Lunch Break: 5 Healthy Fall-Inspired Meals

Put down the pumpkin bread and try roasted sweet potatoes instead.

Pumpkin-flavored treats are popping up everywhere, but indulging in all of the breads, cupcakes, muffins, and lattes—many of which are loaded with sugar, fat, and empty calories to keep you craving more—unfortunately doesn’t count as a balanced diet.

Instead, we’d like to introduce you to five fall specials around town that will allow you to taste the season without ditching your healthy eating plan.

Turkey & Cheddar on 9-Grain Cranberry Ciabatta at Au Bon Pain

The cranberry ciabatta bread is certainly festive, but it’s also responsible for 290 of the 550 calories in this sandwich. Dine open-faced instead, and focus on the rest of this flavor-packed meal: savory turkey, cheddar cheese, and arugula with an apple butter and mustard spread.

Jamaican Sweet Pumpkin and Vegetable at Soup Up DC

This Union Market eatery offers a fun alternative to basic pumpkin soup. It’s composed of locally grown vegetables and is gluten-, additive-, and preservative-free, making it a great choice to warm up on a chilly October afternoon.

Sweet Potato Falafel Flatbread at Pret A Manger

This fun twist on a Mediterranean staple brings pumpkin’s superfood cousin, sweet potato, into play. The falafel is topped with immunity-boosting pickled cabbage and carrots paired with cool tzatziki sauce and tomatoes, and the whole ensemble rests on Pret’s artificial-flavoring-free flatbread. Though this sandwich offers 25 grams of protein, it contains about half the daily recommended amount of sodium; if you’re watching your salt intake, you may want to give this one a pass.

Roasted Turkey and Fall Vegetables Salad at Sweetgreen

The salad chain’s new menu includes this bowl of organic mesclun topped with roasted turkey, in-season Brussels sprouts and roasted sweet potatoes, and a cranberry vinaigrette. This is a low-calorie, vitamin-packed way to treat your taste buds to the harvest season in a low-calorie, vitamin-packed meal.

Chipotle Pumpkin Soup at Cosi

Sip this cancer-fighting soup made with butternut squash (not pumpkin, as the name suggests) and spiked with chipotle sauce. The bright orange fall vegetable is packed with alpha and beta carotene, which can help prevent the spread of cancer cells.

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Associate Editor

Caroline Cunningham joined Washingtonian in 2014 after moving to the DC area from Cincinnati, where she interned and freelanced for Cincinnati Magazine and worked in content marketing. She currently resides in College Park.