Love your health — and favorite fall treats — with tips from Jessica in this week’s “Love Your Health: Healthier Fall Dupes” column.

Much like I love all things fall, I have a soft spot for fall food. Pumpkin everything? Don’t mind if I do. Did I ever tell you we had kettle corn as a wedding favor?

Healthier s’mores, no recipe to follow needed. As simple as it is to make these campfire treats, tweaking them to be healthier is just as simple. I hope you know by now that if a campfire opportunity presents itself and s’mores are offered, even if there isn’t dark chocolate, vegan marshmallows or healthier graham crackers, you won’t say no. Enjoy the moment, savor the memory. If you, like my little girl, enjoy s’mores on a frequent basis, take these suggestions and put them in your back pocket.

Let’s start with the real star of the show, the marshmallows — my absolute favorite part. If you attended any youth group in the 90s or early 2000s, I bet you played chubby bunnies. While delicious, traditional marshmallows aren’t that great for your waistline. Often made with high fructose corn syrup and gelatin, the ingredient list on these fluffy treats is a no go. Try swapping out your regular marshmallows for vegan ones. I know you’re probably asking where in the world am I supposed to find a vegan marshmallow. You’d be surprised how many places you can pick up these healthier takes on a traditional treat. I’ve found them at big box grocery and specialty stores, like Trader Joe’s, health food stores, and of course the world wide web.

Upgrade the graham. Look for one with less sugar that provides you with a couple grams of fiber per serving and made with whole wheat flour, or almond flour for those looking for a gluten free option.

Now on to everyone’s favorite part: the chocolate bar. Why not swap your milk chocolate bar for a square or two of dark chocolate? Like we discussed in this little space before, the higher percentage cocoa, the better it is for you. Real dark chocolate which contains cocoa has flavonoids and antioxidants, helping improve blood flow and control blood pressure.

If you’re a long-time reader of this column you know I love an apple crisp and one of my favorite kitchen appliances is my crockpot. Why not marry the two and get a healthy, delicious, hands off, fall recipe?

This recipe is from the blog, Kim’s Cravings and is a crowd pleaser.

Crock Pot Apple Crisp


For the apple filling:

4-5 apples, thinly sliced , about 7 cups or 2 pounds

1 tablespoon lemon juice, or 1/2 lemon juiced

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the crisp topping:

¾ cup pecans, chopped

½ cup almond meal/flour

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon


Add apples and lemon juice to a large mixing bowl and toss to combine. Stir in the maple syrup and cinnamon until completely combined. Pour the mixture into the bowl of the slow cooker and spread it out so that it is in an even layer. Add all topping ingredients to a medium bowl. Stir ingredients until crumbles form. Evenly spoon mixture over apples. Place a dish towel or a few paper towels on top of the slow cooker and place the lid on top of the towel(s). This will help soak up the condensation that forms along the top of the lid and keep the topping nice and crisp.

Cook on high for 3-4 hours, or on low for 6-8 hours until the apples are soft and cooked through.

Jessica’s notes: I use 100% maple syrup when making this recipe or local honey, usually a combination of both. Do note that if you use honey, it will not be vegan. I love this served with a scoop of vanilla, non-dairy ice cream for dessert or with plain Greek yogurt as a yummy breakfast.

Ahh, that first sip of Fall –enjoy a pumpkin spice latte. A small one of these babies from either a chain-based coffee shop or your favorite local coffee joint — and man do we have some good ones — will set you back at least twenty-five grams of sugar, double digit fat grams and around two hundred and fifty calories. Yikes!

To order a healthier version of this drink, or simple tips to make your favorite flavored latte a little healthier, first switch up the whole milk for 1%, skim, try a nondairy alternative like almond or oat, order with only one pump of syrup versus the two to three most come with and last but not least, skip the whip. Always.

What’s your favorite fall food tradition? I’d love to hear from you.

Jessica Barnett is a Southwest Virginia girl married to a Greeneville native, a mom, personal trainer, certified fitness nutrition specialist, runner, herbivore and ice cream lover. To learn about working with Jessica, prospective clients may email jcbarnett616@gmail.com.