Real Food Challenge – Week #9

For 14 weeks, the family and I are undertaking a Real Food Challenge (put forth by the awesome 100 Days of Real Food blog). I’m hoping to check in about any struggles and successes along the way each week. Our ultimate goal is to cut down on our dependence on processed foods and start using some cleaner fuels to energize our bodies. And stuff.

So, here’s how it works. I’ll get an email every Thursday for the next 14 weeks (the actual eating challenge will start on Sunday or Monday for 7 days, so there are a couple of days of grocery prep built in). Each email outlines the “rules” for that particular week. It’s up to each participant as to whether or not they’d like to try each week independently or build on top of the prior week. In other words, continuing doing the prior weeks while attempting the new weeks, if that makes sense. There’s also a very active Facebook group (I’ve actually joined an offshoot that’s super supportive and far more focused) that’s there to share, answer and support.


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Review of Week #8 – This past week was all about listening to internal cues to stop eating when we were full. I took this also to mean no mindless snacking (at least, not on crap ;-)). So, while it sounds simple and we did great with it, we needed a few reminders. I tend to eat a smaller lunch with some mid-morning yogurt and a healthy snack in the afternoon (depending on my schedule) from my pregnancy days, so it actually makes it easier to make it to the next meal. But, yeah, it was fine. Definitely not an issue.

We’ll see about this upcoming week, though…

Week #9 – This week will involve eating no refined or artificial sweeteners. In other words, foods and beverages can only be sweetened with a moderate amount of honey or maple syrup…which I’m not that great with. I normally use raw organic sugar in my tea or coffee (a little less than a teaspoon, which is an improvement but still significant). The consequences also mean no baking (unless using maple syrup or honey), none of my usual granola bars, etc. I’m not pleased. (And, spoiler alert, in a few weeks I won’t be allowed ANY added sugars. No syrup on pancakes, aaaarrrrgggghhhh!!! #firstworldproblems)

So, my solutions are as follows: Yes, I’m going to bake. We already have pancakes for H’s breakfasts for the week (and ours, if we like), but for that granola bar craving I tend to get, I’m trying out the 100 Days of Real Food Whole-Wheat Carrot Applesauce Muffins. Gotta say, I may need to make another dozen mid-week since Dave has already proclaimed his admiration for them. (He’s right; they’re really good.)

I JUST happened to buy a new organic ketchup which, of course, contains sugar. SO, since I’m jonesin’ for some meatloaf (in the guise of meat muffins…something about muffins), I plan on making some sugar-free ketchup. The recipe I found is a non-cook one, which is VERY different from what I’ve read in my great grandmother’s recipe notebook, so we’ll see how it comes out. Oh, and I happened to find a pasta sauce that doesn’t have sugar, although I could’ve made my own…but, yeah. I’m not my mother, and that’s okay.

I also discovered two breads that meet my personal guidelines for this challenge. Our usual “white” bread is actually a peasant bread from a local bakery. It’s not organic, but it has very few ingredients and is completely natural. I’m also super excited to see that the Barowsky’s Organic 100% Whole Wheat Bread I buy on occasion is a honey wheat — no other sugars. Score!

Here’s my “guide” for the week:

Real Food Challenge – Week #8

For 14 weeks, the family and I are undertaking a Real Food Challenge (put forth by the awesome 100 Days of Real Food blog). I’m hoping to check in about any struggles and successes along the way each week. Our ultimate goal is to cut down on our dependence on processed foods and start using some cleaner fuels to energize our bodies. And stuff.

So, here’s how it works. I’ll get an email every Thursday for the next 14 weeks (the actual eating challenge will start on Sunday or Monday for 7 days, so there are a couple of days of grocery prep built in). Each email outlines the “rules” for that particular week. It’s up to each participant as to whether or not they’d like to try each week independently or build on top of the prior week. In other words, continuing doing the prior weeks while attempting the new weeks, if that makes sense. There’s also a very active Facebook group (I’ve actually joined an offshoot that’s super supportive and far more focused) that’s there to share, answer and support.


