When you think about fall flavors, the first thing that comes to mind is probably pumpkin spice, and for good reason—it’s everywhere. From Trader Joe’s cookies to tortilla chips and hummus, the current star of fall tastes is in the ingredients list of far more than the famous latte, but pumpkin is not the only seasonal ingredient fall has to offer. For those of us who aren’t farmers, here’s a reminder: It’s the season of the harvest, and there is truly a bounty of fresh flavors to round out your spread.
Your October trips to your local grocery store or produce stand should be some of the best you have all year. So many healthy fruits and vegetables are available, you can get your familiar standbys and try a new thing or two. October may be the month of the pumpkin, but it’s also when apples, beets, broccoli, and figs are fresh, among countless other ingredients. Add them to your favorite soup, make up a colorful salad, or bake a fresh pie. In October, you should be eating well and making the most of your pre-holiday-food-coma days.
To prove our point, here are 10 October seasonal ingredients you should incorporate into your recipes this month.
Drink them in a juice or hard cider, or eat them raw or baked in a pie or crisp, few things say fall like apples. Depending on where you live, you might be able to visit an orchard and pick them for yourself. In October, more than two dozen varieties of apples are in their prime, so don’t miss out on old favorites like Granny Smiths or Fuji.
If you give beets a chance, you might just find you like the nutrient-rich food. If eating beets in soup form doesn’t sound appealing, try grilling them up or marinating them in balsamic vinegar. You might just find your palate likes them after all.
While it’s available all year long, broccoli reaches its peak taste in October. During this time, the heads will be fuller, so there will be more to enjoy. Enjoy it roasted or cooked into dishes like curry or pasta— you won’t want to eat it steamed again.
If your only experience with figs is from Fig Newton cookies, you’ve been missing out. This fall fruit is delicious with just a simple drizzle of honey or baked into treats like tarts. For a healthier spin, add figs to your salad.
Winemakers traditionally harvest grapes in October, so why not just eat them fresh, too? Pop them as a snack or roast them in the oven for an intensified flavor. Paired with cheese, they’re sure to be a treat.
Brussels sprouts may have had a bad rap when you were a kid, but as an adult, it’s easier to appreciate the nutrients, taste, and affordability of the vegetable. Purchase a stalk of brussels sprouts in October and trim them off for peak freshness. Roast them or incorporate them into a salad, you might disgust your 8-year-old self, but your current health will thank you.
If you’re not from the South, you might not be familiar with okra. The vegetable is most ripe in fall, though it’s eaten year-round. Usually served fried in cornmeal, okra can be made healthy, too. Try grilling it or pickling it.
Cauliflower is a jack-of-all-trades kind of October veggie. It can be used as a substitute for a number of less-healthy ingredients. Roast it, rice it, or make it into a pizza crust—with cauliflower, you can do just about anything.
If your only experience with sweet potatoes is the marshmallow-topped casserole, know it can be made healthy, too. And not just a kind of healthy you have to force yourself to make—one that’s actually enjoyable. Turn them into fries, bake them or cook them into pancakes. Sweet potatoes are a nutrient-dense treat of an October veggie.