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Favorite Fall Foods List

Fall is a great time for produce! Right now there are several flavor-packed, versatile fruits and vegetables in season, and we want to highlight a few of them in this list of our favorite fall foods. Below you’ll find dozens of ideas for incorporating these highly nutritious foods into your meal plan.

Grapes

Did you know that grapes hit their peak during the fall months? They’ll be most colorful, flavorful, and inexpensive this time of year.

  • Wash them and keep some in a bowl in the refrigerator for an easy snack.
  • Grapes also transport well. Pack a small bag of for days when you’re on the go.
  • Put them in the freezer and have them as a frozen treat for dessert.

Serving Suggestion: According to the Exchange Lists for Diabetes, a serving of grapes 17 small grapes (or about 1 cup) contains around 15 grams of carbohydrate. All fruit has carbohydrate, so be sure to count it in your meal plan!

Sweet Potatoes 

Sweet potatoes are a starchy vegetable but they are also a great source of fiber, vitamin A, and potassium. Here are just a few ways to enjoy sweet potatoes:

  • Dice or slice up a sweet potato. Toss the pieces with a bit of olive oil, herbs, and spices, and roast them in the oven until they start to brown. You’ll end up with a naturally sweet side dish that pairs well with just about any entrée.
  • Add diced cooked sweet potatoes to soups, stews, or chili.
  • Make a baked sweet potato in the oven. Once cooked through, cut your sweet potato in half lengthwise and top with sautéed onions and peppers, salsa, and some reduced-fat cheese for a loaded baked potato.
  • Try some of our healthy and tasty sweet potato recipes like Slow Cooker Chicken and Sweet Potatoes, Sweet Potato Pancakes, Sweet Potato Soufflé, and Beef & Sweet Potato Stew.

Serving Suggestion:¼ of a large sweet potato or ½ cup of a cooked sweet potato has around 15 grams of carbohydrate. Be sure to count them in your meal plan. If you use the Create Your Plate method to plan meals, you can fill ¼ of your plate with your favorite sweet potato dish.

Butternut Squash

Butternut squash is a type of winter squash that is easy to find in the grocery store this time of year. Other types of winter squash that you might see are acorn squash and spaghetti squash. For tips on peeling and cutting up butternut squash, check out this month’s video. Our Butternut Squash Stew with Chickpeas also includes a tip for cutting up butternut squash.

  • Roas a butternut squash. Once cooked through, you can mash it and add some herbs and trans-free margarine for a healthy side.
  • Try pureeing baked butternut squash in a blender with a low-sodium broth and herbs to make a soup.
  • You can also dice it before cooking, toss it in a bit of olive oil, and roast in the oven. Have the roasted squash as a side dish.
  • Try roasting diced butternut squash with some garlic and other fall veggies like cauliflower and carrots.
  • Some of our favorite winter squash recipes are Roasted Root Vegetable Soup and our Butternut Squash Enchiladas.

Serving Suggestion: Butternut squash is also a starchy vegetable, so it is higher in carbohydrates and calories than non-starchy vegetables. 1 cup of cooked butternut squash has about 20 grams of carbohydrate, so be sure to count it in your meal plan.  For a lower carb option, you can also try a spaghetti squash, which has about 10 grams of carbohydrate per cup. You might be interested in our recipe Spaghetti Squash Casserole.

Cauliflower

Non-starchy vegetables like cauliflower are the best bang for your buck when it comes to nutrition. They are rich in vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and fiber while also being low in carbohydrates and calories. If you have diabetes, a good goal is to fill about half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables – and cauliflower is a great option! There are lots of tasty ways to prepare cauliflower.

  • For a simple side dish, toss fresh cauliflower florets with a few tablespoons of olive oil, some pepper and chopped garlic. Roast the florets in the oven at 425⁰F until they turn caramelized and crispy! Sprinkle the roasted cauliflower with a bit of parmesan cheese if desired.
  • You can also simply steam or microwave it until cooked through. Season the cauliflower with some lemon juice and freshly ground pepper or trans free margarine and a bit of reduced-fat cheese.
  • It makes a great addition to curries, stews, or stir-fry.
  • You can also puree cooked cauliflower with some low-sodium chicken broth and herbs and you’ll have a tasty soup!
  • We have some tasty cauliflower recipes that you can try including our Baked Cauliflower Puree, Easy Half-Mashed Potatoes, and Creamy Cheesy Cauliflower.

