Lightening Up Favorite Fall Desserts

food, harvest, season and autumn concept - close up of pumpkins on wooden table at home

Out of all the seasons, fall is definitely my favorite time of year. I always look forward to cooler temperatures, trips to the pumpkin patch, walking through the apple orchard, and watching college football on Saturdays. I also look forward to the comfort foods with delicious flavors that I know I’ll enjoy during harvest season.  October happens to be National Dessert Month, which makes it the perfect time to celebrate your favorite fall treats.

Popular desserts this time of year include items like pumpkin bread, apple cobbler, pecan pie, caramel apples and bread pudding. Hot beverages like pumpkin spice lattes, caramel macchiatos, and apple cider can be found at most coffee shops and convenience stores. And of course snack foods like kettle corn, trail mix made with candy corn, and spiced nuts with chocolate are always crowd pleasers. With so many delicious flavors and foods this time of year, it can be easy to overdo calories from fats and added sugars.

One way that you can reduce your sugar intake is to experiment with different spices and ingredients. Spices like cinnamon, pumpkin spice, and nutmeg can add a lot of flavor to foods without adding calories. These spices are delicious sprinkled over items like coffee, toast, waffles, popcorn, apple slices, pears, butternut squash, sweet potatoes or even vanilla pudding. When baking muffins or cookies, you can use apple butter, pumpkin, or plain Greek yogurt in your recipes instead of butter or oils. This helps maintain moisture, but can reduce calories from fat. For hot beverages, try herbal teal with lemon and a cinnamon stick. You can also use artificial sweeteners like aspartame to add some additional sweetness without the calories. Artificial sweeteners are not only safe, but they can help satisfy those fall dessert cravings so that you don’t miss out on celebrating National Dessert Month.


AmberchairAmber Pankonin MS, RD, CSP, LMNT is a registered dietitian and licensed medical nutrition therapist based in Lincoln, NE. She works as a nutrition communications consultant, freelance writer, food photographer, and adjunct professor at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln. Amber shares her love for food and nutrition at, an award-winning website, focusing on healthy, easy recipes for the busy cook. Amber serves on several boards including the Nebraska Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Nutrition Entrepreneurs Dietetic Practice Group, and also cofounded a group to motivate female entrepreneurs in her town. You can follow her on Twitter @RDamberInstagramPinterest, or connect with her on Facebook.

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October 5, 2016 Lifestyle Advice