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6 Delicious Fall Recipes That Are Dietitian-Approved

By Samantha Cassetty, R.D.
Reviewed by Daniel Lew, M.D.
September 21, 2022

A balanced diet can certainly include some Halloween treats and pumpkin-spiced desserts, but if you want to feel your best during the fall festivities, you’ll want to nourish yourself with healthier foods, too. So, we rounded up some surprisingly healthy recipes that involve autumn’s festive flavors.

What Makes a Healthy Recipe?

If you’re trying to eat better, use these criteria to gauge the healthfulness of recipes.

  • It contains plant-heavy, whole food ingredients. Research suggests that eating a diverse range of plant-based foods (fruits, vegetables, legumes) is tied to a healthier gut microbiome (microorganisms, including bacteria, archaea, and microscopic eukaryotes, that live in the digestive tracts of humans and other animals). Beneficial gut microbes may also help influence overall health and wellness, in part by helping to regulate factors such as immune functioning and inflammation.
  • It has healthier ingredients compared to traditional recipes. Look for recipes that contain nutrition upgrades: healthier versions of ingredients, such as whole-wheat flour instead of white flour, low-fat Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, or 100 percent juice as a sweetener instead of sugar.
  • It reduces foods and nutrients you’re better off limiting. For example, a recipe may lower the sugar, sodium, artificial flavors or sweeteners, or saturated or trans fat counts compared to a more conventional version.
  • It offers some nutritional value. Food should taste delicious, but meals and snacks are also an opportunity to supply your body with nourishing fuel. Recipes that offer protein and fiber can help you manage hunger, while wholesome carb-rich ingredients can provide you with steady energy. And whole foods provide the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and bioactive substances needed for good health.
  • It doesn’t have artificial ingredients, such as artificial sweeteners. These ingredients can be okay sometimes, but questions remain about their healthfulness, with one study showing a possible correlation to cancer.

Healthy Fall Recipes to Try This Season

All six of the recipes below offer health benefits and are either made with in-season ingredients or feel festive enough for fall celebrations.