6 Fall Ingredients That Are Good For You + How To Use Them

I grew up in the Northeast, picking apples from the local orchards, and grapes from the vines in our backyard. On Saturday mornings, our house would be toasty and smell delicious from the combination of apples and cinnamon, cumin and chili, and chicken roasting in the oven. There was no mistaking the season.

I live in beautiful southern California now, so I have to work a bit harder to bring back the feel of autumn. Cooking and baking with seasonal ingredients is the easiest way no matter where you live, and it means you'll be using fresh locally grown produce, which will be most nutritious and least costly.

1. Pumpkin

Naturally sweet, this quintessential fall squash is full of potassium, protein, and vitamins A and K. It will keep your metabolism high, your skin glowing and aid in muscle recovery.

Pumpkin Latte

Forget the lattes at the local coffee bar, as they have pumpkin pie spice, but no pumpkin.To get all the great nutrients and flavors of pumpkin, try this delicious blended version at home.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup pumpkin puree
  • ¾ cup unsweetened coconut milk or soy milk
  • ½ frozen banana
  • ¼ cup cold drip coffee concentrate
  • 1/2 cup ice cubes
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup or agave (optional)

Preparation: Mix all ingredients in a blender until smooth.You may omit the coffee if you aren't looking for caffeine.

2. Apples

Although the grocer carries them year-round, they are best in the fall during their natural harvest time. They contain an antioxidant called quercetin, that can help boost and fortify your immune system, and they are full of a fiber called pectin that can help you feel fuller.

Roasted Apples

This recipe requires minimal prep, and can be made while your main course is cooking. Use it as a tasty side dish to replace canned applesauce, or as a satisfying dessert.

Ingredients

  • 2 large granny smith apples, peeled and sliced
  • 1 red delicious or rome apple, peeled and sliced
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup (optional)

Preparation: Place apple slices in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Sprinkle with cinnamon and syrup. Cover pan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and stir occasionally for about 20 minutes until the apples are soft and water has thickened to a syrup.

3. Arugula

Sure, you can get salad greens all year, but certain varietals, like arugula, are tastiest and sweetest in the fall. Arugula will add a peppery flavor to your salad while boosting bone health and reducing inflammation.

Arugula Walnut Pesto

Making pesto with arugula and walnuts rather than the traditional basil and pine nuts yield a more seasonal flavor. Serve it tossed with pasta, in place of tomato sauce on homemade flatbread pizzas, or to add flavor to chicken, fish or potatoes.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups arugula leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and roasted
  • ½ cup walnuts, toasted
  • ½ cup Manchego cheese, grated
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Preparation: Combine arugula, garlic, walnuts, cheese, salt and pepper in bowl of food processor. Pulse while drizzling in the olive oil until it forms a smooth pesto.

4. Beets

These lovely little roots taste like candy once they are roasted and their natural sugars emerge. Even better though, they help purify your blood and your liver while boosting your immune system with vitamin C. They also contain nitrates that help lower blood pressure and boost stamina and endurance.

Red Beet Hummus

Try this variation to add some flavor and color to your next soiree.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound red beets, roasted
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • juice from two large lemons
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Preparation: Blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Serve with raw vegetables or crackers, or as a spread for sandwiches.

5. Grapes

High in antioxidants and vitamin C, grapes are a natural immune booster. Their natural harvest is in the fall, when their flavor and sweetness is at its peak.

Green Kiwi Grape Juice

This juice is sweet and tart and will keep the doctor away with all its immune boosting ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 4 ripe kiwis, peeled
  • 1 cup green grapes
  • 1 large granny smith apple
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Preparation: Juice all ingredients. Serve chilled or over ice.

6. Pomegranate

This fall fruit, contains a variety of antioxidants, helping improve skin, bone quality, digestion and the immune system.

Spinach Pomegranate Walnut Salad

The sweet, juicy red seeds add flavor and color to any dish. Add them to a salad to add crunch and flavor.

Ingredients

  • 1 bag washed baby spinach
  • ½ small jicama, peeled and cut into thin slices
  • seeds from one pomegranate
  • 4 tablespoon goat cheese, crumbled
  • ¼ cup walnuts

Vinaigrette

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 tablespoons champagne vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon agave syrup or honey
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preparation: Whisk all vinaigrette ingredients together. Toss spinach and jicama into vinaigrette. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds, nuts and crumbled cheese.

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