The sun is setting sooner, the nights are getting cooler and wool socks are starting to sound like a cozy idea. This is the perfect time to celebrate the seasonal gems of autumn and winter by heading to your local market and filling your basket with these produce picks! When we can buy fruits and veggies year-round, we tend to forget they do have a season. Try these 5 different foods right now, as they are perfectly in season!

Sweet-PotatoSweet Potato

Sweet potatoes charge ahead of white potatoes in terms of fiber and vitamins A and C.  One medium baked sweet potato contains 4g of fiber, which is more than a packet of instant oatmeal! This can help with keeping us feeling full, and to help to stabilize our blood sugar. Their mellow, sweet taste works in all kinds of recipes. Slice into thin “coins” and toss with canola or olive oil before roasting. Sweet potato puree can also be used in foods like macaroni and cheese, oatmeal and brownies.

Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash is a lower-calorie and gluten-free alternative to grain-based pasta. Cut it in half to reveal a pocket of seeds; scoop those out and pop the two halves into the microwave or oven and cook until tender. Scrape a fork into the flesh and spaghetti-like strands appear! Voilà! Toss with pesto or fresh tomato sauce for a quick veggie side dish, or a lean meat tomato sauce for a main dish.

Pear-150x150Pears

Pears are most delicious in the fall and early winter. Pears are unique in that they do not ripen on the tree but will ripen at room temperature after they’re picked. How do you know when they are ready to eat? Check the neck! If the fruit near the stem gives to a little pressure, it is ripe. Try pears on the grill, tucked into a panini, pureed into soup or a smoothie, or simply sliced with cheese and nuts. If you eat the peel too, one medium pear has 6 grams of fiber – that’s 20 percent of the daily recommendation!

Clementines

Clementines are an adorable winter citrus packed with vitamin C and fiber. They also contain calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and potassium for strong bones and good muscle function. These are easy to peel and fun to eat, making them perfect for snack. You can also toss the sections into salads to make greens more appealing.

Beet-150x150Beets

Beets are edible from their leafy greens down to the bulbous root. The leaves are similar to spinach and are delicious sautéed. The grocery store most likely will carry red beets; although there are golden varieties as well. The red color in beets is caused by a phytochemical called betanin, making beet juice a natural alternative to red food coloring. Beets are rich in naturally occurring nitrates and may help to support healthy blood pressure. Roasting or steaming beets whole takes the fuss out of peeling — the skin easily slides off. They’re also delicious raw, shredded and tossed in salads or thinly sliced and baked into chips.

Article adapted from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.