If your idea of fall produce consists of pumpkin spice lattes and pie, it’s time to rethink what’s on your dining room table this autumn. The season is ripe (pun intended) for eating nutritious and comforting veggie-centric recipes—and not just the carveable kind.
“After cooking light in the warmer months, it’s great to start working with deeper, richer and hearty ingredients, with a variety of different applications,” says Greg Grossman, co-founder and president of meal delivery company Kettlebell Kitchen.
Read ahead for the most appetizing fall produce that you haven’t tried yet.
A close relative of the carrot, parsnips bring a bit of sweetness to the root vegetable family. “Parsnips have an impressive level of vitamin C, which can boost eye health and aid in fighting macular degeneration,” says Grossman. They’re also high in fiber and folate, which together with vitamin C can boost your heart health, Grossman says. Puree them as a replacement for mashed potatoes or serve them roasted in lieu of carrots.
The reddish leafy vegetable is not only a source of a slew of B vitamins that help metabolize fat, protein, and carbohydrates, radicchio is also high in vitamins C and K, good for the immune system and bone health, respectively. “Radicchio is one of my favorite (and vastly underrated) vegetables,” Grossman says. “I love charring it and serving with an acidic vinaigrette, gremolata, and lots of fresh herbs.”
Food of the gods? Yup, that’s what the Latin name for the tree this fruit comes from translates to. It’s little wonder then that the fruit is so delicious. “They provide a heaping amount of powerful antioxidants, are rich in fiber and can help fight inflammatory stress throughout flu/cold season,” says dietitian Megan Sewards, M.S., R.D. Add persimmons to a salad, cook them into a jam or skip over your usual fruit picks and serve them fresh over yogurt, Sewards says.
Searching for a crunchy veggie to chow down on this fall? Look no further than this herb. Along with being rich in vitamin C (good for the immune system!), fennel is also packed with important minerals like magnesium and iron. Add them to veggie juice blends or bake them with a bit of olive oil and grated parmesan for a side dish, says Sewards. “They also can be eaten raw as a crunchy snack, much like celery,” she says.
Beets: simply unbeatable when it comes to their color, flavor and health benefits. “This root vegetable is known for its deep rich ruby color and an earthy flavor that turns mellow and sweet when cooked,” says Megan Casper, M.S., R.D.N., dietitian and owner of Nourished Bite Nutrition. People who drink beet juice before an intense workout can keep going 16 percent longer, Casper says, adding that the vegetable is great raw on salads, added to a juice, or roasted and sprinkled with walnuts and vinaigrette. “Don’t forget the greens, which can be sauteed or steamed,” Casper says.
Swap out your standard spuds for the more colorful blue potato. “Not only do these peculiar potatoes look gorgeous, but they also can help lower and regulate blood pressure, help prevent blood clots, and are packed with nutrients and antioxidants,” says Julie Joffrion, fitness nutrition specialist at All Inclusive Health. Try this variety as mashed potatoes, wedges, or a fall potato salad, she suggests.
Acorn squash always seems to play second fiddle to the more well-known butternut squash, but try it once and it will likely take a top spot in your rotation. “The truth is, acorn squash tastes just as sweet and is also loaded with potassium, vitamin A and C, fiber, and magnesium,” says certified nutritional health counselor Sara Siskind, founder of Hands On Healthy. Half the acorn squash, toss the seeds, and place a mixture of chopped pistachios, quinoa, golden raisins, with cumin, salt, pepper, and olive oil inside each half of the squash and bake on 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes. “You can serve this dish as a delicious complete meal of protein, heart healthy fat, fiber and nutrients,” Siskind.
Check out all the best of pumpkins on Chowhound.
Related Video: Easy Roasted Acorn Squash
Header image courtesy of Perpetually Chic.