Fall brings us shorter days, cooler weather and a bounty of fresh ingredients in grocery stores and farmer’s markets. That’s great news for people who are following a weight loss plan because there are more delicious and healthy fall foods to pick from than any other time of the year. We’ve created this grocery list of some of our seasonal favorites that are sure to perk up your fall food meals and help speed you to your weight loss goal. Plus, we’ve provided some tempting ways to enjoy them.
Here are 10 fall foods for your seasonal weight loss menu:
WHY: Pumpkins seem to be everywhere in autumn, but they truly deserve a place on your plate when you’re trying to lose weight. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), one cup of cooked pumpkin has an impressive seven grams of fiber, which leaves you feeling full for hours after eating. Even better, pumpkin seeds are rich in magnesium, a mineral that is said to help prevent and manage Type 2 diabetes, says the Defeat Diabetes Foundation.
TRY: Pass on the fat- and sugar-laden pumpkin pie and instead whip up a batch of our Powerhouse Pumpkin Hummus– it’s loaded with flavor and fiber and it makes a delicious dip for fresh veggies or Nutrisystem Pretzels.
2. Brussels Sprouts
WHY: Brussels sprouts are an especially rich source of vitamin K—low levels of this nutrient are linked to an increase in body fat in older adults, according to a study, published in The Journal of Nutrition.
TRY: Cool weather brings out the sweetness in these bite-sized members of the cabbage family. When roasted, Brussels sprouts become even tastier and develop a satisfying crunch. We love to get in a serving of non-starchy vegetables with Crispy Brussels Sprouts Chips with Garlic Aioli.
3. Sweet Potato
WHY: Root veggies are some of our favorite fall foods! Classic sweet potato casseroles topped with marshmallows may not be a healthy choice when you’re trying to lose weight. However, the orange-fleshed spuds alone are a SmartCarb you can enjoy at this time of year. According to Livestrong.com, sweet potatoes are about 80 percent water and are rich in dietary fiber. Both of these factors can help you stay full while you lose the weight.
TRY: Mexican Sweet Potato Toast pairs the zesty flavors of Southwest cuisine and the natural sugars of sweet potatoes to make a hearty meal that will keep you satisfied for hours.
4. Spaghetti Squash
WHY: When baked, this hard-shelled yellow squash can be scooped out in long, thin strands that you can eat like pasta. According to the USDA, one cup of cooked spaghetti squash has just 42 calories and over two grams of fiber. Compare that to the same amount of standard cooked pasta, which has 157 calories and less than two grams of fiber. This healthy substitution is what makes spaghetti squash one of our favorite fall foods.
TRY: We remade a classic Italian dish with spaghetti squash and turkey in our Slow Cooker Bolognese with Spaghetti Squash Pasta. Your family will love it as much as your waistline does.
WHY: Not only does cinnamon give food natural sweetness without adding calories, it has been found to help control blood sugar, says a report, published in the journal Nutrition Research. Cinnamon is a Free Food in your Nutrisystem weight loss plan, so you can enjoy as much of it as you want.
TRY: Our Cinnamon Protein Mug Cake is loaded with flavor and energy-boosting protein but low in calories and sugar. Plus, it’s so quick and easy to make—no baking skills required.
WHY: “The practice of regular consumption of mushrooms is effective in the treatment of metabolic syndrome, including obesity,” according to a review, published in the journal Molecules. One study found that participants who ate mushrooms experienced a lower body mass index (BMI), decreased belly circumference and an increase in satiety.
TRY: For parties or everyday snacks, Simple Stuffed Mushrooms bring you the benefits of mushrooms with the zingy flavors of marinara sauce and garlic and the creamy textures of ricotta and mozzarella cheeses.
WHY: Autumn is the peak season for oysters, the simple but flavorful shellfish that is loaded with protein and low in fat. According to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements, Oysters are a healthy source of chromium, a mineral that helps your body manage insulin and the use of protein, carbohydrates and fat.
TRY: Many people eat oysters raw, but quickly grilling or baking them sweetens their flavor and gives their tender flesh a smooth, custard-like texture. However you prepare oysters, you can enjoy them with all of the hot sauce (a Nutrisystem Free Food!) that your taste buds desire.
WHY: Fresh figs are abundant in autumn. If you’ve never tried them, you’ll see they’re quite different from the cookie version most of us are familiar with. Figs are a SmartCarb, so they are high in fiber, which keeps you feeling full and your digestion working smoothly. The many tiny seeds in figs also help to absorb fats in your digestive tract before your body stores them, says the Metabolic Research Center.
TRY: When your day is busy and you need a snack you can enjoy on the go, try our Maple Fig Energy Bites, which include another great fall flavor—real maple syrup.
WHY: The yellow spice that gives mustard its bright color contains curcumin, a compound that has natural antiviral properties, which we can all use these days. One study, published in Frontiers in Pharmacology, found that patients with metabolic syndrome and related disorders who took curcumin experienced a “significant reduction” in body mass index (BMI), weight, waist-circumference (WC) and leptin levels.
TRY: Your whole family will love Boneless Garlic Ginger Chicken Bites, made in an air fryer so they’re loaded with flavor but lower in fat. Along with the turmeric, they are flavored with two other super healthy spices: garlic and ginger.
WHY: America’s most popular fruit is available in more varieties in autumn than any other time of year. In many parts of the United States, you can buy them directly from the orchards in fall, so you get to eat them when they’re as fresh as can be. Apples are loaded with fiber and a group of nutrients called “polyphenols,” which appear to reduce weight gain and the risk of obesity, says a report, published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. “There are many documents and studies that show fruit polyphenols likely promote anti-obesity effects and exert their beneficial effects via scavenging free radicals, regulating gene expression, and altering signal transduction in target cells and tissues, especially fat tissues,” says researchers.
TRY: It’s hard to beat the simple satisfaction of biting into a crisp fall apple, but our remake of the classic Chocolate Caramel Apple just might become a new favorite.