Fall is upon us here in Greenwich, and who doesn’t love October?!
It is a sweet month, and not just because it ends with Halloween. The days are cooling down but we still have a handful of warm ones to enjoy. While September was full of extras – orientations to new schools and sports, curriculum nights, class coffees and cocktails, and just getting the lay of the land, October should be a time when these obligations slow – at least a bit. We are finally getting settled into our new school year routines. It is a perfect time to shift into a healthier mode before the barrage of holidays, starting at the end of this month with trick or treating. Here are five seasonal AND healthy “tricks & treats” to embrace right now:
Devise a family dinner ritual
As evenings become less erratic – now is the time to make eating together at home a priority. This healthy habit is linked to lower levels of stress and inflammation and greater levels of wellness and weight management. A trick – spend five minutes on Sunday preplanning three dinners for the upcoming week and then do a large grocery shop either in store or online for all of the ingredients. A treat – you have just figured out the what, when, where and how of three dinner meals. Maybe you even have a fourth dinner composed of leftovers – and then add one night of takeout and your week is complete. This small step of preplanning & batch grocery shopping at the start of the week is a serious tool of the nutrition trade.
Go outside for a walk:
Take advantage of the beautiful fall weather to get outside for a regular power walk. Meet your friend at Tod’s Point to walk the beach path, or bring your dog to the Pinetum for a hike in nature. Or grab a morning coffee at CFCF on Greenwich Ave with your bud and power walk the loop down to the water and then back up and around. A trick – plan your walk like a meeting in your iPhone calendar that you can’t skip. A treat – research shows it is more satisfying to exercise outside, and you’ll increase your Vitamin D levels.
Get into hot teas and broths:
As temperatures drop, we can all appreciate the comfort and warmth of these hot elixirs. They are truly satisfying and actually medicinal in quality. Broths & teas will soothe the gut, reduce inflammation and boost immunity. Grab a bone broth at Aux Delices for an afternoon pick me up or have some on hand from Nit Noi in your refrigerator or freezer. If you are vegan – order online from Owl Venice in LA – their mineral broth is fantastic. These savory treats will get you through the afternoon slump. After you finish your lunch and dinner meals, grab a hot tea instead of a dessert. Black and green teas with caffeine are better for morning, while mint and herbal teas can provide natural sweet without the caffeine in the afternoon/evening. The ginger honey lemon tea from Meli Melo and the Ginger Tonic from CFCF are awesome grab and go treats. Trick: Whenever you feel like snacking – instead grab a low-calorie tea or broth treat to keep you warm, hydrated, and satiated.
Embrace pumpkin, fall’s superfood:
Pumpkin is ubiquitous right now – and we should all appreciate this seasonal, antioxidant fruit while its around. Before October is over, make sure to visit Sam Bridge Nursery with your little ones for a hay ride to their pumpkin patch. Trick: When you go to carve your pumpkins – remove the seeds and roast your own delicious and nutritious pepita snack. See recipe below for these homemade treats. And see a recipe below (a true treat) for an amazing layered salad highlighting pumpkin seeds. My partner at AaHa Restart – Hala Si-Ahmed – is the brains behind the majority of our AaHa recipes and this is one of our all-time faves.
Enjoy Halloween candy without guilt:
Halloween is an entire holiday dedicated to eating candy – it is a day to indulge in your favorite childhood treats without guilt. Wash the sweet down with extra water and enjoy the mass chaos of little children eating too much sugar. You can throw it out on November 1st. Treat: It’s fun. Trick: Fun is healthy.
October, until about Thanksgiving, provides a fantastic stretch of time to refocus on your health while enjoying all that this early fall season has to offer. Let’s aim to do more family dinners, let’s walk outside in the fresh air and sunlight as much as possible, let’s enjoy soothing broths and hot teas, let’s get into the pumpkin state of mind, and let’s do it up for Halloween. Let’s aim for a happy and healthy fall y’all.
Roasted Pepitas or Pumpkin Seeds
Ingredients: Salty (to munch on or toss over salads or soups)
- Olive oil
Ingredients: Sweet (to munch on or sprinkle over yogurt parfaits)
- Coconut oil
- Remove pumpkin seeds, wash away any pulp left, and then dry the seeds as much as possible between towels (dryer seeds = crispier seeds)
- Preheat oven to 350F
- Toss seeds in oil and seasonings and spread evenly onto a lightly greased baking sheet
- Bake for about 15 minutes, tossing every 5 minutes to encourage even browning, until golden brown and crispy
Hala’s Book Club Salad
Ingredients for the Salad (*All measurements are approximate, feel free to use more or less of anything)
- 2 cups chopped romaine lettuce
- 2 cups chopped kale
- 1 cup baby lettuces or arugula
- 1/2 cup shredded Brussels sprouts
- 1/2 cup diced carrots
- 1/2 cup sliced hearts of palm
- 2 Tbsp dried cranberries
- 1 16oz box or can of cannellini beans, rinsed
- 2 Tbsp toasted pumpkin seeds (homemade or you can get them in most stores in nut section)
- 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
- Optional topping: grilled chicken, shrimp, or salmon
Ingredients for the Dressing
- 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- juice of 1 large lemon
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 Tsp salt/pepper
- 1 Tbsp Zaatar (a Middle Eastern spice blend that can now be found in many grocery stores, but you can omit if you don’t find)
- in a large salad bowl, mix together the 3 lettuce varieties
- Slowly incorporate each ingredient, mixing well as you add
- Whisk together dressing and taste, then adjust to your taste
- Dress salad just before serving and top with optional toppings if desired