With autumn fast approaching, farmers markets are beginning to fill up with beloved fall produce like apples, pumpkin, butternut squash and figs. LivingHealthy’s top 10 nutritious, guilt-free fall recipes are inspired by the freshest fruits and veggies of the season, including comforting dishes sure to please even the pickiest and most health-conscious eaters. With dishes like warm cinnamon apple breakfast quinoa, pumpkin barley risotto and skinny cauliflower mac and cheese, you’ll have lots to look forward to on your next trip to the neighborhood farmers market.
Cinnamon Apple Breakfast Quinoa
Warm, ooey-gooey grains on a cool, fall morning sound so satisfying, but adding cinnamon and apples transforms this breakfast into a bowl of bliss.
Key ingredients: Quinoa, apples, cinnamon, honey.
Why you won’t feel guilty: Not only is this meal super clean, gluten-free and vegan, but apples are also high in fiber, detoxifying and immune-boosting. Plus, studies have shown apples can help lower the risk of diseases like diabetes, pancreatic cancer and heart disease.
Pumpkin Barley “Risotto”
This rich and creamy pumpkin-rich risotto recipe replaces short-grain rice with barley, making for a hearty and wholesome meal.
Key ingredients: Pumpkin, barley, vegetable stock, Parmesan cheese, Celtic salt and herbs like parsley, cilantro or rosemary.
Why you won’t feel guilty: Although barley boasts more calories and fat grams than short-grain rice, it also packs a bigger nutritional punch—it’s much higher in protein, magnesium, iron and vitamin B6—while one serving of pumpkin provides a whopping 197 percent of your recommended daily dose of vitamin A. This recipe is also vegetarian and vegan-friendly.
Grilled Flatbread with Figs, Goat Cheese, Prosciutto and Arugula
Before it gets too cold to grill and all the figs have fled the farmers market, throw one of these sweet-meets-savory flatbread pizzas on the grill.
Key ingredients: Pizza dough, ripe figs, goat cheese, prosciutto, arugula, extra virgin olive oil.
Why you won’t feel guilty: Figs are a great source of potassium and dietary fiber, while goat cheese is easier on the digestive system and lower in calories and fat than cheese made from cow’s milk. If you have gluten sensitivity, you can always opt for gluten-free pizza dough.
Brussels Sprouts, Cranberry and Quinoa Salad
Shaved raw Brussels sprouts, dried cranberries and cooked quinoa topped with orange vinaigrette make this crunchy cold salad flavor-packed and nutrient-rich.
Key ingredients: Brussels sprouts, quinoa, dried cranberries, chopped pecans, orange juice, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper
Why you won’t feel guilty: Naturally vegan and gluten-free, raw Brussels sprouts not only provide 125 percent of your daily recommended dose of vitamin C (which is great for vision and clear skin) per serving along with an abundance of dietary fiber, but the cruciferous vegetables are also known to fight cancer (due to their sulfur-containing compounds) and improve bone health with their abundance of vitamin K.
Pear Smoothie with Vanilla, Honey and Lime Zest
Pears are in surplus at the farmers market during the fall season, so stock up and sip on these creamy smoothies for breakfast—or dessert!
Key ingredients: Kefir or low-fat plain yogurt, Bartlett pear, raw hemp seeds, honey, pure vanilla extract, lime zest
Why you won’t feel guilty: Pears are a great source of fiber and contain more pectin (water-soluble fiber) than apples, while hemp seeds add a boost of protein and omega fatty acids. Kefir or low-fat yogurt brings protein, calcium and probiotics to the table.
Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagna
Take this traditional comfort food, add butternut squash and spinach, and you’ve got a nutritious and delicious vegetarian dish that will warm you from head to toe and satiate your stomach.
Key ingredients: Butternut squash puree, ricotta cheese, milk, nutmeg, salt, spinach, mozzarella, garlic lasagna noodles (or Tinkyada brown rice lasagna noodles), Parmesan cheese, basil.
Why you won’t feel guilty: Ricotta, mozzarella, milk and Parmesan don’t make this a low-fat meal per se, but they do add a great deal of protein. Butternut squash is an excellent source of vitamins A and C, and spinach contains lots of iron.
Roasted Butternut Squash and Turkey Chili
Sometimes, a piping hot bowl of chili is just what the doctor ordered. If you’re getting bored of the old beef and bean version, try this lighter recipe with turkey and butternut squash.
Key ingredients: Butternut squash, olive oil, ground turkey, onion, garlic, white wine, white beans, chicken stock, pasilla peppers, sage leaves, cumin, salt, white pepper.
Why you won’t feel guilty: This meal is low in fat and calories plus packed with protein, courtesy of the ground turkey and white beans. Butternut squash is high in vitamins A and C.
Skinny Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
Pasta and cheese dishes aren’t exactly the healthiest of meals, but this slimmed-down, cauliflower-infused mac and cheese will add a boost of nutrition—and your kids won’t know the difference!
Key ingredients: Elbow pasta, cauliflower, olive oil, panko bread crumbs, parsley, garlic, onion, reduced-fat sour cream, 2 percent milk, Gruyère, cheddar, Parmesan, salt, pepper.
Why you won’t feel guilty: While replacing whole milk with 2 percent milk and whole-fat sour cream with a reduced-fat version brings the fat content down, the dairy component of this dish, including a trio of cheeses, provides your family with lots of calcium and protein. Cauliflower is an excellent source of potassium and dietary fiber as well as vitamins C and B-6. If you want to go one step healthier, you can replace the elbow pasta with a whole-grain or gluten-free version.
Avocado Salad with Simple Shallot Vinaigrette
Harvested in late summer, shallots are in abundance at your farmers market in the fall and can be made into a stellar salad dressing, perfect for everything from a meat marinade to a dressing for a seriously delicious avocado salad!
Key ingredients: Avocado; lettuce; shallots; extra virgin olive oil; a combination of champagne, white wine, red wine and sherry wine vinegar; Dijon mustard; anchovy; garlic.
Why you won’t feel guilty: Though part of the onion family, shallots pack an extra nutritious punch because they’re rich in antioxidant flavonoids, which aid the body’s risk of developing diabetes, cancer and heart disease. Superfood avocados are hearty in fiber, potassium, B and E vitamins, folic acid and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.
Apple and Poppy Seed Coleslaw
This sweet-and-savory crunchy side dish jazzes up your average coleslaw with apples, is the perfect accompaniment to any entrée and can be made in advance and refrigerated.
Key ingredients: Green cabbage, red cabbage, carrot, Granny Smith apple, mayonnaise, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, poppy seeds.
Why you won’t feel guilty: Though an apple a day may not actually keep the doctor away, the fall fruit favorite is extremely high in fiber, while cabbage is a good source of vitamins K, C and B6, as well as thiamin, potassium and calcium.