Fun, Family-Friendly Fall Activities

By this point, many of you are hopefully enjoying the fall air and colorful leaves…but fall is a GREAT season to set some family traditions.

After all, strong relationships are a vital part in well-rounded wellness, so get your family involved in some fall festivities!

 

1. Take a Hike

Regardless of what area you live in the US, fall generally means cooler temps…I am just lucky enough to live in an area that experiences BEAUTIFUL leaf color changes. Being about an hour from the Blue Ridge Parkway in the mountains of NC, I make frequent visits to Boone, NC during the fall months.

hikes

While I hike, I get to enjoy the seasonal changes as well as get some nice, relaxing exercise in with my loved ones. Last year, my friends made a trip to NC for my wedding, so I took them to Rough Ridge on the Parkway to experience the beauty of changing leaves…they had never seen anything like it! During this time, we were able to spend quality time together and soak up nature’s beauty.

Not up for a drive to the mountains? Visit your local park or go for a neighborhood walk for a nice after-dinner activity. Enjoy the cool weather while it lasts!

2. Take a Bike Ride

Yes, you can bike all year round…but I had something specific in mind…

The Virginia Creeper Trail! If you aren’t on the East Coast, you’ve probably never heard of it, but it is a 35-mile multi-purpose rail trail that stretches from Abingdon, VA all the way to Mount Rogers National Recreation Area in the Southwestern part of Virginia.

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I have been here several times, all in the fall…while it would be pretty any time of the year, in the fall you can enjoy the pretty colors and cool air.

Not near the Creeper Trail? No worries! Hit up your local green-way and enjoy a nice stroll outdoors.

3. Visit a Corn Maze

What fun would this be! To be honest, I have never done this but always wanted to! A corn maze seems like a fun way to get your family outdoors and enjoy the season.

Not only would it be enjoyable for the group, but it would also be a great team building experience. In order to make it through the maze, you would need strong communication skills with each other.

 

photo of corn field
Photo by Peter Fazekas on Pexels.com

 

4. Build a Bonfire

Ah, the smell of the great outdoors and feeling the warmth of a nice bonfire…that is the definition of fall! The temperatures are cooler, nights are clearer, and far less humid (in the South).

photo of bonfire
Photo by rasik on Pexels.com

It is also super fun to cook over the fire…you could do the standard hot dogs-s’mores feast (which I am totally pro…in fact we are doing that this weekend!), or you could get a little creative! I have wrapped washed, sweet potatoes in aluminum foil and let sit in the coals for an hour or so, allow to cool, and enjoy! There is something about food being cooked in the coals of a bonfire that makes it taste so good! You could do the same method for apples, white potatoes, or any other root vegetable.

5. Carve Pumpkins

This is something I look forward to every year! If you are feeling even more adventurous, take your family to a local pumpkin patch. A few years ago, my friends in California and I went to a pumpkin patch in Oak Glen–a gorgeous mountainous land that made me feel like I was at home only I was still in SoCal.

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Luckily, nowadays there are carving stencil kits available so your pumpkin comes out looking flawless. Though we do not have kids, my husband and I still enjoy carving pumpkins together as adults…quality time!

Don’t know what to do with the pumpkin seeds? Rinse them off to get all of the pumpkin pulp off and sprinkle with your favorite seasonings and bake at 300 degrees for 45 minutes or until golden.

6. Visit a Local Apple Orchard

Nothing screams fall like an apple orchard! It’s even better when it’s a “pick-your-own” apple orchard. It is a fun way to get your family active and set good examples of eating fresh, whole foods. There are several pick-your-own orchards in the North Carolina mountains that have a lot of kid-friendly activities, as well.

When I was a little girl, we lived across from an Apple Orchard–and we still do…it’s just a wedding venue now instead of a pick your own apple orchard…(click here to read about “Memories at Hill Top Orchard Venue”…)

apple tree
Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

Anyway, I can remember my dad taking us up to the orchard in his tractor to pick apples. There is something about picking an apple straight off the tree, wiping it off on your shirt, and taking a bite…that is the BEST way to eat a raw apple in my opinion.

Of course you can enjoy your apples raw, but fall is also a great time to make homemade applesauce while apples are in season. Cook the apples with cinnamon and honey, and if you’re feeling spunky, can some for the upcoming year.

