8 of our favorite fall foods — with delicious recipes

Lillian Yang, RDN

Pumpkin spice lattes may be the most famous “fall food” but it’s certainly not the only thing to look forward to as the weather cools down. Many vegetables actually get a little boost of sweetness from the chill, while apples and pumpkins are abundant in many colorful varieties at the store. Seasonal produce often tastes better, is fresher, and is more affordable — here are some of my favorite fall foods with recipes for inspiration.

1. Pumpkins and Winter Squash:

There are many delicious winter squash varieties to choose from, like butternut, kabocha, delicata, and spaghetti squash. Don’t be intimidated by these gourds — they’re usually quite versatile! You can roast them to top your salad and grain bowls, add to soups, treat them like potato or sweet potato, and turn them into a velvety pasta sauce. They add natural sweetness and creaminess, and are a great source of fiber and vitamins A, C, potassium, and magnesium. 

2. Brussels sprouts:

These mini cabbages have come a long way. As is the trick with many vegetables, roasting them in the oven is an easy way to bring out delicious caramelized flavor while preserving nutrients. They’re a great source of fiber and vitamins C, B6, and K. Since brussels sprouts are a hearty vegetable, they make for great leftovers the next day even in salad form. Purchase shaved or pre-cut to save time!

3. Apples:

Apple picking has been a yearly tradition for me, and I love how apples can be added to both sweet and savory dishes. Add them to fall salads for some brightness and crunch, cook with a little butter and cinnamon to top your yogurt and oatmeal, or snack on an apple with peanut butter for a boost of healthy carbs + fat + protein.

4. Broccoli:

This well-loved cruciferous vegetable is extremely versatile. Have it roasted with garlic as a side dish, mixed into a stir-fry or soup, or even raw in a salad for lots of crunch. It has a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, so don’t forget to add it to your weekly shopping list! 

5. Carrots:

Carrots aren’t just for snacking on with your favorite dip — roast carrots to bring out their natural sweetness or slice them up to make “carrot fries” for a fun side dish! Their bright orange color is an indicator that they are high in vitamin A, an antioxidant that supports your immune system to ward off a fall cold.

6. Kale:

If you enjoy meal prepping, kale salad is one of the best options. It’s hearty and can last a few days in the fridge without getting too soggy. The keys to a good kale salad are to remove the tough rib, slice the leaves thinly, and give the leaves a little massage with your salad dressing - these steps will help make your kale more tender. It’s also great to stir into soups for an easy serving of leafy greens.

7. Cauliflower:

You may be seeing cauliflower pop up in purple and orange these days! My go-to vegetable side dish in the fall is easy roasted cauliflower (made with precut prewashed florets). Cauliflower rice and cauliflower mash are also fun additions to a meal - from a nutrition standpoint, these would still fit into the vegetable part of the plate so feel free to enjoy alongside a serving of starchy carbohydrates for a balanced meal. 

8. Pears:

Crunchy pears (like Asian and bosc) are great in salads, while soft pears (like bartlett and anjou) are ideal for cooking and topping a bowl of oatmeal or cottage cheese. No matter the variety, all pears are a significant source of fiber (6 grams per pear) which promotes satiety, heart health, and regularity. They’re also a healthy convenient snack – “pair” with some almond butter, roasted pistachios, or dip in yogurt.

When you’re feeling stuck in a rut with your current meal rotation, look to seasonal produce! Roast some pumpkin for your salad, try a new broccoli recipe, and add slices of apple to your turkey and cheese sandwich. I hope you find yourself inspired to try a few new things (or maybe just figure out what to do with all those apples from the orchard!).

Lillian Yang, RDN

About the Author

Lillian Yang is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She completed her BS at New York University and currently lives in Brooklyn, NY. For the last 8 years, she has helped people achieve their health goals by making realistic, easy, and sustainable changes in their habits and daily lives.

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