Fall is a great time to try an array of healthy and delicious seasonal dishes.
The end of summer means it’s time to put away your swimsuits and sandals and break out fall jackets. The change of seasons also offers an opportunity to enjoy dishes associated with autumn.
“Fall brings cooler temperatures and the need for warm, nourishing food,” says Vikki Petersen, a certified clinical nutritionist and chiropractor who’s the founder and executive director of Root Cause Medical Clinics in Clearwater, Florida, and Saratoga, California. As the weather cools and the days shorten, it’s especially important to focus on ingredients that boost your immune system as cold and flu season approaches.
Here are eight healthy fall recipes:
1. Basic meatloaf
Many people think of meatloaf as a comfort food. Sub in ground turkey for beef, and you have a healthier alternative while maintaining great taste, says Sandra Arevalo, a registered dietitian who is the director of community and patient education at Montefiore Nyack Hospital in Nyack, New York. You can also use extra-lean ground beef or ground chicken. “Garlic, onion, celery and whole wheat bread add fiber, vitamins and minerals,” she says.
Arevalo suggests this recipe:
— 1 slice of whole wheat bread, torn into pieces.
— ¼ cup of chopped celery, or about ½ stalk.
— 1 egg, lightly beaten.
— 1 garlic clove, minced.
— 1 small onion, chopped.
— ½ teaspoon of salt.
— ¼ teaspoon of pepper.
— 1 ½ half pounds ground turkey or extra-lean ground beef.
In a large bowl, mix bread, celery, egg, garlic, onion, salt and pepper. Crumble meat into the mixture and mix with your hands. Press meat mixture into a small microwave-safe dish. The meat should be shaped like a loaf of bread. Microwave on high for 7 minutes or until the meat is no longer pink.
Remove and rotate the dish to cook meat evenly, and cook on high for another minute. Let stand for 3 to 5 minutes before slicing.
2. Tangy sweet potatoes with cranberry sauce
Sweet potatoes aren’t only tasty, they’re chock-full of vitamins A and C, fiber and potassium, Arevalo says. Cranberries, meanwhile, are high in antioxidants, which are molecules that help safeguard against free radicals in your body. Free radicals are compounds that are associated with chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Arevalo suggest this recipe:
— 6 medium sweet potatoes (about 3 pounds).
— ¼ cup of brown sugar.
— 2 tablespoons of orange juice (from about a half an orange).
— 1 cup of whole-berry cranberry sauce.
— ½ teaspoon of cinnamon or allspice.
— ½ teaspoon of salt.
— Olive oil or canola oil spray.
Scrub the potatoes well under cool running water and cut them into 1-inch pieces. Make them all about the same size so they’ll cook at the same rate. Place the cut potatoes in a microwave-safe dish and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 10 minutes, or until tender, and stir.
Combine sugar, orange juice, cranberry sauce, cinnamon or allspice as well as salt in a small bowl. Spray the mix with oil spray, then microwave on high for 1 minute. Stir, and microwave for another minute. Remove the sauce and stir well, then pour it over the potatoes and stir gently. Microwave the mixture on high for 10 minutes, or until it’s heated through. Stir the potatoes and sauce twice during cooking (about every 3 minutes). Serve warm.
3. Glazed carrots and apples
Here’s a flavorful and nutritious option to get your family to eat their vegetables, Arevalo says. Apples and a touch of brown sugar add a sweet finish.
Arevalo recommends this recipe:
— 2 teaspoons of water.
— 1 tablespoon of butter.
— 1 tablespoon of brown sugar.
— 4 large carrots, peeled and sliced into thin rounds.
— A pinch of salt and pepper.
Place water, butter and sugar in a microwave-safe bowl and cook on medium for 10 to 15 seconds. Stir melted butter and sugar together. Add carrots and apples and stir to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high for four to five minutes. Stir again.
Microwave the mixture for 4 to 5 minutes on high. The carrots should be tender; if they are still hard, microwave for another two minutes. Keep the carrots covered for a few minutes before serving. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve hot.
4. Butternut squash salad
For an easy-to-make salad that’s the epitome of stress-free perfection, try this delicious and nutritious dish, Petersen says.
Petersen suggests this recipe:
— 6 cups of kale, chopped.
— 1 can (16 oz) of chickpeas, rinsed and drained.
— 1 medium butternut squash sliced into half-inch cubes.
— ? cup pepitas.
— 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil.
— 1 tablespoon avocado oil.
— 1 teaspoon paprika.
— 1 teaspoon garlic powder.
— 1 teaspoon salt.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Add the butternut squash and chickpeas in a single layer out on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Toss the squash with 1 tablespoon of avocado oil, paprika, garlic powder and salt. Roast the veggies for 40-45 minutes, until the squash is tender. Transfer the chopped kale into a larger bowl.
Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt over the kale. Massage the kale with your hands until the leaves grow darker in color. Allow the squash and chickpeas to cool before adding to the kale. Sprinkle pepitas over the mixture and enjoy.
5. Meatless, dairy-free chili
“This chili is one of my family’s favorites,” Petersen says. “It’s warming on a cold day but equally enjoyed with some cold avocado or guacamole on top during the warmer days.” It’s easy to prepare, tastes great and is a nice source of plant-based protein. It’s gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan. “It also freezes beautifully if you want to double the recipe,” she says.