 

There are tons of things you can enjoy in the fall, but these are some great ideas to get outdoors and enjoy the season with your family. My challenge for you: Pick at least one of these six ideas to spend time with your family…I promise you will make unforgettable memories! As always, fall is a time for being thankful for what you have. While we should always be grateful, spend a little extra time over the next few months to count your blessings.

 

 

Until Next Time,

Happy Chewing!
Katrina Detter, RD, LDN

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

Follow me on Social Media!

Facebook: Live Better with Kat Detter

Instagram: @betterwithkatdetter_rd

 

Pumpkin, Anyone?

pumpkin

Who is excited this fall season? I know I am! When I was younger, I never got excited about fall…however, the older I get, the more I absolutely LOVE autumn—leaves falling, temperatures cooling, holiday baking…

…and of course: Pumpkin.

I know what you are thinking…pumpkin is so basic. Yeah, basically delicious! And guess what? Not only is pumpkin delicious, but it also comes with fun historical facts and healing nutrition.

Pumpkins are a part of the Cucurbitaceae family along with gourds and squash. Wait, aren’t they all virtually the same thing? Well, they do belong to the same family but have different characteristics.
For one, gourds are ornamental–meaning used for decoration. I remember making bird houses out of gourds in my childhood…we never ate them!
Squash is an edible Cucurbitaceae crop that includes summer, butternut, acorn, and spaghetti varieties. These are great when roasted and pureed, and typically you can find different squash varieties year round.
There are over 45 different varieties of pumpkin that are typically harvested in the fall and can be both ornamental and edible–that is what makes them so unique! We use this fruit to enjoy in fall dishes as well as creative decorations. Did you know that back in the day, the Irish used turnips and potatoes to carve jack-o-lanterns? Weird, right? It was not until Irish immigrants moved to America that they discovered pumpkins were better for carving.

Now onto the nutrition! How do pumpkins benefit our health?

To begin with, pumpkins are 90% water, meaning they are low in calories and high in fiber. In one cup of plain and cooked pureed pumpkin, there are 50 calories and 12 grams of carbohydrate—3 grams from fiber, 2 grams from naturally occurring sugar, and 7 grams of complex carbohydrates.

Micro-nutrients? Pumpkin is rich in beta-carotene which is the precursor to Vitamin A that helps us maintain healthy vision, teeth, and skin. One cup of pumpkin provides 87% of the daily recommendation for Vitamin A.

In addition to beta-carotene, pumpkin contains vitamin K (for gut health), copper (helps body form collagen and absorb iron), vitamin C (immunity boost), magnesium (bone health and calcium absorption), iron (healthy blood), and potassium (protects muscle mass and preserves bone density).

Whew! That was a mouth full of how pumpkin can benefit our wellbeing this fall. It isn’t just about being trendy, but pumpkin has true healing benefits to our bodies, so let’s incorporate it into our diets this season!

Bonus: Did you know that pumpkin can be used as an oil replacement in baking? Though this ingredient is usually the “star” of a baked good, it also serves as a 1:1 ratio to substitute oil. This means that if a recipe calls for 1 cup of oil, you would use 1 cup of pumpkin puree as a replacement. To substitute pumpkin puree for butter, multiply butter by ¾ and that will be the amount of pumpkin to use. Cool, huh?
Below is my Pumpkin-Nut Bread recipe that is refined-sugar free, wheat free, and guaranteed to put a smile on your face! A few pointers: I love “stuff” in my quick breads—nuts and dried fruits. Since I do not use much sugar, it also sweetens up the bread. If you are not a fan, you can veto those goodies. Enjoy!

Pumpkin-Nut Bread

bread

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 15-oz can Pumpkin Puree
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ cup chopped nuts (I like using walnuts or pecans)
  •      1/4 cuppitted dates, chopped
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • Baking Spray

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a blender, pulse 2 cups of oatmeal until a smooth, flour-like texture.
  3. In a mixing bowl, smash 1 banana until smooth. Add pumpkin puree to banana, mix well. Mix in eggs one at a time. Stir in honey, vanilla, and cinnamon.
  4. Mix in half of the ground oatmeal and stir. Once incorporated with the wet ingredients, add the other half of ground oatmeal. Stir in salt, baking soda, nuts of choice, dates, and raisins.
  5. Grab greased bread tin and fill up about ¾ the way up, allowing to rise some while baking. Bake bread for 35-45 minutes or until cooked all the way through.

