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Summer has reached its end. As you say goodbye to barbecues and hello to bonfires, your shopping list is bound to change — making this the perfect time to swap your summer staples for healthy fall meals.
Between roasted vegetables, hearty slow cooker recipes and fruits that'll brighten up even the chilliest autumn day, here are the healthy fall recipes that will keep you looking and feeling your best through every corn maze, hayride and beyond.
Why you should eat in-season fruits and vegetables
You've probably associated apples with fall since you were a kid. That's because apples peak in autumn, and they're not the only ones. Oranges, grapes, cranberries and pears all come into season as the weather cools. Also be on the hunt for carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, kale, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, turnips and winter squash. These hearty fall vegetables can serve as the base for healthy fall meals.
While it's not always an option, try to eat locally sourced, in-season produce. Since foods from local farms don't have to travel as far, they tend to keep more of their nutrients. They may also have fewer pesticides than conventionally grown produce. This all means that eating in-season fruits and veggies is often better for you and, as a bonus, supports your local farming economy. Most importantly, in-season produce is typically picked at its peak ripeness. Riper produce may have higher levels of nutrients and antioxidants than fruits and vegetables that are unripe.
These in-season foods are great on their own, but they really shine when they come together. Here are healthy fall recipes to inspire your cooking and bring a burst of autumn flavor to any part of your day.
Breakfast: pumpkin chia seed pudding
This delicious, filling treat is hiding chia seeds, a superfood full of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, fiber and minerals. A spiced pumpkin and pomegranate chia pudding recipe from JoyFoodly combines organic canned pumpkin, pomegranate seeds, oranges and Greek yogurt to make a perfect fall breakfast. As a good source of vitamin C, pumpkin may even help to improve the texture and appearance of your skin. What's not to love?
Lunch: Mediterranean-style baked sweet potatoes
Don't wait for them to make an appearance on the Thanksgiving dinner table; sweet potatoes deserve a spot on your weekly shopping list all season long. Make cooking easy by baking your spuds ahead of time and incorporating them in recipes throughout the week. The Minimalist Baker blogger made sweet potatoes the star of the meal with this Mediterranean baked sweet potatoes recipe.
Sweet potatoes contain magnesium, potassium and fiber. Top a sweet potato base with any combination of ingredients (the above recipe went with chickpeas, tomatoes, herbs, roasted garlic, hummus and lemon) for a fresh and seasonal lunch.
Lunch or dinner: fall quinoa salad
You might think salad season is over, but ditch the greens completely in the fall and winter months and you risk missing out on some incredibly nutrient-dense vegetables at their peak freshness. Give your favorite summer salad a season-appropriate twist by adding hearty vegetables and using a bed of autumn greens such as kale, spinach or shaved Brussels sprouts. A recipe like this autumn quinoa salad from The Endless Meal is made with vitamin A-packed sweet potatoes for healthy skin and eyes, bitter greens for tang, pecans for crunch and quinoa for protein. Top it with a sweet dressing and you'll have a perfect vegetarian dinner.
Dinner: chicken and Brussels sprouts
Nothing says fall like Brussels sprouts, especially when they come in the form of a one-dish dinner like this crispy garlic butter chicken and Brussels sprouts recipe from The Endless Meal. Mix it up by using shaved Brussels sprouts sauteed with olive oil, salt and pepper. Like all cruciferous vegetables, Brussels sprouts are a source of fiber, so they'll fill you up and ward off hunger for fewer calories.
When the weather starts cooling down, there's no better way to stay cozy than in the warmth of a kitchen. Release your inner autumn chef — a whole range of delicious seasonal foods and healthy fall meals are waiting to fill your plate.
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