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3 Perfect Fall Casseroles

These three dishes make for a delicious fall

By ​Carolyn Williams, PhD, RD​ | October 28, 2020 | Rally Health

Temperatures are getting cooler and the days are growing shorter, signs that fall is here. I always love the start of autumn, but I’ve been anticipating it this year a little more than usual. After a spring and summer of canceled events, the predictability of fall’s cooler temps and changing leaf colors has been comforting. It may sound silly, but it’s nice knowing that autumn’s arrival is one thing COVID-19 can’t cancel. 

While every season offers a new crop of in-season produce and flavors, fall brings some of my favorites. I’m always excited to start seeing butternut squash, carrots, cauliflower, kale, rosemary, and sage at my local market, and I can’t wait to pull out cold-weather spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. Cooler temps also make me gravitate toward filling comfort foods. And when it comes to comfort food, nothing can compete with a casserole. 

When you think of casseroles, the first word that may come to mind is rich. Traditionally, most versions are weighed down with butter, cream, and cheese, making them high in calories, fat, and sodium. They don’t tend to highlight seasonal produce and flavors. Well, I’ll tell you –– casseroles don’t have to be unhealthy. Adding in-season produce, herbs, and spices to casseroles is an easy way to boost their flavor and nutritional content. And incorporating fruit, vegetables, and herbs also allows you to use smaller amounts of the heavier ingredients that standard recipes usually call for.

The three comfort food casseroles below feature some of my favorite fall flavors. They’re also full of nutritious veggies and spices, so you can feel good about serving them at suppertime.

White Cheddar and Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

Mac and cheese will never be a health food, but you can make it a whole lot healthier with a couple of smart ingredient swaps.  A blend of white Cheddar and Parmesan here packs all the flavor you’d get from a traditional mac and cheese dish, while canned pumpkin adds creaminess and vitamin A. I know what you’re thinking: Pumpkin?! But don’t worry –– the flavor is so mild, my family still hasn’t caught on to the addition.

Turkey, Wild Rice, and Kale Casserole

“It tastes like the holidays!” This –– and a thumbs up –– was my daughter’s response when I served this dinner. I have to agree. A light Parmesan cream sauce complements the wild rice, crumbled ground turkey, and sautéed vegetables in this casserole. It’s a perfect one-dish meal for a cold fall night.

Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal

Preparing this breakfast casserole ahead makes it easy to enjoy warm oatmeal in the a.m. Thanks to the apples, steel-cut oats, and walnuts, there are 7g fiber and 8g protein in this mighty morning meal. Add a splash of milk, if you like. So, so good. 

​Carolyn Williams, PhD, RD​
Rally Health