October 16, 2023

Fueling Facts: 10 Fall-Inspired (and Balanced!) Recipes

by SHIFT Nutrition Team

Each season brings a variety of fruits and vegetables for our enjoyment, but the fall harvest is especially celebrated for its cornucopia of delights, including squash, corn, apples, pumpkin, and potatoes, just to name a few. Including seasonal produce in our diets in a balanced way offers our bodies optimal nutrient density and flavor variety. Our registered dietitians encourage you to take advantage of this season’s produce by experimenting with some new recipes. In this month’s Fueling Facts, we round up some of our favorite fall-inspired recipes and provide you with tips to maintain nutrient balance in your meals.

Consider the Balanced Plate

Before we look at our recommended fall-inspired recipes, let’s revisit the basics of the Balanced Plate. Creating a Balanced Plate ensures that your meal is satisfying, nutritious, and full of variety.

At each meal, we recommend aiming for a plate composed of 1/2 non-starchy vegetables and fruits, 1/4 lean protein, 1/4 complex carbohydrates, along with a moderate amount of healthy fats.

Vegetables and fruits add micronutrients, fiber, and volume to your meal. Protein helps build and maintain muscle and is a main contributor to satiety. Complex carbohydrates provide energy to fuel your body, especially your brain. Healthy fats keep you full and are important for nutrient absorption. Sometimes we recommend adding or changing proportions of food groups, or both, within a recipe to create a meal that is consistent with the Balanced Plate.

Here are a few recipe adjustments that make it easier to prepare a Balanced Plate:

  • Swap out extra servings of complex carbohydrates with greens
  • Bulk up stir fry’s, salads, or wraps with extra non-starchy vegetables
  • Enjoy a piece of fruit as a dessert after meals
  • Add extra protein by including your favorite beans to a soup or salad
  • Add chicken, turkey, tofu, salmon, or tuna to a soup, salad, or wrap
  • Replace white rice with riced cauliflower or broccoli to increase vegetable proportions

10 Fall-Inspired Recipes

Try these recipes to begin your fall cooking journey! Our registered dietitians identify the Balanced Plate components within each recipe below and provide recommendations on how to fill any gaps deliciously.

  1. Roasted Butternut Squash Tacos
    • Vegetable/Fruit: cabbage, green onions
    • Lean Protein: black beans, pepitas
    • Complex Carb: butternut squash, corn tortillas
    • Healthy Fat: olive oil, avocado
    • Create a Balanced Plate: Add a side of Jicama-Cilantro Slaw to increase the vegetable proportion.
  2. Fall Steak Kabobs with Apple Cider Marinade
    • Vegetable/Fruit: onion
    • Lean Protein/Fat: sirloin steak tips
    • Complex Carb: sweet potato
    • Create a Balanced Plate: Add sweet peppers (vegetable) to the kabobs to balance out the steak and potato portions.
  3. Pumpkin Spice Cranberry Muffins
    • Vegetable/Fruit: cranberries
    • Complex Carb: pumpkin puree, flour
    • Healthy Fat: vegetable oil
    • Create a Balanced Plate: Serve with a side of Greek yogurt (lean protein) and add blueberries (fruit) for a satisfying breakfast.
  4. Creamy Dairy-Free Chicken Orzo
    • Vegetable/Fruit: onion, celery, carrots
    • Lean Protein: chicken
    • Complex Carb: orzo
    • Healthy Fat: olive oil
    • Create a Balanced Plate: Double vegetables to increase their proportions.
  5. Sweet Potato Hash
    • Vegetable/Fruit: scallions, bell pepper
    • Complex Carb: sweet potato
    • Create a Balanced Plate: Swap bacon with turkey bacon (lean protein), add avocado (healthy fat), and serve with an apple (fruit) for a balanced breakfast.
  6. Whole-Grain Caramel Apple Oven Pancake
    • Vegetable/Fruit: apples
    • Complex Carb: whole-wheat pastry flour
    • Create a Balanced Plate: Cut pancake serving in half and serve with eggs (lean protein) cooked in 1 tsp. olive oil (healthy fat).
  7. Instant Pot White Bean Chicken Chili
    • Vegetable/Fruit: onion, green chilis, jalapeño
    • Lean Protein: white beans, chicken breast
    • Complex Carb: corn, white beans
    • Healthy Fat: olive oil
    • Create a Balanced Plate: Top chili with tomato (vegetable) and avocado (healthy fat).
  8. Roasted Fall Vegetables with Maple, Thyme, and Apple
    • Vegetable/Fruit: carrots, shallots, apples, lemons, onion
    • Complex Carb: parsnips, turnips, potatoes
    • Healthy Fat: olive oil
    • Create a Balanced Plate: Serve with a lean protein, like salmon or chicken.
  9. Butternut Squash Soup
    • Vegetable/Fruit: onion
    • Complex Carb: butternut squash
    • Healthy Fat: olive oil
    • Create a Balanced Plate: Serve with a side salad (vegetable), topped with chicken sausage (lean protein).
  10. Apple Cranberry Walnut Salad
    • Vegetable/Fruit: greens, apples, cranberries
    • Lean Protein: feta cheese, walnuts
    • Healthy Fat: olive oil, walnuts, feta cheese
    • Create a Balanced Plate: Swap bacon with turkey bacon (lean protein), and enjoy with a serving of quinoa (complex carb).

If you have questions about creating a Balanced Plate in your favorite fall recipes, reach out to your SHIFT Registered Dietitian for additional support.

In Real Health,

Lauren Hopkin & Lauren Munson

SHIFT Registered Dietitians


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