Healthy Fall Foods: There’s More To Life Than Pumpkin Spice!

Written by: Holly Smith, M.D.,

B.S. - Dietetics, NASM-PES Certified Trainer

Writer, The Fit Mother Project

Written by: Holly Smith, M.D.,

B.S. - Dietetics, NASM-PES Certified Trainer

Writer, The Fit Mother Project

healthy fall foods

With autumn comes pumpkin spice-flavored everything … usually accompanied by a lot of fat and sugar. So if you're looking for healthy fall foods, avoid that latte!

As the weather cools off and autumn is in full swing, comfort foods become a mainstay on many menus. However, fall foods don't have to be rich and fat-filled.

It's all about choosing recipes with tasty ingredients without adding extra sugar or fat, often seen in fall dishes. From high-fiber root vegetables to crisp apples to heart-healthy pecans, there are tons of different healthy fall foods that you can incorporate into your meals and snacks.

Ready to boost the nutrient value of your diet? Try some of the healthy fall foods and recipes we lay out below!

Here are the 10 BEST go-to healthy foods for losing weight — in any season!

Nutrient-Packed Fall Foods


Pumpkin is an excellent source of beta-carotene and vitamins A and C. These nutrients boost your immune system, protect your cells from damage, and improve eye health. Plus, pumpkin is low-calorie and can be used in various dishes, from savory veggie dishes to sweet pies and desserts.

Acorn Squash

Like pumpkin, acorn squash is also high in Vitamin A and antioxidants to keep your immune system and body healthy. Acorn squash provides one of the best possible ratios of heart-healthy vitamins to calories. Some studies have shown that carotenoids like those in acorn squash can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease — but only when those carotenoids come from foods.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are another orange autumn vegetable that packs a serious nutrition punch. Loaded with fiber, vitamins, and minerals, sweet potatoes can also be incorporated into a number of different snacks and meals. Mashed sweet potatoes, sweet potato chips, or baked sweet potatoes are a few ways to add this vegetable to your diet. If you have an air fryer, sweet potato fries are a great nutrient-filled side to add to your dishes without the added fat from deep frying.


Who doesn’t love going to the apple orchard in the fall? Apples are nutrient-dense and low-calorie, making them the perfect addition to a healthy diet. Apples are a good source of potassium and beta-carotene. They provide some vitamin C, folate, magnesium, and calcium.


Zucchini is rich in antioxidants and carotenoids — such as lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene. These nutrients enhance cellular health and aid eye health as well. Zucchini is also rich in water and fiber, two compounds that can promote healthy digestion by reducing your risk of constipation and symptoms of various gut disorders


Like the other foods on this list, pears have many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. This fruit is high in vitamins C and K, potassium, and copper. Plus, pears are a great fall fruit to add to your diet to increase your fiber. A study even found that individuals with metabolic syndrome who ate two pears a day for 12 weeks had improvements in blood pressure — just another reason to add this delicious fruit to your menu.


Cranberries contain a number of vitamins and minerals, including manganese, copper, and vitamins C, E, and K. Plus, cranberries are a good source of antioxidants and bioactive plant compounds. Some of these may help prevent urinary tract infections, so cranberry supplements or juice are often recommended in women with UTIs.

You can do more with this fruit than make cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving! You can add cranberries to smoothies, oatmeal, and even savory dishes to boost the nutritional value and enhance the flavor.


Nuts are a healthy way to add protein, fiber, and abundant vitamins and minerals to your diet. And nothing says fall better than pecans.

Pecans have numerous health benefits. They play a role in reducing the risk of heart disease because they have heart-healthy fats. Pecans are rich in vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A and E, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, B vitamins, and zinc.

Pecans are an excellent fiber and high-quality protein source while low in carbs. Plus, they have no cholesterol and are sodium-free.

One study found that incorporating pecans into a typical American diet significantly improves insulin sensitivity and has a significant effect on markers of cardiometabolic disease in otherwise healthy overweight and obese adults with excess belly fat.


Walnuts are another great fall food that has heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are associated with improved cholesterol levels and overall heart health. Walnuts are also an excellent source of vitamins such as vitamins B6 and E and minerals like iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, and manganese.

Healthy Fall Recipes

If you are looking for creative ways to add these tasty, nutrient-filled foods into your diet, try some of these recipes this fall.

Fall Spiced Nuts

This is a great snack during the Autumn months that takes advantage of nutrient-packed nuts and fall spices.


