By Casey Seamon, Registered Dietitian

Cool, autumnal weather has finally arrived, and with it comes an abundance of fresh-picked produce in the grocery stores. It's time to bring fall flavors into our kitchens and onto our dinner plates.

Eating seasonally enhances the taste of the produce you buy and supports local farmers and surrounding communities. In the Middle Tennessee area, there are a few different fruits and vegetables that reach peak ripeness around this time of year.

Check out the following five foods that will taste better and often be priced cheaper in the month of November.

1. Apples


Whether you’re picking them ripe from the tree at one of Middle TN’s local orchards or snagging a few from the produce section at your favorite grocery store, apples will always be full of fiber and vitamin C. There are over 2,500 different varieties grown in the United States, but the most common to the Volunteer State are Red Delicious, Golden (Yellow) Delicious, Rome, and Winesap. With only 80 calories in a medium apple, they're an excellent snack for lunchboxes or cut up in yogurt for breakfast!


2. Beets


These often undervalued vegetables are surprisingly sweet and a very good source of dietary fiber, folate, potassium and manganese. The red variety is most commonly found in the grocery store, but local farmers markets are likely to provide other colorful options such as Golden or Bullseye. Beets are delicious steamed, roasted, or even raw. They pair nicely with goat cheese, olive oil, thyme, or pecans.


3. Pears


While Tennessee is not considered one of the main states for pear production in America, there are still a number of farms in the Middle TN area that produce this delicious crop. Rich in potassium, vitamin C, and fiber, pears are wonderful raw as a snack, poached for dessert, or roasted and tossed with arugula for a delicious fall salad.


4. Pumpkins


The quintessential autumn vegetable, pumpkin is a very good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, dietary fiber, and potassium. Winter squash is an incredibly versatile ingredient used in recipes from sweet lattes and pies to savory soups and pastas. If you prefer to simply carve a jack-o-lantern, try these five different ways to flavor roasted pumpkin seeds. They're a healthy snack rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, which help lower bad cholesterol!


5. Kale


This leafy green actually has two seasons in the Middle TN region. It grows best in cool weather, so the peak harvest season is both in spring and fall. Kale is known for being a superfood, and rightfully so, as it is chock full of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, calcium, potassium, copper and manganese. It is delicious raw, chopped up in a salad with a nutty cheese like Parmesan, or cooked low and slow with garlic and crushed red pepper flakes.


Hungry for more?

Check out these 5 healthy fall recipes. Get more information on YMCA memberships and health and fitness programs at your local YMCA fitness center near you.