It is that time of the year again; the air has this certain crisp, clean factor about it, the humidity has fled, and the weather is simply gorgeous.  It is the bitter, sweet transition from our beloved carefree summer to our fall daze of cooler weather, fun activities and great food options. We all love the fall and want to take as much of an advantage of these few wonderful months that we can. It’s the time for jogs in the park, various festivals, beautiful leaves, hiking and let us not forget that it is apple and pumpkin season! Going to an orchard and finding that perfect pumpkin while snacking on endless amounts of delicious apples is one activity that our nation has adored from our youngest years and will continue to treasure most of our lives.

Do not miss out this year on a tremendous weekend of apple picking and the Fall’s fresh air. Apples are a wonderful source of vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A, K, C, E, calcium, zinc, and potassium to just name some.  One medium apple is less than 100 calories and offers about 3 grams of fiber to your diet.  There is a reason they say, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. This season, utilize your great picks in making homemade applesauce; this is the perfect snack or side dish to a meal.  For about every 8 apples, take about 1/3 a cup of water and cook them over medium/low heat with a lid on it for about 40 minutes and then add cinnamon to taste. Applesauce can also be used in your baking to create a healthier baked good. Replace your fat of choice with unsweetened applesauce while baking items such as muffins or brownies. This will create a much healthier, yet fabulous tasting treat that will still satisfy that same craving!  One of my personal favorite Fall treats is a homemade Apple Butter bar (see recipe at the end of the page).  Incorporating both apples and granola such as Muesli Fusion into one baked good, what more could you ask for?

We often do not think to go to the orchard unless we are in need of a good bushel of apples, but let us not overlook the pros of pumpkin picking. Pumpkins are one of the season’s greatest gifts. Pumpkins can be extremely decorative, great fun to carve and most importantly, they can offer plentiful health benefits to your diet. One of the greatest wastes in my opinion is the minimal play that the guts of a pumpkin receive. We carve those pumpkins each year to spunk up our yard, and throw the guts immediately into the trash. The guts of the pumpkin are where the pumpkin seeds are found! Pumpkin seeds make a fantastic, easy snack. An ounce of pumpkin seeds provide you with 5 grams of fiber, 5 grams of fat (4 of which are unsaturated) and 5 grams of protein. Every pumpkin I carve, I spend those few extra minutes to collect the seeds and wash them off.  After allowing the seeds to air dry, I brush them lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt to taste. Bake them at 325 degrees F for about 30 minutes or until golden brown and then snack away!

Long story short, why not make a day of it? Many orchards offer fresh farmed, home cooked meals at their dining services and many also have walking/hiking trails. Get out there and make your plans to get to an orchard in the next few weeks. You have the opportunity to get some exercise in, observe scenic beauty, have some Fall fun, and enjoy some delightful snacks. Get creative and come up with a delicious recipe for a Fall treat that you want to try out. Remember, there is always a way to modify your treats for an alternative, healthier option. Plan ahead before you go and make sure you get all of the wonderful ingredients that the Fall has to offer you!

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