Author Archive | Jennie Lyon

How to Make Organic Dried Apple Slices this Fall

Many of you may have a family apple-picking adventure on your fall calendar. We try to visit our favorite apple orchard The Historic Orchard at Altapass in North Carolina. We have so much fun hiking through the orchard picking and eating apples as we go!

If you find that you have more apples then you know what to do with after your orchard trip, you can make simple, dried apple slices. These treats are perfect for the school lunchbox. Read on to learn how to make these simple treats in a couple of short steps.

What you will need:

– organic apples
– cinnamon

Directions:

Dehydrating: Line your food-dehydrator shelf with parchment paper. Cut your apples into super-thin slices and arrange the slices on the shelves of your food-dehydrator. Sprinkle with cinnamon and either dehydrate at 135° until crisp.

Baking:
Line a baking sheet with a reusable mat or parchment paper. Cut your apples into super-thin slices and arrange the slices on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with cinnamon and bake in the oven at 225° for about 1.5 hours.

Do you make apple slices during the autumn season?

How to Make Organic Instant Oatmeal for Cool Fall Mornings

I love oatmeal on cool, crisp fall mornings! Am I the only one? You can make your own organic instant oatmeal packed with flavor in a few simple steps taking your regular oatmeal from ho-hum to yum-yum. Read on to learn how you can make organic instant oatmeal and wake up to a better tomorrow.
 
Step 1: Bake It!
Preheat the oven to 350°, spread 4 cups of organic old-fashioned rolled oats on a baking sheet. Bake until lightly toasted, about 15 minutes. Let cool.
 
Step 2: Pulse It!
Pulse in a food processor until coarsely chopped.
 
Step 3: Mix It!
Mix in a cup of your favorite oatmeal add-ins such as; almonds, walnuts, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, brown sugar, and coconut.
 
Step 4: Store It!
Store in an air-tight container for up to 2 weeks.
 
Step 5: Boil It!
Stir boiling water into a cup of your organic instant oatmeal until you reach your desired consistency.
 
Step 6: Enjoy It!
Oatmeal is my favorite on a cool, crisp fall morning – top with honey too!

7 Simple, Fun Eco-Friendly Ways to Spend Fall with Your Family

Happy 1st Day of Fall! 

I love fall – it is my favorite season and my favorite time of year! What’s not to love? We are at our mountain home in North Carolina right now and it is fall perfection! The cooler weather, morning hikes, snuggles by the fire, chai tea, cozy sweaters, and pumpkin everything. Looking for some fall inspo?

Here are 7 simple, fun eco-friendly ways to inspire you!

1. Take a Listening Hike
One of my favorite fall activities is hiking! And one of my favorite ways to enjoy a hike is when we take what we like to call “a silent hike.” A silent hike is just that – we hike together as a family in complete silence. It’s amazing how the act of simply being quiet and listening can have a huge impact on your hiking experience. There have been many times that we come upon an animal grazing or fish swimming in a creek – it’s amazing. We also like to stop along the way to listen to the rustling of the trees, the chirping of the birds, or to watch leaves quietly wafting to the ground. It is a great time to reflect within too, while still being with the ones you love.

2. Take It Outside
Fall is the perfect time to take whatever you are doing – outside! The mister and I start every morning by taking the dogs on a hike right out our backdoor. It’s quiet and there are always a ton of deer and turkeys around every corner. I also LOVE to take my tea and blanket and head out to the back porch to snuggle by the fire table while listening to the bubbling of the creek. 

3. Slow It Down
Now that school is back in session, you have to admit that you are much busier than you were all summer. I know that if something isn’t on my schedule, it probably isn’t going to happen. This is why during the fall months, we really take extra consideration to slow things down at our home. We like to schedule extra time in the morning and afternoon, just to be. We usually spend this time snuggled up chatting about our upcoming adventures.

4. Get Centered
Along with slowing down, fall is a great time to get centered. Spend time each day doing whatever it is that makes you feel connected and centered. For the mister, this means yardwork – he loves to get outside in the North Carolina fresh air and work in the yard. For Eben, this means a hot cup of cocoa and a really good book on the back deck (it’s his happy place!) For me, I like to snuggle down with my iPad to pin my favorite eco-friendly things (usually on the back deck with Eben when he’s here with us!) or end the day with a soak in the hot tub! 

5. Plan Ahead
One thing that I have definitely learned along the way is that it is super important to enjoy the moment. To ensure that every moment of fall is enjoyable for my family, I like to plan ahead. I sit down with my journal and jot down things that I really want our family to do together during the fall. I include all of our traditional fall family activities, as well as new ideas that I can run by the guys (when Eben is home from college). The idea is that if I plan these activities ahead of time, we spend the time we have together doing fun things together without much thought – since everything was planned well in advance.

6. Find an Adventure
One of my favorite parts of fall is the cooler weather – which always equals more time outside. We always schedule a trip to our mountain home during the fall season. I HAVE to visit the pumpkin patches! We really enjoy the cooler days spent outside, followed by the crisp nights roasting marshmallows over the fire!

7. Get Cozy
Fall is a great time to reconnect with family and friends. Our best friends are visiting us next week while we’re still here in North Carolina. We have all kinds of fun things planned: bike rides, hikes (of course), visiting our surrounding small town, and peeping all of the leaves (they are already starting to turn colors!)

In what ways do you plan to spend fall with your family?

6 Healthy Back To School Lunchtime Snacks

 

Fall is right around the corner, and that means it’s back to school for children, teens, and young adults across the country. For parents, that means it’s time to handle getting lunches packed, balanced breakfasts on the table, and sleepyheads out of bed!

