Autumn is traditionally the harvest season for many cultures around the world. With the harvest comes an abundance of crops that are ready to become delectable meals. While there are definitely some classic fall foods that get the spotlight, others are equally useful and tasty harvest ingredients. With that in mind, these are five foods you should try this fall!

Cranberries

Cranberries are a tart fruit best harvested from mid-September until mid-November. Besides their taste, which pairs well with proteins like poultry and pork, cranberries are popular because of their healthy qualities.

Cranberries are very healthy and pair well with proteins like poultry and pork.

They’re loaded with vitamins and antioxidants and can potentially even slow the growth of tumors and cardiovascular disease. Then, of course, there’s the common usage of cranberry juice, which can prevent and treat urinary tract infections and kidney stones, as well as promote bladder health.

How to Pick Them

Now many of us don’t have access to a cranberry farm. We get our berries at the grocery store, which means it’s helpful to know how to pick good ones. Cranberries will often come in a carton or bag at the store. Make sure they’re all ripe (a deep crimson color) without looking shriveled or mushy.

How to Use Them

Cranberries are most often associated with Thanksgiving, making a rich cranberry sauce. They can also be added to a salad to add a burst of flavor. Want a dessert? How about a healthy sorbet? Finally, cranberries match up with most proteins well, making them an invaluable option for any meal!

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are a controversial vegetable. These tiny cabbages are the most hated vegetable in America. This may be due to a gene mutation that only some people have that makes Brussels sprouts taste unbearably bitter!

Brussels sprouts may be America’s most hated vegetable, but they’re surprisingly healthy and sneakily tasty!

If you’re one of the lucky 50 percent that doesn’t have the gene mutation, these veggies are an excellent source of antioxidants, vitamins (especially vitamins C and K), several minerals, and surprisingly, protein! We may want to rethink that “Most Hated Vegetable in America” thing, because Brussels sprouts seem to love us.

How to Pick Them

When buying fresh Brussels sprouts, it’s important that they’re firm and bright green. Look for any mold or black spots, as this is indicative of a bad sprout. Older, and more likely to be bitter, sprouts will also have a yellow hue to them. It’s also good if the leaves are tightly packed, since loose Brussels sprout leaves are the result of sitting on the shelf at the grocery store.

How to Use Them

The trick to turning any sprout-skeptic into a Brussels-believer is how you cook them. A good recipe will pair the natural flavors of a sprout with an equally strong flavor. Bacon is a classic example. Garlic and parmesan cheese is another. If you want a sweeter combination, try our other fall food, cranberries. Even a simple, but not so healthy, butter sauce goes well with sprouts!

Spaghetti Squash

Fall is the season of the squash, whether it’s pumpkin or butternut. One of our favorites is the spaghetti squash.

Mimicking the texture and look of pasta, spaghetti squash is significantly lower in calories, higher in protein, and gluten-free.

Mimicking the texture and look of pasta, spaghetti squash is significantly lower in calories, higher in protein, and gluten-free. This makes it perfect for anyone with a gluten allergy or who’s on the gluten-free diet. Spaghetti squash is also rich in several vital vitamins like vitamins C and K and minerals like manganese.

How to Pick Them

A good spaghetti squash found at the grocery store should pass the squeeze test. The outside shell should be firm. Soft spots or cracks are a bad sign. You’ll want to find a squash that still has its stem, too, since this keeps bacteria out. A good spaghetti squash should be heavy, yellow, roughly eight to nine inches long, and four to five inches thick.

How to Use Them

The most obvious use for spaghetti squash is as a healthy alternative to pasta. In fact, it can act as a straight swap, with very few modifications needed to replicate the overall dish. You can either roast it in the oven before scooping it or you can serve it right in the shell for bonus presentation points.

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These are only a few of the foods you should try this fall, but there are so many others. Fall is one of the richest times for ingredients, so take this time to explore. You never know. Your next favorite ingredient could be something you always thought you hated, like a Brussels sprout, or something you’ve never heard of before!