Fall in Colors. Part 2.

This fall is really magic. We have been to so many interesting places and it’s not even the end yet.

Sophia was invited to a Birthday Party in Nature Center few weeks ago.

The Birthday was different from the ones we have been before. The kids met three real animals ( they even had a chance to pet some), after that we had a wonderful walk in the woods and explore plants and creatures there. After the walk the kids had a healthy delicious lunch with mini sandwiches, fruits and cupcakes.

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I would like to mention New Canaan Nature Center where the birthday party was.

The New Canaan Nature Center (40 acres or 16 hectares) is a botanical garden, arboretum and nature preserve.

The nature center includes wet and dry meadows, two ponds, wet and dry woodlands, dense thickets, an old orchard, and a cattail marsh, as well as a 4,000-square-foot (370 m2)greenhouse.

New Canaan Nature Center features many nature programs throughout the year, including the Fall Fair every October, and maple sugaring celebrations in early spring.

This place is great for making pictures, so me and my friend took our kids to Nature Center to make some pretty fall pictures.

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I even found the picture from the last year by the same tree:

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This place is really amazing because it shows the kids how to enjoy the nature, have fun outside and protect their world.

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Our kids had a lot of fun in the bushes maze.

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It feels like it’s becoming one of our favorite play area so far, and I am glad that our daughter likes and respects the nature.

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Leek, Fennel, Apple, Walnut soup with Turmeric.

Today’s recipe is perfect for the cold fall days. My fall cooking always associates with soup making. It should be creamy, warm and delicious. A lot of creamy soups ask for cream in them, but this soup is completely healthy vegan version with no guilt in it.

As usual I am trying to use some super healthy foods in my recipes and this time it’s Turmeric.

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Sometimes it is hard to hide turmeric in your dishes, but it works great in this soup.

It takes around 20 minutes to make it, so you don’t need to spend the half of the day in the kitchen to impress your family or guests with this delicious dish.

I am thinking to make this soup for Thanksgiving Dinner, because it’s really a FALL SOUP, and just being a little creative and let the people try something different instead of the regular butternut squash soup.

Leek, Fennel, Apple, Walnut Soup with Turmeric.

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 Ingredients:
2 tbsp cooking oil ( I personally used palm oil, but be free to use any kind)
3 leeks, white + light green parts chopped (discard green tops or use them for stock)
1 teaspoon thyme
1 fennel bulb, cored and chopped (reserve a few fronds for garnish)
1 medium apple, peeled, cored + chopped
1-2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 cup walnut halves, toasted
salt + pepper
4 cups vegetable stock

to serve:
reserved fennel fronds
more toasty walnuts

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Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium. Add the chopped leeks and thyme. Stir and sauté the leeks until they are a bit soft, about 4 minutes. Add the chopped fennel and apples. Stir everything up a bit. Add the turmeric and stir to coat all of the vegetables evenly. Sauté the vegetables until the fennel is starting to soften, another 4 minutes. Add the walnuts and stir them in. Season the whole thing with salt and pepper. Add the vegetable stock and stir.

Bring the pot to a boil and simmer until all of the vegetables/apples are very soft, about 12-15 minutes. Remove the soup from the heat. Carefully blend the mixture in batches until totally smooth. Check the soup for seasoning and adjust accordingly. Bring the puréed soup to a boil and serve hot with fennel fronds and more toasted walnuts.

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Halloween 2013.

We already started celebrating Halloween in our house. Our playgroup has a tradition to get the kids together for every holiday and celebrate them.

Halloween is next week, but because of everybody’s busy schedule we planned our Halloween Party this week.

I like to be creative, that’s why I am not a big fan of store bought costumes. My daughter wanted to be Cinderella ( her favorite princess so far), so I had a task to make Cinderella costume for her.

For her costume I used the same method, as I mentioned before when I made her tutu skirt. This time I just needed to make a dress, so I got Crochet Headband 8″ on Ebay, and used it as a top and blue tulle for the bottom. It took me one hour to make this dress.

We also head a blue headband which worked great instead of a crown. I got her high-heels Cinderella shoes at Target too.

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It’s so easy to go with any princess costume, because you also can add some accessories, like necklaces, bracelets, and you princess will be the pretties one.

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To keep kids busy I got some art supplies for them at Michael’s and they enjoyed painting their Halloween masks:

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For the healthy treats I found great ideas on Pinterest and made healthy snack for our little ones:

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I used clementines for little pumpkins and bananas and raisins for the little ghosts. It was a cute healthy party treat.

I also got Annie’s Halloween Bunny Grahams, which are organic and I will definitely use them for Trick or Treat.

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For decorations we also picked a little pumpkin house at Michael’s. My daughter keeps it in her room now:

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I guess we made a great party for our kids because they really had fun, played nicely and let us (moms) relax for a little bit.

Food Labels.

There are some rules that I always follow buying my groceries, especially packaged food, and today I would like to share them with you.

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1. Serve it Up.

