Seasonal Series 1 of 4: Autumn Vegetable Bounty

Dairy Free Nut Free Fish Free Soy Free Gluten Free 

(This is the first of a four part series that will highlight the season’s vegetables that are available and economically priced).

Autumn is bursting with changes: Beach time turns into school time. Greenery fades away to jewel-toned hues of color. Flip flops become new school shoes and bathing suits alter to tailored suits. But the most disheartened change of the season is well-cultivated garden rows becoming grocer’s produce department aisles.

Many people with food allergies and gluten intolerances turn to backyard gardens as a way to offset rising costs of groceries. As well as the satisfaction of growing your own fruits and vegetables, gardens become a source of contentment, a way of gaining a sense of control on the limited dietary options and planning of allergy and gluten free menu options.

Until recently I have longed for months, after my last heirloom tomato was picked, for the fresh tasting, off-the-vine flavors of my own backyard garden rewards; as well as the money that was saved harvesting my own crops for the four month growing season. Now I know a trick to deceive my mind of the origin of the vegetable I consume: Discover and explore the seasonal produce that is harvested each season. Not only are they tasteful, they are also the best value and savings for your dollar and conveniently most can be found at local grocers produce departments or local farm stands.

Following is the first of a four-part series that will highlight the variety of seasonal bounty fruit & vegetables, ideas for preparations and all the right reasons to enjoy them other than that “fresh-from-your-own-garden-emotion” and savings you are sure to experience.

Butternut Squash

Basics: Grown on a vine, it is known as a pumpkin in Great Britain and Australia. Light tan colored and shaped like a vase, it has been mentioned to taste similar to a sweet potato. It has been said that the deeper the color, the riper and sweeter the squash. 

Uses: Baking, steaming – for side dishes. Soups and stews.

Complements Well With: Mates fantastic with Brown sugar and maple syrup.

Nutritional Notes: It is a good source of vitamin A & C; and an excellent source of fiber, magnesium, and potassium.

Fun Fact: The most popular variety of butternut squash, the Waltham Butternut, originated in Stow, Massachusetts, on what is now the Butternut Farm Golf Course ( one of the most beautiful golf courses and function facility in central Massachusetts.

Sweet Potato

Basics: Store them outside the refrigerator in a cool, dark and dry place. They can be cooked in a microwave for a quick and easy meal side or snack.

Uses: Baking, steaming – for side dishes. 

Complements Well With: Sprinkle with butter and brown sugar. 

Nutritional Notes: Fantastic source of vitamin A, and B-6. Good for fiber, copper and potassium.

Fun Fact: Sweet Potatoes are not just for the holidays anymore! Visit the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission web site for recipes, fun and facts.


Basics: When using for cooking, buy the pumpkins noted for pies or smaller pumpkins. They are easier to handle and cook. Select ones that have no blemishes and feel heavy for heir size compared to others.

Uses: Seeds for snacking, pies, soups & bisques, compliment in rice dishes.  Also, used for the “boo” factor every Halloween Eve.

Complements Well With: All-spice, nutmeg, cinnamon… goblins and ghouls.

Nutritional Notes: Excellent source of vitamin A & C. Good source of folate.

Fun Fact: Enjoy all the Pumpkin fun facts listed on this website:

Swiss chard

Basics: Use as salad greens or a dinner side.

Uses: Use raw as salad greens when still small and tender. Sautee in skillet with small amount of olive oil and garlic until just wilted, or wash and pat dry sparingly to steam (using the moisture that clings to the chard after washing).

Complements Well With: Garlic, vinegar and oil, toasted nuts / pine nuts.

Nutritional Notes: Good source of vitamins A and C, as well as iron.

Fun Fact: Chard belongs to the same family as spinach. Use this fanciful alternative in place of spinach in salads and recipes.


Basics: Watercress is a member of the cabbage family, botanically related to garden cress and mustard — all noteworthy for a peppery, tangy flavor.

Uses: Salads, Sides.

Complements Well With: Oils & vinegar; Butter.

Nutritional Notes: Watercress is a good source of vitamins A and C and contains a large amount of iron, calcium and folic acid.

Fun Fact: Watercress is one of the oldest known leaf vegetables consumed by humans.


Basics: Kale has a mild, cabbage-like flavor and comes in many varieties and colors. Kale's frilly leaves often form a loose bouquet.

Uses: Sauté in a skillet with olive oil until slightly wilted, or steam them using only the moisture that clings after washing. Also, a wonderful addition to soups and stews.

Complements Well With: Ingredients with soups and stews; Garlic and Oil Sauté. 
Nutritional Notes: Excellent source of vitamin A & C.

Fun Fact:  Kale is a member of the cabbage family and has been cultivated for over 2,000 years.

Embrace the fall bounty with open arms. Enjoy Indian summer days with memories of harvests past. And welcome the change of season in the produce aisles of local grocers with the same enthusiasm of discovering your own fresh garden harvest during a mid-summers dream.

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