Now that we are entering into the fall season, you might find yourself wanting to indulge in some of your favourite fall-themed comfort foods and beverages; and while it’s okay to treat yourself every now and then, it’s important to remember not to over-indulge as that can lead to poor health (i.e. weight gain, diabetes.) Instead, below are some healthier, lighter versions of your favourite fall foods.
Pumpkin Spice Lattes
Pumpkin spice lattes are a staple this time of year and leading into the holiday season. In fact, you would be hard-pressed to find a coffee shop in North American that doesn’t have this common fall beverage on their menu yet – with some even adding them to their drink line-up as early as August.
That being said, while pumpkin spice lattes might taste good, you might not be aware of just how unhealthy they are for you. The average, 16 fl. oz pumpkin spice latte will typically contain around 320 to 340 calories, with 120 of those calories coming from fat; 14 grams of fat, 55 mg of cholesterol, 240 mg of sodium, and 50 grams of sugar. If you prefer to order the iced or frappuccino versions of this drink, you’re looking at around anywhere from 350 to 370 calories.
As a healthier option, when ordering a pumpkin spice latte, you could request a smaller size, as well as opt for almond milk instead of 2%, heavy cream or whole milk, and also make sure you skip the whip. All of which could save you anywhere from 70 to 170 calories. Alternatively, you could even make your own at home by mixing together non-fat milk or non-dairy milk (such as unsweetened cashew milk or unsweetened vanilla almond milk), pumpkin puree, a few drops of liquid stevia, and a pinch of ground nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger into a cup of coffee. By doing this you not only save yourself a fraction of the calories, but a fraction of the cost.
Chili is another common fall food staple when the weather gets cooler. However, the beef and any added cheese may also come with unwanted unsaturated fat.
As an alternative, try reducing the amount of meat in your home-cooked chili while adding (or replacing it all together with) more vegetable and beans (which will increase your fibre intake.) However, keep in mind that depending on the type of beans you use, you may be increasing your sodium intake, so make sure the beans you do use are either low in salt or have no added salt. Rising them with water before adding them into the chili can also be helpful; and when using cheese, opt for cheese that is reduced fat. As an alternative to beef, you can also try using lean ground turkey or ground chicken.
Pumpkin pie is another go-to fall dessert. While pumpkin itself is considered to be healthy (it is a good source of potassium, beta-carotene, fibre, rich in antioxidants, and low-calorie), it happens to be everything else in the pie that’s not.
For example, when making your own pumpkin pie, most people will purchase pumpkin pie filling from the store, which has added sugars in addition to cream, saturated fat, and can be high in calories. In addition, the pie crust is made with butter and flour. That being said, it is possible to make yourself and your family a healthy pumpkin pie. All you need is an actual pumpkin and a food processor. It’s also recommended that you make your pumpkin pie a “crustless” version.