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Healthy Fall Food Choices

When the temperatures go down, does your craving for comfort food go up? As the leaves turn, many people find themselves turning to more high-calorie, energy-dense food choices. This can lead to the all-too-common weight gain in the colder months. But there are responsible ways to satisfy those increased appetites while maintaining your commitment to a healthier lifestyle. (is this the right link — it seems more appropriate for the New Year)

A family at the dinner table enjoy a meal.

Hot and hearty breakfast choices

Love a quick and easy morning meal that's ready in under 5 minutes? Combine some rolled oats, unsweetened vanilla almond milk and chia seeds in a bowl, and microwave for 3—4 minutes. Top with flaxseed for added omega-3s, fiber and protein. Sweeten with honey, stevia or cinnamon or even fresh berries.

Super-healthy pasta dishes

Fill up your pasta and cheese dishes with whole-grain or gluten-free noodles to help you get more vitamins and fiber in every bite so you feel fuller longer. Another great option is zucchini noodles, known as zoodles. These versatile, low-carb noodle substitutes are ready in minutes with a quick sauté. Top with lentil marinara or whip up a batch of kung pao chicken zoodles for an exotic twist.

Lean, fiber-rich chili

A spicy Crock Pot chili with ground chicken or turkey warms and fills you up. In addition to a can of black beans, toss in a can of refried beans to give the chili a thick and creamy consistency. You can top it with some Greek yogurt and lemon in place of sour cream. Store leftovers in the freezer for ready-in-minutes weeknight meals.

Meaty Dishes

Ground turkey makes a great beef alternative as it's leaner, less expensive and freezes well. Substitute it in any recipe that calls for ground beef, including meatballs and meatloaf. Pair that main dish with sweet potato fries for fewer carbs and increased amounts of fiber and essential vitamins. Serve up a batch of guilt-free mock mashed potatoes using cauliflower, garlic and extra-virgin olive oil. Not only is it an excellent source of nutrition, it contains unique antioxidants that may reduce the risk of several diseases.

Justifiably just desserts

When the sweet tooth beckons, satisfy cravings with a steaming cup of hot dark chocolate that contains at least 70 percent cocoa content. Full of antioxidants, studies have shown dark chocolate can help lower the risk of heart disease and be great for your skin.

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