Everything But Pumpkin Spice

Fall is arguably one of the best times of the year – especially in a place like State College with its picturesque fall foliage and cool, crisp temperatures. Besides from the changes in weather and even fashion, fall is also a great time to incorporate seasonal flavors into your everyday diet.

If you were to ask anyone what the first thing is that they think of when they hear “fall flavors,” it’s likely that pumpkin spice will be one that comes to mind. However, getting a taste of the season doesn’t have to stop with this fall favorite.

VALLEY has pulled together the best foods to add to your kitchen this season, to keep you from getting stuck on only pumpkin spice.

A Healthy Taste of Fall

Salads are a popular meal option for busy students on the go, but you may be looking to mix things up a bit after spending a summer eating the same sweet and light salads. Traditionally, flavors like pecan or cranberry may only show up together at the Thanksgiving dinner table, but they’re also the perfect combination in a simple seasonal salad.

What You’ll Need
  • 3 cups kale, de-stemmed, washed and torn
  • 1 apple, sliced thinly
  • 2 tablespoons cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons pecans
  • 3 tablespoons feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 7-8 drops of lemon juice
What You’ll Do
  1. Place the kale in a large salad bowl.
  2. Add the apples, cranberries, pecans and feta cheese on top – if you prefer, toss them in a bowl first before adding them into the bowl with the kale.
  3. For the dressing, mix together the honey, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, salt and ground black pepper. Pour desired amount of dressing over the salad.
  4. Add drops of lemon juice over salad for flavor.
A Fall Take on a Classic Dish

Mac and cheese has always been staple in the typical college student diet – but it isn’t exactly the healthiest choice. Before you reach for yet another box of Easy Mac, consider a much healthier version that includes an often underrated fall food: butternut squash. When whipped into a sauce, butternut squash has a taste and consistency that’s very similar to a cream sauce, making it a super easy to work into an everyday favorite. Combined with some pasta and parmesan cheese, you’ll have yourself a pretty simple and delicious fall dinner.

What You’ll Need
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and diced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 sage leaves
  • 1-2 boxes of any pasta
  • 1 1/2 cups water or vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup diced yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon of pumpkin butter
What You’ll Do
  1. Boil a large pot of water. Add salt and butternut squash to the water.
  2. Cook squash until soft, for about 12-15 minutes.
  3. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a small skillet over medium high heat until surface is shimmering a bit. Add a few sage leaves at a time and cook until crisp. Set on paper towel to drain, and then season with salt as desired.
  4. Remove squash from water and place in a large bowl.
  5. Add pasta to the boiling water and cook accordingly.
  6. Place the squash into a food processor or blender. Purée until smooth. Add water or broth until the purée is of desired consistency.
  7. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until soft. Add puréed butternut squash and stir in parmesan cheese. Mix in pumpkin butter. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.
  8. Add in pasta and stir until pasta is well coated. Chop two or three sage leaves and mix into pasta, leaving the rest for a garnish if desired.
Sweet and Simple Dessert

If you’re an apple lover, you’ll already know that fall is the peak time of year for this classic fruit. Why not take advantage of seasonal produce by adding some into a dessert? Apple crisp is one of the simplest desserts out there, and paired with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, can be the comfort food you’re craving as midterms and mid-semester papers start to take over. The ingredients are simple, the recipe is easy to follow and this cinnamon apple crisp is an easy way to include yet another fall staple into your diet.

What You’ll Need
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup old unsalted butter, cubed into small pieces
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 5 cups sliced apples
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (for the filling)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (for the filling)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (for the topping)
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour (for the topping)
  • Whipped cream (optional)
What You’ll Do
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9 inch pie plate (an 8 or 9 inch square baking dish will work fine, too) with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt until well mixed.
  3. Using a pastry cutter or fork, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture starts to come together and is crumbly.
  4. Stir in the oats and place in the refrigerator.
  5. To make the filling, add the sliced apples, sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg to a large mixing bowl and stir until all of the apple slices are well covered by the seasoning.
  6. Scoop the apples into the prepared baking dish.
  7. Remove the topping from the refrigerator and sprinkle on top of the filling.
  8. Bake at 350°F for 40-50 minutes or until the topping is lightly golden brown and the juices are bubbling around the edges.
  9. Let cool before serving.
  10. Top with whipped cream as an optional addition to sweeten your dish.

Whether you consider yourself to be an expert chef or a complete beginner, incorporating staple fall foods into your diet this semester isn’t as hard as it seems. Pumpkin spice is all the rage nowadays, but it’s not the only fall flavor out there. While pumpkin spice should never be completely cut out, it’s never a bad idea to mix it up with some other seasonal foods!


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