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Review of Week #7: This past week, our challenge was to eat only 100% whole grain foods (breads, pastas, etc.). Let’s just say I’m terribly happy that this one was during my week off! Our normal grain intake has generally been either on the organic or “5 ingredients or less” realm, so after a week of terribly dry or gritty foods, I’m looking forward to getting back to our usual way of doing things.

That said, I did a LOT of baking and planning this week. The 100% whole grain bread I had purchased went bad almost immediately (plus, it sucked), so I finally tried a hand-me-down bread machine. While it was also quite dense, I would definitely try a mix of organic all-purpose flour with whole grain in the future. Could be fun to make more! I also had success with these cheesy biscuits — yes, they tasted “wheaty”, but the cheese and garlic powder made them too delicious to care. 😉 So, I’ll be taking some of this week along with me and try to have more homemade options available…but I won’t be doing it “100%.”

Week #8 Challenge: This week will entail listening to our internal cues in order to stop eating when we’re full. It’s definitely a great thing to be mindful when we eat, so I look forward to this one! It doesn’t take more planning than any other challenge and it’s a good lesson to teach the little guy. (He will eat an entire HUGE lunch and insist that he’s still hungry…when I’m positive he probably isn’t.) 

Here are some ideas I have for this week’s meals:

    

Real Food Challenge – Week #7

Today’s Tip: Prep Once, Eat Twice

This is a new series that I’m lamely calling “Today’s Tip.” I’m hoping to share little tips and tricks (or “life hacks” as the kids these days are saying) to make your life just a wee bit simpler. The topics will range from parenting to cleaning to green living to just general time savers…and anything else that pops into my brain. 

Happy Monday, guys! “Today’s Tip” has been a time-saver and an early morning stress-reducer at our house, so maybe it’ll do the same for you.



With our food challenges lately, I’ve definitely been spending more time in the kitchen. It’s actually a good thing, because I’m starting to plan far better and actually end up getting a lot more accomplished in the time that I’m in there cooking. Because of this, our lunches have had a higher quality and have been, in fact, easier to throw together. 

And did I mention healthier? They’re healthier. Just thought I’d put that out there.

If I happen to be making a salad, either to go alongside dinner or as the main event, I’m sure to grab one or two of our glass containers (a lot like these ones) to make perfect lunch-sized salads. It hardly takes an extra 30 seconds per salad, and all I need to do is pour some oil/vinegar/seasonings into our small mason jars (unless I’m REALLY on top of things and do that while I’m prepping dinner, too) and grab a couple other lunch sides to round out the meal.

The same goes with dinners, in general. Most of the time, I try to make more than what we’ll eat in one dinner. (There are times that it backfires and the meal is so awesome that we attack the rest of it before making up lunches, but it’s not the end of the world.) So, if I make stir-fry, I make extra and toss it into containers. The next day, I just have to grab an apple, a granola bar, and maybe a handful of veggie sticks (which I also cut all at once in the beginning of the week and store in the fridge when I remember to) and — TADA! Quick lunch. 

Super simple, right? Do you already do this? Do you have any extra tips for making lunch a fast, easy process? Share in the comments!

The above post may contain affiliate links. This just means that if you click on the link and purchase anything after that (even if it’s not in my store), you’ll be supporting this blog. Isn’t that awesome? There’s absolutely no obligation to buy anything.

Real Food Challenge – Week #4

For 14 weeks, the family and I are undertaking a Real Food Challenge (put forth by the awesome 100 Days of Real Food blog). I’m hoping to check in about any struggles and successes along the way each week. Our ultimate goal is to cut down on our dependence on processed foods and start using some cleaner fuels to energize our bodies. And stuff.

