Whether from your garden, the farmer’s market or the grocery store shelf, fall produce is fresh, seasonal and happening now!  Eating healthy may seem harder come fall, when your favorite summer produce dwindles and the choices seem fewer and, perhaps, unfamiliar. Take advantage of the opportunity and think outside the box in your fall food preparation. Most fall produce can be prepared in a number of tasty ways and all of the produce mentioned here is grown locally.

Brussels sprouts are exceptionally rich in protein, dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Sprouts are a good source of vitamin A and are believed to help protect against cardiovascular diseases as well as colon and prostate cancer. Try roasting instead of steaming if you find them too bitter. Roasting Brussels sprouts with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper caramelizes their natural sugars and brings out a sweetness that you won’t be able to resist.

Pears. One of the highest fiber fruits, pears offer about six grams that’ll help you meet your daily requirement of 25 to 30 grams. A high-fiber diet helps to keep your blood sugar level stable, cholesterol levels down, and is linked to heart benefits as well as a reduced risk of certain cancers. Try them on their own, baked or poached, chopped in a salad or add them to a roasted pork dish for a tasty pairing.

Cauliflower is low in calories, has top notch health benefits and one head contains several anti-cancer phytochemicals and is an excellent source of vitamin C. Fans of mashed potatoes can mash cauliflower instead for an easy alternative with about a quarter of the calories and an equal amount of deliciousness.  Another way to get more veggies in your diet is to rice your cauliflower and use it instead of grain rice in your dishes.

Sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are packed with calcium, potassium and vitamins. Full of natural sweetness, nothing tastes better than simply baking them. Top with a dollop of low-fat Greek yogurt and a sprinkle of nutmeg for added enjoyment. Or slice them thinly and roast them in the oven with olive oil, salt and pepper for a crispy roasted sweet potato.

Grapes. A super food, grapes are high in antioxidants important for eye health such as lutein, and red grapes contain the phytochemical resveratrol in their skins, the antioxidant synonymous with wine known to lend protection from several chronic diseases and conditions.  Add grapes or raisins to salads and sandwiches, or freeze them and eat them as a cool, sweet treat. Don’t forget about grapes in other forms.  You can enjoycooking with grapeseed oil and, of course, wine!