Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fall Foodie Fun (another FFF)

Can you believe summer's over already? This coming Tuesday marks the first day of Fall! That means the coming of the end for peaches, tomatoes, green beans, and all those other summer good-eats. But don't get too disheartened because autumn gives way to a whole new batch of fresh fruits and veggies.

Start looking for these star items in your local farmer's market (or garden) the next time you're out:

- Fall greens (these include swiss chard, collards, and kale of which continue to thrive all the way into the early days of winter) - Best eaten simply steamed or sauteed with a little bit of olive oil, S&P, and garlic

-Butternut Squash- Mmm, these are sure to keep your tummy full and warm you up when those cool, breezy days start rolling your way- Best when baked in the oven with olive oil, S&P, and a sprinkle of cinnamon and a drizzle of honey if desired.

-Pears- These sweet treats are great for eating as is and make handy snacks. Try munching on some Asian pears which are currently at their prime. This variety of pear has a firm texture, but is as sweet and juicy as a watermelon.

-Apples- Nothing tastes better than an apple freshly picked off the tree. When apples are sold locally, it generally means they'll be riper = a sweeter, fresher taste. When the apples aren't being shipped halfway across the continent, growers are able to pick the appples closer to their peak ripeness, which means a better tasting apple for you.

-Sweet potatoes- This bright orange, vitamin A-filled vegetable is nature's candy. Naturally sweet and delicious, all these babies need is to be baked in the oven until soft and then seasoned with a little S&P. Add a dab of butter if you desire a little extra richness. Sweet potatoes also have quite the reputation. The Center for Science in the Public Interest has ranked sweet potatoes as #1 in nutrition among all vegetables. Dig in.

-Leeks- As a member of the onion family, leeks generally resemble onions, containing layered bulbs that are attached to long, leafy stalks. The taste can also be compared to that of onions, however leeks are much milder. They are great to use in soups, as well as in sautees. Use the light green stalks as well as the outer layers of the bulb, and simply sautee with a little olive oil and S&P.

So get out there and start sampling fall's wide array of fruits and vegetables. As winter rolls in, your chances to eat locally will quickly diminish, so don't be afraid to gourge yourself on produce in these next coming months. Eating locally is better for for both your body and the environment, so it's important to do so whenever possible. Harvard's Center for Health and the Global Environment states, "Food that is grown and harvested locally is usually given more time to ripen, increasing its nutrient value" (as well as its taste!). It also cuts down on the tons of greenhouse gas emissions generated by carting foods long distances.

Go to your farmer's market (or even better, your local garden) and get some produce. It's relatively simple to cook up. As a general rule of thumb, vegetables taste great either steamed until tender, or sauteed with some garlic. Either cooking method can be seasoned with some olive oil and S&P (as well as citrus or sweetness depending on the veggie). For fruits, savor them just as they are or try baking them and turning them into a dessert.

Happy Fall!

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