Pumpkin patch

A few weeks ago, before we made a bunch of apple pies, my mom and I went out to the garden to pick some pumpkins. I always bring some to school so my students can carve them for Halloween. I also leave the dirt on them, so that when I explain that pumpkins grow in the garden and not the grocery store, it makes sense! They always tell me I’m lucky that I get to pick pumpkins. They’re right!

My parents’ house is right by the river. Morning light, along with fall colours made it a picture-taker’s paradise!

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I love the way the pumpkin patch looks after the leaves have frozen. You can see all the pumpkins. Also, it would be easier to spot a snake, if there was one. I’ve never actually seen a snake in the pumpkin patch, but i’m sure it happens. I don’t have a snake phobia, but really, who wants to reach down to pick a pumpkin and come up with a snake? Yeah, no one.

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I’m looking for a good pumpkin. Also, I’m checking to make sure there are no slimy bugs underneath.

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Found one! A pumpkin, not a bug.

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I’m checking the ingredients: 100% pumpkin. Ok, I’ll take it!

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I need more pumpkins. Lots more.

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Pumpkins and apples in my kitchen! When this photo was taken, there were six more pumpkins in my car waiting to be taken to school to be carved by my students. Sadly, one of those pumpkins did not make it to Halloween. I believe it suffered a deer bite and started to go bad as soon as it was taken indoors. It’s suffering came to an end in a collegue’s kitchen.

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My pumpkins before they were roasted into deliciousness! Here, too, one did not survive. It got all soft and icky so I put it outside. A squirrel chewed all the way around it and took off with the top. A few days later, I saw the top of a pumpkin in the street. Crazy squirrel.

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Roasting a pumpkin is pretty easy. Cut in half, scoop out gunk, roast, puree, eat!

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I ended up with about 12 cups of puree. Not bad for two small pumpkins. I wanted to can it, but I read all kinds of scary things online about the dangers of canning pumpkin puree, so I decided to freeze it instead.

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I’ve been baking pumpkin-everything for a few weeks now.

Gluten-free pumpkin muffins.

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Roasted pumpkin seeds.

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Pumpkin and carrot mac and cheese. I have to hide vegetables from myself so that I’ll eat them. Also, macaroni and cheese is not photogenic.

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I also made something called a pumpkin dream cake and it was very dreamy and orange and delicious!

Yesterday, for Halloween, the kids got to work cleaning out the pumpkins and decorating them. They were very original in their design ideas.

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I thought the hedgehog was angry, but apparently, he’s scary. Because, you know, it’s Halloween.

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I think that’s it for my pumpkin adventures this year. Well, except for the 8 cups of pumpkin still left in my freezer! November is the month for tea, books and hot yoga! (Every month is hot yoga month actually.)

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Apple pie day

Every year, my mom, my sisters and I get together to make massive amounts of apple pie. Apple pie is fall’s most amazing food. I know everyone goes crazy for all the pumpkin flavored goodies out there (including myself), but let’s face it, there’s no better food than apple pie. This year, we made 22 pies. We froze most of them, to be eaten later, but to be honest, they’ll all be gone by Christmas. That’s how amazing they are.

First, you have to buy or pick many, many apples. These are lobo apples. Some apples are too soft, and then you get mushy pie.

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Then, you have to put on a cute apron.

That's my little sister and I. My apron says "Will cook for shoes".

That’s my little sister and I. My apron says “Will cook for shoes”.

You need to peel the many, many apples and make several batches of pie crust.

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Those are my mom's hands. she's the pie crust expert.

Those are my mom’s hands. she’s the pie crust expert.

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After that, you start assembling pies and you don’t stop until you have 22 (or 3 or 14 or 7, whatever your goal is. We don’t usually have a goal, we just keep going until we run out of ingredients.)

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After a while, it’s totally acceptable to stop for wine. We really had to work for it.

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But it was worth it.

This is my sister. She loves wine. So do I. Wine is delicious. Apple pie is also delicious. Good thing I don't have to chose only one.

This is my sister. She loves wine. So do I. Wine is delicious. Apple pie is also delicious. Good thing I don’t have to chose only one.

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Drinking wine really makes for better pies. Just don’t spill any in the pies, that’s wasteful.

