Try this healthy recipe for during fall

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Fall is always a time that encourages me to be outside and enjoy the cooler, drier air while I get my physical activity for the day, but it is also a time when I begin craving all things pumpkin, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Most fall foods and desserts contain lots of added sugar. The American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 24g of added sugar for women and children and no more than 36g of added sugar for men. When you consider the added sugar in most breakfast cereals and packed foods, added sugar in coffee creamers and commercial drinks, your mid-morning granola bar, and the sweet craving later in the day, you are far beyond the recommendation of added sugar. Luckily for you, I have a solution.

A change in the season doesn’t have to mean you give up your health plan until January. If you have been reading anything written by me, you are very familiar with the benefits of the Mediterranean diet. It is the only eating pattern backed by scientific studies, includes all of the food groups and emphasizes a diet high in fiber.

The Mediterranean diet includes healthy fats from oils and lean proteins and limits highly processed foods, added sugar and red meats.

Med Instead of Meds is an Extension series written by N.C. State Extension’s Nutrition Specialist, Dr. Carolyn Dunn, in partnership with the North Carolina Division of Public Health, dietitians, and health professionals.

North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Wilson County Center recently finished up the first series since the release of the program. We had a blast while we learned what to look for to make healthy decisions, how to prepare healthy recipes, and tasted delicious food. The greatest thing about this “diet” is that it is very simple, delicious and is something you can sustain for a lifetime- including when seasons change.

The recipe I have chosen for this month is one of my favorites from the Mediterranean diet. It is absolutely delicious, naturally sweet and supplies me with fruits, nuts, and whole grains without added sugar.

These Med Banana Nut Muffins are quick, easy and refrigerator stable for a full seven days (Link: https://medinsteadofmeds.com/banana-nut-med-muffins/). This means you can bake them once, and have breakfast, snacks or desserts for several days. Serve them hot or cold, and make them your own.

Occasionally, I top them with peanut butter to keep me full for longer, or you can increase the nuts for more of a crunch, extra protein, fiber and healthy fats. This recipe is perfect for fall gatherings when you want something healthy at the table without sacrificing flavor or seasonality.

For more recipes or information, visit our Facebook page by searching Wilson County Cooperative Extension. You can also view our website for more Extension news and events at www.wilson.ces.ncsu.edu.

Banana Nut Med Muffins

Cassidy Hobbs says this is one of her favorite recipes. She sometimes tops them with peanut butter.

2 overripe bananas

1 1/2 cup chopped apples

1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, or almonds)

2 eggs

1 cup old-fashioned oats (not quick cooking)

1 teaspoon cinnamon (you can use Chinese 5 spice for a different flavor)

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Line 12 muffin tins with muffin papers, spray with non-stick cooking spray.

Mash bananas with a fork in a medium bowl.

Add apples, nuts and eggs to the bananas and mix well.

In another bowl, mix dry ingredients.

Add the banana mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

Spoon the muffin mixture into muffin cups.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until the internal temperature of the muffin is 165° degrees.

Place on a wire rack for cooling.

Once cool, store in the refrigerator for 4 to 7 days.