The importance of eating healthy these days can never be stressed enough. If you keep on consuming processed food, junk food, or fast food items, you are not necessarily living a healthy lifestyle. This is especially true if you do not make the extra effort to exercise regularly.
Thankfully, there are many in-season fruits and vegetables; pantry essentials; lean meat cuts; and seafood items which, when cooked together, make up for a delicious, healthy and very affordable home cooked meals.
The key to saving money while eating healthy is to look for fresh, cheap, natural ingredients – none other than fruits and veggies which are in season. With the heat of summer slowly being replaced by the golden colors of autumn leaves, there are plenty of in-season fruits and vegetables which you can use for your home cooked dishes.
Here, we will take a look at the top ten pantry items which you can stock up on during the upcoming fall season.
Top 10 Pantry Items to Stock Up On During the Fall Season
If you bought a nice cut of salmon steak from the grocery store, you can flavor it with fresh herbs and put it on the grill. Combine it with mashed cauliflower and steamed runner beans, then you will have a healthy, filling and not-so-expensive meal for dinner at home. This is the idea behind stocking up your pantry with whatever’s in season as well as the items that you will need year-round.
Herbs, for example, are always needed in pasta dishes and stews. Tomatoes can be cooked in advance as pasta sauce and kept in the fridge for weeks. Seasonal fruits like pears and berries can be candied, made into jam or dried for longer keeping.
By doing different things with seasonal fruits and veggies, you can vary the taste of the food you’re going to serve your family without having to spend too much, and still enjoying the original nutritional value.
To give you an idea about the top ten pantry items, in-season fruits, and vegetables that you should stock on this fall season, take a look at the following list:
1. Grow Your Own Herbs
Herbs add instant flavor to almost all savory dishes – even infused water where you can mint to cucumber slices, or rosemary to berries. During the spring and summer season, the most abundant herbs that you can get are rosemary, mint, basil, cilantro, and parsley. During the fall and winter season, these herbs may not necessarily be available in the market fresh – so try growing your own at home.
You can plant herbs even on a tiny windowsill garden, or grow them in small pots in the rooftop. Use fresh herbs whenever possible.
However, if fresh herbs are not handy, you can always use the dried variety. Some of the must-have dried herbs are oregano, sage, thyme and even lavender. Lavender can be stirred into sauces for chicken or lamb or can be placed inside the cavity of the meat prior to roasting or grilling. Do use up dried herbs within four to six months of opening the container to retain maximum flavor.
Tomatoes are actually vegetables which can be consumed year-round. During the fall season, you can consume them fresh. The best way to make fresh tomatoes last if by freezing them. Blanch the tomatoes in hot water to get rid of the skin. Then, store in containers which are freezer-friendly, making sure to leave at least one inch of room on top.
What’s good about eating tomatoes is that they are actually healthier when cooked because the body absorbs more lycopene, a compound which helps prevent certain types of cancers as well as cardiovascular disease.
If you have a bunch of red tomatoes, cook them in advance for pasta sauce or sauce for soups and stews. Frozen sauces can be kept in the fridge for weeks, and you have the utmost convenience of enjoying healthy meals minus the long wait and preparation time.
A very easy way to turn any meal into something healthy is to toss some greens for a salad. While you’re in the farmer’s market, always pick up whatever greens you can stumble upon. During the autumn season, some of the most abundant greens which you can always buy fresh are kale, lettuce, and spinach.
Lettuce is a staple ingredient in salads – you can toss the greens with nuts, cheese, and whatever leftover meat or cold cuts you have along with the dressing. Other lettuce varieties can be mixed with pine nuts, garlic, and dressing for something healthy. If you can’t find fresh spinach, buy the frozen ones and store them in the fridge to always add that healthy factor to your meals.
Popularly known as zucchini, courgette is a member of the squash family which has edible skin, tender flesh and seeds. Available in green and yellow variants, courgettes grow plentiful during the fall season.
The flowers can also be eaten coated in batter and deep-fried; steamed or baked. This vegetable does not need peeling, simply remove the top and tail. It can be dried, steamed, or even served raw when sprinkled with lemon juice and black pepper.
5. Runner Beans
Another vegetable variant which is in season during autumn is runner beans. These long, flat beans have a coarse outer layer. After washing, the strings from the sides need to be removed, as well as the top and tail.
Runner beans can be boiled, steamed or incorporated in other vegetable dishes. One example of a dish that you can whip up using runner beans is to stir fry them with a bit of oil, garlic, chopped red chilli, sherry, some sugar and rice vinegar. They can also be included in salads once steamed or boiled.
The abundance and smell of apples is as good a sign as any that the fall season is here. It’s probably one of the best fruits that you can easily incorporate in almost any recipe. Crisp apples can be chopped and served with cheese or combined with grapes and other ingredients for Waldorf salad.
You can also make candied apples or chocolate-dipped apple slices for dessert. Of course, there’s the traditional apple pie that you can bake, or you can turn these delicious fruits into jam or sweetened preserves.
Blackberries are harvested abundantly during the fall season. They’re plump, sweet, and juicy – making for the perfect snack even before you do anything with them. Raspberries, strawberries, and blackcurrants can be combined together with whipped cream for a simple, sinful yet healthy dessert. You can also incorporate these delicious berries in pies, cakes, strudels, and other dessert recipes.
Cauliflower has cream-colored florets can be eaten raw or cooked, and are harvested during the fall season. There are different variants available including baby cauliflowers and Romanesco cauliflowers. These veggies are rich in vitamin C, folate, and contain flavonols as well as flavonoids for good health.
To prepare, you can cut away any outer leaves and trim the hard part of the stem. Wash thoroughly, then cut into small florets for even cooking. The stem can still be used for soups and stews so don’t discard just yet. Cauliflower can be mashed and used as a substitute for mashed potatoes. It can also be cooked in delicious recipes like Stir-Fried Cauliflower with Spicy Nuts or can be combined with other veggies for a Mediterranean couscous.
Kale is a leafy green which grows abundantly during the fall season. As you may already know, they are very healthy veggies which can actually be turned into chips for an ultra-healthy snack. Kale can be blended into a healthy smoothie or juiced. You can chop them and combine with other greens for a healthy salad, or sautéed in olive oil and garlic for a nutritious stir fry.
10. Pumpkins, Pears, and Peppers
Finally, no fall veggies list would be complete without pumpkins. It is the proverbial vegetable for the season and everyone goes crazy picking and cooking them. However, pumpkin by itself is actually not that flavorful – so it can be combined with pears for sweet dishes, or peppers for savory dishes.
You can also process pumpkins a dozen different ways to come up with recipes for homemade pumpkin pasta, or pumpkin empanadas, pumpkin muffins, roast pumpkin salad, etc.
Pears are at their best during the fall season and can be paired with blue cheese as well as balsamic vinegar for a delicious salad.
You should also consider stocking up on bell peppers, poblanos, and jalapeno peppers during the fall season.
Other fruits and veggies that you can stock up on during the month of September, the start of the fall season, are the following:
- French beans
- Sweet corn
Which among these pantry staples are you looking forward to cooking during the start of the fall season?
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