Petersen recommends this recipe:
— 2 to 4 tablespoons avocado oil.
— 3 organic carrots, sliced thin.
— 1 ½ cups of organic onion, chopped.
— ½ tablespoon of organic garlic, finely chopped.
— 2 tablespoons of oregano.
— 2 teaspoons of cumin.
— 2 teaspoons of chili powder (use less if you’re serving children or adults that like milder food).
— ¼ teaspoon of cayenne powder (use less if you’re serving children or adults that like milder food).
— 6 cups of cooked organic beans — navy, black, pinto, kidney or mixed.
— A 26-ounce can of chopped organic tomatoes.
— 1 package of Quorn meatless chik’n tenders, optional.
— 2 cups organic kale, finely chopped.
— Salt to taste.
On a stove, using a fairly large pot, cook onion in oil until transparent, for about 4 minutes. Add garlic and herbs and let combine with onion for about a minute. Next, add chopped carrots and combine. Now add to the pot 6 cups of beans with liquid (do not drain beans). Stir in chopped tomatoes and juice. Adjust saltiness to taste. Lastly, add the chopped kale and Quorn, if you’re using it.
Cook together on medium heat covered for 20 to 25 minutes, until everything is warmed through and cooked. Adjust seasoning as needed. Serve over organic cooked brown rice if desired.
6. Pumpkin hummus
This pumpkin hummus recipe gets its festive fall flair from generous amounts of pumpkin and fall spices, Petersen says. To change it up, you can serve the dish with sliced veggies or veggie chips.
Petersen suggests this recipe:
— 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed.
— 1 can of pumpkin puree.
— 2 tablespoons of tahini.
— 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.
— 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
— 1 teaspoon of salt.
— ½ teaspoon paprika.
— ½ teaspoon of ground ginger.
— Pepitas to garnish.
Add all of the ingredients to a food processor and puree until smooth. Garnish with pepitas and serve with crackers, baby carrots or the veggies of your choice.
7. Red lentil pumpkin soup
Soup is always popular in the colder months, and is a great opportunity to fit more vegetables and spices into your diet, says Julia Zumpano, a registered dietitian with Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Human Nutrition.
Lentils are full of fiber, protein and B vitamins. Pumpkin is rich in beta carotene and is also packed with fiber and vitamin A. Freshly minced ginger helps fight inflammation, and lemon juice provides vitamin C.
Zumpano recommends this recipe:
— 2 teaspoons of olive oil.
— ½ large onion, coarsely chopped.
— ¾ cup carrot, coarsely chopped.
— 1 tablespoon of minced garlic.
— 3 cups of low-sodium vegetable broth.
— 1 cup of dried small red lentils.
— 1 teaspoon of ground cumin.
— ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon.
— ? teaspoon of ground red or white pepper.
— 1 cup of canned pumpkin puree.
— 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger, peeled and minced.
— 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice.
— 6 tablespoons of plain nonfat Greek yogurt.
— 6 tablespoons of unsalted pumpkin seed kernels.
— 6 tablespoons of fresh cilantro, chopped.
Heat oil in a medium-sized pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic and carrots to pot; sauté 5 minutes. Stir in broth, lentils, cumin, cinnamon and ground pepper; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 20 minutes or until lentils are tender.
Using an immersion blender, blend the soup mixture until about three-quarters of the mixture is fairly smooth. This effect can also be created by putting about half or three-fourths of the mixture into a blender and blending until smooth, then adding the blended mixture back into the pot with the unblended soup mixture.
Over medium heat, add pumpkin, ginger and lemon juice to the mixture; additional water can be added if a thinner consistency is desired. Cook 3 to 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Divide soup evenly among six bowls; top each serving with 1 tablespoon of yogurt, 1 tablespoon of pumpkin seeds and 1 tablespoon of cilantro. Serve hot.
8. Pumpkin, sweet potato and banana mousse
Start a healthy new holiday tradition with this sweet and creamy mousse, Zumpano says. Garnish it with toasted nuts or chocolate and your guests will forget all about traditional pumpkin pie. The tofu adds a great source of protein, the banana has a punch of potassium and sweet potatoes add vitamin A and fiber. Meanwhile, the ginger fights inflammation and cinnamon supports blood sugar control.
— 1 large, ripe banana, peeled and broken into chunks.
— 1 cup of sweet potato, cooked, skin removed.
— 8 ounces of extra firm tofu.
— 15 ounces of canned pumpkin.
— 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.
— ¼ teaspoon of ground ginger.
— ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg.
— 5 teaspoons of real maple syrup.
Place banana in a food processor, and process until smooth. Add tofu and pulse until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until smooth. Stop to scrape down sides of bowl, and pulse again to thoroughly mix.
Spoon the mixture into individual bowls or one large bowl, then cover and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving. Garnish with dark chocolate or toasted walnuts and pecans, and serve.
To recap, here are eight healthy fall recipes:
— Basic meatloaf.
— Tangy sweet potatoes with cranberry sauce.
— Glazed carrots and apples.
— Butternut squash salad.
— Meatless, dairy-free chili.
— Pumpkin hummus.
— Red lentil pumpkin soup.
— Pumpkin, sweet potato and banana mousse.
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