The Healthy Foodie: Fall Flavor Survival Guide

Natural ways to enjoy pumpkin and other fall flavors

pumpkin8As the air gets chilly and the leaves turn shades of orange, all we want to do is snuggle up on the couch with a good book and a steaming bowl of soup or hot mug of cider. Fall is comfort food season and a great excuse to cook with fall flavors like pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg. With the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte and Panera Bread pumpkin muffins, it’s tempting to simply buy already-prepared pumpkin foods. But many times, these items (specifically the two mentioned above) are high in calories and artificial sugars/flavorings. This fall, don’t be intimidated in the kitchen. Try some of these autumn-inspired recipes and enjoy these warm dishes with delectable flavors on your own and in a more natural way.

Put the pumpkin back in your latte
According to the Starbucks website, a grande, 16 oz. Pumpkin Spice Latte has 310 calories. If you’re planning to stick to roughly 1,800 calories per day (recommended for a healthy lifestyle), you’re drinking half a meal’s worth of calories! One or two of these a season is really not a big deal. You can allow yourself to indulge. But if you want to enjoy these drinks on a regular basis, give this recipe a try. The ingredients include organic pumpkin puree, real maple syrup, and coconut sugar for an earthier and more natural taste. The blogger also provides you with the information on where to get some of the lesser-known ingredients. Natural sweeteners are considered by some to be sweeter than the fake stuff. Perfect for your sweet tooth!

Muffins and more
Another menu item to be weary of is Panera Bread’s pumpkin muffin. One muffin packs in 590 calories! Almost an entire meal’s worth of calories in one little muffin. Baking these treats yourself is a lot more fun and delicious — with the same amount of flavor. This recipe from Cooking Light magazine offers all the ingredients you’d want in a pastry while keeping your heart health in mind.

Now that I’ve proven to you that doing things on your own yields healthier and more delicious results, let’s explore some other fall flavors to take advantage of this season.

Butternut squash is one of my personal favorites and can be used in everything from muffins to soup to risotto. Squash and risotto seem like the ultimate comfort food combination: a yummy sweet starch. This recipe takes about 30 minutes to complete, with simple ingredients from your kitchen. It also yields more than three cups of rice! The garlic, white wine, arugula, and Parmigiano offer a savory bite to compliment the squash, making this an incredibly flavorful dish.

A better brand of chips
Lastly, let’s cook with some apples and cinnamon! The chic thing to do this year seems to be to make chips out of everything. Zucchini chips, kale chips, sweet potato chips — you name it, people are baking it and giving themselves an alternative to Ruffles. Making your own chips is healthy and easy. Especially with this new tool from Bed Bath and Beyond called the Chip-Tastic. This gizmo makes slicing your fruits or veggies super thin incredibly easy. Grab one of these or a pretty sharp knife, your favorite variety of apples, and make some apple chips. You’ll have a sweet snack or a crunchy topping for vanilla ice cream.

There are thousands of recipes out there for apple chips. Use this one as a starting point and make your own personal flavor modifications. All the recipes involve the same easy steps: Slice your apples very thin, lay them out on a baking sheet and sprinkle with cinnamon, sugar, and in some cases cardamom. Put them in the oven at anywhere between 200 and 350 degrees, depending on what level of crispiness you wish to attain. Paint on some butter for a richer and softer chip or try adding cayenne pepper to give them a little kick. Happy snacking!

As we get closer to the holiday season and more and more sweets start appearing at our dinner tables, it’s important to remember a healthy lifestyle. Good food is good for your mind, body, and soul. With these recipes (and a few others listed below that I couldn’t resist!) you can enjoy fall, all its flavors, and a healthy approach to the holidays.

Try this recipe for delicious roasted pumpkin seeds.

Pumpkin and kale lasagna might sound unconventional, but the bitterness of the superfood counteracts the sweetness of the pumpkin beautifully.