Here, 5 great ideas for preparing the delicious, nutritious foods of fall.

Eating in-season produce supports local agriculture and helps keep food costs lower. And during the fall harvest season it's also incredibly yummy. Here's a guide to some of the nutritional powerhouses that are in season, and some easy and simple ideas for how to prepare them.

Squash provides vitamins A and C, folate, omega 3 fatty acids, and loads of fiber. It's also one of the sweeter and more versatile vegetables.

Spaghetti squash

Spaghetti squash is a fun squash to play with. Pierce the outer skin several times with a sharp knife and microwave on high for 5 minutes; turn and microwave another 4, and then (if necessary) microwave a minute at a time, until soft when you press it. Then carefully (due to heat and steam) cut the squash in half lengthwise and scrape out the squash 'noodles' with a fork.

You can treat these just like pasta and top with your favourite tomato-based sauce.

Alternatively, you can make a spaghetti squash bake. Follow the instructions above but then pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius). While the oven pre-heating,toss squash noodles with:

• 1 can (796 ml) diced tomatoes
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning mix (or 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon dried basil and salt and pepper to taste).

Place in a greased casserole dish.

Top with 1 cup grated low-fat cheese or 1 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs, or combination thereof.

Bake uncovered for 20-30 minutes. This is excellent served with pork chops or grilled chicken breast.

Butternut Squash

Butternut squash is one of the sweetest squashes. Its flavour makes it a favourite to roast, simply dressed with olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper. It also makes great soup. Here's one quick and easy soup recipe to try:

• 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced (tip: to make squash easier to peel, pierce with a knife and microwave on high for 2-3 minutes. Allow to cool and then proceed.)
• 1 onion, diced
• 2 cans (284 ml each) or one box (500 ml) low-sodium chicken broth
• 1 cup water
• 1/2 to 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger (optional; you can substitute with 1 teaspoon marjoram, or 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg for different flavours)
• 1 can (370 ml) fat-free evaporated milk
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• Salt and pepper to taste

Sauté onion in olive oil until soft and golden; add in cubed squash. Cover with chicken broth and water. Add ginger and bring to a boil. Reduce and simmer 40 min, or until squash is soft when prodded with a fork. Puree with a hand blender right in saucepan (as long as it is not non-stick), or in blender until smooth. Stir in evaporated milk and warm until heated through. Season to taste. Serve with fresh whole-grain bread or a spinach salad.

NEXT: Roasted cauliflower

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Jennifer Gruden