As the leaves change colors and a crisp breeze fills the air, fall arrives with a cornucopia of seasonal treasures. It's a time when nature's pantry overflows with a delightful array of foods that not only tantalize our taste buds but also offer a wealth of health benefits. In this blog post, we'll explore the nutritional powerhouses of the fall season and how they can be your allies in your journey toward better nutrition and weight loss.
Harnessing the Harvest: Fall Foods for Feel-Good
Pumpkin, Sweet Potatoes, and Apples:
Let's begin with the quintessential fall favorites - pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and apples. These three nutritional powerhouses provide essential vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants. Pumpkins are rich in vitamin A and C. They are also low in calories. You can use them for soups, stews, and even in baking for healthier treats.
Meanwhile, sweet potatoes pack a punch with fiber, vitamin C and potassium. They can easily be roasted with little oil in the oven, mashed, or used in soups and salads.
Apples make for a convenient and healthy snack, but you can also use them in salads, or sauces. They are known for their dietary fiber, vitamin A, B, and C, and do for a satisfying and low-calorie snack option.
Here are some sweet recipes featuring these fall stars:
Pumpkin and Oat Cookies
What about some delicious and healthier Pumpkin and Oat Cookies for a cozy fall afternoon treat? They incorporate the flavors of fall and provide a healthy dose of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They're perfect for those sweet cravings in between without making your blood sugar shoot up too much.
- 1 cup unsweetened canned pumpkin puree (if you don't have that, just mash up cooked pumpkin yourself)
- 2 ripe bananas, mashed
- 2 cups old-fashioned oats
- 1/2 cup almond butter (or any nut or seed butter of your choice)
- 1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries or raisins
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
- Preheat the Oven: Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Mix Wet Ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, combine the mashed bananas, pumpkin puree, almond butter, honey or maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Stir until well combined.
- Add Dry Ingredients: Add the old-fashioned oats, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ground ginger, and salt to the wet mixture. Mix until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.
- Fold in Mix-Ins: Gently fold in the dried cranberries or raisins and chopped nuts (if using). These add sweetness and texture to your cookies.
- Form Cookies: Using a spoon or your hands, drop scoops of the cookie dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Flatten and shape each scoop into a cookie shape. These cookies won't spread much during baking, so shape them as you'd like them to turn out.
- Bake: Place the baking sheet in the preheated oven and bake for approximately 15-18 minutes, or until the cookies are firm and lightly golden around the edges.
- Cool: Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Enjoy: Once completely cooled, your Pumpkin and Oat Cookies are ready to enjoy. They make a great grab-and-go wholesome snack.
If you are looking for a satisfying sweet breakfast, you may want to try this one:
Apple Cinnamon Overnight Oats
Jumpstart your day with a wholesome breakfast. This apple-infused overnight oats recipe is a delicious way to enjoy this seasonal fruit.
- 1/2 cup rolled oats (old-fashioned oats)
- 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (or any milk of your choice)
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt (or non-dairy yogurt for a vegan option)
- 1 medium apple, cored and grated
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional, for added thickness)
- 1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup (optional for added sweetness)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Sliced apples, nuts, and extra cinnamon for topping (optional)
- Combine Ingredients: In a mixing bowl or a mason jar, combine the rolled oats, unsweetened almond milk, Greek yogurt, grated apple, chia seeds (if using), honey or maple syrup (if using), ground cinnamon, and vanilla extract.
- Mix Well: Stir all the ingredients together until well combined. Make sure there are no dry oats left.
- Refrigerate Overnight: Cover the bowl or mason jar with a lid and refrigerate it overnight (or for at least 4-6 hours). This allows the oats to absorb the liquid and soften, creating a creamy and flavorful texture.
- Serve: In the morning, or whenever you're ready to enjoy, give your Apple Cinnamon Overnight Oats a good stir. If the mixture is too thick, you can add a little more milk to reach your desired consistency.
- Top and Enjoy: Top your oats with sliced apples, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and a handful of chopped nuts (such as almonds, walnuts, or pecans) for added crunch and flavor.
Cinnamon is a fantastic addition to your Apple Cinnamon Overnight Oats for several reasons. It adds a warm and comforting flavor to the oats, complementing the sweetness of the apple and honey or maple syrup giving your breakfast a delightful, cozy taste. The high amount of antioxidants, particularly polyphenols, help protect your cells from oxidative damage and inflammation and cinnamon has been linked to improved blood sugar control. It may help stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce insulin resistance, making it a smart choice for those concerned about diabetes or sugar spikes.
