Spooky Facts about Your Favorite Fall Foods

by Brittany Lightsey, MS, RD, LD

October 2014  

As the leaves begin to change and cool fall air settles in, we tend to make changes in our eating habits. We indulge in foods that make us feel good, but may not be so good for our health. Let’s take a peek into some of our fall favorites:

Pumpkin Treats
If you are anything like me, all the buzz around “PSLs” (pumpkin spice lattes) makes you crave one every time you pass a coffee shop. Think twice before ordering next time, as a medium-sized pumpkin spice latte carries 380 calories, 13 grams of fat and 49 grams of sugar. If you add a slice of pumpkin bread to your order, you’ve added 410 calories, 15 grams of fat and 39 grams of sugar. That’s like eating two glazed donuts with 17 teaspoons of sugar poured on top. The same amount of fat as eating a Big Mac!

October Trick or Treat

Halloween Candy
Ever wondered how much sugar your child eats on Halloween? An average is 3 cups and over 4,800 calories. Now, that’s scary!

Chili and Creamy Soups
The idea of a warm soup or stew as the weather changes sounds wonderful, but these can be packed with fat. An average serving of a loaded baked potato soup can have 16 grams of fat and broccoli cheddar has about 14 grams. This is about the same amount of fat in a slice of pepperoni pizza.

Try these tips to make your family’s fall season a bit healthier.
1. Make your own pumpkin treats.
Pumpkin can be healthfully incorporated into any time of day. But because parents are often asking me for breakfast ideas, I thought what better way to enjoy pumpkin than breakfast! One of my favorite pumpkin breakfast foods is pumpkin-spiced oatmeal. Mix in a tablespoon or two of canned pumpkin puree with cinnamon and nutmeg into your next bowl of oatmeal. I promise, you and your child will like it, and pumpkin is a great way to add a veggie to breakfast plus vitamin A for a nutritious boost.

2. Have a healthier Halloween.
October PumpkinsBuy candy the day before Halloween and not any sooner. This way, you and your kiddos are not tempted to indulge before the big day. Better yet, give out non-candy treats like popcorn, fruit or even pencils and stickers. For more ideas, visit Zombies Eat Right Too. On Halloween night, serve your family a balanced meal before heading out to trick-or-treat. A full belly will discourage too much candy consumption later in the evening. You may even consider inviting the “Switch Witch” for a visit. She swoops in during the middle of the night to switch extra candy for a special prize. The goal here is not to take the fun out of Halloween or make candy seem evil, but to be a good alternative for getting candy out of the house.

3. Switch cream-based soups for low-fat, hearty ones.
How? Choose recipes for broth-based soups with lots of veggies, or if making chili, substitute ground turkey for ground beef. Try to add some extra veggies to your chili recipe like onion, garlic, green and red bell peppers, and even celery! For a seasonal twist, stir in canned pumpkin puree when adding herbs and spices.

October Bananas and Oranges Graphic


Asian Kale Salad
This delicious and nutritious recipe is brought to you by the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System’s School Nutrition Program. October is Farm to School Month – did you know all of our county’s schools participate in the farm to school program with the goal of getting more locally grown foods into our schools? This salad will be featured during National School Lunch Week which also happens to fall in October.

1 head fresh kale
½ cup shredded red cabbage
½ cup shredded carrots
¼ cup thinly sliced red onion
½ cup low-sodium soy sauce
½ cup canola oil
½ cup vinegar
Fresh orange juice – 1 orange
2 tablespoons garlic powder
3 tablespoons ground ginger

1. Wash and cut fresh kale into bite-size pieces. Dry the kale very well.
2. Mix soy sauce, vinegar, oil, orange juice, garlic and ginger well.
3. Combine all of the vegetables in a large bowl. Pour the soy sauce mixture over the vegetables; toss to coat all vegetables evenly.
Best if served cold. May need to mix again before serving.

Apple Cookie Bites
For a great snack or sweet treat, try these cookie bites.
Adapted from Rachel Schultz.
Serves 1

1 apple
2 tablespoons peanut butter
Unsweetened coconut shreds
Chocolate chips

Slice apple into thin rings and remove core. Spread peanut butter over one side of ring. Top with pecans, coconut shreds, and chocolate chips.

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
Don’t let your perfectly good pumpkin go to waste - the seeds make a delicious and nutritious snack!

Serving size: 1 oz. (Servings per recipe vary by size of pumpkin)

1 pumpkin, seeded
Olive oil

1. Pick out your favorite pumpkin and carve.
2. Preheat oven to 325◦
3. Remove seeds. Rinse and remove pulp.
4. Spread across baking sheet. Sprinkle with olive oil.
5. Bake for about 30 minutes until lightly toasted, stirring occasionally.
6. Top with optional seasonings, such as garlic powder or Cajun seasoning.

October Decorative Pumpkins