I always get a wonderful nostalgic feeling from the end of summer, back-to-school time. It always reinvigorates me and makes me excited to try new things and make changes in my life, even though my own schooldays are long past. I think part of this has definitely been from raising Eben! 

Watching him go through the process of starting a new grade each year has been so rewarding and inspiring (and now, he’s applying to Graduate School, can you believe it!) I always want to support him and his efforts at school, and part of that means making sure he’s well fed and properly fueled so his brain can do all that learning each day (at least until he leaves us!)

One of the things I like to try and do each year is come up with new types of healthy snacks. Kids always seem drawn to any kind of single-serving snacks and fun foods—just think about those awful packaged varieties that your kids have probably begged you to buy while shopping. Packing the same things all the time gets boring and doesn’t offer much variety in terms of vitamins and minerals, which only eating a broad diet can do.

If you’re stumped for new ideas when packing lunches, here are some of our favorites, which I’m sure your kids will love, too:

  • Fruit Skewers: Use whatever fruits you have on hand (melons, apples, clementines, grapes, etc.) and stick bite-sized chunks onto wooden skewers or reusable plastic or metal skewers if you want to be extra eco-conscious. These colorful snacks are fun to eat and easy to share with friends at school!

  • Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter & Pretzels: This fun, dippable snacks make eating healthy nut butter a breeze. Eben loves these so much he had already gone through the package of them before school started! Like a healthier version of Nutella, these snacks feel like an indulgence, but they’re made from high-quality, all-natural ingredients with a focus on sustainability. Definitely a winner!

  • Fruit and Vegetable Chips: Whether you choose to make these in the oven, dehydrator, or buy them from your local health food store (such a variety is available these days!), fruit or vegetable chips are a great way of making healthy eating fun and delicious for kids. The possibilities are endless: apples, sweet potatoes, kale, zucchini, eggplant, all with any combination of flavored salts, herbs, and spices.

  • Stonyfield Organics YoKids Squeezers: This squeezable yogurt is both healthy and tasty. Eben loves the Cherry and Berry flavor pack, and they never come home uneaten when I pack them in his lunch! As with all of the Stonyfield products, they are organic certified by the USDA and made with pasture-raised milk.

  • Nuts and Seeds: I buy organic nuts and seeds in bulk at Costco and pack them in Eben’s lunch every day. They are the perfect snack to grab right before a big test or for an after-lunch pick-me-up!

  • Homemade Granola Bars: Unlike their store-bought counterparts, when you make granola bars at home, you don’t need to add any processed sugars and can control exactly what goes into them. There are endless healthy granola bar recipes online, and I guarantee at least one of them can be made with whatever you have in your cupboards right now!

What about you? Do you have any favorite back-to-school snack ideas that your kids devour? Or any packing secrets or life-changing products you can’t do without? I’d love to hear about them—the more inspiration, the better!

9 Eco-Friendly Summer Outings for Kids

Now that summer break is in full swing – you may be looking for some fun activities that will get your kids out of the house. Green outings are a great way to get your kids involved in the environment and add a little more excitement to long summer days. Here are 9 of my favorite eco-friendly summer outings for kids.

1. Local Farms
A farm is a great outing to show your children how our food is grown and harvested. They can see which fruits and vegetables grow in your area and can also have a hands-on experience with a farm animal. Many local farms have classes that allow the kids to milk a cow, collect eggs from the hens, feed the goats and sheep, and ride a horse. You could also visit a fruit farm such as a strawberry patch and spend the day picking strawberries, find a nice place to sit, wash the berries and enjoy on the spot with a whipped topping that you packed.

2. Nature and Science Museums
Our local nature and science museum offers exhibits that allow the children to see, touch and even climb on parts of their environment. We recently experienced fabulous exhibits on natural disasters and your health. At these particular exhibits, you could see the effects that a natural disaster has on our environment and the other showed what your face may look like as you age. You can also check out an IMAX – it’s always a super fun time.

3. Butterfly Pavilion
Visit a butterfly pavilion and experience free-flying butterflies, birds, subtropical and tropical flowers, plants, and trees. We love the butterfly pavilion and could spend hours there looking at the butterflies up close and personal.

4. Zoo
Your local zoo may offer a junior zookeeper program where your child can learn about caring for the animals as well as learn about their natural environments and any threats that they face. This is an amazing experience for children who are especially interested in animals and show interest in growing up to work with them as a career.

5. Nature Preserves
Your local nature preserve may offer guided tours to learn about the animals that live there and many offer classes as well. You can also simply pack your binoculars and camera and then hit the trail for an afternoon of animal sightseeing.

6. Library
Your local library is stocked with information about the environment that your children will love. When Eben was younger he always enjoyed checking out issues of Ranger Rick and National Geographic Kids. His favorite part of our library, by far, is the window seats, it’s a great place to hang out and read – he could spend a lifetime there.

7. Botanical Gardens
Visit your local botanical gardens and learn about native plants, trees, and flowers. Our botanical gardens have a great exotic frog exhibit which Eben loves. Many offer classes and have ample space for an outdoor picnic. While you are there, look closely for bugs and birds – don’t forget your magnifying glass and camera.

8. Hike and Swim
No matter where you live there is somewhere outside where you can explore. Whether it is a park or hiking trail, let the kids look in nooks and crannies and climb on the rocks. If you live in an area where you can take a long nature hike, pack a lunch and enjoy it next to a watering hole where the kids can take a swim.

9. Your Own Backyard
If you want to stay close to home, take a walk around your neighborhood or local park. Prepare a nature scavenger hunt for the kids by writing down several items on a piece of paper, give each of your children a pencil and a bucket and collect the items found on the list, such as a leaf, rock, flower, feather, etc; This is tons of fun and gets them looking for items they may have usually overlooked.

What are your green outing plans for this summer?