Seasonal Side Dishes

Fall has arrived, and with it comes an abundance of hearty, seasonal produce. What are your favorites? Pumpkins and apples might get the spotlight, but so many other fruits and veggies hit their prime once colder weather arrives. Look out for some of the highest quality cruciferous veggies, squash, root veggies, pears, grapes, and pomegranates in the coming months.

Seasonal fruits and vegetables tend to pack the most flavor since they’re often sourced locally and get to ripen on the vine rather than a truck. In some cases, local produce requires less travel to reach your grocery store, farmers’ market, or restaurant meal, which can mean fewer transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions. And whether you’re buying at a farmer’s market or grocery store, their abundance in the marketplace means a lower cost to you.

This time of the year is known for lots of high-calorie comfort-food side dishes that can be a joyous part of celebrations but make overeating challenging to avoid. Going for small portions of these options but generous portions of fruits and veggies not only lowers the number of calories on your plate, but maximizes your overall vitamin, mineral, and fiber intake while keeping you full and satisfied. Need some ideas? We’ve compiled a few of our favorite seasonal plant-based side dishes perfect for simple weeknight dinners, meal prep, or elaborate holiday get-togethers. They’re great options if you want a second helping!

Chili-Roasted Acorn Squash

Serves 6

  • 2 acorn squash, scrubbed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • Salt (1/2 teaspoon) and pepper (1/4 teaspoon)
  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Trim and discard ends of each acorn squash. Cut each squash in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds by scraping them out with a spoon. Cut each half crosswise into one-inch-thick pieces.
  2. Place slices and all remaining ingredients in a large bowl and toss to coat. Divide slices between two baking sheets. Roast until browned and fork-tender for about 35-40 minutes, turning once.

Nutrition facts: 116 calories, 6 g total fat, 1 g sat fat, 196 mg sodium, 500 mg potassium, 15 g total carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 0 g sugars, 1 g protein

Recipe adapted from

Sweet Potato Pomegranate Salad

Serves 8

Salad ingredients:

  • 4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup pomegranate arils
  • ½ cup pepitas (roasted pumpkin seed kernels)
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese crumbles

Pomegranate dressing ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate juice
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Place cubed sweet potato on a large baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat. Roast for 20-30 minutes, occasionally stirring, until sweet potatoes are tender.
  2. Prepare the dressing by whisking all dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
  3. Place the roasted sweet potatoes, pomegranate arils, pepitas, and feta in a large bowl. Drizzle with dressing and gently toss. Serve immediately.

Nutrition facts: 187 calories, 10 g total fat, 2 g saturated fat, 192 mg sodium, 494 mg potassium, 24 g carbohydrates, 4.5 g fiber, 10 g sugars, 5 g protein

Recipe adapted from

Easy Pumpkin Soup

Serves 4

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 15 oz. can pure pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
  • 3 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne powder
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Add onion and olive oil to a medium saucepan and sauté until onion is soft and translucent.
  2. Add pumpkin puree, vegetable stock, smoked paprika, chili powder, cayenne pepper, nutmeg, and black pepper. Stir and bring to a simmer for 10 minutes. Add salt, if needed.
  3. Serve alone or top with roasted pumpkin seed kernels or a swirl of light sour cream or light coconut milk.

Nutrition facts (1.25 cups): 116 calories, 7 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 92.8 mg sodium, 548 mg potassium, 12 g total carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 2.5 g sugar, 3 g protein

Recipe adapted from


Next Article: Try a New Move: Core Strengthening for Everyone