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Warm Up Your Fall Menu with Seasonal Foods

It’s getting cooler outside and leaves are changing colors which means that it’s time for restaurants to freshen up their dishes with some fall flavors. However, making the usual hearty dishes that come along with the brisk days doesn’t have to mean forgoing healthy options. We’ve found some great recipes using seasonal veggies ranging from the traditional to the more unique to help you ensure that your fall dishes will warm guests up without making them pack on the pounds.

Spicing Up the Seasonal Standby

Though pumpkin pie may be the first food that comes to mind this time of year, it doesn’t mean that the classic has to be outdated and boring. Two trendy takes on the traditional pumpkin pie can easily perk up the treat and create new customer interest.

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One option would be to stick with the conventional idea of the pumpkin pie but instead of just serving a simple slice, offering up individual mini-pies (try this recipe from Dashing Dish). In an article from USA Today on the mini-dessert trend, Pillsbury marketing manager Angela Rassi commented, “Consumers don’t want big desserts, but do want little indulgences.” This means guests may be a bit more likely to order the treats based on the thought that since there’s less there it will be lighter and less fattening, but still a little decadent.

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Another take on the fall favorite is also a classic (and is even the official state treat of Maine), the whoopie pie. This nostalgic dessert (try this recipe from Eat, Live, Run) comprised of two cake-like outsides with a cream filling has experienced a resurgence in popularity recently and has even been touted as the “next cupcake” in some circles. The classic pumpkin flavor is a perfect opportunity to temporarily introduce a trendy new item to customers and gauge their reactions before making it a permanent fixture on your menu.

But as much as everyone would love to have a menu full of desserts, it may not be the healthiest way to reach your customer base. While baked goods are tasty, it’s important to remember that there are also several fruits and vegetables in season this time of year that can serve as comfort food (with much fewer calories). Below, we’ve gathered a few of the tastiest seasonal items for fall to guide your menu in a healthy, unique and colorful direction.

Brussels Sprouts

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Food Fact: The Ethicurean blog states that, “Belgians claim that the sprouts, eaten at the beginning of a meal, prevent intoxication…”
Harvest Period: September to mid-February
Health Benefits: Cooking Light says, “Like other cruciferous vegetables, Brussels sprouts are full of phytonutrients (natural plant compounds), which may help protect against cancer.” This vegetable is also a great source of vitamins A and C, potassium, fiber and iron.
Recipe to try: Brussels Sprout and Goat Cheese Turnovers from Honest Cooking



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Food Fact: According to Mott’s, “25 percent of an apple’s volume is air. That is why they float.”
Harvest Period: August to October
Health Benefits: Apples are high in fiber, low in calories and have no cholesterol or fat. Also, a helpful source of vitamin A and niacin.
Recipe to try: Carmel Apple Cupcakes with Salted Carmel Buttercream from Cupcake Friday Project




Jerusalem Artichoke (aka Sunchoke)


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Food Fact: They are neither from Jerusalem nor are they artichokes. However, they do sometimes have similar flavor to that vegetable. According to Eat the Seasons, “The Jerusalem part is thought to be derived from girasole, the Italian for sunflower to which they are related.”
Harvest Period: November through February
Health Benefits: A great way to get vitamin B1, vitamin C, potassium and iron. Plus, they are fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium free.
Recipe to try: Pan-fried Jerusalem Artichokes in Sage Butter from bon appétit on Epicurious



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Food Fact: According to Health Diaries, “In Greece, a traditional housewarming gift is a pomegranate placed under or near the ikonostasi (home altar) of the house in order to bring good luck, fertility, and abundance.”
Harvest Period: September through February
Health Benefits: Fat, cholesterol and sodium free. Great source of potassium, iron and vitamin C.
Recipe to try: Duck Breasts with Pomegranate Walnut Sauce from Martha Stewart



Surprising Customers with Something Different

Although, there are a seemingly endless amount of ways to prepare the traditional produce of autumn, this time of year also brings the opportunity to work in a few attention-grabbing elements as well. Two of these components are probably items you’ve seen, but never realized were actually edible, celeriac and marigolds.

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Celeriac is quite simply the root of a type of celery plant and is very similar in taste to the celery stalk. This often overlooked item is edible and extremely health. In fact, according to Mark’s Daily Apple, “…One study from Harvard University suggesting that men who ate nine servings a day of celeriac and other potassium-rich foods had a 38% reduced risk of stroke.” The Daily Unadventures in Cooking blog suggests eating this root vegetable in a soup.

The marigold flower can have a double use as a table decoration and an addition to many dishes. According to What’s Cooking in America marigolds have a spicy to bitter flavor similar to saffron. Taste of Home suggests sharing your marigold’s with guests in a marigold cheese dip.

With these fresh recipes incorporating common ingredients and unique components, keeping guests warm, interested and comfortable with your fall menu will be as easy as (mini-pumpkin) pie!

Do you have a favorite fall recipes or new edible item? Share them with us in the comments below!