Friday, August 1, 2014


Fall is always an exciting time of year. The weather becomes cooler. The cast of summer turns into refreshing, vibrant colors. The sweaters and boots are revived from the closet. It is a time of renewal and new beginnings. Gone are the days of sweltering heat and agonizing humidity. Along with refreshing weather is a renewed need for comfort foods. Fall provides a variety of dynamic produce to replenish with.

Not only are the offerings showy, they are some of the most healthful gifts from nature. The rich complexion of fall produce are high in vitamins C and A. Fiber, folate, magnesium and potassium are also found in fall produce. Picking the proper produce is as important as the benefits they offer. Picking a produce that is too ripe, or not ripe enough can deplete the nutritional value.

Farmers Markets are full of vendors exhibiting the season's freshest goods. Samples are offered so you know what you are buying. Although purchasing produce directly from the grower may seem the best choice you must be cautious. Ask if the produce was treated in any manner. Insecticides and fertilizer may enhance the growth cycle, but it won't enrich the beneficial desire.

Supermarkets offer various types of produce. Most are offered by mass producers whose objective is to distribute as much produce as possible for a larger profit. Chemicals are a necessity to insure production is in line with demand. If you pick up this type of product you must be sure to carefully wash it before serving. Organic produce offered in grocery stores is guaranteed to be free of all chemical interaction. Although somewhat more expensive the health benefits will be worth the extra cost. The Federal Government has strict guidelines for distributing produce. Produce must be clearly and accurately labeled before it can be sold. Read labels carefully and ask questions if you are uncertain.

Below are some of the most desirable contributions of fall produce and how to pick the best.

Butternut squash is a pale beige colored squash. When cut open it has a deep orange, edible inside. The butternut squash has a sweet flavor and can be baked, or used in soups. To purchase a good butternut squash pick one with a smooth, solid outer shell. It should sound hollow when you thump it.

Broccoli is an extremely nutritious vegetable. Like a lot of green vegetables Broccoli is high in vitamin C, A and fiber. Broccoli can be served in soups, casseroles or salads. To get the most benefit from Broccoli it is best eaten raw. Pick a broccoli that is bright green, not faded or brownish. The crown should be firm and not droopy.

Cauliflower is very rare in color. It is one of very few white vegetables. It can be used in soups or salads. Cauliflower is best when eaten raw, such as in salads. Not only will cauliflowers offer the benefits of C, A and fiber it has an added benefit of B6. Cauliflower should be pure white and firm. There should be no soft or brown spots visible.

Spinach is a highly beneficial choice. The leaves can be used to make a salad, or blended in soups. Spinach can be cooked and served as a side dish to go with any meal. Spinach is high in vitamin A, K and iron. Spinach leaves should be crisp and bright green. They should be firm to the touch, not droopy.

Sweet Potatoes are a fall favorite. What holiday table wouldn't be complete without sweet potato casserole? Sweet potatoes are high in A, C and magnesium. Sweet potatoes are good baked and served in soups. Sweet potatoes should be solid, and hard. They should be orange in color with no brown or soft spotting.

Zucchini or green squash is versatile. It can be served in soups, casseroles or salads. In addition it may be served fried. Zucchini is full of vitamins C and A. It also contains a high amount of magnesium and fiber. Zucchini squash should be green, firm and of good size. It should be solid with no coloring or softness.

Pumpkin is the most popular of fall produce. They have been a mainstay of Halloween celebrations for decades. Pumpkins line front porches everywhere during the holiday with unique carvings for admirers to enjoy. In addition pumpkin continues to be the most useful of fall produce. Pumpkin can be used in soups, salads, casseroles and even deserts. Pumpkin continues to offer up one of the best Thanksgiving dishes ever. Pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread and even pumpkin soup are favorite fall dishes. Pumpkin is high in A, C and E. Pick a pumpkin that is firm, yet hollow to the sound. The shell should be bright orange and solid with not browning or softening.

If you want to get the best nutritional value out of fall vegetables pick fresh items free of chemicals. Serving unprocessed offers the highest, most nourishing benefit. Take advantage of flavor and uniqueness by searching for flavorful recipes. Using your imagination to create savory creations with fall vegetables can only add to the novelty of the fall breeze.

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