When fall arrives, you know it is time to start eating all of your favorite comfort dishes. Unfortunately, that also sometimes means eating food and treats that aren’t the best for your health or your waistline. The following tips are going to help you use fall produce, like apples and pumpkin, in a way that is lower in fat and healthier for you. That way, you can enjoy your fall dishes while sticking to your health or weight loss goals.
Fall Fruits and Vegetables
Before we get into ways to use fall produce for healthy dishes, it helps to first understand what fruits and vegetables are good for this season. While this is only a short list of what is available, these are high up on the list and are also very nutritious if you use them in the right meals. Consider adding some of these fruits and vegetables to your fall menu plan:
Pumpkin – This is definitely one of the most popular vegetables for the fall season. Not only are pumpkins used for carving for Halloween, but you see them used in Halloween and fall decorations, and of course in many of your dishes. Pumpkin isn’t just delicious and easy to use in various healthy recipes; it also contains a high amount of fiber, which helps with your digestion. It is also a good source of potassium and B vitamins.
Butternut Squash – Another popular vegetable to have in the fall is butternut squash. While all types of squash are fall vegetables, this does tend to be used in more recipes. Butternut squash is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, especially if you are a vegetarian and don’t eat fish. You can also get a good amount of vitamin A by eating more butternut squash.
Apples – As far as fruit goes, apples are an excellent choice. They are sweet, but also low in fat and calories. Apples have a lot of dietary fiber and tons of antioxidants. They are also considered a heart-healthy fruit.
Brussels Sprouts – Brussels sprouts are a nutritious vegetable you should definitely try to incorporate into more of your vegetable-based dishes. It has a mild flavor and tastes best when used with different sauces. It is a good source of folic acid, vitamin K, and iron.
Pears – Another fruit to consider for the fall is the pear. Pears are delicious, sweet, and can be made in dozens of different ways. You will get lots of copper, vitamin C, and fiber from eating more pears.
Cauliflower – Cauliflower is not only nutritious and low-fat on its own, but due to its mild and nutty flavor and versatile texture, it is often used to replace regular rice, mashed potatoes, and other ingredients. This really helps to reduce fat and calories in some of your favorite foods.
Some other healthy fruits and vegetables to consider having in the fall include dates, grapefruit, turnips, parsnips, sweet potatoes, tangerines, and pomegranates.
The Many Ways to Use Pumpkin
Pumpkin is by far one of the most popular vegetables for the fall season. You already know it is nutritious, but you should also know that pumpkin is frequently used because of its texture. It has a modest flavor that is easy to spice up with cinnamon and nutmeg. Pumpkin also has a creamy texture that can easily replace more fattening ingredients and turn just about any baked goods into something less fattening and with more vitamins and minerals. Just look at all the different ways you can create healthy recipes with pumpkin:
Bread, Muffins, and Other Baked Goods – As mentioned, pumpkin is ideal for baked goods. You can replace fattening ingredients like butter, oil, and even eggs by using canned or pureed pumpkin. In many cases, you can also reduce the original sugar content by half. Try to make some healthy pumpkin cookies, crustless pumpkin pie, pumpkin spice muffins, or pumpkin bread and see how delicious, yet low in fat the recipes are.
Pancakes and Waffles – If you often enjoy eating pancakes or waffles for breakfast, you might notice that while delicious, these also tend to be a little fattening and don’t contain a lot of nutrients. You can switch it up by making some pumpkin spice pancakes or waffles that are so sweet, you don’t even need to add much butter and you may not need syrup either. Plus, these are made with a vegetable that contains a lot of extra vitamins and minerals.
Smoothies – Believe it or not, you can use pumpkin puree in a morning smoothie, and it turns out delicious. The creamy texture of pumpkin is perfect for smoothies. You can use pumpkin instead of bananas, which is often used for the thick, creamy texture you want with a good smoothie. There are pumpkin pie smoothie recipes that are perfect for fall, whether you want this as a filling breakfast or a healthy dessert option.
Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal – Have your oatmeal in the morning and instead of just soaking your oats overnight and adding some banana slices or berries to the top, go one step further by making pumpkin pie oatmeal. This starts with the classic oatmeal base, but then you are going to add in ingredients like nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice to give it that pumpkin flavor.
Pumpkin Hummus – While chickpeas are a good option for a fall vegetable, they are not the only vegetable you can use for your hummus. You can also get pureed pumpkin and turn it into a tasty and inspired hummus. Dip your whole grain crackers, carrot sticks, or other types of chopped veggies into the hummus and have this as a healthy appetizer for a holiday meal.
Protein Bars – You can use both pureed pumpkin and the pumpkin seeds to create delicious and filling protein bars. Homemade protein bars, sometimes in fall form, can really include any ingredients you like. You can use your puree, allspice, oats, dried fruit, and some pumpkin speeds for a festive meal replacement bar. These protein bars are also good to enjoy after a fall workout.
