Top 10: My Favorite Fall Produce & Recipes

Top 10: Favorite Fall Produce & Recipes | Jennifer Diaz

I'll be frank with you, I used to hate cooking. To me, it was merely a means to an end that I rarely had enough time and energy for. After a full day's work, the last thing I felt like doing was coming home and making an elaborate dinner. And to me, elaborate meant anything involving more than 5 ingredients. I was intimidated by any recipe that utilized unfamiliar ingredients and/or processes. I'd find myself rotating through the same 5 items week after week, and for someone who loves food and variety, it didn't take long for that to become extremely dull.

At the point I began to dread meal times, I decided it was time to take a broader look at food. In an attempt to overcome my stubborn, preconceived notions about cooking, I began searching for inspiration. I've always enjoyed reading, and am enamored with beautiful imagery, so I bought a few gorgeous cookbooks and started doing research. I had no idea how inspired I'd become once I stepped outside of my cooking comfort zone!

Top 10: Favorite Fall Produce & Recipes | Jennifer Diaz

Food is such an important part of our lives. It gives our bodies the nutrients we desperately need to thrive, it's a major part of culture, consumption involves every single one of our senses, and in my opinion, it is best enjoyed within community. Many of my favorite moments and conversations have happened over delicious, well prepared meals.

I believe food is meant to serve us in three ways: to nourish us, to allow us an experience, and to connect us to one another.

I find that if I spend a little time and effort planning ahead on the weekends, trying new recipes isn't such a chore. I even make a conscious effort to create an enjoyable environment. I open all the windows, play some of my favorite music, enjoy a little snack, and do my best to be fully present so I can appreciate the experience. Now, I find myself often looking forward to the process!

Over the past couple of years, I've become more conscious about cooking with foods that are in season and locally grown. There's something I find enriching about the experience of perusing a farmer's market, and picking foods from local farmers and growers. Knowing that foods were well taken care of from before the moment the seed was sown makes me value that food a little more.

So in my attempt to expand my cooking repertoire, I've done some research on in-season produce, and wanted to share my top ten favorites with you, along with 12 recipes that I plan on trying in the near future! These would be great for upcoming holiday gatherings:

  1. Butternut Squash: I love butternut squash, and find it incredibly versatile. My favorite recipes that include it are my own Roasted Pear & Butternut Squash Soup, and this Butternut Squash & Kale Quiche from my friend, Jessi's Kitchen.
  2. Brussels Sprouts: I enjoy experimenting with this cruciferous vegetable. I don't love bitterness, so I tend to prepare them a little on the sweet side. This Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Sweet Potatoes recipe from The Roasted Root is one of my favorites!
  3. Cranberries: Cranberries are generally the star of the holiday season, and I can't wait to try this  Cranberry Orange Ginger Salsa & Whipped Goat Cheese from The Kitchen McCabe!
  4. Artichokes: I don't have a lot of experience cooking with these beauties, but I'm really excited to try the Spicy R.D.'s Artichoke-Rosemary Tart with Polenta Crust (which is gluten-free, btw)!
  5. Pumpkin: I'll admit, I'm one of those basic girls who loves everything pumpkin spice, and I'm dying to try these Pumpkin Spice Muffins from Feast and Fable!
  6. Sweet Potatoes: One of my all time favorite vegetables. I've never met a sweet potato dish I didn't love. One of my favorites is my own Rosemary Sweet Potato Hash. I've also been dreaming about this Sweet Potato Gnocci with Broccoli Rabe and Garlic Sage Butter Sauce ever since I saw it on Pinch of Yum's instagram!
  7. Cauliflower: I've really been having fun playing around with this versatile vegetable. Right now, I love making mashed cauliflower potatoes. However, I can't pass up a delicious soup this time of year, and this Curried Cauliflower Rice Kale Soup from Cotter Crunch sounds delicious!
  8. Swiss Chard: Chard is my go-to when I get tired of kale or spinach, and this Sautéed Swiss Chard with Garlic and Lemon would make a deliciously healthy side dish! 
  9. Mushrooms: I love mushrooms and can't wait to try these Sautéed Mushrooms in a white wine, garlic, and lemon sauce. The best part about these? They only take 20 minutes to make!
  10. Acorn Squash: I've been trying a lot of new soups lately, and am excited to add this Roasted Pecan & Acorn Squash Soup to my list. Trust me, I've been fortunate enough to taste Eva's cooking before, and I can promise that you will not be disappointed!

I'd love to know: what's your favorite fall or holiday recipe?

I don't know about you, but I'm elated that "athleisure" is having a moment in the fashion world right now! I spend about 90% of my life in workout gear, and I think it's important to feel comfortable and confident, no matter if you're sweating it out in a workout class, meeting friends for brunch, or conquering your to-do list! From now on, I'll be adding a shop this post feature, so that I can share some of my favorite items with you!

All photos by Kelsey Cherry.