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.
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 and cranberries, rutabagas and turnips, sweet potatoes and pears.
Spice It Up
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!
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.
Health Benefits of 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.
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 potato, mashed potato recipe
- Baked apples with sausage stuffing recipe
- Apple pie salsa with cinnamon sugar chips recipe
- Pumpkin pie popsicles recipe
- Deep-fried Turkey recipe—after all, what’s Thanksgiving without turkey?
Anyone Say Kid-Friendly Fall Kitchen?
When the leaves start changing, its 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.
- 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.
- When they get a little older, have your kids scoop out avocados, grease a pan, measure out ingredients, and form and decorate cookies.
- 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 grade 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.
- Try having your kids come up with their own recipe—just like mom or dad.
- If you have more than one child helping, let them take turns adding ingredients.
- 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.