So, here’s how it works. I’ll get an email every Thursday for the next 14 weeks (the actual eating challenge will start on Sunday or Monday for 7 days, so there are a couple of days of grocery prep built in). Each email outlines the “rules” for that particular week. It’s up to each participant as to whether or not they’d like to try each week independently or build on top of the prior week. In other words, continuing doing the prior weeks while attempting the new weeks, if that makes sense. There’s also a very active Facebook group (I’ve actually joined an offshoot that’s super supportive and far more focused) that’s there to share, answer and support.
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Review of Week #3: So, this week was all about cutting back on meat consumption and eating only locally-raised meat. I loved the idea of the thing, but had to get a little creative to get our hands on some. Our favorite local market was during a different weekend, so we missed it. Instead, I sent my savior husband to a local store that happens to provide local, organic, grassfed meat. I was disappointed at the cost of pork and the fact that they had no chicken, so we grabbed two pounds of ground beef and went with it.

I’ve just gotta say that during this whole challenge, the way to succeed is MEAL PLANNING. I do it in a casual, less structured way — by creating a list of possible meals for the week rather than saying “Tuesday is taco day and it’s set in stone!” For example, we usually eat pizza on Fridays, but for some reason I was jonesin’ for it on Wednesday. So, I sauteed some onion and a handful of the beef (our first meal with meat for the week) to top the pizza with, served it with salads and TADA! Simple. Plus, keeping the list written on our fridge’s dry erase board lets me get home from school and start cooking right away rather than racking my brain for ideas.

So far, so good. We still have the weekend to go, but we’re doing fine. I had to run to the store for some supplies last night, which delayed my cooking (but I didn’t have the stuff on hand to make a slow cooker soup…double-edged sword), but it’s a first-world problem.

Week #4 Challenge: This week is going to be E-A-S-Y. The challenge is twofold: No fast food (sit-down restaurants are okay, which is AWESOME because we’ve got a date night planned) and nothing deep-fried. We don’t use things like hard taco shells (deep-fried) and if we eat fries, they are healthily baked. I’m also thinking that I’d like to try baking some chicken fingers just to see how it goes; I did it once before, but I didn’t like the mess of the method.

Soooooo, purdy easy. We have the option to either stack the challenges (so that by the end we’re doing all 14 things habitually) or try each week separately to see how it works for our families. Right now, I’m trying to maintain the 6-fruits/veggies a day challenge, having little to no sugar in my coffee/tea, and now think that I’ll try to keep more local meats in the freezer and attempt more vegetarian meals each week. It’s actually easier than I thought, although I’d like to put more thought into the balance of nutrients we’re getting. So, I’d say that we’ve got a “modified stacked” approach going on, and I like it.

Here’s my meal “plan” for week #4:

Real Food Challenge – Week Two

For 14 weeks, the family and I are undertaking a Real Food Challenge (put forth by the awesome 100 Days of Real Food blog). I’m hoping to check in about any struggles and successes along the way each week. Our ultimate goal is to cut down on our dependence on processed foods and start using some cleaner fuels to energize our bodies.

So, here’s how it works. I’ll get an email every Thursday for the next 14 weeks (the actual eating challenge will start on Sunday or Monday for 7 days, so there are a couple of days of prep built in). Each email outlines the “rules” for that particular week. It’s up to each participant as to whether or not they’d like to try each week independently or build on top of the prior week. In other words, continuing doing the prior weeks while attempting the new weeks, if that makes sense. There’s also a very active Facebook group (I’ve actually joined an offshoot that’s super supportive and far more focused) that’s there to share, answer and support.

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Review of Week #1: We officially started on Monday (through this Sunday, although we’re going to attempt to keep up the increase in fruit ‘n veg), which also happened to be the first day for all of us to return to work. Thanks to some prepping over the weekend, some mornings and evenings (like making some ranch dressing for dipping and chopping veggies for snacking and tossing into meals) it was simpler than it would have been otherwise.

I loved having my meal plan, which you can see in my Week One post, jotted down on our white board, although I ended up switching out a couple of alternatives, like chicken fajitas (filled with veggies and with a sweet potato on the side) instead of a quesadilla…which isn’t really a huge change. But, yeah, I love having the structure and a quick choice for meal planning rather than that daily “what are we going to eat today?” feeling, as well as the slight flexibility of being able to switch out an equally healthy alternative. Ahhh. Yup, I’d say that’s the trick here.

