When the leaves turn and temperatures start to fall, harvest season kicks into high gear. Food takes center stage and appetites perk up and take notice. The danger, of course, is giving into temptation and overeating.
Fortunately, we’ve cooked up some healthy snack ideas for seniors that allow you to indulge your appetite without adding empty calories. These healthy fall snacks are big on flavor and don’t contain high levels of salt, fat, sugar and preservatives you’ll find in store-bought snacks.
Our favorite healthy fall snacks.
These recipes are easy to make and perfect to take with you on a hike, a leaf-peeping tour, or when taking the grandkids to a pumpkin patch. These healthy snacks for seniors can be enjoyed at any age, so don’t keep them all to yourself. Share the great taste of fall.
Olive Oil Popcorn with Garlic and Rosemary
When cooler weather sends you indoors, make a batch of this delicious, heart-healthy popcorn for your next movie night. Flavored with olive oil, fresh rosemary, Parmesan cheese and minced garlic, it takes popcorn to an adult level. Rated G for great taste, this recipe can be tailored to what you like or have on hand. Replace the Parmesan with Romano or Asiago, or use fresh thyme or oregano in place of the rosemary.
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 3 garlic cloves)
- 1½ teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1/3 cup popcorn kernels (2 oz.)
- 3/4 ounce parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)
- 1/4 teaspoon finely ground sea salt
- Place olive oil and garlic in a small saucepan; heat over medium-low, undisturbed, until sizzling, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Add rosemary; stir once, and cook, undisturbed, until garlic softens and rosemary is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; set aside.
- Place canola oil in a large saucepan fitted with a lid; heat over high. Add 2 popcorn kernels; cover and shake saucepan until kernels pop, 2 to 3 minutes. Add remaining kernels; cover and shake constantly until kernels stop popping, about 2 minutes.
- Immediately pour popped popcorn into a large bowl. Drizzle with garlic-rosemary oil, stirring to coat. Add cheese and salt; toss to coat. Serve immediately.
Cinnamon Apple Chips
Apple-picking season in North Carolina signals the start of fall. There’s apple cider, apple pie and, for a tasty, healthy snack, homemade apple chips. This recipe is just cinnamon and apples. Any sweet-crisp apple will do. They take a while to bake at low temperature, but the aroma will fill your house with the crisp scent of fall.
- 3 large sweet crisp apples, such as Honeycrisp, Fuji, Jazz, or Pink Lady
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Place racks in the upper and lower thirds of your oven and preheat your oven to 200° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Wash the apples. Core the apples to remove seeds. Slice the apples horizontally into 1/8 inch-thick rounds.
- Arrange the apples in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake for 1 hour in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Remove the baking sheets and switch the pans’ position on the upper and lower racks. Continue baking for 1 to 1½ additional hours, until a single apple chip removed from the oven is crisp when set out at room temperature for 2 to 3 minutes. Once you’re happy with the crispness, turn off the oven and let the apples sit in the oven for 1 hour as it cools down to crisp further (unless you overcooked them, in which case remove the pan immediately and let it sit at room temperature).
Honey Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Also known as pepitas, pumpkin seeds are packed full of nutrients. In fact, they’re one of the most concentrated sources of zinc, a mineral especially important for men’s health. Pumpkin seeds are readily available at your supermarket or health food store. But if you’re carving a jack o’ lantern, you can save the seeds and roast them in a little olive oil and garlic salt. For a sweet and a salty treat, try this recipe for honey roasted pumpkin seeds.
- 2 cups raw fresh pumpkin seeds, washed
- 1 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or coconut oil
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 275°. If your pumpkin seeds are wet from washing, dry them a bit on a clean dish towel or on paper towels. Place the pumpkin seeds in a medium bowl.
- In a small microwave-safe bowl, add the butter, oil or coconut oil, and honey. Microwave until the butter melts and the honey is runny. Pour the honey mixture over the pumpkin seeds and stir. Add the cinnamon and stir again.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper so the paper hangs over both ends. Dump the pumpkin seeds into the middle of the paper and place it in the oven. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the seeds and honey are a deep golden brown, stirring every 10 minutes.
- When the seeds are roasted, remove from the oven and stir again. Stir a few times as they cool to keep them from sticking in one big lump. Enjoy the seeds once they are cool enough to eat. Store uncovered for up to one week.
Pumpkin Spice Trail Mix
Fruit and nuts are incredibly healthy snacks. But too often they’re mixed with gooey, sugary, not-good-for-you calories. This recipe is full of good-for-you ingredients, so you can snack by the handful or use it as a topping for yogurt.
- 1 cup unsalted whole almonds
- 1 cup rolled oats (gluten-free, if needed)
- 1 cup unsalted pecan halves
- 1 cup roasted salted pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)
- 1 cup walnut halves
- 1/4 cup coconut sugar (or cane sugar)
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1/4 cup pumpkin purée
- 2 tablespoons all-natural apple juice
- 2/3 cup dried cranberries
- 2/3 cup raisins
- Preheat oven to 250°.
- Place almonds, oats, pecans, pepitas and walnuts in a large bowl.
- Mix together pumpkin purée and apple juice; pour over nut mixture and toss until nuts are evenly coated. Sprinkle mixture with coconut sugar, cinnamon, paprika and pumpkin pie spice. Toss to coat well. Spread trail mix evenly on two baking pans.
- Bake 30-35 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking time. Cool completely. Stir in cranberries and raisins. Store in airtight container. Will keep at room temperature for up to 1 week, up to a month in the fridge and 3 months in the freezer.
Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
This drink tastes just like pumpkin pie in a glass. And you don’t even have to turn the oven on. It’s vegan, so it’s low-fat and takes only five minutes to prepare.
- 10.5 oz frozen banana
- 1½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- 1½ cups low-fat/lite coconut milk
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 3/4 cup pumpkin purée
- Put all the ingredients in a blender, starting with the coconut milk.
- Blend until very smooth and creamy.
- Pour into glasses and decorate with a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice.
Easy healthy fall snacks in a glass.
Smoothies are a great way to add fruit and vegetables to your diet. To learn more about different ingredients and their nutritional value for your next smoothie, check out our blog post, “The Best Smoothie Recipes to Keep Seniors Healthy and Active.”