All the Fall Flavors with a Fraction of the Fat
BY CARLYE WAXMAN RD, CDN | Strolling through the streets of Manhattan during these crisp and cool fall months, we stumble into the smell of pumpkin spice, apple cinnamon and other nutrition nightmares. We are such suckers for fall flavors. Giving into temptation, we follow our noses to that delicious apple, pumpkin, cookie, cupcake or coffee smell and shell out money for a 500-calorie-plus indulgence. Sound familiar? There’s nothing wrong with a little indulgence once in awhile — but what if you could have fall flavors daily and still fit into your skinny cigar pants and tight sweaters? Experience fall flavors in NYC every day with these healthy nutrition tips.
COFFEE: I have three words for you: Pumpkin Spice Latte. They look great, they smell great and definitely taste great. But the calories it cost you every day (380 in a 16oz serving) will leave you wearing stretchy pants and leggings by winter. Instead of ordering the full version, try these tips. Ask for a 16oz Americano (espresso and hot water) topped with steamed skim milk or light soy. Right there, you are cutting back on almost 100 calories worth of milk. Ask for 1 pump of pumpkin instead of the typical four that comes in a latte. Now add calorie-free cinnamon and vanilla powder to the top. You just took a 380-calorie beverage and made it 53 calories, still packed with pumpkin spice flavor. The excess 327 calories you saved over a few months will rescue you from about a 10-pound weight gain. You’re welcome.
CANDY: It’s no wonder we see candy corn at New Year’s parties. It’s on sale! So go grab yourself a bag of some sweet indulgence but be sure to grab the right thing. It’s okay to have a fun size of M&M’s, Kit Kat or Milky Way and Snickers. Allow yourself one or two a day to curb your sweets craving. When it’s time for those holiday parties, you may not dive into the cupcakes and cookies like a ravenous low-carb starved monster, since you haven’t been depriving yourself all fall.
SWEETS: Now that we just tackled the reasons you shouldn’t deprive yourself before holiday parties, let’s discuss some nice dessert options to enjoy this fall. Indulge in mini cannolis from Ferrara’s in Little Italy (195 Grand St., btw. Mulberry & Mott Sts.). At only 70 calories, as opposed to the large cannolis at 370, these tiny cannolis have just the right amount of creamy flavor. Take a chocolate tour down in the West Village and hit Li-Lac (40 Eighth Ave., near Jane St.) for two pieces of chocolate. Enjoy chocolate covered marshmallow or the chocolate French mints as the lowest calorie option (under 60-70 calories). Make homemade baked apples with a creamy sweet Greek yogurt dip (recipe below) to enjoy at home while you watch the snow fall and think of apple pie.
BEST FALL FLAVOR RESTAURANT: Westville in the West Village and Chelsea (256 W. 18th St., btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves.) offers around 15-20 vegetable sides that don’t leave you saying “all I had was vegetables for dinner.” Enjoy low-calorie options like Asian-style bok choy, Brussels sprouts with honey Dijon, cauliflower Dijonaise, sautéed kale with shallots or roasted butternut squash. Remember this tip when you order: “Light on the oil.” It will save you hundreds of excess calories.
SOUP: Butternut squash soup is an all-time fall favorite. The best way to enjoy this is to make it at home. The recipe can call for butter and heavy cream — which is why your version will never taste like it does in the restaurant. But my healthy way of making this will save you at least 200 calories per cup, and you still get that delicious flavor. The secret trick is to roast the veggies first. Once roasted, the sweetest flavors arise (requiring less ingredients).
Creamy Butternut Squash Soup
1 tbsp olive oil
butternut squash, peeled, scooped out
and cut into cubes (or buy cubed)
5 shallots (unpeeled)
Sprinkle kosher salt
cups of low-sodium vegetable
or chicken broth
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp sage (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat oven to 350° F
Toss shallots and butternut squash in oil and kosher salt and roast in the oven for about 30-40 minutes. Cool and peel shallots. Add to blender with butternut squash and puree with broth (you may need to do this in two batches). Add garlic, sage, salt and pepper to taste. Add all contents to a large saucepan and simmer until time to serve. At this time, you can use about 1-2 tbsps butter, depending on how creamy you like it. For a lighter color, add a little skim milk.
Cinnamon Baked Apples
with Vanilla Greek Yogurt
Golden Delicious or Granny Smith Apples, peeled, cored and cut into six slices
½ lemon juiced
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp light brown sugar
1 packet Splenda
2 tbsp chopped walnuts
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ c apple juice
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp sugar -free or light maple syrup
1 6oz container of 0-2% Greek yogurt
Preheat oven to 350° F
Cut apples and toss with lemon juice. Arrange in a single layer in a small oven safe casserole dish. In a small saucepan, melt butter and stir in sugar, Splenda, walnuts, cinnamon and apple juice. Bring to a boil then pour over apples. Cover baking dish with foil and place in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes then remove foil. Bake 15 more minutes. Mix the yogurt, syrup and vanilla extract together and spoon over the mixture over apples or dip the apples in the yogurt.
Carlye Waxman is a Registered Dietitian living in NYC. For free recipes, nutrition tips and the skinny on smoothies, visit SweetNutritionNYC.com and sign up for her newsletter.