The challenges this week? Well, all that prepping did take up more time, and we were generally exhausted trying to get back into a routine (and still are), but we’re handling it all just fine. Also, although Hadley’s not usually a very picky eater, he didn’t eat a few of our meals. That mixed with some teething (molar!!!) meant that I got pretty creative and had to have a conversation with myself about whether or not he HAD to have the same dinner as us every night. My answer? No. And it’s not a big deal. (I usually subscribe to the “I’m not a short order cook!” concept.)

Gonna keep working on this as we move forward, particularly finding meals that he WILL eat (along with us) that can become staples. Fingers crossed!

This week is all about beverages. Namely, limiting them to coffee, tea, water and milk (and sweetened only with a bit of honey or 100% real maple syrup). I’d like to say this is an easy one – it is, really – but Hadley’s a juice drinker. Plus, I can’t completely control what he’s given, aside from the meals I send, throughout work days. Also, I’m a sugar-user in my coffee and tea, so I’ll either be going without (not a huge deal) or trying a new method this week. {I tend to hate honey, not sure why. We’ll see how it goes.}

Oh, and since one serving of juice is allowed during the week, I’m not sweating Hadley’s intake. He’s only supposed to consume one sippy cup of it daily (and that’s watered halfway), so I’m not sweating it. I’d like to get him on to mostly water one day, anyway, and he also drinks milk, but at his age, I’m not concerned.
Otherwise, since this week is so simple, I’m going to try to build it on top of the “eat more veggies” thing. If I look at the day as “eat at least six fruits and vegetables, total” it’s not that bad. I’ve always brought an apple for lunch, so if I bring along carrots to munch or celery and hummus for an additional snack or add-on to lunch, I’ll be good. It definitely helps me to think about cleaner breakfasts than just, like, toast. 😉

Here’s my food plan for the upcoming week:

{WW = Whole Wheat}
Can’t wait to make our veggie pizza tonight! Is anyone else making some healthier choices lately? 🙂 Let me know in the comments!

Real Food Challenge – Week One

Since one of my intentions for 2015 is for our family to eat cleaner, less processed foods, it was damn near providence that I saw 100 Days of Real Food‘s 14-week challenge, just in time for the new year. Talk about luck! After running by the weekly challenges with Dave (and having him totally and excitedly on board), I signed up.


So, here’s how it works. I’ll get an email every Thursday for the next 14 weeks (the actual eating challenge will start on Sunday or Monday for 7 days, so there are a couple of days of prep built in). Each email outlines the “rules” for that particular week. It’s up to the participant as to whether or not they’d like to try each week independently or build on top of the prior week. In other words, continue doing the prior weeks while attempting the new weeks, if that makes sense. There’s also a very active Facebook group that’s sharing and answering and supporting. 

I’m trying to be flexible in this while still adhering to the rules, so I can’t say whether I’ll be doing the “build-on” method or the “one week at a time” method. I will, however, be following the rules as best I can. To help with figuring out what groceries we need to get weekly, I’m trying to make a loose menu for each week. Here’s this week’s (which is to eat at least two fruits/vegetables with each meal): 


Some explanation: Whole wheat wraps would also include a natural lunch meat like turkey or ham along with the ingredients listed (and probably something more); the sandwich would have a side of things like carrots/cauliflower/peppers to dip into hummus or a healthy ranch; all other items listed are homemade (not canned soup or bought pizza). 

We may end up substituting other dinners if we don’t feel like, say, veggie quesadillas or I don’t feel up to making something, but it’ll still be within the rules. Let’s just say we’re all salad people (Hadley’s even into them, with a little ranch) and all of the dinners would include an additional veg on the side. Oh, and you’ll also see that there aren’t always seven items for the week per mealtime; this is mainly because we’ll sometimes repeat a meal (like have oatmeal twice in a work week).

