Saturday, September 16, 2017

Fall Produce

     If you took a poll, I bet you would find that Fall is the favorite time of year for the majority of people...agree!?  Thought so!  I don't know if it's because of the cool crisp air, football games, apple cider, festivals, hot chocolate or cozy sweaters...and I don't really care.  All I know is it makes me have all the "feels".  Don't you love driving down the street noticing all the colors changing on the trees.  Even the Produce section in the Grocery Stores take on a life of it's own.  Berries, Corn and Melons take a back seat to Squash and Root Vegetables.  Hence, your kitchen changes seasons with the new offerings.  Here are a few of my favorite cool weather rock stars: Acorn Squash,Butternut Squash, Spaghetti Squash, Brussels Sprouts, Yams, Parsnips, Zucchini and of course, Pumpkin!  Follow along and see what I create as I pay homage to the most spectacular months of the year!

Apples:  Fall is high season for Apples, but they are so delicious and in abundance that they are readily available all year long.  Apples can be used in so many ways, pies, cakes, turnovers, caramel, pancakes, fritters...or my favorite way, plain.  They make a perfect snack.  Add a little cheese or peanut butter if you want to add some protein.

Acorn Squash:  Its shape resembles an Acorn, hence the name.  This is one of the most perishable, and only lasts a few weeks in storage.  Most commonly baked, but also can be microwaved, sauteed or steamed.  These can be easily stuffed and used as a sweet or savory side dish.  And, considered a good source of dietary fiber and potassium, as well as smaller amounts of vitamins C and B, magnesium and manganese.  I also find this one of the easiest in the Squash family to cut in half!  #bonus

Butternut Squash:  Sometimes known as Butternut Pumpkin, it has a sweet, nutty taste similar to Pumpkin.  When ripe, it turns increasingly deep orange, and becomes sweeter and richer.  It is a good source of Fiber, Vitamin A,C and E, Manganese, Magnesium, and Potassium.  Although technically a fruit, it is most used as a vegetable that can be roasted, sauteed, pureed for soups, or mashed and used in casseroles, breads and muffins.  Since this is a little bit tough to cut, I always have my "Produce Guy" cut mine in half for me (better his fingers than mine...); however, that being said, a simple trick is to pierce, add to Crock Pot and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or high for 4-5 hours.  When cool enough to touch, you can halve, scrape the seeds and remove the pulp.  Otherwise, if wanting to dice and roast, then you need to cut in half, remove seeds, use a potato peeler to shave skin, then dice as needed.


Spaghetti Squash:  When raw, the flesh is solid and similar to other raw Squash, when cooked then magic happens, the flesh can be easily forked away from the sides into ribbons or stands like Spaghetti.  There is nothing, and I mean nothing, that you can't top on Spaghetti that you can't top on Spaghetti Squash.  To prove my point I am going to add a perfect 10 recipes for you to choose from! (Hot Tip: this is another example of when I ask the "Produce Guy" to cut this for me before I take it home)  We should rename this "Healthy Pasta"!






Brussels Sprouts:  These leafy green vegetables are typically an inch or so in diameter and look like miniature cabbages.  They were originally cultivated near Brussels, Belgium from which they derived their name.  These may be considered the step child of the vegetable world, however I have come to be quite fond of them.  High in nutrients, Brussels can be roasted, steamed, or one of my favorites is to use them in a Slaw.  Hop on Pinterest and explore all that these under utilized guys have to offer!  A simple method for roasting is to clean, trim and halve, add to a foil lined cookie sheet, drizzle with Olive Oil, season with Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder and bake at 425 for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.  This is a wonderful side dish to any main course.

Eggplant:  The spongy, absorbent fruit of the plant is widely used in cooking in many different cuisines, and is often considered as a vegetable, even though it is a berry by botanical definition. As a member of the genus Solanum, it is related to the tomato and the potato. Like the tomato, its skin and seeds can be eaten, but, like the potato, it is not advisable to eat it raw. The capability of the fruit to absorb oils and flavors into its flesh through cooking is well known in the culinary arts.  So many opportunities for fun Fall dishes!

Yams or Sweet Potatoes:  Who doesn't love a good Sweet Potato...(love usually is proportionate with the number of carbs...) but, have no fear, these are the good carbs...however, all things in moderation.  A 4oz portion is considered a serving, steer clear of the mega spuds.  These are rich in complex carbs, fiber and beta-carotene and can be baked, pureed, mashed and used plain or topped and stuffed.  Great in soups, savory dishes, cakes, muffins and pies.  Sweet Potatoes are one of my favorites, and I use it as a sweetener and moisturizer in many of my baked goods.


Parsnips:  This root vegetable is closely related to the Carrot, and becomes sweeter in flavor after winter frosts.  These are usually cooked, but can also be eaten raw and I have found them the best roasted.  It is true that the later the year yields the sweeter results.  Parsnips are a good source of Vitamins, Minerals and Fiber, and especially high in Potassium.  This is not a commonly used option, so I would issue a challenge to broaden your horizons and give Parsnips a whirl.

Carrots:  Carrots are a root vegetable, and although used frequently during the summer, due to their bright orange nature, they are a perfect addition to Fall.  Sweet or savory, Carrots are used from snacking to cakes, to a roasted delicate side dish.

Pumpkin:  What can we say about Pumpkin!?  It represents all things Fall, a Fall without Pumpkin would be like a Witch without a hat...there's just something missing.  Is there any other food used as much for decor as well as nutrition!? ...don't think so!  Unlike other Squash, I prefer to buy my Pumpkin already prepared in a can, you can make your own, but why would you!?  (feel free to make your own...#freak)  This is one of the most popular crops in the United States, and for good reason, these are used in Pies, Cakes, Muffins, Breads, Pancakes, Waffles and many other savory dishes as well...have you ever had Pumpkin Soup!?  There are so many options that all you have to do is type Pumpkin in my search bar and watch over 50 recipes pop up!  Famous for Fall, enjoy this super star while capturing everyone's attention this time of year!




Zucchini:  Along with certain other squashes and pumpkins, the zucchini belongs to the species Cucurbita pepo. It can be dark or light green. A related hybrid, the golden zucchini, is a deep yellow or orange color.  Zucchini is perfect all year round, but Fall have many favorites!

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