Fall is the perfect time for comfort food. When blustery weather keeps the family inside, there is no better way to warm the body and soul than with a healthy and delicious homemade meal. Why not gather the family around for a special weekend meal to enjoy both real food and the real relationships you have. Laugh, talk, slurp, chew and enjoy each other’s company with good food nearby.

If you live in the same world I do, you're busy. Life can be stressful and hectic. Slowing down long enough to make a nourishing meal and eating it together as a family can be restorative on many fronts. Here is one my favorite fall menus when I am looking for comfort food.

Drink: Bittersweet Chai Hot Cocoa

This simple recipe combines two of my favorite hot drinks, chai and hot cocoa. For this recipe I used coconut milk (though regular milk would be fine) and kept it only slightly sweetened. Sweeten to taste and enjoy your spiced chocolate!

Soup: Yellow Split Pea Soup with Kale and Sausage

I love not only how flavorful this soup is, but how very beautiful it is (see photo above). With the color contrasts between the yellow split peas, the dark green kale, and the bright red tomatoes, it is a striking soup. The basil, cumin and sausage make it very flavorful and altogether a lovely soup for a chilly night. Serve with buttered bread on the side.

Side: Leon Salad

Although I often serve soup as a stand-alone main dish, I love making salads to go alongside as well. This salad is truly special, but it is actually quite simple to make. Some of us are still getting fresh basil from our gardens, and this salad puts it to good use.

Dessert: Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream

These cupcakes are moist and rich, despite being gluten- and dairy-free. The pumpkin puree in them keeps them moist, unlike many gluten-free recipes. Chocolate makes a lovely topping to pumpkin as well. They make the perfect ending to a delicious meal.

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Healthy comfort food for a fall weekend dinner
In a hectic world, it's good to set aside time to relax on the weekend with good food nearby. I share one of my favorite weekend menus.