Salad Girl FALL
Fall harvest season is almost wrapped up. We’ve picked apples, fall raspberries, dug up our potatoes, and got our pumpkins for carving. Whew!
Fall is always a busy time of year for gardeners, but this year the ride into autumn feels extra bumpy– in all the ways. My elementary school kids are in the “hybrid version” of school this year. Whichever version of school your kids are in, they are likely home more, which means we’re feeding them more.
I have a secret to tell you -- I am HORRIBLE at menu planning! I end up letting the garden tell me what my next meal will be all growing season, and I typically love the variety and creativity it brings out of me. Right now, we all need some tricks up our sleeves, so I’ve gotten better at prepping what the garden (or farmers markets) gives us for healthy snacks. And what our bodies crave has changed from the dog days of summer to warming foods of fall.
A few simple things are saving my sanity (what’s left of it) while we finish harvesting, prep the garden for spring, integrate new hens into our backyard flock, and plan a Covid-safe WBL Winter Farmers Market…
- Get Outside
We all know it but taking even a ten-minute walk resets us and our kids! Setting aside a few times a day to make sure we PLAY outside is so important for my family. Making sure we have time to just enjoy the moment during these last fleeting days of Fall will fuel our hearts and minds through Winter.
- Have Whole Food Snacks Ready + Available
Some of these ideas are throwbacks (like ants on a log) and some are my own take, mixing them up to have a big variety of flavors and textures while being healthy keeps everyone happy. My main goal is to keep pumping my kids full of protein along with fruits and veggies.
- Apples and Celery – add peanut/sun/almond butter to dip in or slather on top. We also sprinkle apples with our ‘pumpkin pie spice blend’ (Cinnamon + the usual crew of spices) to mix it up. Having raisins and craisins available for the kids to sprinkle on makes it a little more fun too.
- Definitely enjoy the healthy convenience of Salad Girl Organic Creamy Dressings for dipping veggies you have on hand -- Carrots, Radish, Kohlrabi, Cauliflower, Green Beans, etc…
- For a protein packed dipper, try Hummus. The same veggies above go perfectly with this versatile and protein packed dip. Hummus is no longer confined to chickpeas either; white bean, roasted beet- so many fun options! I love local vegan chef, Robin Asbell’s MANY takes on Hummus found HERE. Also, adding a little Salad Girl “Lemony Herb” dressing to regular hummus adds a nice kick. I’ve also been known to mix it half and half to add a little extra bulk to my Buddha Bowls and other salads.
- Leftover sheet pan roasted veggies dipped in Salad Girl -- kids love these cold!
- Hard Boiled Eggs with hot sauce or mustard for dipping. Or, make up a tray of deviled eggs to hold kids hunger at bay. *I find using the Instapot for hard boiling eggs makes the shells come off easier*
- Popcorn – I’m so grateful popcorn is a whole food. I microwave plain popcorn kernels in a paper bag for 2 minutes then drizzle with melted butter or coconut oil, and add seasonings. Make ahead taco, curry, ranch, or even pumpkin pie spice popcorn. Or sprinkle with onion, garlic, or chili powder. Get creative. Let your kids try out flavor combos and come up with their own signature spice mix.
- When you carve those pumpkins, roast the seeds. These are great on their own and add a protein kick to salads. *My secret is boiling the seeds in salty water for ½ an hour before roasting. Any of the popcorn spice blends are great on the pumpkin seeds too.
Veggie Prep: Safety knives have been a fun way to get kids cutting on their own. When possible, I get each of the kids on a ‘prep task’ chopping or peeling. They end up feeling like a part of the process, especially if it happens to be a carrot they planted and picked too!
- Leftovers for Lunch
If you find me just before lunchtime, when the kids start their “I’m Hungry” chants, you’ll hear me singing the praises of leftovers. Also, my kids like packing ‘regular sandwiches’ for their school day lunches, so this is a good way to mix up the kind of food they get for lunch. I know some people have an aversion to leftovers (like my sister!) but knowing what foods work as leftovers helps.
For most meals, just doubling up the recipe is what works for us. Hearty soups and stews taste better the day after, once the flavors have truly melded together. Individual patties of turkey or bean burgers, meat sauces, mashed/baked potatoes all make great options for an encore the next day.
*Potato Power Play* – When baking potatoes, bake some extras. If they’re going with fish for dinner, you can have a potato bar for lunch the next day. Making potato soup is also a snap when you have the potatoes ready to go. I make a simple “Potato Hash” kind of like the midwestern version of stir fry… think peppers, onion, maybe some kale, tomatoes. Add in some ham or turkey with the potatoes, drizzle with Salad Girl Organic Dude Ranch.
I also love sheet pan meals. I can have all our protein and veggies roasting away on one pan. Which equals less time, less mess, and way more flavor! I have been known to throw in another pan of food to roast in the oven when I take our dinner out. The oven is already hot, and I end up with tomorrow’s lunch and/or dinner ready by the time we’re done eating.
*Salad Girl Curry & Fig Dressing is becoming one of our favorites to drizzle over pan roasted veggies.
While the struggle is real to balance everything right now, feeding our bodies healthy, whole foods is more important than ever. With any luck, and a little leeway from Mother Nature, we’ll still be able to get outside and eat from the garden for a few more weeks. Then, as winter moves in, we’ll shift to soups and even heartier meals made from the stored, frozen, and stocked up garden goodies.
I’d love to hear your whole food snack ideas and what is working to help keep the sanity in your home.