Brussels Sprouts, Cranberries, and Cauliflower:
Brussels sprouts, cranberries, and cauliflower add depth and flavor to your fall menu. Brussels sprouts are packed with vitamins K and C, as well as fiber. Roasting them brings out their natural sweetness.
Cranberries bring a burst of antioxidants and vitamin C. They make a great deal in sauces, relishes, or added to baked goods. With the chillier season, especially for the women among us, the risk of urinary infections increases. Cranberry can be a true natural miracle cure to prevent those.
An underestimated all-rounder is cauliflower. It is low in calories but high in vitamins C and K, fiber, and antioxidants. You can use it to make cauliflower rice, mash, or roast it.
Try these savory recipes to make the most of these fall ingredients:
Haven't been the biggest fan of Brussels sprouts yet? Or maybe bored of the ever same preparation? Whatever it is, please do me a favor and try this recipe:
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Glaze
Elevate your Brussels sprouts with a tangy balsamic glaze. It's a simple recipe that turns this veggie into a crowd-pleasing side dish.
- 1 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup (optional for added sweetness)
- 1 garlic clove, minced (optional for extra flavor)
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (optional for garnish)
- Fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish (optional)
- Preheat the Oven: Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C).
- Prepare the Brussels Sprouts: Trim the ends of the Brussels sprouts, remove any yellow or wilted leaves, and cut them in half. If the sprouts are quite large, you can quarter them for even cooking.
- Toss with Olive Oil: Place the Brussels sprouts on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, and season generously with salt and black pepper. Toss them to ensure they're evenly coated with the oil and seasoning.
- Roast in the Oven: Spread the Brussels sprouts out in a single layer on the baking sheet, making sure they have some space between them for even browning. Roast them in the preheated oven for about 25-30 minutes or until they are tender and nicely browned. You can toss them halfway through the cooking time for even browning.
- Prepare the Balsamic Glaze: While the Brussels sprouts are roasting, make the balsamic glaze. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the balsamic vinegar and honey (or maple syrup) if using. Bring the mixture to a simmer and let it cook for 3-4 minutes or until it has reduced by about half. It should become slightly syrupy. Stir in the minced garlic, if using, and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Remove the saucepan from the heat.
- Glaze the Brussels Sprouts: When the Brussels sprouts are done roasting, transfer them to a large mixing bowl. Drizzle the balsamic glaze over the roasted sprouts while they are still hot. Toss gently to coat the sprouts evenly with the glaze.
- Serve: Transfer the glazed Brussels sprouts to a serving platter. If desired, sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and chopped fresh parsley for added flavor and presentation.
- Enjoy: Serve your Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Glaze as a delicious and nutritious side dish. They pair well with a variety of main courses and are sure to be a hit at your table!
Not your taste? Then how about that?
Cranberry Quinoa Salad
This Cranberry Quinoa Salad combines the nutty flavor of quinoa with the sweetness of dried cranberries and the crunch of nuts, all tied together with a delightful balsamic dressing. It's a colorful and flavorful addition to your fall menu. Enjoy!
For the Salad:
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
- 1/2 cup diced cucumber
- 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
- 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- Optional: crumbled feta cheese or goat cheese for garnish
For the Dressing:
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- Cook the Quinoa: In a medium saucepan, combine the rinsed quinoa and water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover the saucepan with a lid, and simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until the quinoa is cooked and the water is absorbed. It should be light and fluffy. Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature.
- Prepare the Dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the extra-virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey (or maple syrup), minced garlic, Dijon mustard, salt, and black pepper. Set the dressing aside.
- Assemble the Salad: In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked and cooled quinoa, dried cranberries, chopped pecans or walnuts, diced cucumber, diced red bell pepper, finely chopped red onion, and fresh parsley. Drizzle the dressing over the salad ingredients in the bowl. Gently toss the salad to combine all the ingredients and ensure they are evenly coated with the dressing.
- Season the salad with additional salt and black pepper to taste, if needed.
- Serve: Transfer the Cranberry Quinoa Salad to a serving platter or bowl. If desired, garnish the salad with crumbled feta cheese or goat cheese for added flavor. Serve the salad immediately as a refreshing and nutritious side dish or a light meal. It's perfect for lunch or as a side for dinner.
This fall, embrace the season's bounty as a cornerstone of your wellness and weight loss journey. These nutrient-rich seasonal foods provide a natural and delicious way to support your health goals. Whether you're snacking on a pumpkin oat cookie, enjoying roasted Brussels sprouts, or indulging in cranberry quinoa salad, these fall-inspired recipes are bound to delight your palate and nourish your body. So, gather these ingredients, roll up your sleeves, and let the flavors of fall be your allies on your path to wellness.