When summer fruits and vegetables start to disappear from grocery stores, and the action shifts indoors to watching sports and munching on unhealthy snacks, it helps to have a diet plan in place to avoid weight gain.
First, remember that farmers’ markets are still open across the country. You can buy local as long as you make the shift from summer crops to fall ones. That means tomatoes and cucumbers give way to offerings like root vegetables, including carrots, parsnips and turnips, and the wide variety of squashes such as acorn, butternut, Hubbard and kabocha.
These are all great for hearty, cook-ahead soups and stews for dinners and brown bag lunches. Vegetables in the orange family, including sweet potatoes, are rich in vitamin A. But don’t overlook nutrient-dense dark, leafy greens like varieties of chard and bok choy. Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables may be abundant in your area, and they taste great roasted with a slight drizzle of olive oil and finished with a splash of balsamic vinegar — hearty enough for a vegetarian meal.
Though local melons, stone fruits and many berries may be gone, explore sweet fall fruits like apples, pears and grapes, as well as the more exotic pomegranates, persimmons and quince, the season’s first cranberries and even fall raspberries. Have fruit salads ready to snack on instead of greasy chips and crackers, or make a batch of baked apples or poached pears to satisfy a sweet tooth.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a guide to seasonal produce to make healthy eating easier year-round.