Fall is that time of year when the air gets chilly, and we begin to spend more time indoors. Once this happens, we want to start cooking! What better way to celebrate Fall than to create healthy meals, side dishes and desserts using seasonal produce. All Hannaford supermarkets sell local, seasonal produce from that store’s local farms, making it easy for the customer to pick up their favorites, such as butternut/buttercup/acorn squashes, pumpkin, sweet potatoes and apples, just to name a few!

Fall spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice provide such a wonderful, warm aroma when cooking on the stove or in the oven in your favorite banana or zucchini bread. These spices give a nice sweet profile to your foods, and also provide many health benefits. For example, cinnamon is high in powerful antioxidants which can help reduce disease, and can have an antidiabetic effect. Nutmeg has been said to relieve pain, soothe indigestion and strengthen cognitive function, just to name a few. Sage has become very popular and is used frequently to create a savory flavor profile. I use it on many of my Thanksgiving dishes, such as on turkey or in homemade stuffing. It also works well on pork chops, roasted vegetables and butternut squash soup, or added to butter as a savory spread on vegetables or a roll. Sage belongs to the same family as rosemary, mint and basil, but has a pungent earthiness that’s different from the other Fall herbs. It also has been used to improve brain function, settle the stomach, relieve muscle and joint pain, among other benefits! If you’re looking for more information on spices, their benefits and how to use them in your favorite dishes, I suggest you check McCormick.com!

One of my favorite breakfast options for Fall is stewing steel-cut oats in boiling water, with several tablespoonfuls of ground cinnamon, walnuts, and sliced apples or pears. Cook it once and reheat it and enjoy it all week long! Butternut squash is so high in beta carotene, and I love its rich, golden-orange color. For a Fall side dish, I like to peel and slice butternut squash/fresh apples to make a squash apple casserole. Top off this savory casserole with a sprinkle of brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and sage, then dot with a healthy buttery spread, and bake it! One of my easiest go-to desserts is putting sliced apples in a casserole dish and make a topping of walnuts, brown sugar, cinnamon, flour, rolled oats and a buttery spread. Sprinkle on your topping, bake it up and voila, you have an easy apple crisp! If you’re wanting more variety, add in some leftover fresh or frozen berries to create a “fruit of the forest” variety of crisp!

Happy Fall to You All, and I hope you’ve got some great ideas to get you started in creating your own Fall dishes that will make you crave these great spices/fruits and vegetables year after year!

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