Shorter days, cooler nights and the spectacular show of leaves changing colour on trees around Aotearoa heralds the beginning of autumn and the start of a delicious new season of fresh fruit and vegetables.
The most vibrantly coloured fruit are the richest in vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants as they get their eye-catching hues from phytochemicals - natural bioactive compounds which promote good health.
New season apples, pears, limes and passionfruit are available now, feijoas are nearly ripe, and mandarins and persimmons will come in later in autumn.
5+ A Day Charitable Trust partner and GP, Dr Dane Rua emphasises the importance of eating a variety of colours for maximum health benefits.
“Making sure you get at least five servings of a range of colourful vegetables and two servings of fruit every day is a simple but effective thing you can do for the health of your whānau.
“Looking after ourselves means making sure we eat foods high in nutritional value to offer us protection from disease and the energy to get through busy days,” says Dr Rua.
5+ A Day Project Manager, Carmel Ireland says the autumn bounty of fresh produce brings tasty flavours to meals at any time of the day.
“Breakfast is a great time to add a serving of fruit to your routine. A mix of pears and feijoa simmered with spices and a tablespoon of honey is a vitamin-packed topping for yoghurt or porridge.
“And while it’s easy to pop whole apples and persimmons in the kids’ lunchboxes, try cutting them into bite-sized pieces for younger tamariki. Remember to sprinkle the apples with lime juice to stop them browning,” says Ireland.
While we often have a serving of fruit after dinner, Ireland suggests adding autumn fruit to our main meal for a burst of colour and flavour.
“Tray bakes are our go-to at this time of year. We throw sliced potato, kūmara, carrots and onion into the oven for 20 minutes then add wedges of bright orange persimmon or pears drizzled with balsamic vinegar and roast until caramelised,” says Ireland.
“If you’re searching for inspiration, keep an eye on our social media channels and our website for tips and recipes to make the most of delicious autumn fruit and vegetables,” she says.