Across the United States, Americans experience Fall in many different ways. Some have been shoveling snow since early September, while others sip on iced coffees under a blanket of blue sky. But regardless of where you call home, the flavors of Autumn find a way to bring everyone together.
Traditionally, the Fall equinox represents the balance between the seasons, providing an opportunity for regeneration and regrowth. Many of the foods that are harvested during the August and September months contain a variety of valuable nutrients, boast some of the strongest flavors, and allow for a cozy and playful menu. We are sure there are some items on this list that might surprise you, but will leave you curious and inspired to try them out for yourself.
BALANCE & TRANSITION
Throughout the hot summer, we top our salads and stuff our pastas with crisp cherry tomatoes. But as the seasons change and the cool chill of Autumn begins to set in, the pomegranate becomes ready for harvest. You might never guess that this little treat is packed full of antioxidants, and eaten during colder months can help to boost your energy, alleviate aches, and prevent heart problems. Pomegranate seeds can easily be tossed on lemon-ricotta pancakes, packed into your favorite burrito bowl, or enjoyed on their own.
We recommend trying a meal from Tocaya Organica in Los Angeles, where pomegranates are used to tease quite a few of their dishes. From guacamole to burrito bowls, they utilize this fruit to the fullest extent.
INTRIGUE & URGENCY
The Quince might just be the most elusive fruit of all time. Often lost in the shuffle of more popular options like pumpkin spice and cinnamon apple, this forgotten fruit packs a punch; bringing juicy flavors to any sweet or savory meal. When consumed raw, the Quince is actually quite tart. For this reason, most like to cook the fruit or preserve it as a jelly, where the flavor lands somewhere between a pear and an apple. Adding to its mystique, the Quince can only be harvested from the end of September to the beginning of December, making it even more of an Autumn necessity.
If you want to pick one up before they disappear, try adding some to a tray of pork chops or dicing a handful for your morning oats. Your friends and family will be impressed.
HEALTH & PREVENTION
Beets are incredibly impressive little vegetables, spilling over with the necessary health benefits to send you confidently into the cold winter months. From a long list of vitamins and minerals to properties that increase brain power and promote weight loss, you might consider the Beet to be the “Hercules” of Fall. They can be enjoyed mixed into a recipe for baking, or a raw addition to salads and appetizers. If you are new to pairing meals with beets, be sure to select the smaller bulbs, as they tend to have a more powerful flavor.
Many of our favorite spots have elected the beet as a part of their menu. One of the most delicious and beneficial options comes from Kreation Organic Juice in Southern California, where you can toss back an Enlighten shot packed full of nutrients, or sip slowly on a Trinity Twist for flavor.
WARMTH & INDULGENCE
If your notion of fall snacking relies heavily on pumpkin spice, listen up! While pumpkins are indeed delicious, the earthy, nutrient-rich butternut squash takes the cake. Literally. Since the squash is not grainy or watery like the pumpkin, it is much easier to bake into your desserts without encountering texture issues. The flavor profile, consisting heavily of nutty, creamy, and buttery flavors, pairs extremely well with meats and treats alike. These bold flavors immediately inspire an excitement for winter – prompting many to use it a signature menu inspiration from late August through the end of January. Some have even used the squash as an addition to their lattes, spicing up a cup of joe with a handful of pumpkin seeds sprinkled over foam for texture.
If you live in New York City, head over to Gran Morsi in Lower Manhattan. Their Braised Short Ribs are paired with a rich butternut squash & onion puree that is practically to die for.
SPICE & SEDUCTION
Often thought to be a Summer staple, the chili pepper spends the majority of July and August baking in the sun; only ready for gathering once the Fahrenheit scale hits singular digits. These little fighters are often enjoyed year-round, but make a wonderful addition to soups, stews, and meat options during the chilly months. Similar to how you might opt for a glass of brandy rather than reaching for your coat, the chili pepper provides the same belly-warming heat that we crave. Originating in Mesoamerica, the oil was often used by Aztecs and Mayans to heat food or cure illness.
Han Dynasty of NYC has a wide variety of options containing the peppers, making for sharp and intriguing flavors. Whether diced, minced, or used as an oil, they are sure to pack a punch.
Food is so much more than a necessity. From the decisions we make in the grocery store to what eventually ends up on our plate, every bite has the opportunity to delight us with flavor and assist in maintaining health. Thankfully, each season provides us with fresh and exciting options to bring to the table; inspiring new creations and helping to form happy memories with family and friends.
The best part?
Anyone can cook!
Feeling Inspired: Check out this list of Less-Guilty Comfort Foods as we head into the holiday season!
Images by: Judy Doherty, Monica Grabkowaska, Mette van der Linden, and Frank Vex