Many food labels hide the true amount of calories in that food by splitting up the servings.  So when you read a food label, always check the number of servings first, then the number of calories per serving. Otherwise, you will get double or even triple amount of calories for eating just one sandwich.

2. Keep it Short and Simple.

Buy food with a few ingredients listed on the label as possible. If you are wondering how many ingredients are too much, I always stick to 5 and under.

3. Check: One, two, Three.

Ingredients are listed in order of their quantity in the food. So the top three ingredients are pretty much all you’re eating. If the top three ingredients are crap, then the food is crap.

4. Be a Matchmaker.

Learn to match the ingredients. When you look at them on a label-match up the ones that are the same thing, even if they have a different name. For example, the label for a high-sugar food might list sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup, corn syrup solids, brown sugar, dextrose, and other sugar ingredients. So if you see a label that lists two separate forms of sugar, put it back on the shelf on principle alone, not just because it will make you fat.

5. Say it loud.

If you can’t pronounce it, don’t buy it. Your body doesn’t need it. Let it go, and pass it by.

6. Be Salt Savvy.

Make sure that your food choices have fewer milligrams of sodium per serving than calories per serving. And as a general rule of thumb, people 50 years of age and under should aim to consume no more than 2000 milligrams of sodium per day.

7. Be Sugar Savvy.

Sugar-laden foods cause insulin levels to spike, and of course they are bad for your diet. To avoid this problem, for any packaged food, keep your sugar intake below 5 grams per serving.

8. If it Sounds Too Good To be True, Its BS…

All these packages with the labels “0 grams of trans fats”, or “0 calories”  90 % are loaded with trans fats or calories. If a food claim sounds too good to be true, investigate and get to the truth. if you don’t have time but you’re in doubt, ditch it. Make a different, more clearly healthy choice.

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies.

If you’re like most women, you’re totally smitten with chocolate. People have been obsessing over this comfort food for thousands of years (the Mayans considered cocoa a cure-all and the Aztecs used it as money). And all that obsessing has yielded some pretty surprising studies—and findings.

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These cookies with crunch edges and a soft, chewy center will immediately put you in antioxidant overdrive .

Good news: the recipe is dairy free, gluten-free, healthy and vegan.

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Ingredients:

1 cup coconut oil

1 cup coconut sugar

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1 tsp sea salt

2tbs pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 cup brown rice flour

1/4 cup flax meal

1tsp baking soda

1,5 tsp xantham gum

1 cup vegan chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 325F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

2 . In a medium bowl, mix together the oil, coconut sugar, applesauce, cocoa powder, salt and vanilla. In another medium bowl, whisk together the flour, flax meal, baking soda and xanthan gum. Using a rubber spatula, carefully add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and combine until a dough is formed. Gently fold in the chocolate chips just until they are evenly distributed throughout the dough.

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3. Scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing the portion 1 inch apart. Gently press each with the hell of your hand to help them spread. Bake the cookies on the center rack for 14 minutes, rotating the sheets 180 degrees after 9 minutes.

The finished cookies will be crisp on the ages and soft in the center.

4. Let the cookies stand on the sheets for 10 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack and cool completely before covering. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

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The recipe is from the book “BabycakesBy Erin McKenna.

Fall in colors. Part 1

We have been to many places for the last couple of weeks, and I just want to share our Connecticut fall with you. It is really very pretty and super warm this year.

We went to the local farm to pick up apples and had a great time that day.

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When I look at these pictures I feel like my favorite color is orange, my favorite flavor is pumpkin, my favorite season is fall.

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We picked a lot of apples and I am going to share some apple recipes here soon.

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Feeding the animals is my kid’s favorite part

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These three little pigs always make me smile:

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Here are some more fall colors:

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I wish we could live in the fall forever.

Stuffed Sweet Potato.

The Holiday Season is coming and I already started experimenting with different recipes to be ready in time. It is so much easier to try different recipes before and pick your favorite ones for the holiday table.

Last week we have been to the Apple Farm and brought home 5 pounds of apples. This was one of the reasons to make something with apples.

The recipe I am sharing today is surprisingly good and delicious. It has all the fall holiday flavors and during the cooking your kitchen will smell like the fall harvest for a long time.

Just a little note. My potatoes were a little dry, so next time I might need to use more coconut oil, or apple sauce.

This dish will definitely work for Thanksgiving Dinner, as a side dish.

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Stuffed Sweet Potato.

5 sweet potatoes

2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons applesauce
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup peeled and finely diced apple
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pinch salt
Preheat oven to 400
Wash and peel the sweet potatoes 3/4 of the way, leaving some peel on the bottom of the potato.
 Slice potato as thinly as you can.
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Rub them with a little coconut oil.
Oil a baking dish or line it with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, mix together the rest of the ingredients.
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Carefully try to push some of the stuffing mixture between the slices.
Pile the remaining stuffing on top of each potato.
Drizzle any remaining liquid over the potatoes.
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Cover the dish with foil and bake for 40 minutes.
Remove the foil and bake for another 10 – 15 minutes, being careful not to burn the topping.
Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.
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