What would we do without the seasons?

I can’t imagine life without them. They show us the passing of time. They give us something to look forward to (and perhaps even dread).

And for me, they serve as a reminder of the month we are in!

Without them, life would be boring.

The seasons are marked by changes in foliage, the weather, major holidays, and the availability of certain fruits and vegetables.

I’ll admit — growing up I wasn’t so much aware of the fruits and vegetables part.

From what I remember we ate apples, bananas, and oranges all year round. And green pepper, carrots, broccoli and tomatoes were the vegetable staples. I remember having strawberries in the summer and butternut squash around Thanksgiving. But that is it.

It seems almost impossible that I wasn’t more aware of more seasonal fruits and vegetables and the many benefits of eating seasonally.

Here are the three main benefits…

You Are Eating at the Peak of Freshness

It’s no secret that fruits and vegetables are at the peak of freshness right when they are picked.  As time passes, the nutritional value (vitamins, in particular) starts to fade.

Plants have a climate that is optimal for them. That makes it easier for them to grow – as the soil, the sun, and the temperature are just right. Not only will they be loaded with nutrition because they are getting exactly what they need, but their flavor will also be at its peak.

We are talking mouth-watering-you-don’t-need-to-add-anything-to-it delicious.

That’s what the hype is all about in buying ‘seasonal, local’ produce.   If it’s in season where you live, the local farms will be growing them. They’ll be ripe for the picking. And they could be on your plate the same day in some cases.

You’ll Save Money

It’s basic economics here.  When there is a lot of supply, prices will be lower.  Weekly sales, bundle deals – you name it.  Stores and farmers want to get their harvest out and moving.  You’d be hard pressed NOT to find a deal on berries in the summer. The larger quantity you buy, the larger your savings.

You benefit because …

It’s EXACTLY What Your Body Needs

With the changing seasons, come different needs.

In the fall, your body is adjusting and preparing for shorter days and colder weather.

Cold and flu viruses are lingering, waiting to find a ‘home’. Pollen is in the air producing fall allergies.

You’re mood and energy levels are different. The sun goes down earlier and earlier calling you to go home. You might even feel a little depressed.

We move from grilling outside to roasting inside; from raw salads to warm bowls of hearty stew.

The fruits and vegetables of fall offer the perfect ingredients for all these shifts.

Fall fruits and vegetables include:

  • Root vegetables like beets, sweet potatoes, turnips and rutebega;
  • Cruciferous vegetables like Brussel sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage;
  • Fall fruits like apples, pears, persimmons and pomegranate; and
  • Winter squash like acorn, butternut, delicate and kabocha.

These foods are high in carotenoids (vitamin A), vitamin C and antioxidants like quercetin and allicin, which help fight viruses and allergies. Winter squash also is high in serotonin which will help brighten your mood.

As your planning our meals this week, make sure you include some of these fall goodies.

Last year I gave you this awesome stuffed squash recipe – check it out.  And I taught the first All About Squash cooking class. It was so much fun I am doing it again!

I invite you to join me for my All About Squash Cooking Class at Taste Kitchen & Table (Fairfax, CA). We will be cooking a variety of fall’s sweetest bounty. For more details and to register, click here. There are only a few spots left.

Register by midnight Monday, October 26th and get the early bird discount.