protein per 1/4 cup serving!
Mix pumpkin puree with oatmeal and top with cinnamon and nuts for a fiber and protein-filled, simple fall breakfast that can warm you up when the temps get chilly!
Create a fall-inspired pasta dish using pumpkin puree as a base for sauce, or make my Pumpkin and Goat Cheese Ravioli!
Add pumpkin seeds to your trail mix or granola, or simply snack on them plain!
Roast pumpkin seeds at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 20 minutes, creating your own flavors by adding savory (cayenne, salt, pepper, garlic powder) or sweet (cinnamon, unsweetened cocoa powder) toppings
Make pumpkin waffles or pancakes - check out my fun fall recipe for Pumpkin Waffles!
As if cauliflower needs more popularity, this favorite veggie begins it's peak season as the temperatures drop and continues to stay in season throughout the cooler months. Many people do not realize this cruciferous veggie, related to broccoli and cabbage, is a nonstarchy vegetable, meaning it does not contain significant carbohydrates, even though it's texture serves as a great alternative (or addition) to many starchy dishes, such as those featuring rice and potato. Cauliflower also offers plenty of biotin, as well as vitamin K, vitamin C, many B vitamins, and of course, fiber. This versatile veggie is a favorite for a reason, and it's benign taste makes it easy to incorporate into many dishes in order to provide additional nourishment.
Add a handful frozen cauliflower to a smoothie to sneak in some veggies without altering the color or taste - just be prepared for extra creaminess (not a bad thing)!
Roast cauliflower for a simple side dish that comes together in less than 15 minutes (simply drizzle with oil and top with desired spices - such as salt and pepper - and roast at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for about 10-12 minutes, mixing occasionally)
Add to veggie-filled soups, or make this cruciferous veggie the standout ingredient by making a cauliflower puree soup that tastes creamy and hearty, without the extra heavy cream or cheese!
Chop cauliflower head in a food processor to make your own, less expensive cauliflower rice (or purchase the pre-made version for a time-saver). Combine with rice to sub half the rice with this nonstarchy veggie, or use as it's own base and pair with a different carbohydrate source to change up your meals!
Make my Cauliflower Mash - or combine with mashed potatoes to sneak in some extra veggies, lower the total carbohydrate content and add creaminess with less fat
What are your favorite cool-weather farmer's market finds and favorite ways to use them? Comment below!