PrintSeasonal Third Meal Ideas for Autumn

Seasonal-Third-Meal-Ideas-640x400Choosing seasonal produce is the best way to enjoy foods at their peak of freshness and flavor. It’s also a good way lower your environmental impact and support local agriculture.

When you’re planning a balanced 400-600 calorie meal, about half of your plate should be filled with different colored fruits and vegetables, a quarter of your plate with lean sources of protein, and a quarter with whole grains rich in complex carbohydrates and fiber.

These third meal ideas can help you fill your plate with seasonal produce to make the most of autumn’s bounty and get the most out of Shake Days.

Winter Squash and Pumpkins

Pumpkins and winter squash varieties such as butternut and acorn are excellent sources of vitamin A and C and provide a good source of potassium. A cup of cubed, cooked squash has about 80 calories.

How To Pick the Best Produce

Choose a winter squash or pumpkin that is firm and heavy. When you tap on it, you should hear a hollow sound. Look for a pumpkin or squash with a smooth skin, free from dark spots and bruising.

Your Seasonal Menu

  • Soup: Butternut squash soup is a classic for cooler autumn weather. Cubed pumpkin makes a sweet addition to a spicy chili.
  • Side: Roast pumpkin or squash for a satisfying side dish with natural sweetness. Try combinations like acorn squash roasted with parmesan and garlic, butternut squash with onions and rosemary, or pumpkin wedges seasoned with cumin.
  • Pasta: Pair pureed pumpkin with herbs and spices to make a smooth, delicious pasta sauce or serve winter squash sautéed with onion and thyme over whole-wheat pasta.

Apples, Pears, and Pomegranates

Apples, pears, and pomegranates are in peak season in autumn. A medium apple or pear provides around 100 calories, while a ½ cup of pomegranate seeds has about 70 calories. Apples and pears supply a good source of fiber, while pomegranates are a good source of vitamin C.

How To Pick the Best Produce

Apples should be firm without dents or bruises. Pears are ripe when the flesh just below the stem yields to gentle pressure. Choose a pomegranate with smooth, firm skin that is dark red and feels heavy for its size.

Your Seasonal Menu

  • Salad: Toss sliced apples and pears with your salad or sprinkle in some pomegranate seeds for a sweet, tangy crunch.
  • Dessert: Bake sliced apples with cinnamon and nutmeg for a guiltless autumn treat.
  • Side Dish: Poached pears and chunky, homemade applesauce are great accompaniments to lean cuts of pork or poultry.

Broccoli, Cauliflower, and Brussels Sprouts

Broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts provide around 30 calories per cup and are an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin C, fiber, and folate.

How to Pick the Best Produce

When selecting broccoli or cauliflower, look for firm stalks with tightly packed crowns. Avoid yellowing broccoli or cauliflower with dark spots. The freshest Brussels sprouts are bright green with tightly packed leaves and are free from discolorations.

Your Seasonal Menu

  • Soup: Steamed cauliflower can be pureed to make a smooth, creamy soup base that pairs well with fragrant spices like curry or Mediterranean flavors like garlic and olive oil.
  • Salad: Toss shredded Brussels sprouts with a sweet, tangy dressing and top with dried cranberries and toasted pumpkin seeds to create a substantial autumn salad.
  • Side: Oven roasting brings out a rich, savory flavor in broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. Roasted broccoli and Brussels sprouts pair well with lemon zest and fresh parmesan. Combine roasted cauliflower with apples and pecans.

By bringing these autumn favorites to your table, you’ll enjoy the freshest, best-tasting produce of the season as part of your healthy, balanced third meal.