Serving Suggestion: Fill about half of your plate with your favorite healthy cauliflower recipe. Since many recipes will call for adding extra fats or cheese, be sure to check the nutrition facts and watch portion sizes!

Broccoli

Broccoli is another non-starchy vegetable that you don’t want to miss this fall. It’s high in vitamin C and folate, and is also a good source of potassium and fiber! There are many ways to enjoy broccoli.

  • Dip fresh, uncooked broccoli florets in hummus or low-fat ranch dressing for a snack.
  • Try making a broccoli salad with fresh raw broccoli like our Southern Broccoli Salad.
  • Like cauliflower, you can also simply microwave or steam it and add some flavor with a bit of olive oil, fat-free Italian dressing, or just some lemon juice and pepper. 
  • Our Broccoli Almondine is a quick and tasty side dish that your family will love!
  • Cooked broccoli is easy to puree and use in soups like Broccoli Soup.
  • Add it to pasta sauce, stir-frys, or casseroles.

Serving Suggestion: Broccoli is also a non-starchy vegetable. When you choose broccoli recipes, make sure they don’t over-do it with the cheese or added fat. Look for recipes that call for healthy ingredients and keep portions in mind. You can fill about ½ of your plate with a healthy broccoli dish.

Homemade Chili & Stew

It’s easy to make your own chili or stew at home, and both are perfect comfort foods for cold weather. When you use the right ingredients, chilis and stews can be packed with nutrients. What’s more, they are often made in large batches so you can save the leftovers by freezing them for an easy meal when time is tight.

  • To make a healthy stew or chili, focus on adding as many tasty non-starchy vegetables as possible. Think cooked carrots, celery, zucchini, onions, garlic, tomatoes, chile peppers and bell peppers – there are dozens of possible combinations!
  • When choosing protein foods to add, try any assortment of beans for a vegetarian-friendly dish like in our Veggie Chili.
  • If you prefer some meat, try a lean cut of beef, ground sirloin, lean ground turkey breast, or skinless chicken breast.
  • Many stews also include some potatoes or sweet potatoes. To change it up, you can also try butternut squash or pumpkin.
  • For some tasty chili toppings, add some fresh chopped cilantro, a dollop of fat-free plain Greek yogurt, and/or some avocado slices.
  • Looking for recipes? Try our Butternut Squash Stew with Chickpeas, Beef and Sweet Potato Stew, and Chicken Chili.

Serving Suggestion: A reasonable serving for chili or stew is usually about 1 cup-1 ½ cups. Check your recipe for the nutrition facts so you know how to count it in your meal plan. Remember that any time you add beans, potatoes, or another starchy food, the carbohydrate content will increase.

Pears

Pears are also in season!

  • It’s easy to grab a pear on your way out the door for a snack on-the-go.
  • You can also cut them up and cook them, like in our Cinnamon Roasted Pears recipe or our Mini Pear and Goat Cheese Tarts.
  • Or, slice them up and add them to a salad along with some cheese, toasted nuts, and a light vinaigrette.

Serving suggestion: The amount of carbohydrate in a pear will depend on the size. According to the Exchange Lists for Diabetes, ½ cup of canned pears or 4-ounces of fresh pear contains around 15 grams of carbohydrate.

Coffee and Tea

What about drinks? We talk a lot about food with diabetes but what you drink counts too! Unsweetened coffee and tea are good drink choices, and will warm you from the inside out on a blustery fall day. They both have fewer than 5 calories per cup and do not contain carbohydrates. Unlike sugary drinks, they do not have a significant effect on blood glucose or calorie intake! But be careful –adding cream and sugar will add extra carbohydrates, fat and calories. So, if you’re tired of water, try switching it up and incorporate some coffee and tea into the mix.

Note: One of the best places to get fresh produce is your local farmer’s market. Farmers usually only bring what they are harvesting at the time, so the food you buy from them is usually fairly fresh and is in season. Other nutritious fall foods to look for include apples, Belgian endive, broccoli rabe, cabbage, carrots, cranberries, garlic, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, pomegranates, Swiss chard, and turnips.

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