Fall is a great time to explore the fruits and vegetable aisles at the grocery store or farmers market; so many varieties of squashes and colourful root vegetables await discovery. Not to mention the cooler days mean the perfect opportunity to add fall veggies to soups, stews, slow cookers and roasting pans.
Use the bounty of fall produce to introduce your family to new flavours and teach them the difference between a parsnip and a rutabaga. You never know, there just might be a new vegetable in there that they like (who knew my 11 year old daughter liked turnip!). If there are no takers for the Brussels sprouts not to worry, you can still add some of these great fall foods into the dishes the kids already like with these meal ideas.
So many squashes to choose from: green ones, yellow ones, round ones, long ones and so many different flavours. Try them all! Spaghetti squash is scooped out with a fork after it is cooked and creates spaghetti-like strands, hence its name. Butternut and acorn squash are the more traditional orange squash full of beta carotene.
Meals Ideas: Top spaghetti squash with your favorite spaghetti sauce and you have an alternative to noodle night. Cook, puree and add squash to soups with roasted garlic or this macaroni and cheese recipe – kids will love it!
We go apple-picking every fall but this year I did something a little extra. I purchased 8 different varieties of apples and the whole family did a taste test at the kitchen table of all the apple varieties and guess what? After 9 years of eating Gala apples we all found a new favorite – Honey Crisp!
Meal Ideas: Apples go great with pork in the slow cooker, green apple in your curry and apples, and applesauce are perfect for baking in everything from these Chocolate Zucchini Cookies to this overnight slow cooker oatmeal; or use apple chips in these apple cinnamon granola bars.
Versatile and healthier than regular white potatoes, especially when eaten with the skin on, make the sweet potato a valuable addition to your weekly vegetable rotation.
Meal Ideas: Boiled, roasted, mashed, baked whole or as fries, the options are almost endless. Peeled, cooked and pureed sweet potato can be added to soups, stews, sauces and adds great colour and flavour to hummus for dipping.
Such a funky fruit once you peel back the layers and a good source of potassium, fibre and Vitamin C but how do you get at all those seeds? A request to buy a pomegranate from one of the kids, a lesson on how to slice then peel back the skin to form wedges similar to an orange from the internet, and we are now a pomegranate eating family.
Meal Ideas: Pick seeds out of wedges and eat as is or sprinkle on salads, cereal or morning oatmeal for a sweet crunch.
You either love ‘em or hate ‘em but you can’t deny these mini members of the cabbage family are good for you.
Meal Ideas: They can be sliced and eaten raw in a salad or steamed whole as a side dish. If you are not a fan, try slow roasting them in the oven with a little extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar for a new flavour and give them another try.
Round, small and purple, the turnip is often confused with the rutabaga (or the rutabaga is confused with a turnip). Either way, these winter wonders are harsh-tasting to some and yummy to others. Experiment and, if nothing works, they are great pureed and slipped into quiche, casseroles and soups.
Meal Ideas: Turnip can be grilled, sautéed, roasted or eaten raw but are commonly boiled in water with a potato to remove any bitter taste then enjoyed mashed on their own or with your favorite spices. They can be mixed with mashed carrots for a colourful Autumn dish.
The sweet partner to the turnip and root vegetable family, parsnips have a nutty flavour, are loaded with folate and fibre and look like over-grown white carrots. The kids think they taste like carrots too when cooked.
Meal Ideas: Wash and peel if skin in thick, then chop and cook in soups and casseroles, roast in oven or cut length wise to make yummy parsnip fries.
So versatile and colourful, look for yellow and orange beets to add colour to your roasting pan! Beets are best known for turning everything they touch a deep crimson and can even be added to your favourite smoothie to make it pretty in pink and super healthy. High in folate, potassium, fiber and even iron, beets are a fall food you should get friendly with.
Meal Ideas: Pickled, roasted, boiled, sautéed or raw, beets can be added to any salad, soup, or smoothie.
Dates, or date palms, grow on long strands in palm like trees in hot climates and are harvested in the fall. This sweet fruit is high in fibre, antioxidants, potassium and iron and is very versatile.
Meal Ideas: Large dates can be stuffed with blue cheese, goat cheese or melon, wrapped in prosciutto and served as an appetizer, eaten ‘as is’ for a sweet treat or ground with rolled oats to make these no bake, nut free Chocolate Power Balls that even the kids will love.
Thanksgiving and turkey dinners have made the cranberry a staple fruit in the Fall but their good for you nutritional profile suggests we should be eating these more often.
Meal Ideas: Cranberries add a sweet and slightly tart flavour to any baking and dried cranberries are perfect in these instant oatmeal packs for a quick breakfast on the go.
Experiment at with these and more fall foods at the grocery and get the whole family to try something new. You just might find a new favorite for your warm Autumn meals.
Macaroni and cheese recipe – http://raisinghealthykids.co/2014/03/29/kids-favorite-food-made-healthy-mac-cheese/
Chocolate zucchini cookies – http://raisinghealthykids.co/2014/08/21/school-snacks-chocolate-oatmeal-zucchini-cookies/
Overnight slow cooker oatmeal – http://raisinghealthykids.co/2014/11/05/slow-cooker-favorite-overnight-apple-cinnamon-steel-cut-oats/
Apple cinnamon granola bars – http://raisinghealthykids.co/2014/10/16/school-snacks-healthy-apple-cinnamon-granola-bars/
No-bake, nut-free, chocolate power balls – http://raisinghealthykids.co/2014/09/09/school-snacks-nut-free-chocolate-power-balls/
Instant oatmeal packs – http://raisinghealthykids.co/2014/06/13/lazy-girls-guide-to-perfect-oatmeal-oatmeal-to-go/