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The Healthy Cornucopia

by Jasmine McNenny on Oct 29, 2013

It’s not really surprising that we tend to eat more in the fall and winter seasons.  The cold weather has us constantly on the hunt for something hot, creamy, and comforting that will fill our bellies and keep us warm.  But while we’re evolutionarily programs to seek out foods rich in fat and carbohydrates to help us survive the scarcity of the winter months, in today’s society where food is plentiful, there is no reason to let a little drop in temperature to tank your eating habits and ruin all that hard work during the summer.

The tips for keeping things healthy during the fall season are fairly routine.  Soup is always a good option as long as it isn’t full of cheese or heavy creamy.  Stick with rich vegetable stews that are light on the meats and noodles.  Turkey is naturally a very lean meat so choosing another slice over an extra helping of mashed potatoes is a good way to go.  In general the football season and holidays are notorious bombs for healthy eating, but there are many ways to keep things in line.  Munch on baked crackers and hummus instead of chips and dip during the games.  Since pie is virtually unavoidable, serve it with frozen yogurt instead of ice cream, and if possible, stick with fruit-based or fresh pumpkin pie instead of the canned filling.

But in all honesty, there’s no reason to worry about limiting your eating habits as long as you’re eating the right things.  It turns out that with fall comes a healthy cornucopia of delicious, satisfying foods that will fill you up without the consequential curse of eater’s remorse.

One of the best foods now available is squash.  Butternut, acorn, even pumpkin, are perfect replacements for potatoes and other heavy starches in a meal.  Butternut squash makes for amazing soups and creamy mashes.  Stiffer-textured squash such as acorn, or even the bright orange sweet potato are great for vegetables risottos instead of rice or pasta side.  And of course, spaghetti squash is the fascinatingly ideal replacement for pastas, easily served with a spoonful of tomato sauce for a filling and completely carb-free dinner.

In the fruit category, the favorites are still of course apples and pears.  These versatile fruits seem to keep forever and are just as delicious raw as they are cooked.  But another fruit joins us in the colder months, the pomegranate.  Considered to be one of the superfruits based on its level of antioxidants, the pomegranate is a great addition to the fall diet.  Although it can take a little patience to peel out each tiny, jewel-like seed, the effort is worth it as the fruit, with its tart flavor and surprising crunch, goes down as quickly and easily as potato chips.

So while the increasing chill is making us crave a little more food than usual, fall offers up plenty of hearty, appetizing options to keep us both physically and mentally in good spirits.