 

Until Next Time,

Happy Chewing!
Katrina Detter, RD, LDN

References:
  1. Verywell Fit. (2018). How (and Why) to Include More Pumpkin in Your Diet. [onling]. Available at: https://www.verwellfit.com/pumpkin-nutrition-facts-calories-carbs-and-health-benefits-4165492 [Accessed 2 Sep. 2018].
  2.  Nutritious Life. 2018. What’s the Difference Between Gourds, Squash, and Pumpkins?. [online] Available at: https://nutritiouslife.com/eat-empowered/whats-difference-gourds-squash-pumpkin/ [Accessed 2 Sep. 2018].
  3.  Good Housekeeping. (2018). 16 Pumpkin Facts That’ll Make You Say “Oh My Gourd”. [online] Available at: https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/health/diet-nutrition/a22544/facts-about-pumpkins [Accessed 2 Sep. 2018].

Pickin’ Up Pawpaws

Put ’em in your pocket…

Texture like a ripe avocado, mouthfeel of a banana, and taste of mixed tropic fruit, this “hillbilly mango” is native to 26 states in North America ranging from northern Florida all the way up to Ontario, Canada and go as far west as Nebraska.

Also called the “poor man’s banana”, this indigenous fruit provided nutrient dense food for wild animals, Native Americans, and even European explorers and settlers back in the day. Pawpaws are still cropped in the US today and enjoyed in many rural areas. They bloom in the spring and then harvested in late August through mid October, making pawpaws a seasonal fall crop.

Several years ago, my father planted some pawpaw trees on his farm in Western North Carolina, and this year they are producing gobs of fruit. The first time I tried a pawpaw, I did not really know what to think…the texture was like a very ripe avocado but flavor was like an earthy banana with a faint taste of mango and blueberry…weird combo, right? It is by no means a favorite fruit of mine (doesn’t even make my top 10), but it is still fascinating to learn about fruits our ancestors cultivated and ate for proper nutrition.

That brings me to the nutrient facts of a pawpaw! Pawpaws are fruit, so they are full of similar nutrients like a banana, however they are higher in protein and fat content.  One pawpaw has 80 calories, 1.2 grams of fat, 18.8 grams of carbohydrate, and 2.6 grams of dietary fiber.

Pawpaws contain 1.2 grams of complete protein…that’s right! Pawpaws contain all of the essential amino acids our bodies need. Pawpaws are one of the few plants that contain all essential amino acids. Other complete protein plants include soy and quinoa…that is what makes this fruit so unique and interesting!

Now, of course you can eat this fleshy plant raw off the tree, but there are numerous other ways to utilize this fruit! The fruit is ripe when it becomes soft on the tree and can be eaten right away or stored in a refrigerator up to one week. It is a little difficult to process as it contains many big, black seeds, but I found that peeling the fruit with a knife and pressing it through a strainer works well. At that point, you can use the flesh in baked goods or freeze it for a later use. Because the fruit is naturally fatty and creamy, it would make a great base for a smoothie or custard.

When my dad gave me pawpaws last week, I had to get in the kitchen and experiment!  I ended up making “Pawpaw-Nut Muffins” with the recipe below. Try it out and let me know how ya like ’em!


Pawpaw-Nut Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup pitted and chopped dates
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened dried cranberries
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3 tablespoons of honey
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup of all purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup smashed pawpaw fruit (1 large pawpaw)
  • 3/4 cup of nuts (I used English walnuts)
  • baking spray

Directions:

  1. In a saucepan, add water, dates, and cranberries and bring to boil. Stir in applesauce and honey and allow to boil for 1-2 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a blender, pulse together the oats, AP flour, eggs, baking soda, and nuts–roughly. Then pour into a mixing bowl and combine together well, making a dough-like texture.
  3. Mix in the cooled applesauce mixture and pawpaws to dough. Put in refrigerator for 15-30 minutes.
  4. Spray muffin tins and fill with batter 3/4 of the way up, allowing room to rise. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-35 minutes or until cooked all the way through.

What do you think? Are you curious to try a pawpaw now? Check your local farmer’s market to see if they’ve got any in stock and let me know how you like them!

Until Next Time,

Happy Chewing!
Katrina Detter, RD, LDN

References: 
Cooking with Pawpaws. Axonopus affinis. hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/ksu-pawpaw/cooking/html. Accessed September 9, 2018.