Soup – Finally, don’t forget about all the different soups you can enjoy by using pumpkin. There are basic pumpkin soups, pumpkin and squash soup, and a variety of other combinations.
Create Salads with Butternut Squash
While butternut squash is often used for soup in the fall, it is also an ideal option for your healthy fall salads. It really brings salads to the next level, offering more variety and an interesting texture that makes it hard for anyone to dislike them. Butternut squash also turns just about any salad into one that is ideal for the fall season. Just look at some of these great ideas:
Squash and Brussels Sprouts Salad – This is a super healthy salad that not only contains butternut squash, but Brussels sprouts, another amazing fall vegetable to try. What you want to do is first roast your Brussels sprouts, then either roast your butternut squash, or make it spiced with cinnamon. Combine these two ingredients and either have it as a side dish with pecans on top, or turn it into a salad on a bed of greens.
Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese – The next salad idea is really delicious, but also leaves room for adding any type of fruit you like. You want to start with spinach as your greens, then add some roasted butternut squash that is cut into cubes. Choose your fruit, such as pears, pomegranate, or berries, and sprinkle some goat cheese on top.
Roasted Butternut Squash Salad With Lentils and Pine Nuts – Pine nuts are the perfect topping for a salad with butternut squash. Make your salad with some spinach or other greens, butternut squash, and cooked lentils that have been cooled off. You can then add pine nuts and drizzle some balsamic vinegar over the top.
Harvest Salad With Squash and Couscous – This is another salad you can easily customize with your favorite ingredients. Start with some cooked couscous that has been cooled off. If you prefer, you can use quinoa instead. You will then add your butternut squash and other fall vegetables that you enjoy, such as asparagus, cauliflower, pumpkin, and Brussels sprouts.
Increase Your Nutrition with Apples
When it comes to fall fruits, you can’t go wrong with apple. Apple is one of those fruits that is so versatile, you can use it year-round for any season. However, it is in season during the fall, so this is when you really want to start adding it to your recipes. Here are some different ways to increase your nutrition and have more apple-based dishes during the autumn season.
Breakfast – The first way you can use apples is by using them as a primary breakfast component. You can do this the simple way by simply having apple slices with organic nut butter, like almond butter or even peanut butter. Apples are also a good option when juicing, since they can sweeten up a green juice, allowing you to have nutritious veggies with the vitamins from apple as well.
Another option is to make apple pancakes. These allow you to get that pancake flavor, but they are smaller and made up primarily of the apple slices. To make these, you simply slice up apples, then coat them in pancake mix. Put on the stove as if you are making pancakes, then enjoy them with some sprinkled cinnamon. You can also make baked French toast with pieces of cinnamon bread and chunks of apple. This reduces the overall fat content when you stick to proper portion sizes, and adds in some apple flavor as well.
Snacks – You can also use more apples in your snacks to have something healthy and low-fat. If you are a fan of chips, why not make some apple chips instead? Core your apple and cut it into thin slices. Sprinkle some cinnamon on top and pop it in the oven. Let it bake until crispy, and you have yourself some very healthy and low-fat chips. You can also make your own applesauce, which is great because you can keep all of the added sugar out of it, which is really not necessary anyway.
Desserts – For dessert in the fall, you might not want to have a lot of Halloween candy and other sweet treats, but still have something that reminds you it is fall. Baked apples are another good option. Once again, adding cinnamon to the apples really makes it taste like a sweet dessert, but doesn’t add any sugar or calories. You can also try a different type of caramel apple. Instead of dipping the entire apple in a thick and sugary caramel sauce, slice the apples into thin slices, put the slices on skewers, then drizzle some caramel on it. You are getting a lot of less caramel with the same flavor of a caramel apple.
Another option is to make a caramel apple pretzel salad. This not a salad with greens, but more of a dessert. You just combine chunks of apple with pieces of pretzels and sprinkle on some caramel to go over the top of it.
How Cauliflower Works For Everyone
Cauliflower is not only a good fall vegetable, but it can used year-round as a substitute for other foods. If you are a vegetarian, you can use cauliflower to replace some meat courses. If you follow a low-fat or low-calorie diet, it replaces more fattening vegetables or meats. You can also use it if you are on a low-carb, keto, or paleo diet. It really works for everyone. You can mash up cauliflower to make it resemble mashed potatoes, or put it in the food processor to become rice. Cauliflower can be used as a pizza crust substitute, or you can make buffalo cauliflower bites instead of having buffalo chicken wings.
Don’t let the fact that you want to be healthy keep you from enjoying fall and all of its delicious produce. Whether you enjoy your produce fresh or frozen, it is easy to add it to your meals, snacks, and desserts without all the added calories.