This was originally written for Produce for Better Health Foundation and can be found here: Fruits & Veggies More Matters : 10 Ways to Fill your Plate with Fall Flavors! : Health Benefits of Fruits & Vegetables.
10 Ways to Fill your Plate with Fall Flavors!
As the leaves start to turn and the seasons begin to change, one of my favorite ways to welcome the new weather is by changing up the menu. Seasonal produce is budget-friendly, tasty, and easily ensures menus don’t get boring or routine. When you start to pull out the sweaters and change the seasonal wardrobe, makeover your menus as well.
- Apple-icious. If you haven’t yet had the wonderful experience of biting into a honeycrisp, add that to your list. Just wash and go. No cooking skills needed for this treat – and talk about a budget-friendly option! These fruits last a long time when stored properly, so buy extra when they are on sale.
- Squash It!Acorn, butternut, spaghetti – the choices are endless. Besides the nutrition these tasty treats offer, like vitamins A and C, they also look pretty on the counter and offer another budget-friendly way to welcome fall to your favorite dish … through décor! Use spaghetti squash just like you would pasta, or wash and cut an acorn squash and bake it in the oven. Check out the recipes below for ways to jazz it up – it’s not just about brown sugar and butter anymore!
- Pumpkin Possibilities. Stuck on pie? That’s ok but try pumpkin stirred into oatmeal with some chocolate chips, or mix it into yogurt for a fab fall smoothie.
- Pear-fect.Pears are a crisp treat on their own but try them sliced on a turkey sandwich or added to your salad in place of croutons for crunch and sweetness.
- Harvest Salad.Dried cranberries and/or apricots along with your favorite nut (walnuts, almonds, pecans) and some goat cheese or reduced-fat feta make a salad feel fall-friendly and full of flavor. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, a dash of lemon zest, and some balsamic vinegar. Go heavier on the vinegar for a tart complement to the fruit. And yes – that dried fruit counts towards a fruit serving!
- Roast It. Crisp, cool vegetables are great for hot summer days but as the mercury shifts, roast those veggies! Try any variety – the cooking process helps those bitter veggies become more taste bud-friendly. They taste great hot out of the oven or cold in a salad for one of those hot fall days we get this time of year. I like roasted carrots, potatoes, cauliflower and bell pepper. Make a variety – just be sure to chop to similar sizes so they cook evenly.
- Stove Top. A busy day means a fast meal. Nothing beats a stir fry for time! Cut your protein into small pieces (try shrimp or chicken) so it cooks up fast, and use a variety of veggies, like broccoli, beans, and mushrooms. Use reduced-sodium teriyaki or soy sauce and serve over brown rice.
- One-Dish Wonder. You can get multiple food groups into a casserole easily – and it’s a great way to help with stretching the food dollar by using small portions of expensive ingredients paired up with budget-friendly options like frozen veggies (thaw and mix in) and beans.
- Slow Cooker Satisfiers. Nothing beats a pot of chili for game day or a quick weekend meal after raking leaves. In addition to the tomatoes, add beans and onions. Beans make it a heartier dish and are a great economical choice, plus they pack in sensible carbohydrates and protein for a satisfying bowl.
- Soup! Soup meals are simple, filling, and a great way to balance the menu – plus they make great leftovers to freeze for future meals or to carry in lunch the next day. Make up big batches on the weekend as a time saver to make meals a snap for weeks to come.