Thursday, October 17, 2013

5 Fall Foods to Add to Your Shopping List

Time for fall foods like apples and pumpkin!
Time for fall foods like apples and pumpkin!
Image: Shutterstock
As I’ve gotten older (and, I hope, a bit wiser), I’ve come to a disheartening conclusion: just like the weather, foods have seasons. While I wish with all my heart that perfectly ripe strawberries were available year round, I now know that they’re not. Growing up, most of my vegetables came from the freezer or a can—not fresh off the produce stand. We’d get some things fresh—lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, strawberries, apples, oranges—but most of the time the season meant little to what produce we consumed.

My dad’s battle with Meniere’s disease brought to light the insane amounts of sodium and other preservatives often added to canned and prepared food. Since I started cooking for myself, I’ve felt the same battle I’m sure plagued my mother: convenience versus freshness.

Because I’m now trying to buy most of my produce fresh, it means I have to pay more attention to seasons. There’s a reason tomatoes look so wonderful in the summer and so pathetic in January—they’re not in season. Oh, you can find them, but they will likely lack flavor and seem lackluster. Instead of buying wimpy produce when it’s out of season, I adjust my weekly menus to include in-season foods instead.

Eat more kale! It's delicious!
Eat more kale! It's delicious!
Image: Shutterstock
This time of year has so many foods that just feel good for the soul, don’t you think? Here are some foods that are currently in-season that you can center your autumn meals around:
  1. Apples—Make overnight oats with apple, cinnamon, and a dash of brown sugar.
  2. Broccoli—Tis the season for soup! Try something new, like a broccoli apple soup; or a broccoli, lemon, and Parmesan soup.
  3. Kale—I love making kale chips for a healthy snack. Just spread on a baking sheet, spritz with olive oil, and add a bit of salt and pepper. Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes.
  4. Pumpkin—Last week, I made a pumpkin curry soup similar to this one. Try roasting and pureeing your own pumpkin for an extra-fresh meal!
  5. Sweet Potatoes—try these maple sweet potato pecan burgers—they are DIVINE!
If you absolutely need an ingredient that’s not in season, look for canned or frozen varieties that don’t add a bunch of extras in. I find that Trader Joe’s is a wonderful option for canned tomatoes in the off-season—just get the “no salt added” or “low sodium” varieties. They do add a tiny bit of salt, but not nearly as much as some other brands.

Happy fall, everyone!