Having a well-stocked pantry is ideal for meal prep and when you need to whip up a quick, last-minute meal without sacrificing nutrition. As the weather gets cooler and you start craving fall flavors, these five ingredients are pantry must-haves. Not only are they packed with nutrients, but they can also upgrade classic autumn dishes with their versatile flavor and texture.
Low in calories (52 calories per 1/2 cup or 125g) and rich in vitamin C, applesauce makes a great fall snack on its own or paired with yogurt or oatmeal. It’s also a great way to add natural sweetness to baked goods to cut back on added sugar, and it can be a replacement for wet ingredients like oil and eggs. You can also try it in marinades for your favorite protein or as a healthier topping for desserts instead of less nutritious options like sugar or whipped cream.
Pro tip: Opt for unsweetened applesauce to save on added sugars, and know you can always add your own sweetener if needed.
Adding beans to a fall pasta dish, tossing them on an autumn salad, stuffing them in spaghetti squash boats or using them in fall soups, stews and chilies are great ways to enhance variety in your diet.
Maple syrup is a natural sweetener that comes from maple trees and contains minerals and antioxidants, including calcium, potassium, iron, zinc and manganese. It’s low on the glycemic index, making it a great source of prolonged energy. This is one reason it’s become popular among endurance athletes looking to fuel with whole, natural foods over processed gels. Moreover, since maple pairs well with classic fall flavors, like pumpkin, nutmeg, apple and pear, it’s delicious in baked goods, as a glaze for salmon or Brussels sprouts or to top pancakes and add sweetness to savory chilies.
Almonds aren’t the only powerhouse nut. Pecans are wonderful to keep stocked in the fall months and a 1-ounce serving contains less than 200 calories, nearly 3 grams of fiber, 3 grams of protein and 20 grams of healthy fat (The majority is unsaturated fat.) Pecans are also full of phytonutrients, including flavonoids, which can help fight inflammation.
While you can buy pumpkin puree year-round, there is a heightened excitement during the fall when pumpkin comes into season. Pumpkin puree is high in vitamin A, C, several B-vitamins and gut-friendly fiber. A 1/2-cup (123g) serving offers nearly 3.5 grams of fiber for just 40 calories.
Discover hundreds of healthy fall recipes — from high protein to low carb — via “Recipe Discovery” in the MyFitnessPal app.