Every season has its share of delicious fall foods and desserts. But, ask even the most celebrated food connoisseurs and they will all agree, there is nothing that warms the heart and the belly more than heavenly autumn food.
Fall, too, is a time to relish the cool weather and falling leaves; cozy nights huddled around a steaming cup of hot apple cider, roasted acorn squash, and basically everything pumpkin or pumpkin-spice flavored.
Halloween and Thanksgiving offer their own buffet of scrumptious fall recipes, proving that fall is no time to fret about adding a few inches to the waistline. However, if you are counting calories, fall also gives families reason to celebrate around healthy comfort foods and produce picks like apples, cranberries, parsnips, sweet potatoes, and pears.
Warm Things Up with Tantalizing Fall Spices
Cooler weather brings the desire to spend more time in the kitchen, baking bread, preparing a hearty stew, or cleaning out the pantry in anticipation of adding must-have fall spices. Whether using spices to “spice up” your favorite cookie recipe, adding a pinch to a beverage, or folding them into pie filling, fall spices can add a zing of flavor to any recipe.
An aromatic seed, fruit, bark, root, or other plant substance, spices are unlike herbs in that they are primarily used for coloring, flavoring, or preserving food. Travel to Japan where they use ginger, wasabi, and sesame for a more delicate-flavored cuisine, or to Indonesian for hot Szechuan dishes using garlic, star anise, and peppercorns, and to Europe where most meals are flavored with caraway, cardamom, and mace.
But, did you know spices also have antimicrobial properties beneficial to your health? Spices are known to inhibit bacteria, commonly found in foodborne disease outbreaks. Plus, spices exhibit higher antibacterial potency when they are used together than when used alone and are often celebrated as antivirals, brain stimulants, and aphrodisiacs.
Which spices are best for enhancing the flavor of fall desserts, soups, stews, beverages, and fall dinner ideas? We’re so glad you asked!
Still Chilly? Sip Some of Our Favorite Ciders, Teas, Hot Cocoa, and More
When the leaves begin to change color, it’s time to break out the fall recipes for hot drinks that warm you from your head to your toes. And, while you may be tempted to add an extra teaspoon of sugar to satisfy that sweet tooth, try one of these healthy drinks that can also boost your immune system and aid in digestion—while tasting fantastic!
- Chamomile tea: One of the healthiest beverages for settling an upset stomach, helping you get a better night’s sleep, and alleviating cramps and indigestion. Besides, it tastes all warm and cozy!
- Lavender tea: Lavender is known to aid in relaxation, so why not sip on a warm cup of lavender tea before bedtime for a restful night’s sleep. It’s also been shown to help reduce anxiety and soothe heartburn.
- Spiced hot cider: It just wouldn’t be fall without hot cider. In fact, there are “Hot Cider Marathons” in more than a dozen cities around the country this fall. Not into running? Then sip on this satisfying spiced apple cider recipe while watching from the sidelines.
- Hot cocoa: Who doesn’t like the deep, chocolaty flavor of hot cocoa on a cool fall evening? How about a hot cocoa recipe that is a superfood too.
Learn About Exciting Health Benefits Linked to 14 Fall Fruits and Veggies
A warm bowl of beef stew or baked apple pie wouldn’t be the same without these crunchy fall favorites that are packed with antioxidants. Add these fall foods to jellies and jams, fall desserts, snack on them raw, or incorporate into your go-to veggie dishes. From September to November, the autumn harvest provides a variety of delicious—and healthy—fruits and vegetables to add to all of your fall dishes.
- Apples: Packed with antioxidants.
- Beets: Chock-full of betaine.
- Brussels sprouts: Bursting with cancer-fighting glucosinolates.
- Butternut squash: Laden with vitamin E, vitamin B6, and folate.
- Cabbage: Like Brussels sprouts, this cruciferous vegetable contains tons of anti-cancer glucosinolates.
- Cauliflower: High in vitamin C, as well as B vitamins and vitamin K.
- Cranberries: Filled with compounds that can help prevent urinary tract infections and oral disease.
- Kale: Abounding with amino acids, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin K, and tons of other crucial nutrients.
- Parsnips: Replete with manganese, folate, and potassium.
- Pears: Rich in soluble fiber.
- Persimmons: Loaded with fiber too, plus plenty of essential minerals.
- Pumpkin: Pumped full of alpha- and beta-carotene.
- Spaghetti squash: Brimming with fiber, B vitamins, and antioxidants.
- Sweet potatoes: Stuffed with vitamin A and vitamin C.
