Colorful, crunchy leaves, brisk weather and pumpkin everything can only point to one thing — we’re in the thick of fall! And the changing of the seasons means it’s time for cozy, warming foods to shine.
While many of our favorite fall foods are delicious, they can often be unhealthy (apple cider doughnuts and pumpkin spice lattes anyone?). However, there are still plenty of ways to incorporate all of the flavors of fall into healthy meals that support your fitness goals — like getting ready for the upcoming 2021 Rugged Maniac season!
First things first, it’s important to know what’s in season. This will help ensure you’re shopping for the freshest items that are at their peak flavor and nutritional value. You’ll also likely save some cash as in-season grocery items tend to be cheaper than those out of season.
Fall fruits and vegetables to look for:
- Squash (like pumpkin, acorn or butternut)
- Brussels Sprouts
- Sweet potatoes
We’ve rounded up some recipes starring these fall goodies, and each packs a nutritional punch to help keep you going during and after your workouts.
Be sure to add apple picking to your list of fall activities this year! There’s a reason the old saying goes “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” They are a great source of fiber, Vitamin C and phytochemicals including quercetin, catechin, chlorogenic acid and anthocyanin. According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, these phytochemicals are what give apples a lot of their health benefits. For instance, quercetin has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
- Give these stewed apples from Nutrition Stripped a try. The recipe contains cinnamon, also an antioxidant, and can be eaten over oatmeal for an additional boost of fiber. You could also add walnuts or almond butter for some healthy fat. This will help your body absorb all of those vitamins from the apples!
If you’ve only ever used pumpkin for pumpkin pie, you’re missing out. Pumpkins are a low-calorie, nutrient-dense food full of minerals like potassium. You’ll also find Vitamins A, C, B2 and E in pumpkins. And, like carrots, they are a great source of the antioxidant beta-carotene.
- This savory pumpkin pasta recipe from the Healthy Helper is everything fall! While many people shy away from carbs, complex carbohydrates like whole-grain pasta can help keep your energy levels up. Don’t throw out those pumpkin seeds either! Roast them up for a tasty snack full of copper, zinc, iron and magnesium which can also help boost your energy.
Brussels sprouts often get a bad rap, but you shouldn’t turn your nose up at these small cabbages! They are packed with nutrients including Vitamin K, necessary for bone health, and Vitamin C, an antioxidant that can help with tissue repair and boosting your immune system. They also have a good amount of fiber.
- Check out this Well Plated recipe for the perfect roasted brussels sprouts. They would be great served-up alongside a healthy protein such as chicken or fish!
Beets are a vibrant and versatile root vegetable that can be roasted, juiced, pickled and more. Notably, they contain nitrates that convert to nitric oxide in the blood. According to Healthline, this can help lower blood pressure by relaxing and widening blood vessels. Additionally, they note that drinking beet juice can increase plasma nitrate levels which studies have shown can boost physical performance.
- Looking for a recipe that feels like fall on a plate? Love & Lemons has you covered with this roasted beet salad. They also provide tips on how best to prepare the beets and other fall dishes to serve with the salad!
There are so many ways to enjoy these nutrition-packed fruits and vegetables throughout the fall season. And when paired with healthy fats, proteins and carbs, you’ve got yourself some hearty and delicious meals that will see you through all of your fall workouts.
Want even more fall goodness? Here are some other recipes we’re excited to try!
- Vegan Pumpkin Spice Pancakes from Minimalist Baker
- Apple Cinnamon Baked French Toast from Running with Spoons
- Cranberry Coconut Granola Bars from Eating Bird Food
- Slow Cooker Loaded Sweet Potatoes from The Lean Green Bean
- Chili Garlic Baked Parsnip Fries from Running On Real Food
- One Pan Lemon Chicken and Kale from Paleo Running Momma
- Healthy Butternut Squash Soup from The Clean Eating Couple
- Roasted Harvest Veggie, Curried Avocado + Coconut Rice Bowls from Half Baked Harvest