7 Healthier Alternatives to Your Favorite Fall Foods

As the weather cools down, seasonal foods tend to get richer, which isn’t usually a recipe for a nutritious diet. However, just because you want to eat healthfully doesn’t mean you have to give up your favorite carb, cream, and sugar-filled fall dishes (at least not completely). Here, Amanda Foti, senior dietitian at Selvera Wellness, shares her favorite tweaks for healthy food swaps.

Creamy Dip

yogurt sauce

Source: iStock

“Fall means football and tailgating,” says Foti. “For creamy dips swap out sour cream with plain Greek yogurt. It tastes exactly the same for less fat, less calories, and more protein.”


“Hearty fall recipes often call for pasta,” notes Foti. “Swap out pasta for zucchini noodles or ‘zoodles.’ You can put them through a spiralizer for a spaghetti swap or thin long ways for rotini recipes.”

Mashed Potato

Mashed potatoes are a fall staple, especially around Thanksgiving. If you’re trying to limit your carbs, opt for mashed cauliflower instead — and stay away from the added butter! Simply steam cauliflower until soft and blend in a food processor. Instead of butter, Foti recommends adding a variety of spices to zest it up a bit without adding unnecessary fat and calories. “It tastes great and you’ll save yourself about 75 starchy carb calories per serving,” she explains. “Not quite ready to take the plunge? Try mixing ½ cauliflower and ½ potatoes.”


pumpkin porridge

Source: iStock

Nothing says fall quite like pumpkins. “If you’re baking pumpkin bread this season, be sure to try out my secret weapon for oil replacements: okra gum,” says Foti. “It serves as a 1:1 ratio replacement for oil and completely eliminates the fat content without compromising the taste or texture. Boil 1 cup of sliced okra pods in 2 cups of water. Cook until the liquid becomes a similar viscosity of oil (7-10 minutes). Let it cool before using.”

And those pumpkin-flavored drinks? Foti recommends nixing pumpkin spice lattes and savoring a post-workout pumpkin pie smoothie instead. Try this recipe:


  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 6 ounces Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup crushed ice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 medjool date

Directions: Blend well.

As for pumpkin pie, Foti suggests, “Pick Greek yogurt with pumpkin puree instead. Trust me on this one! Pumpkin pie, although often a healthier choice than other pies on the market, is a dessert that should be occasional (one or two slices per season). If you need more than a seasonal dose, try out this combination. It tastes like a pumpkin pie but is a well-balanced snack that is pre-portioned for you and will keep you satisfied for hours thanks to the protein and fiber.”

Mac and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese, pasta

Source: iStock

“Mac and cheese may be a fall favorite, but it’s not great for your waistline,” says Foti. “For a healthier recipe that swaps out the carb-heavy noodles, try butternut squash or cook with whole grain noodles and lighten up the sauce.”


This traditional bread seems to have a place at every Thanksgiving table. “Although cornbread may sound like a healthy choice, it tends to be loaded with butter, oil, and calories,” explains Foti. “To improve the nutrition, try making it with almond and coconut flour.”

Apple Pie

The other pie sold at every orchard and grocery store during the fall season… Apple pie is a dessert-lover’s dream. “Unfortunately, even though apple pie is loaded with fiber-rich apples, it tends to be high in sugar and carbs from the crust,” says Foti. “Instead, make it crustless with a whole grain oatmeal crumble topping or just enjoy the inside with baked apples.

More from Health & Fitness Cheat Sheet: