Fall is a terrific time for snacks based on seasonal fruits and veggies.
The beginning of fall means cooler temperatures and the end of summer produce. “That doesn’t mean you have to give up on healthful, plant-based snack choices,” says Sharon Palmer, a registered dietitian based in the Los Angeles area. She’s the author of the books “The Plant-Powered Diet” and “Plant-Powered for Life,” and also writes The Plant-Powered Dietitian blog. “There are plenty of plant foods — such as pears, apples, nuts and persimmons — that are minimally processed and offer seasonal, delicious snack options. You can use them to grab and go, pack them in a backpack or gym bag, or healthfully nosh them in your home office.”
Here are nine healthy fall snacks:
1. Fresh and baked apples
For a classic fall snack, you can’t go wrong with apples, either fresh or baked.
Cut an apple in half and dip it in nut butter — like unsweetened almond butter — for a balanced snack that contains protein and fiber for satiety, suggests Maggie Michalczyk, a registered dietitian based in Chicago. “Keep the skin on for more fiber per bite,” she says. Apples are also a good sources of vitamin C and potassium.
Baked apples are seasonal staples that are simple to make. One easy approach is to cut the apple in half, then put the halves in a microwaveable dish with a little apple juice. Cook them for about three minutes on high, or until soft, and top the apples with a dollop of low-fat Greek yogurt or cinnamon to complete the snack.
2. Brown rice cakes with cinnamon-spiced pears
This is a tasty, healthy and easy-to-make snack, says Maxine Smith, a registered dietitian with Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Human Nutrition.
— Slice and core a pear.
— Soak in soda water for 10 minutes, to avoid browning.
— Get some thin brown rice cakes, smeared with almond butter.
— Put a few pears on top of the rice cakes and sprinkle with cinnamon.
“This is a sensory delight with chewy, smooth and crisp textures,” she says.
Besides being a good source of vitamin C, which helps keep the immune system strong, pears are full of fiber, fructose and sorbitol, which are good for your gut. Research suggests that eating fruit is linked to lower odds of contracting diabetes. For example, a study published in June 2021 in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism suggests that consuming a healthy diet, including fruit, could help lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes.
These cool, sweet fruits are in season in the fall. “Look for a range of unusual varieties in your local farmers markets or CSA (Community Supported Agriculture, which typically refers to a membership in which participants get food deliveries weekly from a particular farm), and look for local sources in your supermarkets, too,” Palmer says.
Types of grapes include:
Grapes are high in water, so they’re a refreshing way to hydrate. They also contain fiber, potassium and a number of vitamins. “The great thing about grapes is they are already portioned into neat little serving sizes,” she says. “Just clip off a bunch and throw it into a bag for easy munching at the office, home, school or during commutes.”
4. Homemade trail mix
For a crunchy, healthy and delicious snack with an array of flavors, try homemade trail mix, Michalczyk says.
She suggests tossing these ingredients together:
— Dark chocolate.
— Pumpkin seeds.
This enjoyable snack provides plant-based protein. The nuts contain healthy fats, like omega-3 fatty acids, which help fight inflammation and provide other health benefits. Meanwhile, dark chocolate is a great source of antioxidants, which help keep the body’s cells healthy.
These orange-red fruits are seasonally available in the fall, and they remind you of the colors of autumn, Palmer says. Persimmons roughly resemble tomatoes, but when ripe, they are typically much sweeter. There are two popular types of this fruit, the Fuyu and the Hachiya. The latter is shaped like an acorn and needs to be fully ripe before it’s sweet. The Fuyu persimmon can be eaten while it’s still firm. This type of persimmon is similar to an apple: crisp, sweet and crunchy.
Persimmons are rich in phytochemicals and can be used in whole-grain salads and baked goods. They’re also high in fiber: one raw piece of the fruit contains about 6 grams of fiber, about 20% of the daily recommended fiber intake.
6. Pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seeds are tasty, healthy and versatile, Michalczyk says.
You can add them to:
— Grain bowls.
These seeds provide plant-based protein, fiber and magnesium. “The green ones are called pepitas and come from a different variety of pumpkin than the ones found in your typical jack-o’-lantern,” says Michalczyk, the author of two pumpkin cookbooks. “The ones that you carve out still contain good nutrition, so don’t toss them. Roast them for a seasonal snack.”
7. Pumpkin-spiced smoothies
The flavors of fall are evident in this delicious and nutritious shake that’s easy to make, Smith says.
Smith suggests tossing these ingredients in a blender:
— ½ cup canned pumpkin.
— ½ cup milk, non-fat milk or unsweetened plant milk.
— ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract.
— ½ teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice.
— ½ frozen banana.
Blend until smooth. Pumpkin contains phytochemicals, plant compounds which research suggests help shield the body from cancer, diabetes and inflammation. “In addition to making your smoothie thick, bananas are well known for their robust potassium content, a nutrient most Americans are missing.”
8. Roasted radishes
Roasted radishes are another flavorful and healthy fall snack, Smith says.
She recommends this recipe:
— Wash the radishes, trim off their roots and stems and pat them dry.
— Toss in olive oil and sprinkle with garlic, salt, smoked paprika, pepper and a dash of onion powder.
— Place the radishes on a a cookie sheet and roast in an oven preheated to 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 to 45 minutes, until they’re crispy on the outside and soft in the middle.
— Dip them in tahini sauce for an extra treat.
Radishes contain isothiocyanates, organic compounds that provide its “pepperiness.” They’re also excellent sources of vitamin C and are associated with lower risks for cancer and diabetes.
9. Rosemary-roasted beet chips
For a savory and healthy snack, you can’t go wrong with rosemary-roasted beet chips. Beets are often called a “superfood” because they are so healthy. They contain antioxidants which help protect the cardiovascular system, liver and kidneys, Smith says.
Smith recommends this recipe:
— Wash and dry a couple of beets.
— Using a mandolin, slice them very thin, and toss them in olive oil until they’re lightly coated.
— Then add a pinch of salt, pepper and rosemary.
— Let them sit for 15 minutes and drain off the liquid.
— Put parchment paper on a cookie sheet and then place the beets in a single layer.
— Bake on the bottom rack of a 400-degree oven for about 15 minutes or until they are lightly brown or slightly crisp.
To recap, here are nine healthy fall snacks:
— Fresh and baked apples.
— Brown rice cakes with cinnamon-spiced pears.
— Homemade trail mix.
— Pumpkin seeds.
— Pumpkin-spiced smoothies.
— Roasted radishes.
— Rosemary-roasted beet chips.
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Update 09/23/21: This story was previously published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.