(Reprinted from American Council on Exercise (ACE))

Fall is in full swing and there are plenty of fresh fall foods to try now that the leaves are starting to change color. Here are five fabulous types of produce to try this fall that go way beyond pumpkin.

It’s Spaghetti Squash Season

Looking to level up your fall food game, but want to keep some of the light, fresh feeling of summer? Like many other gourds, spaghetti squash is in season late in the year, but is unique texture that shreds like spaghetti once it’s cooked really sets it apart.

To prepare, cut the squash in half longwise and scoop out the seeds. Brush the cut edges with oil and roast at 425 degrees F for one hour. For a quicker fix, place the cut and scooped squash face down in a casserole dish in an inch of water and microwave for 5-7 minutes. Shred the squash with a fork when done. One cup of cooked spaghetti squash contains 42 calories and 2 grams protein, and can be used in places of traditional spaghetti or pasta for a base in many Italian or veggie dishes.

Pears are in Their Prime

Pears come into peak season during fall and winter. Pears are among the highest-fiber fruits, with a large pear providing 7 grams of fiber and 130 calories.

If you’re wondering how to test for ripeness, USA Pears recommends you “check the neck.” To do this, use your thumb to gently press near the stem. If the pear yields to gentle pressure, it’s usually ripe, juicy and ready to eat. You can prevent browning in cut pears by adding juice from oranges, limes or lemons; the vitamin C in the citrus acts as an antioxidant that helps prevent browning when the pear flesh comes into contact with oxygen.

Peak Persimmon Season

Persimmon season is short (September to December), but sweet! Almost all of the persimmons produced in the U.S. come from California. Persimmons are ripe and ready to eat when you find fruit with bright orange and red-colored and smooth skins. Whenever possible, look for fruit with the leaves are still attached.

Hachiya persimmons are used primarily in baking, but you can eat the Fuyu variety raw or toss them into salads or a stir-fry. Try swapping out tomatoes in favor of Fuyu persimmons to put a fall twist on your favorite salsa recipe.

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts look like baby cabbages, but tend to have a milder flavor than their cruciferous vegetable counterparts. They generally require cooking to achieve tenderness, but a shaved Brussels sprouts salad is another great way to enjoy this fall food find. To prepare, remove the bottom and outer leaves and shave the Brussels sprouts using a mandoline or food processor, or slice very thin using a knife. Add olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, toss with shredded Romano cheese and top with toasted pine nuts or pistachios to finish off this simple salad.

If you prefer to sample cooked Brussels sprouts, here’s a helpful tip: Cut an “X” shape into the bottom after cleaning to help cook evenly. One cup of Brussels sprouts contains 75 calories and 3 grams fiber.

Finally Time for Figs

Figs are a unique fall find because they really aren’t even fruits. According to  , the fig is actually a flower that is inverted into itself. The fig seeds are drupes, which are the real fruit. And another fun fig fact: Figs are the only fruit that fully ripen and semi-dry while still on the tree.

One large fig contains 47 calories and 2 grams fiber. They taste great sliced and enjoyed on their own, or pair them with goat cheese and a touch of honey atop a whole grain cracker for an easy appetizer for fall.

Post AuthorKatie Ferraro, ACE Contributor
Katie Ferraro, MPH, RDN, CDE is a consultant dietitian and diabetes educator specializing in nutrition communications and family feeding. As a mom to 5 small children and creator of the popular blog The Fortified Family, Katie believes that good food fuels strong families. You can read more of her work at www.fortifiedfam.com

“Hey! Every time I try to go it alone I get shut down, locked up and help captive in the clutches of my doubt. We go back, we go forth, we go back. I’m sick with this vertigo. Weary of my ways, my days, my ebbs and flows, so..…I wanna feel a new day. I wanna live a new way. Right here, right now, under the stars I promise you my heart. ‘Cause it starts tonight!”

Do you remember a time when you tried to “go it alone’ without God and got shut down, as this song says? So many time we go back and forth, trying what we think is best, forgetting God, forgetting that he always has what’s best in mind for us. Commit to a revamp, a new start, right here, right now, tonight! Reach out and promise God your heart. Let him take control and guide you to a brand-new start. Seize the night, tonight!

Proverbs 23:26 “My son, give me your heart and let your eyes delight in my ways.”

