Fruit and vegetable growers up and down the country are now busy harvesting a variety of autumn crops, says 5+ A Day. Leeks, pears, feijoas, brussels sprouts and several varieties of apples are just some of the autumn produce that is now at its best.

“Autumn produce provides inspiration for healthy and satisfying meals,” says 5+ A Day nutritionist, Bronwen Anderson. “Seasonal produce harvested from March to June is bursting with all the nutrients essential for our health and happiness.

“Not only are fruit and vegetables good for our wellbeing, they also help to maintain a healthy body weight.  That’s because fresh produce is rich in water and high in fibre, which makes us feel fuller for longer.”

Plating up a rainbow of different colours is a sure-fire way to provide your body with all the antioxidants and phytochemicals it needs.

“As we head into the cooler months, colour is key to getting all the micronutrients you need to boost your immune system,” says Bronwen. “Look for produce that is brightest in colour, as this indicates it is nutrient-rich.”

Here are five quick, easy tips on how to make the most of flavoursome autumn produce:

Apples
Apples are high in fibre and a whole slew of antioxidants, which protect against free radical damage, making them a satisfying and healthy food. Make a tangy apple slaw by cutting apples into matchstick-size strips, along with carrot and celery. Toss gently with apple cider vinegar, lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil. This is great for lunch or as a side. Or try sautéing sliced apples and serving them with chicken or pork.

Pears
Stew pears – on their own or with apple – in a little water, and freeze in batches for a delicious breakfast or dessert treat. Pears and blue cheese are a lovely combination. Serve them together as a no-cook alternative to dessert when entertaining. Or for a quick dessert, peel, halve and core pears and roast in a baking dish, drizzled with a little honey. Serve with yoghurt.

Feijoas
For a zingy salsa finely chop feijoas and red onion into small pieces and mix together . Add fresh, chopped coriander and chilli for a different flavour twist. Serve with steak, chicken or fish, or use the salsa as a dip. For a heart-warming casserole, chop 4 pork steaks into bite size pieces. Add 6 feijoas, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, quarter cup vinegar, half cup water, 1 medium onion, chopped and half a teaspoon each of ground cinnamon and ground cloves. Place all ingredients into a casserole, cover and cook in a 180 deg C oven until meat is tender.

Leeks
Leeks are mild in flavour therefore go very well with eggs. Add some to your next quiche, frittata, omelette or batch of savoury muffins. For a side, slow roast leeks with olive oil and fresh thyme until they are caramelised. Serve with currants and walnuts.

Brussels sprouts
Bored with boiled brussels sprouts? Cook the sprouts in boiling water for 3 minutes, then drain. Heat oil in a wok then stir-fry chilli, garlic and ginger for 1 minute. Add the sprouts, cook for 2 minutes, then drizzle with low-salt soy sauce. Give everything a final toss before serving. Roasting gives vegetables a different flavour by caramelising their natural sugars and bringing out their natural sweetness. This technique works perfectly for brussels sprouts. Toss sprouts with olive oil, minced garlic and season. Roast in a pan until tender. Sprinkle over lemon zest and a squeeze of lemon juice before serving.

For more tips and recipes go to 5aday.co.nz or find us on Facebook at facebook.com/5adayNZ  or @Fredge_5Aday on Twitter.

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