3 Healthy Apple Dishes for Fall

Heather Bauer

Apples: a quintessential fall ingredient. They're used in pies, crisps and even in salads to spice up their flavors. And each year, warm treats such as apple walnut muffins and apple cider bring people together to celebrate the changing seasons.

Yet, the nutritional balance in these autumn dishes is often thrown off when the ingredients consist mainly of eggs, butter and sugar. Simple recipe modifications that take out the junk - GMOs, artificial flavors and added sugar - will boost the nutrient content of these autumn dishes while still exciting your taste buds.

Apple cinnamon quinoa. When you're lusting for a huge slice of apple crumble, mix the same flavors in a healthy and creative way with apple cinnamon quinoa. Prepare one serving of fluffy quinoa as you normally would, and shake some cinnamon into the pot before it cooks. Once the quinoa is cooked, drizzle in almond milk and top it with raisins, diced gala apples, more cinnamon and a tablespoon of Nutzo Peanut-Free Seed Butter for a kick of protein. Pair it with your morning coffee or tea for a warm and inviting fall breakfast.

[Read: Quinoa 101: What It Is and How to Cook It]

Apple salad. Around dinnertime, pair apples with your green salad to add crunch and fiber. I especially love the combination of kale, apples and sweet potatoes. Gather a bunch of washed and massaged kale into a bowl, and add baked sweet potato chunks, julienned Granny Smith apples, unsweetened cranberries and pumpkin seeds. Dress the salad with a light mixture of olive oil, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper for a nutrient-packed and flavorful dish.

Apple pie in a glass. Upon hearing the words "apple" and "dessert," does an enormous and perfectly browned pie instantly come to mind? While this dish is cherished in countless families around the country, its ingredient track record isn't clean. The eggs, sugar and butter add up to tons of calories.

Enjoy the same flavors in a low-calorie way! I discovered the following dish while perusing Pinterest (thanks, Follow the Fruit Fly!) and was intrigued at its unique construction. This is the perfect dish to make with your kids or a friend. Think raw apple pie in a glass: You'll need frozen bananas, diced apples, dates, cinnamon and a crunchy topping. Throw the chopped apples and dates in a bowl together and blend the frozen bananas through a food processor. Once the mixture is creamy, grab a couple of tall glasses and start layering your "pie." Start with the apple-date mixture, and then drop in a dollop of banana. Feel free to throw in walnuts, raisins and even chocolate chips. Once you get to the top of the glass, sprinkle on a topping that's crunchy and reminiscent of apple pie. I recommend Annie's Organic Cinnamon Graham Crackers, which are allergy-free, non-GMO and totally free of artificial ingredients.

[Read: What's Wrong With Artificial Sweeteners]

These recipes are only the beginning. Apples can be added to any recipe - sweet or savory - to add a crisp texture and fresh flavor. Try out apple-stuffed sweet potatoes, low-fat apple cinnamon muffins or homemade and low-sugar apple juice. The options are endless, as long as you stay mindful of all the healthy swaps that will make your fall recipes stellar.

Hungry for more? Write to eatandrun@usnews.com with your questions, concerns and feedback.

Heather Bauer, RD, CDN , is a nationally-recognized nutrition expert, author, and entrepreneur. She is the author of two top selling books, The Wall Street Diet and Bread is the Devil. She is the founder of Nu-Train, a nutrition consulting company, and Bestowed, a subscription service that offers consumers a personalized way to discover, sample, shop, and learn about the best nutrition and lifestyle products on the market.