Published:
September 16, 2022
Last Updated:
September 19, 2022

17 Ways to Make the Most of Seasonal Fall Produce

The autumnal equinox occurs near the end of September and is a perfect transition to fall produce. But what does seasonal eating mean? Eating produce in season means having these foods during or at harvest time – and the particular fruits and vegetables will vary, depending on where you live. This way of eating has many perks for your physical health as well as the health of the environment.

These benefits include:

  • More nutritious produce– When produce is picked in season, it’s at peak ripeness and nutritional value. That means more bio-available vitamins and minerals!
  • Savings– When buying seasonally, we support local farmers and the local economy. When we buy out of season, the cost of shipping the products to our grocery stores is factored in, making it more expensive for us as consumers.
  • Reduced carbon footprint – It’s estimated that 13% of greenhouse gas emissions result from food transportation. We can help to make the environment safer and cleaner by attempting to reduce our carbon footprint.

16 of the Best Fall Produce Items and Their Nutritional Benefits

These fall fruits and vegetables can be eaten on their own, in soups and stews, or blended with potent herbs and spices. You’re limited only by your creativity in the kitchen!

Apples

All varieties of apples are harvested from the end of the summer into Thanksgiving. Apples are a great source of dietary fiber – on average, there’s about two and a half grams of fiber per apple. Fiber’s beneficial in the diet, as it helps to balance blood sugar and increase satiety throughout the day.

Try them in:Apple-Quinoa Crumble from IIN founder Joshua Rosenthal

Asian pears

These subtly sweet fruits are a good source of dietary fiber, potassium, and vitamin C and are low in calories.

Try them in:Pear and Fennel Salad from IIN grad Sílvia Taveira de Almeida

Bell peppers

Red, green, yellow, and orange bell peppers contain many vitamins and antioxidants, especially vitamins C, K, and B6. Vitamin C supports the body in immune function and protects cells as a powerful antioxidant.

Try them in:Red Pepper Romesco Soup from IIN grad Isabelle Namnoum

Beets

Beets promote good gut bacteria and are a good source of fiber. Beets are also known to decrease blood pressure due to the concentration of nitrates – which, when converted to nitric oxide, helps dilate blood vessels.

Try them in:Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Pistachios from Cookie + Kate

Brussels sprouts

High in vitamins K, C, and B9 (folate), these cruciferous veggies are a nutritional powerhouse.

Try them in:Buffalo Brussels Sprouts from IIN grad Maria Marlowe 

Cabbages

Cruciferous vegetables have antioxidants that can help lower inflammation and protect cell oxidation. Eating cabbage can help improve digestion and may help lower blood pressure.

Try them in:Sautéed Cabbage with Cumin Seeds and Turmeric from Food & Wine 

Carrots

Carrots are high in vitamins A, K, and B7 (biotin) as well as potassium. They also contain carotenoids, antioxidants that can help improve immune function. One of these, beta-carotene (which is converted by the body into vitamin A), has been shown to improve eye health.

Try them in:Roasted Rainbow Carrots from IIN grad Kayla Brandon

Cranberries

These round, red berries are best known to prevent urinary tract infections as well as to improve immune function, heart health, and blood pressure. Cranberries are packed with vitamins C, E, and K, all powerful antioxidants.

Try them in:Apple Cranberry Walnut Salad from Crème de la Crumb

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Endives

A good source of potassium and folate, endives are rich in antioxidants and protect bone health and liver function. Endives are a great source of fiber and help to support digestion.

Try them in:Baked Endive with Anchovies and Thyme from Healthy Green Kitchen 

Figs

Figs are a good source of calcium, B6, potassium, and copper. B vitamins play a role in brain health and also support your mood and energy levels.

Try them in:Fig and Strawberry Raw Bites from IIN grad Shaina Benzaquen

Green beans

Green beans are a good source of vitamin K, calcium, and protein – almost two grams per one-cup serving! The body needs protein to maintain healthy hair, bones, and muscles.

Try them in:Green Bean Salad with Toasted Almonds and Feta from Cookie + Kate

Leafy greens

Leafy greens like kale, spinach, and collards are packed with essential vitamins and minerals. Eating a diet that contains leafy greens has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.

Try them in:Easy-Peasy Minestrone Soup from IIN grad Ashley Iovinelli

Mushrooms

These fungi are a good source of protein and antioxidants. Mushrooms contain beta-glucan, a soluble fiber known to improve cholesterol levels and thus improve heart health.

Try them in:Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Sautéed Mushrooms from IIN grad Ester Lazzoni

Pumpkins

Good for more than carving faces into, pumpkins are a healthy source of vitamin C, E, iron, and folate. The meat of the pumpkin’s low in calories and high in beta-carotene, the antioxidant responsible for vitamin A production.

Try them in:One-Pot Pumpkin Curry from IIN grad Grace Chee 

Squashes

Fall squashes – like butternut squash and acorn squash – are an excellent source of vitamins A, B, and C, potassium, and magnesium. Magnesium helps to support bone health and strength, and it’s also great for relieving muscle tension and stress.

Try them in:Butternut Squash Soup from Food & Wine

Turnips

Turnips are root vegetables rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant the body loves. Turnip greens are also rich in vitamins A and K.

Try them in:Turnip and Kale Gratin from Bon Appétit

The Bottom Line

The fall harvest is full of functional foods that provide incredible nutritional value. The functional foods listed above are just a small portion of those found in the fall, especially depending on where you live. Whether you’re growing it yourself or shopping at your local farmers’ market, seasonal fall produce offers excellent nutrition and great taste.

While eating a diverse diet that’s aligned with the season is one way to take care of your health, it’s about more than the food we eat – in season or not. IIN teaches the concept of primary food, where we look beyond our plates of food to include all areas of our lives in order achieve ultimate balance. Fill your fall by spending time with family, moving your body, focusing on your spirituality, or just enjoying the changing season.

Author Biography
Vanessa Clermont, MS, RD, CDN
,
IIN Content Writer

Vanessa Clermont, MS, RD, CDN, is a functional medicine dietitian at 5thandlyfe, based in New York City. She runs a private consulting practice and works with individuals on diabetes management, obesity prevention, and cancer nutrition.

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