Fall is the best season ever (we don’t even care if that makes us basic). But let’s be real: With apple cider donuts, pumpkin spice everything, leftover Halloween candy, and comfort food galore, it’s not always the healthiest time of year.
We teamed up with BUSH’S® Beans to make autumn more than just a nosedive into the holidays. Here are seven fun but healthy ways to celebrate the best season of all. Now get out there and grab fall by the leaves.
1. Get in the game.
No one’s here to tell you that posting up on the couch with a plate of nachos to watch your favorite team isn’t one of life’s greatest pleasures. But it’s also pretty easy to squeeze in some activity while you cheer ’em on.
“I incorporate a ton of movement while watching football games,” Rob Sulaver, Rumble founding trainer and founder of Bandana Training, says. “I’ll do my own touchdown dances and things like that. The more you participate in the game, the more calories you’re burning.”
It could be as simple as actually jumping up and celebrating each first down or doing push-ups every time your team scores, mascot style. Up for a challenge? Try this halftime workout.
2. Add this one ingredient to traditional fall dishes.
Beans may seem humble, but they’re powerful little guys: Not only are they high in protein and fiber, but they also leave you feeling full and satisfied. And while beans are delicious any time of year, they pair particularly well with fall flavors and are an easy way to make any dish more nutritious.
If you don’t normally put beans in your chili, now’s the time to start. Whether you go full vegetarian or simply add them to your favorite chili con carne, try using BUSH’S® Chili Pinto Beans or BUSH’S® Chili Kidney Beans to speed up prep time. They’re preseasoned and slow-simmered in a secret blend of spices, so you get all that chili flavor without any of the hard work (plus, you can take full credit when everyone loves it).
3. Go all in on fall activities.
If you think pumpkin patches and corn mazes are just for kids, think again. Traditional fall activities are a great way to celebrate the season because they usually take place outside, require you to move around a bit, and are better with friends—all things that are good for both your mental and physical health.
Embrace the corniness and find the fall-iest festivities you can. Pick apples at a nearby orchard. Go to a local festival and jump in a bounce house, dance the polka, paint a pumpkin, or just enjoy the autumn produce. Round up the fam for a fall race or Turkey Trot. Or simply go for a walk and leaf peep.
4. Roast a pumpkin instead of carving one.
Instead of setting your jack-o’-lantern outside to rot, take advantage of its health benefits. Pumpkin is low in calories but packed with nutrients, especially beta-carotene, which can boost your immune system (a real win during cold and flu season!), is good for your eyes, and may help prevent heart disease.
While there’s nothing wrong with canned, it’ll taste better if you bake it yourself—and you get the added benefit of having seeds to snack on (BTW they’re also pretty freakin’ good for ya). Roasting pumpkin is super similar to what you probably already do with spaghetti or butternut squash, but here’s a visual step-by-step. Not sure what to do with it after it’s baked? We’ve got 29 ideas right here.
5. Don’t wait until November 22 to be thankful.
Starting today, write down five things you’re grateful for each night—and be specific (e.g., “that kind stranger who held the door open for me at the post office,” not “my family”). It may sound a little woo-woo, but practicing gratitude regularly is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Yep, yourself. It can actually make you physically and mentally healthier, strengthen your relationships, and make you less angry toward others. One study even showed that writing in a gratitude journal for 15 minutes helped participants worry less and sleep better.
6. Think outside the mashed-potato box.
Getting creative with mashed veggies is one of Megan Templeman’s, B.S., N.T.P., and R.W.P., favorite fall activities.
“I call them ‘mashers,’ since they’re not strictly potatoes,” she says. “You can mash just about anything for a healthy treat. My favorites are mashed rutabaga and carrots.”
Even better if you reach for something orange (ahem, like that pumpkin above). Veggies with a deep, rich orange color contain more phytonutrients, which have been linked to disease prevention, Templeman says.
7. Cozy up with a fall drink at home.
There’s nothing wrong with indulging in a yearly PSL or the occasional caramel apple cider, but most coffee-shop drinks are loaded with sugar, whipped cream (more sugar), and weird artificial flavors and preservatives. By making your own festive drink at home, you’ll know exactly what goes into it—and may even savor it more since you won’t be chugging on the go.
If you’re a traditionalist, try this better-for-you pumpkin spice latte, made with actual pumpkin purée and maple syrup. Ready to branch out? Whip up a tahini hot chocolate, almond milk chai latte, or honey and miso latte.