Fall is here! Now what’s in season?

Jennifer Seleem useCool, frosty weather, colorful amber leaves, and the smell of cinnamon and pumpkin spices lingering at local coffee shops; all signs of the start of fall! When the seasons change, as do the seasonal produce. Fall is the time for some of the most delicious fruits and vegetables in New Jersey, which make for scrumptious recipes!

The quicker the produce gets from farm to consumer, the more nutritional content is retained. That’s why it’s important to select locally grown and seasonal produce. The stem, in which produce derives from, provides nourishment to produce and keeps it fresh and hydrated. Once the produce is picked, the clock to spoilage starts. When produce is exported a far distance, farmers tend to pick the fruit/vegetable before its peak ripeness because they will continue to ripen during travel. Unfortunately, when produce is disconnected from its nutrition source early, it misses out on key nutrients it could and should have. When produce misses out on nutrients we as consumers miss out as well. We do not receive all the vitamins and minerals that we could have received if the produce had reached peak ripeness. When consumers purchase local in season produce the product is getting to consumers quicker so farmers know to wait until produce has reached peak ripeness to pick it. Once it hits its peak that produce has obtained maximum nutritional quality, optimal flavor and freshness.

During this fall season look out for these delicious fruits and vegetables:

Pump up the pumpkin: Pumpkin is a great source of Vitamin A and fiber. Try adding pureed pumpkin with chopped carrots, pepper and garlic for a delicious, creamy soup. Pumpkin can be added to oatmeal, smoothies, and even mac and cheese (use pureed pumpkin) to provide a nutrition boost! When eating pumpkin, don’t forget the seeds! Pumpkin seeds are a great source of zinc which is important for the immune system along with many other of the body’s functions.

Add pizzazz to your salad: Add some pizzazz to your salads by adding some seasonal ingredients. Add bell peppers, cabbage, cranberries, apples, and even pumpkin! These fresh produce will truly add some exciting flavor to your usual salad. These fresh, in season produce are packed with essential vitamins and minerals as well as fiber that will help keep your body healthy!

Turn up the beet: Beets are a great source of vitamin K, Magnesium, and folate. Beets are a delicious seasonal vegetable that can be a great addition to any meal. Beets with fresh squeezed lemon juice are a great addition to any entrée. Next, try mixing cut up beets with goat cheese, paprika, arugula and toasted pistachios for a delicious fall, beet salad. Or you can even add beets to familiar recipes like hummus. Beets are great to add vibrant color and nutrients to any meal!

Some more fruits and vegetables that are in season for fall include: broccoli, cabbage, collard greens, cranberries, cauliflower, grapes, potato, apples, leeks, parsnips, and chard. Head over to your local farmers market and support your local farmers. They have delicious local, in season produce waiting for you!

Jennifer Seleem is a registered dietitian/nutritionist with the Institute for Weight Loss at Hackensack Meridian Health Raritan Bay Medical Center-Old Bridge. The Institute provides weight loss surgery and support for individuals seeking weight loss and have been unable to lose weight through conventional dieting, exercise or weight loss medication. To attend a free seminar, which occurs twice monthly, or to make an appointment with Jennifer for nutrition counseling, call 855-TIME-4-ME. For more information on seasonal produce, visit the State of New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s web site: http://www.jerseyfresh.nj.gov/find/availability.html.

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