  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 cups almonds
  • 2 cups pecans
  • 2 cups walnuts
  • 1 cup pumpkin seeds


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F with oven rack in the center of oven.
  • Place parchment paper on a baking sheet and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Stir the cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and salt in a small bowl.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the egg whites and honey to a mixing bowl and whisk until frothy.
  • Add the nuts and pumpkin seeds to the egg-white mixture.
  • Add the spices a bit at a time to the nut mixture, and coat the nuts as you keep adding the spices.
  • Arrange the nuts onto the baking sheet in an even layer without overlapping. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, stir the nuts again, then place back in the oven for an additional 10 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Zucchini Fries

French fries are the ultimate fast food. However, they are packed with tons of fat and little nutritious value. Fortunately, you can still get your fry fix without compromising your healthy eating habits.


  • 2 medium zucchinis
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 eggs


  • Preheat your oven to 425°F.
  • Cut two zucchinis into sticks, or fry shapes and place them on a baking sheet.
  • Combine the breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a bowl and set aside.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk 2 eggs and add the zucchini sticks into the egg bowl. Coat the sticks evenly.
  • Place the zucchini sticks into the breadcrumb mixture.
  • Place the zucchini sticks on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15-20 minutes, flipping halfway.

Turmeric Vegetable Soup

This awesome veggie soup is packed with fall veggies packed with anti-inflammatory nutrients and antioxidants. You can add some beans to increase the protein and fiber intake and create the perfect Autumn comfort food.


  • 1 small onion,  thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cups of reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup sliced zucchini
  • 15-ounce can of white beans, drained and rinsed (optional)
  • 6 carrots, diced
  • 1/2 cup peeled and diced sweet potato
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomato
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric


  • In a large stockpot, sauté the onion in olive oil until tender.
  • Add the chicken broth, zucchini, carrots, sweet potato, and tomato. Bring to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat, then cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Cranberry and Pear Chicken

A lot of people think that fruit dishes have to be sweet. However, adding these delicious fall fruits to a savory dish is a great way to increase the nutritional value and stimulate the taste buds.


  • 1/2 teaspoon rosemary
  • 2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 2 medium pears, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • Heat the olive oil in a large pan or skillet.
  • Lightly season the chicken breast with salt and pepper. Add to the pan with the heated oil.
  • Cook the chicken on each side until browned, and the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the chicken from the pan.
  • Mix 3 tablespoons of chicken broth and two teaspoons of cornstarch to thicken the broth in a large bowl.
  • Add the rest of the broth, vinegar, rosemary, and sugar to the cornstarch mixture and stir.
  • Pour the broth mixture into the pan originally used to cook the chicken.
  • Add the pears and cranberries to the pan. Cook over medium heat until the sauce thickens and the pears are fork-tender.
  • Place the chicken back into the pan with the fruit and thickened sauce. Simmer together in the pan until warm.

Pumpkin Protein Cookies

You can't have a fall menu that doesn't include some pumpkin-flavored dishes. But this can go beyond pumpkin-spice lattes and pumpkin pie. One delicious pumpkin recipe that packs serious nutritional value is pumpkin protein cookies.


  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 1/2 rolled oats
  • 3 tablespoons vanilla protein powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 chopped pecans


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Mix the pumpkin puree, egg white, and maple syrup together in a large bowl.
  • Stir together the oats, protein powder, cinnamon, and pecans.
  • Add the oat and protein powder mixture to the bowl with the pumpkin puree mixture. Combine together until it forms a thick dough.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spoon the prepared dough onto a baking sheet into the size of cookies that you want to make. Ensure the cookies are evenly sized so they bake at the same rate.
  • Bake for about 10-15 minutes until the cookies are golden brown.
  • Let the cookies cool down before serving.

Holly Smith, M.D.
B.S. - Dietetics, NASM-PES Certified Trainer

Writer, The Fit Mother Project

Holly is an osteopathic physician, runner, triathlete, and fitness and nutrition enthusiast.

She is board certified in nephrology and internal medicine, has a bachelors degree in dietetics and is a certified personal trainer with NASM-PES certification.

Holly has completed four full ironmans, twelve marathons, countless half ironmans, olympic distance triathlons, half marathons and numerous other road races.

Holly joined the Fit Father Project in May 2019 as a regular writer, contributing articles on health, wellness, exercise, and nutrition.

She has also recently qualified for the 2020 World Championships for Ironman 70.3, in New Zealand!

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