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I don’t have a recipe to share because we don’t use one. It’s apples, brown sugar, cinnamon and flour, then repeat, add butter and that’s it. We don’t measure anything. I’m sure of you google “apple pie recipes” you’ll find some, but whatever you do, please, please, don’t use white sugar in an apple pie. That’s just wrong.

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It was such a great day, and now we have pie! Everyone should celebrate apple pie day.

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My dad is usually there to help. He peels the apples, but he was away this weekend. It’s ok Pop, you can still have pie. We’ll share because we’re nice like that.

Tea and scones

When I went to Ireland and Scotland a few years ago, one of the things I loved, loved, loved was how there were tea and scones to be had everywhere, all the time! I’m not a coffee drinker, and I love tea. Plus, who doesn’t love scones? Since it rained all the time, it was nice to cozy up with a cup of tea and a plate of scones.

This weekend was a very tea and scones weekend for me. I made them gluten free, which made them turn out a little less fluffy than regular scones, but they were still buttery and delicious!

I’m not a fan of jam, so I made a perfect substitute. Think apple pie filling. Amazing.

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I used this recipe for the scones. It was very easy and quick. The apple pie filling was even simpler to make.

Apple pie filling

1-2 apples, peeled and cut

1-2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix ingredients together. Microwave for two minutes. Stir. If too liquid, add half a teaspoon of flour. Mix and microwave for one minute. Stir and serve.

So juicy!

I’m sick. I don’t like being sick. I know, I know, nobody likes being sick! I had a super busy week filled with awesome things, like my class play, and not so awesome things, like my car needing expensive fixing -up. Add all that up, throw in some germy kids and voilà, sick me! It’s mostly an annoying cough, so I’ll live.

I went to up to my parent’s place yesterday so my dad could change the breaks on my car (with all the things I had to pay for this week, I was happy to take advantage of some free labour. Thanks Pop and Uncle Phil!)

My mom and my aunts were at the farm planting the garden. I sort of helped, a little. Well, I cut up the planting potatoes. Mostly I sat on the porch and read my book.

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Also, I took some pretty pictures.

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My mom took pity on me because I was sick and made me some fresh juice. I’ve never been a fan of juicing, and I didn’t want anything green in there, so she made me a carrot, apple and orange juice. It was delicious! She said I would feel better as soon as I drank it. I didn’t work quite that fast, but I feel much better today, so it must have helped!

I borrowed their juicer so I could make more fresh juice until I feel better. I quite like it, so I’ll probably keep juicing once I feel better! Today I made carrot, apple, orange and celery.

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I watched a documentary a few weeks ago called “Fat, sick and nearly dead” about an overweight, sick man who gets healthy largely by going on a juice fast. It was very interesting. My mom and I also watched two documentaries last night called “Hungry for change” and “Happy”. I enjoy documentaries because they really make you think.

Do you have any juice recipes I should try? Or any documentaries I should watch?

It’s not easy being green

I used to drink a lot of smoothies. I loved it! Until they started making me sick. Well, I thought it was the smoothies, but it turns out it was just the bananas, which my body decided it no longer approved of.

I replaced the bananas with tofu, and it gave me the texture I like. However, after being sick because of smoothies, I no longer wanted to drink them as much, even though I knew these new and improved smoothies would be ok.

Green smoothies seem to be some kind of super food, so I decided I wanted my dose of super power. Since I wasn’t quite sure what it would taste like, I started with a small handfull of baby spinach, frozen berries, apple juice and tofu. Instead of regular ice cubes, I used frozen green tea.

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It was no surprise to me that it came out a weird color, because I had not added enough greens to make it really green.

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I was a little hesitant, but it was good. I might not use the word delicious, but it was tasty enough! I drank it for breakfast and went on with my day.

After lunch, I started feeling a little nauseated. It did not occur to me that it could be the smoothie, since I had it hours before. As the day went on, I felt worse and worse. I was supposed to meet up with a friend to go running, but the idea of bouncing up and down made my stomach very angry.

I came home and ate a small bowl of rice, hoping eating something would make me feel better. I still wasn’t making the connection to my smoothie.

Later in the evening, while I was debating going to yoga or not (yin, not flow of any kind in this condition), I had a flash of inspiration and looked up the side effects of green smoothies.