I’ll also have to make some substitutions for our two-year-old. He usually eats pancakes every morning during the work week, so I may continue this but ensuring that it’s a real fruit-based one with a banana or orange slices on the side (although he’ll probably devour a smoothie or omelet on the weekend when we’ve got the time). He’s also not quite at the “chewing a carrot” stage (he takes HUGE bites, so…no) so he’ll get cooked, frozen (organic) veggies along with a sandwich or a ham-and-cheese wrap with extra fruit and veggies.

Check out the above link to see if you’d like to see what the other weeks entail or if you are interested in signing up (better late than never!) There are a zillion ways to make this work for you and your family, so don’t take my loose menu as “the” way. And I hope to let you know how the first week goes next week (Thursday or Friday), along with my menu for the following week.

Happy eating!  

Our Kid is Healthier Than We Are

Much like my post of yore about our earth-friendly cats (just one kitty at the time of writing), it’s time to fess up about our toddler boy: he eats better than we do.


Well, for the most part. I mean, he’d still live on pickles, PBJ, mac ‘n cheese, pizza and pancakes if we’d let him, but as far as a diverse and well-rounded diet? I think he’s got us beat.

And, yes, I get the irony of the thing. I’m the one making these healthy choices for him, after all. I mean, we often ask him his opinion between two healthy options (or ask him which “meal” he wants and stick in fruits/veg as a side), but we’re also pretty lucky that he’s not a super picky little guy.

When I sit down to eat a lunch with him, I occasionally find myself thinking, “Hmm. How is his healthier than mine? Maybe I should skip the chips for an apple…” And, while Dave is a salad fiend, he’s probably the pickiest eater in the house (sorry, hon! At least you eat tomatoes!), so I find myself having a difficult time finding new recipes to try that we’ll ALL enjoy.

So, while we’re not working towards a weight-loss resolution this January 1st, one of my hopes is to get healthier as a family. As I mentioned in my “intentional New Year” post, we’re researching our CSA options (but that won’t take effect until late spring) and work towards purchasing more fresh fruits/veg and breaking our processed food habit. We’ve fallen off the farmers’ market bandwagon (we only went a few times this year), so hope to start hitting up the couple of winter market options. Soon.

The funny thing is that, while a lot of people use this time of year to focus on weight-loss and health, I find that my body starts to actually crave lighter foods. After the glut of sugar (and, believe me, I’m downright addicted to sugar), fat and generally heavy meals during the holidays, there’s nothing I want more than a nice salad or roasted vegetables. I’m hoping, also, to find a few nice vegetarian main meal recipes to throw in the mix.

Anyhoo, here’s some of Had’s advice (paraphrased) for you —

* If you love something, it’s delicious, even if it’s good for you. (Find what those delicious healthy things are and enjoy. He eats fruit and yogurt or pure applesauce as voraciously as he does a slice of pizza.)

* Try everything, at least once. (He will get three or four mouthfuls of something before he realizes that maybe, just maybe it sucks. By then, I can convince him to finish. ;-))

* Share! (I’ll often split an apple with him since he doesn’t generally eat an entire one on his own. I have to remember this when I choose to eat a pickle with a sandwich; he WILL see it and he WILL want one, too.)

* Mix-and-match. (Don’t just try to eat boring, good-for-you stuff. A sandwich or wrap is okay if it’s made with minimally-processed bread and healthy toppings, especially extra veggies. Hadman will even eat a complete salad if we drizzle a tiny bit of natural, organic ranch dressing on. Don’t beat yourself up over the “bad” on your plate; pat yourself on the back for upping your intake of the “good.”)

* Don’t drink soda. (I’m sure he would if he could…but I won’t allow it. Ain’t nobody got time for that crap. As it is, I’m trying to ween him down from the watered-down juice. Gah.)

