Posted in Product Recommendations, Pumpkin season!

"I’m So Glad I Live in a World Where There Are Octobers"

I know, I know. It’s been WAY too long. I couldn’t agree more. However, October is my favorite month of the year…and between the craziness of starting a new job/taking on a few (perhaps too many) side jobs, I decided that what time I had left in October should be devoted to soaking up every minute of my favorite month rather than writing about it. That’s not to say I didn’t miss writing because I did; perhaps if there were just a few extra hours in each day, I could manage both. Until then, I chose to dive wholeheartedly into living life…and now that daylight savings is upon us, I’ll do my best to document all those life-filled moments. Trust me, my brain and my camera memory card are packed with pictures, memories, and products just waiting to be shared. And so it begins…

Anyone who knows me well has heard (probably about a dozen times) my profession of love for all things autumnal. I love Fall. I love everything about it: the crisp morning air, the fiery orange and red leaves which dot the skyline, the sound of said leaves crunching underfoot, the first crisp bite of a freshly-picked apple…and of course, all things pumpkin! Yes, though Fall and I got off to a rocky start (I was plagued by severe fall allergies during high school field hockey season), we have grown accustomed to one another over time and have formed a most meaningful relationship. My body has chosen not to attack the various forms of autumnal allergens and in return, Fall provides an abundance of joy…not to mention Katie-safe foods 🙂

So where to begin?? Well, that’s easy:

1) Cider: It comes in a variety of forms these days: hard, soft, frozen, hot…but one thing remains the same: it is pure autumnal deliciousness in a cup. You can find it in almost any grocery store from now through Thanksgiving. However, I would recommend a farmers’ market or orchard if you’re lucky enough to have one nearby. The difference is just impeccable. AND there are just so many options: hard cider, “soft” cider (for lack of a better term), flavored cider, cold cider, hot cider…the possibilities are endless! Well, actually they’re finite…but still, there’s a lot of them. I was fortunate enough to travel up to Philadelphia a few weeks ago for the 2nd annual “Pour the Core” Cider Festival
.

It’s “Cider-Day”!!

Just imagine the scene: a field filled with tents that all offer Katie-safe beverages (well, almost all) AND vendors serving gluten-free food (AKA CHEESE!!!) for my casein-friendly comrades. The sun was shining, I sampled various new ciders…and best of all? I was able to share the day with the Philanthropic Physicist and another former classmate of ours, whom we’ll call the Passionate Pedagogue, whose body has also decided to add gluten to the enemy list since our time in ACE together. The three of us had a chance to catch up and share laughter between sips of various cider. Though I could probably go on for pages just about cider, I won’t. October was full of too many other delicious things. However, I will give  a brief rundown. If you’d like more, well then we’ll just have to get together over a glass of cider 🙂

ACE 15 Love 🙂
  • Plain Apple Cider: Fall deliciousness in a cup! Just make sure you read the label…so many are sweetened with corn syrup IF you buy it at a commercial grocery store. (Especially if it’s noticeably cheaper than other options on the shelf) 
  • Angry Orchard Cider: This is my favorite brand by far (well, for original cider that is) because it has the perfect amount of sweetness for me. Though I should point out that I love sweetness…hence, for some people Angry Orchard is just too much. The best news? Many places serve it on tap now! So you can try it out without the commitment of an entire case purchase.
  • Woodchuck Cider: This brand is a close runner-up to Angry Orchard. They have a wide variety of flavor options…and I will say their specialty flavors put them over the top in certain categories. I tried their pumpkin cider (that’s right PUMPKIN CIDER!!) at the Cider Festival and it was a transformative life moment. Of course, I struggled to find it on shelves for the rest of the season…so take it from me: next year, if you find a box, buy 2 🙂
  •  Spire Mountain: This was a cider brand I discovered at the festival. The original apple flavor was fine, but nothing that blew me away. Then I took a sip of the Holiday Spiced Apple flavor. My life will never be the same! It really was like Christmas captured in a cup. I’m already excited for December to arrive so I can hunt it down and enjoy some by the glistening lights of the Christmas tree.
  • NEW, UNIQUE FLAVORS!!: This happened. Chocolate Raspberry cider. This needs no further explanation.
You can even get cider in a slushie form!! Another reason to visit Baltimore 🙂

2) Perfect Running Weather: Each October, the Baltimore Running Festival descends upon the Inner Harbor. I’ve run 3 times now: once as a member of a relay team and now twice as a half-marathon runner. This year was the first time I’d be running since the dairy, soy, and corn restrictions were added to my list- but here are some great tidbits of knowledge I learned :

  • You can still carbo-load! (Sort of): I downed a whole platter of Pad Thai the night before my race. Rice noodles…that counts as a carb, right??
  • You can still power yourself on Larabars! Just be careful: not all varieties are dairy-free. And if you have nut allergies, well, use common sense. AKA don’t buy the pecan pie flavor 🙂
  • Gatorade is corn syrup-free!!! Mostly. I noticed on a bottle this summer at a camp with some students that corn syrup no longer appeared on the label. After some research, I learned that Gatorade decided to switch from corn syrup to a sucrose-dextrose mix effective in 2012 after some consumer testing/surveys. Now, I say mostly because a) you never know how long some of those Gatorade packets have been floating around. 2012 seems like a lifetime ago, but it really wasn’t and b) corn hides in all kinds of places so I’m sure there may be traces in some of the natural flavors, etc. So if you’re anaphylactic allergic to corn, I’d say do some more of your own research before diving in.
13.1 miles…I drank so much Gatorade 🙂

 3) All things pumpkin!!:Pumpkin is gluten-free and dairy-free! Plus, you can add it to almost any recipe. Pumpkin seeds can be roasted for a delicious you-safe snack. There are just so many options for this well-rounded gourd 🙂

  • Add it into pancake batter…and then sprinkle some chocolate chips in there for good measure!
  • Pumpkin muffins! (I wrote about them last year…please see here for a refresher!)
  • Warm some (almond or coconut) milk on the stove, add in a little pumpkin, some cinnamon and nutmeg, and add it to your coffee!! (for the official recipe, see here)
  • Make a good decision: if you have food allergies, avoid the array of “pumpkin”-flavored items filling the shelves these days (pumpkin spice M&Ms? Really??). They almost always contain artificial flavorings that could be dangerous to you…and more often than not, they don’t actually contain a single trace of pumpkin. Yes, false advertising…I don’t get how it’s OK either.
Pumpkin Pancakes!

4) The world turns even more beautiful for just a short time!: The trees could not be more beautiful…and the brief window of time before these leaves are swept away by a Fall gust are a stark reminder that life, and even beauty, are fleeting. I’ve recently decided that the adage “Time flies when you’re having fun” ought to be revised to just be “Time flies.” It doesn’t seem to matter how the time is spent, it just keeps flying by.

So, that being said: you have 6.5 weeks of Fall before the Winter Solstice arrives! Get out there and soak up every single second you have left. Enjoy apples, pumpkin, cinnamon, long walks through crunching leaves, whatever it is. Soak it in, savor it, and never forget the immortal words of Anne of Green Gables (via L.M. Montgomery): “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers”. Amen.

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