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Published on September 08, 2014

Farmers Markets, Fall Style

09.08.14

You walk from ofarmers marketne booth or truck bed to the next, savoring pungent smells and bright colors. Fresh strawberries have given way to green and gold squash, ruddy-cheeked apples, and bags of peanuts and pecans. Even after the first frost, your local farmers market can still be your first stop for nutritious, locally grown foods.

Often requiring longer cooking times than spring and summer fare, fall-fresh produce can be rich in fiber, vitamins and antioxidants.

“Eat Your Squash”

These vegetables can be striped, lumpy or hourglass-shaped. Long-lasting and versatile, winter squash can become a staple. A serving has more than 100 percent of your recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin A and 12 percent of your RDA of fiber—all that with no fat and just 3 grams of sugar.

  • Store in a paper bag in a cool, dark place.
  • Bake with cinnamon and a small amount of honey for a healthy dessert, or fill with your favorite blend of veggies, low-fat cheese, and lean ground beef or turkey for a lower-fat version of a potpie.
  • Plan on baking times of about 45 minutes.

Juicy Delights

Southerners may grow red or bronze muscadines, while New Englanders may harvest delicious blue Concord varieties. Depending on where you live, grapes ripen from midsummer through early winter. While you’re enjoying a handful, consider:

  • Grapes are rich in polyphenols, which serve antioxidant functions in lowering LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.
  • Like moderate amounts of wine, grape juice has been shown to improve mental function. And, unlike wine, you don’t have to stop at one glass. Cut grape juice with carbonated water for a lower-calorie beverage.
  • Use grape halves in salads for a sweet pop of flavor.

Squirrel Food

Oftentimes, farmers can’t get rid of pecans and other tree nuts fast enough, and end up selling them by the grocery bag. The price may be rock bottom, but after the first handful, what can you do with so many nuts?

Luckily for roadside bargain hunters, pecans are rich in vitamins E and A, as well as B vitamins and protein. They share antioxidant properties with their pricier cousin, almonds. Incorporate pecans in these ways:

  • Toast nuts by the handful in an aluminum pie pan.
  • Grind nuts and add to baking recipes for an extra bit of protein.
  • Top salads, parfaits and casseroles with toasted pecans for a healthy crunch.

Where Do I Look?

Each part of the country has different growing seasons and staple crops, so be creative. Watch for roadside stands, conduct an Internet search for local foods or start with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s farmers market locator.

Winter Squash Casserole

Ingredients
Nonstick cooking spray
1 1/2 lb. winter squash, halved
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp. dried herbs to taste
3 eggs
1/2 cup low-fat milk
1/2 cup low-fat cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

 

Directions

Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Scoop out seeds from squash halves. Place face down on sheet. Bake 40 minutes. Scoop out flesh from baked squash halves. Place in an 8‑by‑8 baking dish coated in nonstick cooking spray. Stir in oil, onion, garlic and herbs.

In bowl, mix eggs, milk, cheddar cheese and pepper. Pour mixture into pan with squash and stir. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake 30–40 minutes until browned. Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition per Serving
Calories: 180
Fat: 11g
Sodium: 180mg
Carbohydrates: 14g
Fiber: 3g

Source: fns.usda.gov

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