Incorporate fresh, seasonal produce into your diet this fall. | Georgie de Mattos/Mustang News

Kristine Xu
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Get the most out of this season’s harvest by incorporating these fall fruits and vegetables into your diet. Visit downtown San Luis Obispo on Thursday nights and the Central Coast Plaza Shopping Center on Saturday mornings to take your pick of locally grown seasonal vegetables. Here’s a crash course on how to cook a few of these fall favorites.

This North American fruit is popular during the fall season not just for its delicious innards, but also for its role in spooky porch decorations. Take advantage of the entire pumpkin by saving its seeds and trimmings to incorporate into other foods. The seeds can be dried, cracked open and salted for a trail mix, while the discarded pieces of pumpkin can go into a savory stew or baked treat.

Butternut squash
This gourd is perfect for making Tagine, a North African dish chock full of spices and flavors. To make this hearty vegetable dish, combine chopped vegetables, spices and vegetable stock on a bed of sautéed chopped onions and garlic in a skillet. Cover and cook over low heat for 45 minutes, before garnishing with fresh mint and serving with couscous or rice. Cook ahead for leftovers to last all week.

These Asian fruits are an excellent source of fiber. Once they turn bright orange and glossy, they’re ready to eat. Bake them into a tasty oven-dried snack by cutting thin slices of persimmon and drying them in a single layer in the oven at 175 degrees Fahrenheit for eight to 10 hours. They should come out as light and leathery chips, ready to pack into a sandwich bag or chop into a salad. Add cinnamon for taste.

Sunflower seeds
Birds, squirrels and humans alike enjoy these delicious flower seeds. Crack open a cup of raw sunflower seeds and remove them from the shell. Place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet and roast at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 to 40 minutes. Add a teaspoon of margarine per cup of seeds and sprinkle on some freshly ground sea salt for a crunchy and healthy snack.

Sweet potatoes
Satisfy those carby cravings by making a batch of homemade sweet potato fries. Grab two or three large sweet potatoes, peel the skin off and cut into wedges. Place them into a large bowl and flavor with extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, sugar and any other spices. Form one layer on a pre-greased baking sheet and cook in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes at 450 degrees Fahrenheit, making sure to flip them halfway through. Cool for five minutes before enjoying with your friends.

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