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Did you know that Oktoberfest actually begins in September? Celebrate the harvest season with these healthy recipes.

soft pretzels

Soft Pretzels

A great snack to make with kids. Perfect to dip in mustard for a savory pretzel, or a low-fat vanilla yogurt for a sweet treat.

Makes 12 servings.


  • 1 tablespoon yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (100-110 degrees F)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • sesame seeds (2 tablespoons, optional)


  1. Wash hands with soap and water.
  2. Preheat oven to 425°F. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets.
  3. In large bowl, sprinkle yeast over warm water (if water is too hot, it will kill the yeast). Stir until well blended.
  4. Combine white and wheat flour in a separate bowl.
  5. Stir in sugar, ½ teaspoon salt and 2½ to 3 cups flour to make a soft, sticky dough. Turn dough onto well-floured surface.
  6. To knead, fold dough in half and push dough flat with heels of hands. Turn dough 1/4 turn. Repeat for 5 to 7 minutes. If needed, add more flour until dough is smooth and elastic. Dough should not stick to hands or counter.
  7. Cut dough into 12 even pieces (about golf-ball size).

To Form Pretzels:

  1. Roll one piece of dough into 15 inch long rope.
  2. Cross left side over middle, creating loop.
  3. Fold right side of rope up and over first loop to form pretzel shape.

To Bake:

  1. Place pretzels 3 inch apart on baking sheet. Enlarge holes in pretzels by inserting finger into holes. This will prevent them from closing during baking.
  2. In small bowl, mix egg and 1 Tablespoon water together. Brush on pretzels. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  3. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Best if eaten warm.

For nutrition information, please visit Soft Pretzels at USDA’s MyPlate Kitchen.

honey pork chops

Honey Mustard Pork Chops

This family favorite can be made in minutes! Enjoy with a side salad and a whole grain biscuit or dinner roll.

Makes 4 servings.


  • 4 top loin pork chops
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey mustard


  1. Wash hands with soap and water.
  2. Put the pork chops in the large non-stick skillet.
  3. Cook over medium-high heat to brown one side of the pork chops.
  4. Use the spatula to turn the chops.
  5. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir.
  6. Cover the pan and lower the heat.
  7. Simmer for 6 to 8 minutes until chops are done.

Note: Pork chops are done when they reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees.

For nutrition information, please visit Honey Mustard Pork Chops at USDA’s MyPlate Kitchen.

stuffed summer squash

Stuffed Summer Squash

Summer squash stuffed with brown rice, fresh basil, beans, cheese, and veggies make a hearty and filling dish. 

Makes 4 servings.


  • 2 summer squash
  • 3 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup squash pulp (from summer squash listed above)
  • 1 cup white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil
  • 4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese


  1. Wash hands with soap and water.
  2. Wash and cut squash in half, lengthwise. Remove the large seeds.
  3. Steam the squash, skin side down, in a small amount of water in a fry pan or skillet until slightly tender (but not mushy).
  4. Scoop out a good amount of pulp (1 cup), place in a bowl and mix with stuffing (brown rice through Parmesan cheese).
  5. Place the squash shells in a baking dish. Stuff the squash with the stuffing mixture.
  6. Top with grated Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350°F for about 30 minutes.

For nutrition information, please visit Stuffed Summer Squash at USDA’s MyPlate Kitchen.


Sweet and Sour Cabbage

This tangy cabbage dish requires no cooking. Chill for several hours and serve as a side dish for lunch or dinner.

Makes 8 servings.


  • 1/2 head of cabbage (about 4 cups when chopped)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons vinegar


  1. Wash hands with soap and water.
  2. Cut the cabbage in half and rinse it with water.
  3. Chop the cabbage into very thin bit-sized slices.
  4. In a large bowl, combine ingredients and mix well.
  5. Cover the bowl.
  6. Chill in the fridge for several hours before serving.

For nutrition information, please visit Sweet and Sour Cabbage at USDA’s MyPlate Kitchen.

green beans with purple onion on top

Dutch Green Beans

Using canned green beans and other pantry items, this side dish is great when you don't have much time. Adding the onion at the end kicks up the flavor a bit.

Makes 4 servings.


  • 1 can green beans (15 ounces)
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup vinegar
  • 1 onion (small, sliced)


  1. Wash hands with soap and water.
  2. Drain the beans, and save the liquid from the can in small bowl.
  3. Pour 1/2 cup bean liquid into the saucepan.
  4. Add the cornstarch in the bean liquid. Stir well.
  5. Add the vinegar and brown sugar.
  6. Put on medium heat and bring to a boil.
  7. Turn the heat to low.
  8. Add the green beans and onions. Heat and serve.

For nutrition information, please visit Dutch Green Beans at USDA’s MyPlate Kitchen.

apple cake

Apple Cake

Sliced apples and apricot jam glaze on top make this a great cake for special occasions.

Makes 12 servings.


  • 10 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 egg
  • 1 3/4 cups flour (sifted)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon lemon rind (grated)
  • apples (medium, pared, cored, sliced)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup apricot jam


  1. Wash hands with soap and water.
  2. Beat butter with sugar until creamy.
  3. Add eggs one at a time, beating until well blended.
  4. Add flour, baking powder, and lemon rind, beat 4 minutes.
  5. Pour into greased 9-inch spring-form pan.
  6. Arrange the apples on the batter, sprinkle with 2 teaspoons sugar.
  7. Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees.
  8. Remove from pan, brush apples with jam, cool.

For nutrition information, please visit Apple Cake at USDA’s MyPlate Kitchen.