* Treats are treats. (You’re not entitled to them — and, crap, neither am I. Hadley’s “treat” is all-fruit, all-natural fruit “gummies.” He gets them maaaaaybe once a week. Lately, he’s also been getting my gingerbread cookies a little bit, but he still knows they’re treats and that it’s a BIG deal to get them.)

   
I think it’ll be easier, in all, to remember our monkey’s relatively stellar diet the next time I start to choose a bagel over fruit and yogurt.

Another Use for Pizza Dough

Happy Halloween, guys! On crazy nights like tonight, I tend to throw together something super quick. Sometimes pasta, sometimes soul and a sandwich, but most of the time pizza. I love pizza. It’s seriously, like, my favorite. If Dave could have one food for the rest of his life, it’d be salad. (I’m not kidding.) Me? Pretty sure it’d be pizza.

Last week, I had these two whole wheat pizza doughs getting closer and closer to their “probably should just throw those out” dates in the freezer. And it got my gears going. What to do with them…other than pizza?

So, today’s recipe is relatively simple. Honestly, it’s as easy as you want to make it, or as complicated as you want. You can cook intricate stuff up to add as fillers, or you can just toss in some sauce and cheese and call it a day. You can take my tip to make your own garlic butter or just drizzle some EVOO on top. No big.

Oh, and I used one pizza dough for each recipe — got four “calzones” (I’m not Italian, but Dave kept calling them calzones, so I’m going with that as a name) of the “pizza” kind and four “calzones” of the broccoli kind. They’re more filling than you may think, so I ended up freezing a few for future lunches. Oh, and feel free to cut the pizza into 6 or even 8 pieces; just cook for less time (until browned on top). If you want huge ones, to two, but they’ll probably cook closer to 20-25 minutes.

I’ve gotta say that the broccoli/ham/cheese one was insanely tasty. The pizza one was good, too, of course…but, yeah. Broccoli FTW! Who knew?

{If you need to see the recipe better, click on it. It’ll open up much larger.}

Have fun out there and be safe tonight! 🙂 My favorite part is after the ghosts and goblins have headed home for the night. We’ll most likely be popping some popcorn, pouring some cider, and watching some Charlie Brown. Loving that it’s on Friday this year!

Why NYS is the Best Place for Fall Living

Happy Columbus Day! If you’re looking for something to do today, this post is for you! I’ve mentioned some of the stuff I can’t WAIT to do this fall with the fam. Some of them were great “general” ideas that anyone can do anywhere. Others are totally area specific. So, I thought I’d share some of my favorite Upstate/Central New York autumn must-do’s.

Side note: Upstate? It ain’t Westchester. Just sayin’. Just try ‘n fight me on this one.

I’m a fan of lots of places. We’ve got BFFs in Western Mass, and love visiting the place; there’s SO much to do! We hit up Vermont practically every fall. I’ve enjoyed visiting Maine and Pennsylvania and tons of other New Englandy-type places over the years. I even sway city-lover, thanks to Boston, NYC & Philly (hard to pick a favorite…).

So, what’s so great about NYS/CNY?

Strangely, there are points that Dave and I are sick of the place. Our opinions have bounced around about where to live, and we’ve considered relocating, but the ultimate fact still remains: Family is #1 to both of us, followed closely by those rare lifelong friends (the ones we can easily visit or who have decided to move back “home”). So, this is where our hearts remain.

So, we know the bad (depressing) facts of “here.” But, because of our lifelong experiences, we also can recognize the awesomeness. In the fall, the place is freaking BRIMMING with it.

Leaf peeping at its finest. You can say yours is the best, but seriously…ours is. 😉 If it’s early in the season, pack the car and head up north to the Adirondacks (stop for a bite to eat in Old Forge, or one of the “rustic” diners hidden in the deep woods). If it’s mid-season, hit anywhere south of the Adirondacks. Seriously, throw a dart and go there. Just check out this map first.   

