Now that we're "officially" in the holiday season, we find ourselves faced once again with many of our favorite foods. There seems to be a constant struggle between trying to be health-conscious and wanting to indulge in an entire box of apple-cider donuts. Luckily, you don’t have to compromise. Here are three Fall food ideas that are as healthy as they are delicious.
If you’re trying to gain lean muscle or want something that will keep you feeling fuller, longer, we recommend starting the day off with something sweet and seasonal that’s also loaded with protein.
Behold, Pumpkin Protein Pancakes. While traditional pancakes are mostly empty calories, this simple rendition packs 12g of fiber and 22g of protein into just one serving!
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- ¼ cup unsweetened almond milk
- 3 large egg whites
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup quick cooking oats (not instant)
- 1 scoop vanilla flavor whey protein powder
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 Tbsp reduced fat (2%) plain Greek yogurt
- Combine pumpkin, almond milk, egg whites, and extract in a medium bowl; whisk to blend. Set aside.
- Combine oats, protein powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and baking powder in a medium bowl; mix well.
- Add oat mixture to pumpkin mixture; mix until just blended.
- Heat large nonstick skillet lightly coated with spray over medium heat. Ladle about ¼ cup batter for each pancake; cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until bubbles form on top. Flip. Cook for 90 seconds, or until golden brown and cooked through.
- Divide pancakes between two serving plates; top evenly with yogurt.
Pies are a staple during the holiday season...chances are you’ll have several to pick from this year.
Find yourself torn between which pie to choose? We have a better solution. Here’s a healthier yet delicious alternative to the beloved blueberry pie. At only 173 calories a pop (compared to 360 in the average slice of pie) and with 1/4 of the fat and 18g fewer carbs, it still has all the antioxidant benefits of blueberries.
*Yields 12 Muffins
- 1 1/4 cups fresh blueberries
- 24 fresh blueberries (for topping)
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats (not instant)
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- 7/8 cup low-fat buttermilk
- 24 fresh blueberries
- 1/4 cup organic blueberry preserves
- Preheat oven to 375°.
- Combine flour, sugar, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
- In a separate bowl whisk together buttermilk, egg, oil, and vanilla.
- Toss 1 1/4 cups of blueberries with flour mixture.
- Pour wet ingredients into flour mixture and stir gently.
- Line a 12 count muffin pan with paper liners (or spray a nonstick pan with cooking spray). Divide the batter evenly; sprinkle with remaining sugar.
- Bake 12-15 minutes or until tops are just set. Remove pan from oven and top each muffin with 1 tsp fruit spread and 2 blueberries.
- Bake 3-5 minutes more until golden. Cool in pan for 10 minutes and serve.
But, what exactly are the antioxidant benefits of blueberries we mentioned? The term antioxidants gets thrown around a lot, however many people aren’t exactly sure what they do. In short, antioxidants serve to protect cells against oxidative damage. When oxygen interacts with certain molecules in the body, it can leave them with an odd or unpaired number of electrons. This results in what scientists call free radicals - highly reactive atoms typically found in the nucleus of cells, with a tendency to attack DNA. Such DNA damage paves the way for a variety of diseases and cancers, and even speeds aging.  Antioxidants such as blueberries work to combat this. In fact, in one study, participants who drank a liter of a blueberry-apple juice mixture showed a marked 20% decrease in free radical-induced damage in just 4 weeks. Blueberries are believed to contain the highest antioxidant count of all commonly consumed fruits and vegetables, so they’re perfect to stir into your baked goods this season.
3. Better Bread Stuffing
Here’s some great news - if you’re trying to lose weight, you can still enjoy stuffing this season. It all comes down to a simple substitution. One serving of Fiber One 100% Whole Wheat Bread is just 15 calories. That’s right, 15. On top of that, it provides 7g of dietary fiber to aid in digestion (perfect after any holiday meal). Make this simple swap and stuff yourself with stuffing, guilt free.