Sure enough, there it was “these smoothies might make you feel icky all day”. Well, ok, maybe that’s not exactly what it said, but pretty much. Apparently, my body was detoxifying and that can feel gross. Lovely.

This might be wishful thinking, but I’d like for things that are good for me to actually feel good. Like yoga or not eating sugar.

I know that if I keep it up, eventually, I won’t feel icky. The thing is, I can’t afford to feel like this at work. I need all my energy to do my job properly, so I think I’ll wait until summer before I try going green again.

I did make it to yoga and now I feel better!

Have you had green smoothies before? Did they make you feel awesome or terrible?

Lemon chicken salad

You know when you do something awesome, totally without even realizing it? Well, this isn’t exactly one of those stories, but sort of.

On Sunday, I was trying to make up for the rest of the weekend’s indulgences by throwing some chicken in the slow cooker before I left to spend the afternoon with my friend Suzanne. I was thinking I would come home and have some nice healthy chicken. Well, what really happened was that I ate at a pub and then at Dairy Queen, so when I got home, I wanted nothing to do with that chicken, even though it smelled delicious!

I needed something for my lunch the next day, so I cubed the now cooled chicken, cooked some quinoa and bulgar, and tossed it all together with the broth from the crock pot. Wow! A-ma-zing.

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I had tossed some garlic gloves in the slow cooker with the chicken, and they turned green. According to Google, this is because of the acid in the lemon juice.

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For a salad that happened by accident, it could not have been more delicious! I’ve had it cold and warmed up, and both were delicious. Enjoy!

Lemon chicken salad

In slow cooker:

– 2 chicken breasts

– juice and zest from 1 lemon

– a few garlic cloves

– 1 tablespoon dried oregano

– 1 tablespoon parsley

– 1/4 cup water

– salt and pepper to taste

Cook until chicken is done, then cool and cube. Toss with quinoa, bulgar and broth from the crockpot. I would have added nuts to this, but I was going to eat it at school, and some kids have allergies.

All I want is a cookie!

I’ve been eating sugar-free for a couple of weeks. It’s not as hard as I thought and also way more difficult than I imagined.

Let me explain.

When I’m at work, I bring a lunch and snacks, so I just eat what I have with me. When I pack my lunch, I’m super motivated, so it makes for a well balanced, no sugar-added day. Until the school day is done. Then, it’s a little harder. If I run errands, I have to use all my willpower not to buy a chocolate bar. If I go to the health food store to get some gluten free flour, I have to avoid the aisle with the power bars. Then there’s the kid who made me chocolates for Easter and the kid who brought cupcakes for his birthday. (So even at school, I’m not safe.) So much sugar, everywhere!

I’ve been craving something sweet this week. I knew I had to do something about it, or risk inhaling a kit kat bar. I looked up recipes for sugar free cookies, but most used artificial sweeteners. Then I found one for raw cookies and raw brownies using dates. I don’t like dates, but I figured I would give it a try.

I adapted to recipes because I didn’t have all of the ingredients.

First, get all your healthy sugar free ingredients together.

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Dates are not pretty.

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The brownies were pretty simple. Dates, cocoa powder, vanilla, ground almonds.

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The cookies, which I have named “raw apple pie” have a few more ingredients. One of them was raisins. I don’t like raisins, so I decided to use dried apples instead (I know I don’t like dates either, but they’re my cookies, and I can do whatever I want to.)

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Turns out, these cookies are amazing! And not just as a healthy, sugar free option. No, they’re good. I promise.

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I adapted this recipe. They’re vegan, gluten free and sugar free. Also delicious. They’re raw, meaning they’re not cooked, but I’m not sure if they would be raw-diet approved.

Enjoy!

Raw Brownies

1 1/2 cups ground almonds

3/4 cup dates

1/3 cup cocoa

1 tsp vanilla extract

Blend in food processor. Add a a teaspoon or two of water so the mixture sticks together. Roll into balls. Eat.

Raw apple pie

1 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup dates

1/2 cup dried apples

2 tbs cashew butter

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla

Blend oats in food processor until finely ground. Add the rest and blend. Add a teaspoon or two of water. Roll into balls. Try not to eat all at once.