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7 Fall-Themed & Healthy Dishes You Need to Try

Let’s face it, just because something is pumpkin spiced, doesn’t mean it’s healthy – or even made of pumpkin, for that matter. Ditch the latte, and look for seasonal foods like apples, sweet potatoes, squashes and nuts. Swimsuit season may have come and gone, but it’s easy to incorporate these fall foods all the while maintaining your health.

1.  Butternut Squash & Apple Soup

Nothing says fall quite like taking a trip to the local farmers’ market for some butternut squash and pumpkin. Registered dietitian Adrienne Raimo refers to this dish as a way to remain healthy and in balance during the cooler season. What makes this so nutritious is that it’s whole foods, plant-based and has an array of healthy macronutrients like fat, carbs and protein, as well as vitamin A, zinc and more.  

Recipe courtesy of One Bite Wellness


  • 3-4 tablespoons high-quality butter or olive oil (for a dairy-free option)

  • 4 pounds butternut squash, roasted (average butternut squash weighs 2-3 pounds)

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • 2 apples, chopped

  • 1/2 cup water or vegetable broth

  • 3/4 teaspoons cinnamon

  • Salt & pepper to taste

  • 1 cup pumpkin seeds (topping)


Roast butternut squash first. Preheat oven to 375 degrees, cut squash open lengthwise and remove seeds. Place squash upside-down on baking sheet and pour about 1/2 cup water on the bottom of baking sheet (or enough so it surrounds squash and helps to steam it). Roast 25-30 minutes, until flesh is fork-tender.

Meanwhile, melt butter/olive oil in pot over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until tender (about eight minutes). Add the roasted squash, apples, and water/vegetable broth. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add cinnamon and turn off burner to cool food slightly. Then, in small batches, transfer mixture from pot to a high-speed blender and puree until smooth. If too thick, add more liquid. Season with salt and pepper, then transfer to serving bowl and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds. Optional: serve with blue corn chips or whole grain crackers.

2. Vegetarian Chili

This recipe is perfect for autumn and jam-packed with yummy vegetables! Chef, author and cookbook extraordinaire, Patty James recommends eating serving this with a salad to ensure you’re getting raw veggies, too. This chili is a great way to get fiber, as the vegetables and beans are naturally high in it!

Recipe courtesy of Patty James


  • 2 cups pinto beans
  • 2 cups kidney beans
  • 2 cups black beans
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 onions, whole, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 cup shiitake mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 cans crushed Italian tomatoes, 28 ounce each
  • Dash cayenne pepper


In a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the celery, onions and jalapeño and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms, red pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin and cayenne and stir for about five minutes. Add the beans and tomatoes, stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper. Serve as is, or garnish with avocado, cilantro and cheese. Can serve over brown rice to make a complete protein.

3. Baked Penne Pasta with Roasted Vegetables

Also full of vegetables, this dish puts an Italian twist on the typical fall food. Use this to get your healthy carbs, as well as vitamin C. Don’t forget the side salad, like James says!

Recipe courtesy of Patty James


  • 2 medium red peppers, cored and cut into 1 inch wide strips
  • 2 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 medium summer squash, quartered lengthwise, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 6 medium shitake mushrooms, halved
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and sliced into 1 inch strips
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian herb mix or herbs de Provence
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 3 cups marinara sauce
  • 1 cup Fontina cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup smoked mozzarella, grated
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus 1/3 cup for topping
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. On a baking sheet, toss the peppers, zucchini, squash, mushrooms and onions with olive oil and then mix in 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and dried herbs. Roast until al dente, about 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook for about 6 minutes. Since you will be cooking the pasta a second time in the oven, you want to make sure the inside is still hard. Drain in a colander.

In a large bowl, toss the drained pasta with the roasted vegetables, marinara sauce, cheeses, peas, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Using a wooden spoon, gently mix, until all the pasta is coated with the sauce and the ingredients are combined.

Pour the pasta into a greased 9″ by 13″ pan. Top with the remaining 1/3 cup Parmesan and butter pieces. Bake until top is golden and cheese melts, about 25 minutes.

4. Apricot Cranberry Relish

Cranberries aren’t just for sauce or Thanksgiving. Clinical dietitian Adrienne Burns says that they promote bladder health and may even decrease your risk of some cancers! Try this for a sweet alternative to Halloween candy!

Recipe courtesy of Coastal Living


  • I cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons honey, divided
  • 1 12-ounce package fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped dried apricots
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped green onion
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped crystalized ginger


Combine orange juice and 1/2 cup honey in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Add cranberries, bring to a boil and remove from heat. Drain and let cool. Combine cranberries, two tablespoons honey and remaining ingredients in a medium bowl.

5. Cinnamon & Walnut Shake

Cinnamon is popular around this time of year, which is definitely a good thing. It’s been shown to improve glucose tolerance and is loaded with nutrients, according to Burns. This is a great variation to a normal walnut shake, and it’s perfect for fall!

Recipe courtesy of The Dr. Oz Show


  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon


Soak the walnuts in water for a few hours or overnight. Drain the liquid and discard. Place the walnuts and filtered water in a blender and pulse until smooth. Add cinnamon and pulse again.

6. Lamb Ragu

Raimo’s unique dinner incorporates a variety of fall vegetables and is perfect for a chilly night! It has a balanced macronutrient profile and includes vitamin A, lycopene and a variety of antioxidants.

Recipe courtesy of One Bite Wellness


  • 2 large carrots, cut on a diagonal
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic
  • 3 tablespoon of grass-fed butter
  • 1 pound of premium-quality lamb chops
  • 8 oz. grass-fed stew beef
  • 3 stalks of celery
  • 1 tablespoon chorizo fat
  • 2 large Russet potatoes
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 6-7 Roma tomatoes, or heirloom if you have them
  • 2 shots of vodka
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary, dill, thyme, parsley, Foxpoint (Penzey’s spices)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Begin by making mashed potatoes. Boil potatoes with cloves of garlic, smash everything and add butter. Boil celery and carrots in saucepan until very tender and water nearly evaporated.

In a saucepan, put whole tomatoes and vodka and start cooking. Smash with potato masher once tender and add salt, pepper. Let simmer. Sear beef and lamb in chorizo fat and add pieces of beef to tomato sauce; turn heat down to low for lamb, add onion and continue to simmer until onions are caramelized or for 45 minutes. Serve as a layered meal. Each layer will have its own unique flavor and every bite is a celebration in your mouth.

7. Fresh Apple Salsa

Practically anything with apples is perfect for fall, but this nutritious side dish can’t be beat. This is especially true due to all of its benefits: low sodium, high in fiber, and no cholesterol, or saturated fat!

Recipe courtesy of My Recipe


  • 2 cups diced peeled Spartan apple (about 3/4 pound)
  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced


Combine all ingredients, stirring well.

Resist the infamous, sugary fall foods this season and opt for one of these dishes instead. Both your taste buds and body will be glad you did!

Follow Allison on Twitter @AllisonMCrist.
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