3 Easy, Healthy Recipes to Keep Cozy This Fall

This is my favorite time of year!

The weather’s getting cooler. No matter how old I get, that back-to-school mindset gets me motivated. And we’re that much closer to the holidays.

I also notice a difference in my food and cooking preferences in the fall. Some ingredients are more readily available, I lean toward hearty chilis and stews, and my slow cooker always seems to have a soup in it.

Here are some of my favorite easy recipes right now.

(All of these recipes are originally featured on my blog, Spodalicious.)

Easy Cheesy

One-Pot Chili Mac and Cheese

This tastes so decadent, like it can’t possibly be “healthy,” but it’s got a good serving of protein and, depending on how you feel about carbs, you can adjust the amount of noodles to use.

I find you can go pretty low with the noodles, you just want to have some in there to give it that good “comfort food” feel.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 red peppers, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 lbs. ground turkey breast (or 96% lean ground beef)
  • 2 cans (15 oz. each) diced tomatoes with chilis
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 c. whole wheat macaroni noodles (We’ve also tried this with gluten free noodles and with black bean noodles. The black bean noodles are great, but if you choose those, you might want to skip the can of beans. Otherwise that’s A LOT of fiber.)
  • 1 c. shredded cheese, plus more for topping (we used regular shredded cheddar because sometimes you just need to have full fat cheese… but you can certainly try it with reduced fat cheese if you want to)
  • Taco seasoning (to taste)
  • 1 c. water

Directions

In a large dutch oven or other pot, heat olive oil on medium and saute onion, pepper, and garlic until softened (about 3 minutes).

Add turkey and cook through.

Stir in tomatoes and beans and add taco seasoning to taste. Add noodles and water. Bring to a boil and then lower to medium-low heat.

Cook 10-15 minutes uncovered, until noodles are the texture you like them.

Remove from heat and stir in cheese. You can serve with more shredded cheese if you like.

Serves 8

Per serving: 345 calories, 8 grams of fat, 32 grams of carbs (7 grams of fiber), 39 grams of protein. (Don’t forget, if you use the ground beef, reduced fat cheese and/or adjust the noodles, that will change your macros!)

Hasta la Pasta

Pasta e Fagioli Soup

This soup is so good. You can switch it up with sweet sausage or hot sausage and see which you like better. I’ve included directions if you’re using the Instant Pot (my new obsession) or if you want to cook it on the stovetop.

Ingredients

  • 2.5 lbs. Italian turkey sausage (This should be fresh, not pre-cooked. I like the Shady Brook Hot Italian Sausage.)
  • 15 oz. mirepoix (I like to buy pre-made mirepoix. If you want to make your own, I like a mixture of 2 parts diced onion to 1 part each of diced carrots and celery.)
  • 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes (with or without basil)
  • 2 c. beef stock
  • 1 tbsp. oregano
  • 1 tbsp. basil
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • 1/2 c. ditalini pasta
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 15 oz. can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 15 oz. can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • Fresh basil, chopped (add to taste to cooked soup)
  • Grated parmesan cheese to top

Directions

Set the Instant Pot to Saute and let it heat up. When it’s ready, split the casing of each of the sausage links and add just the ground sausage meat to the pot. Saute until cooked, breaking up the meat as you go. Add mirepoix, tomatoes, beef stock, and spices. Stir in pasta. Cook on manual for 7 minutes. Quick release steam and add beans and fresh basil. Adjust seasonings as desired. Top with grated parmesan.

*If you don’t have an Instant Pot and want to make this on your stovetop:

Cook your pasta separately according to the directions on the package.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a dutch oven or other large pot over medium heat. Saute the sausage meat until cooked through. Add the mirepoix and cook 3-4 minutes until tender. Stir in tomatoes, beef stock, and spices and let simmer 15-20 minutes. Stir in pasta and beans. Adjust seasonings as desired. Top with grated parmesan.

Serves 8

Per serving: 406 calories, 14 grams of fat, 34 grams of carbs (10 grams of fiber), 34 grams of protein.

Chowder of the Corn

Chicken and Corn Chowder

I love this recipe because it’s hearty and delicious. It tastes like it should be packed with cream, but the texture comes from blended sweet potato.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. chicken breast
  • 1/2 c. bacon crumbles, split(I use real bacon crumbles from Costco. If you are more patient and less lazy than me, you could also cook a few pieces of bacon and crumble it up.)
  • 1.5 c. mirepoix (I like to buy pre-made mirepoix. If you want to make your own, I like a mixture of 2 parts diced onion to 1 part each of diced carrots and celery.)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 can sweet corn (split)
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 4 c. low-sodium chicken broth
  • 24 oz. sweet potato, peeled and cut into ½ in. cubes
  • (2) 4 oz. cans mild diced green chiles, drained (split)
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • Sliced scallions, for serving
  • Chopped parsley, for serving

Directions

Set the Instant Pot to saute and, when it’s hot, saute the mirepoix and 1/4 cup bacon crumbles, seasoned with salt, pepper, and cumin for about 5 minutes. Add the bell pepper for 3 minutes more. Add the chicken, broth, sweet potato, one can of chilies, 1/2 can corn, and oregano, and set to Poultry.

When it’s done cooking, do a quick release of the steam. Remove the chicken to another dish and blend the soup with an immersion blender. Shred the chicken and mix it back into the soup along with the remaining corn, bacon, and chiles. Top with scallions and parsley to serve.

I haven’t tried this without the Instant Pot and immersion blender, but, I’m pretty confident you could do the Instant Pot part in a slow cooker and use a regular blender* instead of the immersion blender.

Saute the mirepoix and 1/4 cup bacon, seasoned with salt, pepper and cumin on the stove. Then transfer to your slowcooker with the chicken, broth, sweet potato, 1 can chilies, 1/2 can corn, and oregano. Cook on low for 6-7 hours or high 3-4 hours, depending on your slowcooker. (Always cook your chicken to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.)

Remove the chicken to shred and blend the rest of the soup in a blender. Shred the chicken and mix it back into the soup along with the remaining corn, bacon, and chiles. Top with scallions and parsley to serve.

*Be careful blending hot soup in the blender! Click here for some tips on avoiding explosions and scalding!

Serves 8.

Per serving: 276 calories, 3.9 grams of fat, 28.6 grams of carbs (4.2 grams of fiber), 27.9 grams of protein.


A few times a month, members of Lisa’s Cooking Club get together to prep food for the week.

MFF Ninjas, past and present, can join Lisa’s Cooking Club by requesting to join the Facebook group.

Outside of NYC? You can get great recipe ideas from Lisa’s website and follow her on Pinterest.


A long time ago, in a gym far, far away (well, 41st Street) Lisa Spodak asked new trainer Mark Fisher for some help with a circuit workout. The rest, as they say, is history. Lisa isn’t a chef and doesn’t like to cook, but she started the Cooking Club in 2013. When she’s not swinging a kettlebell or doubling the protein in every recipe she finds on Pinterest, Lisa loves going to the theater and training for marathon breast cancer walks.

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