As the seasons change, it’s natural to feel inclined to adjust our food choices. With that in mind, we recently reached out to four nutrition experts to find out what they’re eating this autumn. Here, they share the meals, snacks, and desserts that are fueling their days, as well as some insights into the health benefits of their components. Whether you’re looking for a new go-to nutritious snack or are simply seeking out some new ideas for mealtime, their daily choices are sure to inspire.
Go-to grains. “I like to eat whole grains that are full of fiber mixed with fruit for antioxidant power,” Alicia Watson, chef and owner at Vito and Vera in Little Rock, Arkansas, shares. She often reaches for one of her in-house breakfast bars, and is always mindful of staying clear of refined sugar, opting instead for her sweetener of choice, monk fruit. Lisa Cohen, co-creator and nutritionist at Good Clean Food Co. in Aspen, Colorado, prepares overnight oats for a delicious whole grain start packed with energizing B vitamins, magnesium, copper, folate, and fiber. She recommends her simple and satisfying Beautiful Berry Overnight Oats.
A healthy hash. “Sweet potato hash is a great choice for breakfast. Potatoes contain fiber and they’re also a great source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium,” says Eden Morris, MS, RD, LD, registered dietitian, and owner of Teton Performance Nutrition in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. “Most people think of citrus fruits when it comes to vitamin C, but vegetables like sweet potatoes, bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli are also good sources as well. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant (reduces free radicals), is a cofactor in collagen biosynthesis, supports the immune system, and enhances the absorption of iron.”
Tasty avocado toast. It turns out that this ubiquitous, often-Istagrammed breakfast choice has serious health benefits. According to Besty Johnson, ISSA Certified Fitness Nutrition Coach and owner of Betsy’s Nutritional Consulting in Knoxville, Tennessee, it’s important to get a combination of healthy fats, protein, and carbs so you can stay satisfied and full throughout the day. Her breakfast of choice is half an avocado spread on a piece of thin-sliced, whole grain bread with two to three egg whites.
A substantial salad. “Skipping meals throughout the day always ends in overeating at the end of the day,” Johnson says. That’s why she makes lunch her most substantial meal and recommends a mixed green salad with half a cup of quinoa, salmon, or a chicken breast with your favorite chopped veggies, crumbled walnuts, or chopped avocado. She tops it off with a healthy, low- sugar dressing or olive oil and vinegar.
Watson, meanwhile, recommends giving smashed chickpea salad a try. “I am definitely looking to protein-load to help carry me through the day, especially if I’m squeezing in a workout after I get off work,” she says. “My go-to is our smashed chickpea salad bowl, which packs in the protein and honors all the local seasonal veggies.”
A healthy sandwich spread. When making sandwiches at home, Cohen swaps mayonnaise for power-packed tahini, healthy hummus, or omega-rich avocado, all of which provide a similar flavorful, creamy effect and lots of nutrients to boot.
Seasonal bounty. “Fall signals the coming of apples and pears, and I like to eat with the seasons,” Morris says. “A pear, prosciutto, and burrata salad with pumpkin seeds is what I’ve been craving for lunch lately.” The classic pairing of apples and cinnamon flavors give healthful dishes such as oatmeal, salads, and baked fruit a boost. Plus, topping meals with seeds like pumpkin seeds or hemp heart seeds is a great way to add fiber and micronutrients.
Tempting tapas. “Dinnertime is tapas central for my family with many small bites, a great cocktail, and/or just a smoothie,” Watson says. She and her family enjoy grazing a variety of options, including some decadent items that they can easily indulge in without overdoing it. Frequent go-to’s include a roasted or grilled vegetable, a protein, and a cheese. If you follow a vegetarian diet, marinated tofu or Tempeh are great protein options, according to Watson, who loves the Miyokos and Kite Hill plant-based cheeses.
Squash as a side or main. Both Morris and Cohen look to squash to fill up their dinner menu, especially in the autumn when they are so prolific. “Squashes like butternut squash and spaghetti squash are delicious as entrees or side dishes,” Morris says. “Butternut squash, which is high in fiber, beta-carotene, and vitamin C, works especially well in soups, purees, or even roasted and added to salads.” Morris loves the simplicity of squashes since they bake easily as a simple side-dish. “Just slice one open, scoop out the seeds (which also can be roasted as a healthful snack), season with a drizzle of olive oil and seasonings, and bake until golden and tender,” she advises. Cohen loves roasted spaghetti squash as a pasta substitution, combined with her homemade pistachio pesto. “This veggie-filled dinner saves calories while giving you a big dose of vitamin C, folate, and magnesium,” she says.
Light fare. Johnson believes that dinner should be the lightest meal of your day, but that doesn’t mean it has to lack in flavor or leave you unsatisfied. She sautés 98% fat-free ground turkey and stuffs it into a bell pepper with assorted chopped veggies and melted mozzarella cheese. Grilled fish is also one of her favorites, paired with oven-roasted asparagus. Melting fresh mozzarella on top of a piece of grilled chicken with sliced tomatoes and fresh basil is also an easy and satisfying dinner choice.
Satisfying bites. When she’s craving some crunch, Johnson chooses raw veggies, such as sugar snap peas, bell peppers, celery, and carrots, dipped in hummus or guacamole. If she’s on the go, she reaches for a high-protein, low-sugar nutrition bar.
“A palmful of nuts is always my choice,” Watson says, while for Cohen, a variety of nut butters always hit the spot. “I like to slather sliced apple with nut butter or, if you’re wanting a sweeter treat, stuff a few dates with nut butter,” she says, explaining that while apples, dates, and nut butters are all very nutritious individually, when paired, they provide the perfect healthy balance of protein, fat, and fiber—which helps control blood sugar and energize the body. For those who might have nut allergies, she recommends SunButter, made from sunflower seeds, as a great nut-free alternative.
Pumpkin spice. If you’re one of the many who associate the arrival of autumn with pumpkin spice flavor, you are not alone. “I like to make pumpkin spice yogurt when I need a snack,” Morris says. “I blend pureed pumpkin, spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, ground ginger, and a dash of maple syrup into vanilla Siggi’s yogurt.” For an added dose of nutrition, she tops her yogurt with chopped walnuts and hemp hearts to increase the protein and healthy fat content. If you prefer to sip your pumpkin spice, she orders a small latte with one pump of syrup to reduce the sweetness. “I am a huge fan of oat milk or soy milk since they both make a latte extra creamy and provide a nutty flavor that pairs well with the pumpkin spice flavor,” she adds.
Chocolate hummus. While the idea may be off putting, Watson encourages people to try this nutrition-packed treat. Delivering protein, dessert hummus can hit the spot and satisfy your sweet tooth at the same time. She likes to freeze cotton candy grapes and dip them into chocolate hummus, and recommends strawberries, bananas, and rice cakes for dipping as well.
“Nice” cream. Far from considering it a summer-only dessert, Cohen makes ice cream a year-round indulgence. She likes to prepare Banana “Nice” Cream, which is a healthy, vegan ice cream made with a base of frozen bananas that can be flavored in a variety of fun and creative ways.
Vito and Vera appears in The Scout Guide Little Rock. Good Clean Food Co. appears in The Scout Guide Aspen. Teton Performance Nutrition appears in The Scout Guide Jackson Hole. Betsy’s Nutritional Consulting appears in The Scout Guide Knoxville.