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Spice Up Your Plate With These Dietitian-Approved Fall Favorite Foods

October 21, 2019

When summer transitions to fall, the leaves aren’t the only thing that start to change color. Shades of red, orange, and yellow are added to our plate, as we get a wonderful array of seasonal fruits and veggies that are high in antioxidants, including everyone’s favorite: pumpkin!

Below, Kelsey Thornton, MS, RDN, of Regulus Primary & Specialty Care, explains the benefits of dietitian-approved fall favorite foods and how to incorporate them into our everyday diet.

Apples:

  • Health benefits: full of Vitamin-C, calcium, potassium, and a great source of dietary fiber. When the skin is left on, a medium-sized apple will have between four and five grams of fiber.   
  • Dishes to try: slow cooker applesauce made with water and natural spices; low-sugar apple crisps; salads with roasted or raw apples; or apple nachos! Apple nachos can be a fun alternative to a candy apple. Simply cover apple slices in peanut butter, Greek yogurt, or honey, and drizzle dark chocolate chips over.
  • Avoid: dried apples/apple chips that are high in sugar and stripped of Vitamin-C.

Pears:

  • Health benefits: a great source of vitamins C, K, and B-6, with around six to seven grams of fiber in one medium-sized pear.
  • Dishes to try: raw, poached, or grilled pears, either as a side or on a salad (pairs well with balsamic vinaigrette). Another sweet treat is stuffed pears! Hollow them out, bake, and fill with yogurt, nuts, natural spices, and other healthy toppings of your choosing.

*Note – pears can easily be used as a substitute for apples in any dish!

Pumpkin:

  • Health benefits: nutrient-dense, low-calorie food, high in vitamins A, C, and E, fiber (about 7 grams per cup), and potassium.
  • Dishes to try: pumpkin chili with black beans, kidney beans, natural spices, and fresh or canned pumpkin (watch sugar content). This dish is a great source of both fiber and protein! Pumpkin can also be added to protein pancakes and overnight oats. The good news this time of year is that pumpkin pie is actually one of the healthiest pies you can eat – so dig in!
  • The PSL conundrum: The ever-popular pumpkin spice latte can be incredibly high in sugar and added calories, especially when made with pumpkin-flavored syrups. Curb your cravings with a regular pumpkin-brewed coffee, with no added sweeteners. Instead, add cinnamon, almond milk, or oat milk.

Cranberries:

  • Health benefits: When fresh, cranberries are low-calorie, high in fiber and Vitamins C and E. Dried and canned may contain additional sugar and calories, as well as depleted Vitamin C.
  • Dishes to try: Cranberries are incredibly versatile and a great addition to many meals and snacks, including homemade trail mix, quinoa, rice, meat dishes, roasted veggies (especially fall veggies, such as squash and sweet potatoes), and green salads.

Butternut Squash:

  • Health benefits: low in calories and carbohydrates, rich in vitamins A and C, and high in fiber (around 6 grams per cup).
  • Dishes to try: Substitute spaghetti and other pastas for spaghetti squash, which is fairly simple to make by just popping it in the oven and roasting it before you shred it.  Roasted squash with natural spices is a great side dish (alone or with mixed veggies) and salad topping!

Beets:

  • Health benefits: low in calories and a good source of iron and magnesium. Beets are also high in nitrates, which help to build our blood cells and muscles, improving physical performance.
  • Dishes to try: roasted or pickled beets pair well with onions and a balsamic glaze, or a regular green salad. When in season, try a beet green salad (using the roots as well as the beets), with feta or goat cheese, nuts, and mandarin oranges. Beets can even be made into hummus!

To learn more about Nutrition Services offered at Jefferson Health in New Jersey, click HERE.