Fall produce at your farmers market is in full swing. Persimmons and pomegranates color the market with their vibrant orange and red hues.
Winter squash offers shades of orange, yellow and dark green, and mounds of bright green Brussels sprouts, lettuce, broccoli and artichokes fill the tables.
Have you ever tried a winter squash called kabocha? It look like a dark green pumpkin and has a bright orange interior. Full of sweet nutty flavor, these winter squash offer a heavy dose of antioxidants and vitamins.
They're delicious when cut in half, seeded, and baked with a little butter or olive oil and cumin, salt and pepper.
Pomegranates are called "the jewel of autumn." These big, funny-looking fruits have leathery skin that, when cracked open, reveal rows of bright red seeds filled with juice.
They are high in vitamin C and potassium, a great source of fiber, and low in calories. Eat the seeds right from the fruit, or juice them for a very healthy drink.
Sprinkle the seeds on salads, add to smoothies, top yogurt or cereal, and make a very tasty sauce or glaze for pork or chicken.
Another great vegetable in season now are Brussels sprouts. These "little cabbages" look like golf ball-size knobs growing in rows on stalks. Sections of these stalks, about two-to-three feet, are sold with the sprouts attached, or loose in bulk display.
The majority of the U.S. supply comes from California's Central Coast, which offers an ideal combination of coastal fog and cool temperatures year-round.
Pumpkins are a member of the winter squash family and can be used in any recipe calling for any of the winter squashes such as acorn, butternut or turban. Pumpkins can be diced into chunks, steamed as a vegetable, spiced with nutmeg to enhance the flavor and served as a side dish at any meal.
Here's a treat the kids will love and it's healthy, too!
Cinnamon Baked Pumpkin
1/4 cup sugar, brown (packed)
1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 pounds pumpkin, peeled, seeded, and cut into 2-1/2- to 3-inch pieces (each about 1/4 inch thick)
2 tablespoon oil
Preheat oven to 325°F. In a small bowl, stir together brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt; set aside. In a 3-quart rectangular baking dish, toss pumpkin with oil. Sprinkle brown sugar mixture evenly over pumpkin. Cover and bake for 40 minutes. Uncover and stir pumpkin. Re-cover and bake about 15 minutes more or until pumpkin is tender.
Nutritional data: Calories:106, Saturated Fat:0g, Sodium:169mg, Dietary Fiber:0g, Total Fat:3g, Carbs: 20g, Cholesterol:0mg, Protein:1g.
-- Recipe: www.everydayhealth.com
Farmers markets are open rain or shine.
Danville Farmers Market: 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Sundays year-round, Railroad and Prospect avenues.
Livermore Farmers Market: 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Sundays year-round, 2nd Street between J and K streets.
Pleasanton Farmers Market: Saturdays, 9 a.m. -1 p.m. year-round, Main and W. Angela streets.
San Ramon Farmers Market: 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays year-round, Bishop Ranch 2 parking lot, Bollinger Canyon Road and Sunset Drive.
Visit www.pcfma.com or call 800-949-FARM (800-949-3276).
The Time is Ripe is a monthly column written by Vince Scalise, market operations manager, and Debra Morris, promotions coordinator, for the Pacific Coast Farmers' Market Association. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.