Do Thanksgiving Decidedly Different
You can’t think of fall without thinking about (and planning for) Thanksgiving. Besides a day to reflect and be thankful, Thanksgiving also brings together family and friends to sit around the table to reminisce, watch the Macy’s Day Parade, and eat much-loved fall foods!
Check out these unique and decidedly different Thanksgiving Day recipes sure to make your dinner better than ever this fall.
Baked Brie Bites with Cranberry Preserves and Pistachios
Sommer, the “Resident Cookery Queen” of recipe site A Spicy Perspective, says these baked brie bites make the perfect sweet and savory appetizer for any holiday gathering.
Super-Simple, Super Delicious Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes
Recipe creator Tiffany, who shares her creations on the site Creme de la Crumb, promises that once you try this twist on one of the most classic Thanksgiving side dishes, you’ll never go back to the old boiling and smashing method.
Featuring all the fall flavors you can handle, you can make this casserole from scratch or with leftovers from your Thanksgiving feast. The layers of this mega-casserole showcase turkey, gravy, sweet potatoes, and green beans, topped off with pecans, crispy onions, and petals of cranberry sauce.
French Green Lentil Salad with Roasted Root Vegetables and Goat’s Cheese
Make sure any vegetarians at your Thanksgiving table get their fill with this hearty, protein-packed salad showcasing “the caviar of lentils.”
Vegan, Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie
This Minimalist Baker recipe calls for just 10 ingredients and has every bit as much crave-able flavor as traditional versions. Recipe developer Dana promises even skeptics will love the filling, which she describes as: “Mega flavorful, super pumpkin-y, firm, incredibly moist, perfectly sweet, subtly spiced, and seriously perfect.”
Warm Apple Pie Salsa with Cinnamon Sugar Chips
Laurie Farmer, who runs the recipe site Frosting and a Smile, says this recipe is one that calls for what her dad affectionately referred to as “eating pants.” Share this unconventional take on a classic American dessert with friends, or keep the whole bowl for yourself—we won’t tell.
6 Tips for a Kid-Friendly Fall Kitchen
When the leaves start changing, it’s time to make your way to a local farmers market to pick up all the ingredients to make your favorite fall kid-friendly recipes. Adding seasonal ingredients like cinnamon, pecans, and caramel to your best-loved desserts or spices to a veggie dip make fall the best season of the year for cooking with the kids.
Here are some tips for cooking with kids in the kitchen.
- Keep things simple for the littlest ones. All age groups enjoy helping in the kitchen, but toddlers need close supervision. Have them help with easy tasks like squeezing lemons, tearing up lettuce, mashing potatoes, or kneading dough.
- Make age-appropriate increases to difficulty. When they get a little older, have your kids scoop out avocados, grease a pan, measure out ingredients, and form and decorate cookies.
- Utilize more experienced helpers to their full potential. Older children and teens can be a big help in the kitchen, especially when it comes to cooking up a hearty fall dinner. While supervised, most older kids can use a knife safely, help grate cheese, chop veggies, and use a pizza cutter and a can opener. They can operate an electric mixer to whip up mashed potatoes, pour batter into a cake pan, form a pie crust, and so much more.
- Encourage creativity. Try having your kids come up with their own recipe—just like mom or dad.
- Allocate the fun tasks fairly. If you have more than one child helping, let them take turns adding ingredients, or whichever tasks they tend to find the most enjoyable.
- Let them take charge. Have your child pick out a recipe, or plan a whole menu for dinner.
Cooking and baking with kids is a great activity for bonding, and you’ll have a treat to share while cleaning up the kitchen together.
Don’t Let Seasonal Rules Limit You
While we tend to think of smoothies as warm-weather creations, there’s no reason to phase them out once the weather changes. Instead, change up the ingredients you use. Here are 10 beloved smoothie recipes we turn to in the fall.
- Autumnal Persimmon and Squash Smoothie
- Decadent Butternut Squash Smoothie
- Fall Into Fitness Cranberry Mango Smoothie
- Pumpkin Spice Smoothie with Turmeric, Black Pepper and Honey
- Metabolism-Boosting Cranberry, Almond and Granola Breakfast Smoothie
- Spiced Persimmon and Fig Smoothie
- The Perfect Pumpkin Spice Latte Smoothie for Workout Fiends
- Autumn Pear and Almond Smoothie
- Plant-Based Peaches and Cream Oatmeal Smoothie
- Velvety Autumn Squash Smoothie
To transition your smoothie habit into the colder months, abide by the same guiding principles you apply to the rest of your diet, like using seasonal ingredients and honoring cravings for heartier options, like smoothies featuring pumpkin and squash. If you get stuck for ideas, be sure to check out our full recipes section.