The food be kicking. (<– Clear evidence that I am far from an urbanite. Or cool.) Okay, the food can be pretty great here all year 'round, but when the comfort food season hits (yes, it's a season unto itself), this is the place to be. Two words: Chicken riggies. Two more words: Utica greens. A couple more: half moons. Plus, the seasonal produce is insane and this is our favorite season to hit up our locavore restaurants. The chefs are amazing to begin with, but the flavors of the season just sing under their expertise.

You can pick all ya want. *giggles* Pick. Like nose. Ha! But, no, really, I’m talking about apples and pumpkins (and sometimes autumn berries, if you’re lucky). Apples are king here in NYS, so whether you just want to grab some at a farmers’ market or pick your own, this is the site to find out where. And it just isn’t fall without a pumpkin (or 12), so check this site and click on the region you’re interested in, or just check out my neck of the woods at this site. And, yes, those websites suck, visually. I agree. 😉 

We’re a boozy state. Okay. Iffin’ you’re into such fun, upstate is rife with breweries, cider mills (ahem, the HARD stuff), and wineries. You can spend a day touring a path of wineries, or just hit up one brewery to test their wares. Dave and I enjoy NYS wines, even though he enjoys drier stuff and I’m perfect for the sweet-leaning NYS grapes. And while I should admit for all the world to hear that the Utica Brewery is the best in the world (it’s good…it really is), I actually prefer Brewery Ommegang. Apparently I’m into the Belgian stuff. Who knew? Seriously, there isn’t a flavor I DON’T LOVE. And if you’re going to visit their just-outside-Cooperstown spot, you MUST hit up their munchies. Far more sophisticated than traditional pub fare; I highly suggest the fries. (No, really. Fries. With a combination of dipping friends. A party in your mouth!)

Speaking of cider… If you’re into the kid-friendly stuff, our cider mills are sure to make you happy. We’ve got simple cideries that provide just some basic cider, and maybe donuts on the weekends. We’ve also got huge mills that show you how the stuff’s made and sell gifts, specialty foods, pies, fudge, anything in a jar (you think I’m kidding), and, sure, cider. (I’m talkin’ about you, Fly Creek Cider Mill!) Check out this search (yes, I’m sending you to a Google search since they’re not all in listed on the same website) to find your new favorite! Seriously, I didn’t even know Clinton had a cider mill until a short while ago.

Hayrides and corn mazes and farmers’ markets, oh my! In case you haven’t already noticed, there’s a $%&#load to do throughout upstate. While locals often complain about the sheer lack of anything to do, much like a lazy, bored teenager, it’s actually pretty untrue. I guess it depends on what you’re interested in. Like, Dave and I aren’t huge winter people. We have a few activities that we do, but for the most part it’s “hunkering down with some homemade cocoa and an old movie” season. Others come alive in the winter, with snowmobiling or snowshoeing or skiing galore.

Autumn, however, is THE time to enjoy whatever you like. Search for a farmers’ market to visit and make some roasted root veggies. Like to get freaked out? Take your pick. Want a hayride or corn maze for the kiddos? See if any of these will fit your needs. Honestly, if you just search for activities in whatever area you’ll be visiting, you’ll find something.



Here are our own favorites, in no particular order:

Fly Creek Cider Mill — two words: duck pond. Two more words: Free samples.
Oneida County Public Market — we do this year ’round, actually
Cooperstown Farmers’ Market — one of the few “indoors” markets (and if you’re heading to Cooperstown, enjoy the leaf peeping along the way and wander the town. If you haven’t been, plan to stay a day and visit the Baseball Hall of Fame, and if you’re not into baseball, head over to the Farmers Museum and/or the Fenimore Cooper Museum nearby. 
– ANY Finger Lake wineries (pick lake, grab a map and just go!)
North Star Orchards for some apple pickin’
Beardslee Castle or The Tailor and the Cook for some impeccable locavore grub
Cullen Pumpkin Farm — We may get our pumpkins here this year… Corn maze and wagon rides, too!

What are your favorite fall activities? Got any places that you’d like to share in the comments? Feel free to link!