Questions: Are you the kind of person who likes to go it alone? Have you experienced the different of letting God take control? Are you ready to let God take control, right here, right now, tonight?

Prayer Power: Lord, help us let go and give you control of our lives. Help us to experience a new day and live in a new way, starting right here, right now. Thank you for always being there, watching over us. Guide us to wise decisions, starting tonight! Amen.

Other Song Inspiration by TobyMac:

My first introduction to Body & Soul was at a health fair. It included samples of the various workouts, healthy snacks and other fitness-related stuff like that. It was kind of a big deal, I now know; even the president of Body & Soul was there. My friend Kerri invited me, and to be honest, I really just went to be polite. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted desperately to exercise, but I couldn’t. I did a few moves to some of the songs in the very back of the room, hoping nobody was looking at me. Mostly I watched. There was a raffle, so I entered it. To my surprise, I won. I walked to the front of the room to receive my prize: a T-shirt handed to me from the president herself! I smiled and walked away, secretly wondering if maybe this was a sign that I might be able to do this one day. I left that event happy that I had fulfilled my commitment to my friend and that I had a new shirt.

Kerri was not finished, though. She kept inviting me to come to class. I tried to tell her I would love to come, but…

My history was messy. My body wasn’t strong like hers. I was relatively active as a kid, but those days were gone. My story included things like mild obesity, pregnancy complications, thyroid problems, autoimmune issues, a blood clotting disorder, fatigue, even a mild lupus diagnosis. Most recently, I was trying to manage debilitating pain from a sudden onset of bursitis and piriformis syndrome. My ability to move and walk normally were significantly impaired. I remember sitting on ice and then sitting on heat, and then sitting on ice…day after day. I relied heavily on pain reliever. I went to doctors and PT. My husband took over the grocery shopping. I clearly remember the day we got a wheelchair for me at the zoo because I knew I couldn’t walk for that long.

Kerri, that crazy woman, kept inviting me. Let me just say right here: thank God she didn’t stop inviting me! Thank God. I truly believed it was impossible for me. She didn’t.

I couldn’t even stand up for the entire hour of the first class I attended, let alone do the moves. But I left that evening with a lot of encouragement and a teeny tiny bit of hope.

By the grace of God, and with the guidance of the most loving fitness professionals I have ever met, I kept showing up. I was gratefully “invisible” in the back of the room, yet at the same time part of a welcoming community. I just kept working at my level, doing the best I could do that day, just like everybody else in that room.

One evening after I had been coming for a while, I left class in tears. When I saw my husband, he asked me, “What is it? Is the pain level bad today?”

I could hardly get the words out then, and I have never been able to tell this part of the story without crying, as I am doing now.

“No,” I answered, “I did not know it was possible to feel this good.”

From that moment on, everything changed. Before it, exercise hurt. Everything hurt. Since then, though I still have daily pain down my left leg, it is far, far greater when I don’t exercise regularly. I am in for life! I have climbed giant sand dunes and walked long European streets and so much more since that day in early 2007.

Just this morning, I put on a new Body & Soul shirt. It says, “I love chocolate, squats, and Jesus.” My husband saw it and asked me if I really do love squats (he knows the other two are definitely true 😉). There was no hesitation from me. “Oh yes! Yes, I actually do. Out of everything, that exercise is the one that brings the most pain relief!”

Who would’ve ever thought that I would love squats? Not me. Who would’ve thought that I would be able to work out for a whole hour? Not me. Who could’ve possibly imagined that I’d one day become an instructor? Goodness, certainly not me.

Yet here I am, with an entirely different life, because God is surprising and kind, and because my friend wouldn’t give up.

If you know someone like me, don’t give up on her/him! If you are the one like me, allow me to invite you to a Body & Soul class. We have something for every level, whether you are weak, highly fit or somewhere in between. Come, and then the important part… keep coming, and as Kerri taught me: never give up.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21

Paula Huss is a certified group fitness instructor with Body & Soul Fitness, and also serves as Western Regional Director. She currently leads classes at Mt. Olive Ministries in Milpitas, CA, where her husband, John is Senior Pastor. They have three creative kids: Max, Gina, and Drew as well as two energetic rescue dogs. Paula is passionate about encouraging others to keep moving, eat well and enjoy healthy, renewing rest. She also loves to sing, and listen to crashing waves.