‘Tis the season for specialty foods and drinks! With so many enticing pumpkin and apple treats hitting the market, it’s hard not to get side-tracked from your healthy eating habits. Unfortunately, these kinds of foods pack more than just flavor—they dish out a lot of fat and calories, too. We’ve rounded up eight common offenders, along with some tips on how to make healthier choices so that you don’t feel like you have to miss out on your favorite fall fare.
1. Pumpkin Spiced Latte
While it may be the signature drink of the season, many of the pumpkin spice drinks on the market pack a ton of fat and calories. A 12-ounce (Tall) from Starbucks with whipped cream, for example, has 300 calories and 11 grams of fat. Don’t miss out on the full coffee shop experience, just order smart with these 5 Simple Ways to Lighten Up Your Latte. Better yet, save your money and whip up this Skinny Pumpkin Spice Latte in the comfort of home. Or get your pumpkin fix with this delicious Pumpkin Pie Smoothie.
2. Hard Apple Cider
Pumpkin beer was long the adult beverage of choice for the fall season. But lately there’s been growing interest in the various hard ciders out there. While a serving of alcohol from time to time isn’t going to destroy your diet, it’s still best to make smart choices. The biggest difference between beer and cider is the sugar content. Because cider is made sweet by a slow fermentation of apples, the sugar content typically rises. And in the vast majority of cases, it’s going to be higher than beer. At Nutrisystem, we recommend avoiding alcohol while trying to lose weight. That’s why we offer mocktail recipes that are flavorful and alcohol-free. But if you do choose to indulge, opt for a light beer or one glass of dry wine, then switch to seltzer.
3, Pumpkin Pie
If you’re a lover of all things pumpkin, than pumpkin pie is likely your ideal dessert. But at 323 calories and 13 grams of fat for the average slice (made with full-fat ingredients), it’s not doing your waistline any good. Fortunately, there are many easy recipes out there for healthier versions. You can also get your pumpkin fix with something different altogether like a pumpkin muffin or slice of bread—so long as they’re made with healthy ingredients like whole wheat flour and skim milk. Better yet, get your pumpkin pie fix with our guilt-free Crustless Pumpkin Pie recipe or this delicious Pumpkin Spice Mug Cake. Both are simple to make and even easier to eat!
4. Apple Fritters
Because they’re deep fried, apple fritters are one of the worst possible donut choices out there. A single apple fritter from Dunkin Donuts is 420 calories and 19 grams of fat. Still, they pop up at local pumpkin patches and outdoor fall festivals everywhere. Don’t let their fruity name or the fact that they’re not frosted mislead you. The glaze that apple fritters are dunked in is primarily high fructose corn syrup. Instead, opt for a healthier breakfast apple treat like a homemade muffin or easy apple “chips” (made by sprinkling apple slices with cinnamon and baking in the oven). Or, get your apple fix with this delicious No Sugar Added Slow Cooker Apple Sauce.
5. Halloween Candy
Bagged candy started showing up in grocery stores in August and now seems to be everywhere. If you buy candy for trick-or-treaters in your neighborhood, fight the temptation to buy it early as you may end up snacking on it yourself. If you really need your candy fix, avoid chocolates with caramel or nougat, which tend to contain an excess of fat. Try satisfying your sweet tooth with a piece of fresh fruit or, if you must have candy, opt for the hard kinds, which deliver about 24 calories, and you’ll avoid a major sugar rush. Or, whip up a batch of these delicious 3-Ingredient Peanut Butter Cups.
6. Caramel Apples
While they’ve long been a fall favorite, caramel apples are packed with sugar and saturated fat. You may have also caught wind of a big news story last year that unrefrigerated caramel apples—as they are often sold at festivals or when hand-dipped and given out as Halloween treats—can pose a deadly listeria risk. If caramel apples are your go-to fall treat, consider making a healthier caramel yogurt dip for dunking fresh apple slices. Or satisfy your sweet tooth with one of these 17 Guilt-Free Dessert Recipes Under 200 Calories.
7. Hot Chocolate
Though hot chocolate may be the quintessential cold weather drink, it can be a sneaky fall fat trap. The problem with getting hot chocolate from your favorite coffee shop is that it comes with added syrup and whipped cream. While the cocoa powder mixes you make at home with water are typically 100 calories or less (the NESTLE Hot Cocoa Mix Rich Chocolate with Marshmallows is 80 calories per pack), when you factor in milk, syrup and whipped cream, the calorie count can seriously climb. A 12-ounce (Tall) Hot Chocolate from Starbucks (with two percent milk and whipped cream) is a whopping 320 calories and 13 grams of fat. Stick to water and cocoa powder for a low calorie, no-fat option. Or, warm up while you slim down with one of these 6 Hot Drinks for Cool Weather.
8. Comfort Foods
From chicken pot pie to hearty stews and chili, it’s worth mentioning that a common fat trap come fall is a switch from fresh summer salads to heavier, more filling dishes. While the original full-fat versions of these foods pack in a ton of calories and fat, there are many ways to make them healthier. Consider a vegetarian chili or substitute your ground beef for lean turkey like we did in this hearty and delicious Turkey Chili Recipe. Or try some of our favorite cold weather soups. If you’re on the Nutrisystem program, you can make this simple Spicy Pumpkin Soup using one of our popular Nutrisystem meals. With some simple changes you can still enjoy your favorite fall dishes for dinner or while watching the football game—but forgo the unnecessary fat and calories.
*Nutritional info taken from company websites or USDA food search database on 9/8/2016.