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I am not a dog person. Lately, however, I have been appreciating the dog people of my life in a whole new way. In the past couple of weeks, I have enjoyed long walks and even better conversations with great friends as they take their four-legged family members out for adventure.  On more than a few occasions, the Fionas, GiGis and Higginses have begged for fresh air and a good meant-for-exercise run. I have been reminded that like children, when it comes to dogs, there is no “later” option.  I have also been reminded that unlike children, there is no choice to stay inside, regardless of the weather, when a potty emergency arises.

During a recent trip to the Berkshires, I stayed with two different dear friends. It was so great to sit and sip tea, sharing both memories of our past experiences as well as our current storylines. We moved from room to room, becoming more and more comfortable in the coziness of great couches as we reconnected. In the mornings, it was great to wake, enjoy healthy breakfasts and continue our conversations. The dogs interrupted, though, and needed to get out, leaving us no option but to pile on the fleece and comfie clothes. In both cases, we walked a bit before unleashing the dogs; they immediately bolted and played with an exuberant and almost frenzied sense of freedom. Although we didn’t sniff trees or chase squirrels with them, we did find a brisk pace that filled all of us, each day, with life. The autumn colors were vibrant and so were we. Women running with dogs.

Since those great escapes into the woods, around empty schoolyards and through quiet, small town neighborhoods, I have had occasion to accompany other dog owner friends and family members on their daily journeys around the block. For me, it has been a great, untapped source of exercise. My boys want a dog and may one day get a non-allergenic one. For now, our fish Rosie will do. I will, however, visit dog-loving-friends more often and focus not as much on the leaping , lapping adn subsequent sneezing and watery eyes as on the potential for a great trek, rain or shine.

I’ll have to remember this next weekend as we head to ME for a pre-Thanksgiving family gathering at my younger brother’s new home. Perhaps I will count on Emma, the resident Jack Russell, to keep my calories eaten/calories burned equation in check.

I got my hair cut on Saturday morning, and as I was leaving the salon, the receptionist wished me a Happy Thanksgiving.  I can’t believe we’ve reached the point in the year where it is acceptable to wish people a Happy Thanksgiving.  This realization inspired me to make the most out of the dwindling opportunities for outside fall fun.  I actually tried my hand (feet?) at jogging in the Arboretum on Saturday afternoon (actually, it was more like evening as I found out once I got to the side of the Arboretum furthest from my house and it quickly got dark.  Oops.).   Honestly, I probably did as much walking as jogging (lots of hills in the Arboretum and as I wrote about last week, I’m just getting back into running) – but it was a lovely autumnal jaunt.  The air was just brisk enough (it stayed on the side of invigorating without crossing the line to chilly) and the scenery was beautiful (although past their peak, the leaves were still putting on a show).  On Sunday, I ventured out my neighborhood and went for a hike in the Blue Hills.   Hiking is probably my favorite outdoor activity.  It is easily customizable (in a place like the Blue Hills with lots of interconnecting trails, you can go for as long as you’d like and you can opt to get your heart pumping with elevation gains or you stick to flatter trails) and it doesn’t really require much (although I’m a firm believer in a good pair of hiking boots and I use trekking poles).  And you get treated to moments like this:

Now, no one loves their gym more than I do.  And I know that I get the best workouts at my gym (especially with a trainer breathing down my neck) – but I also like having my weekend workouts be more focused on an actual activity.  In the summer and spring, this is pretty easy to pull off (hiking, biking, swimming, tennis, etc.).  But it gets hard as it gets colder.  And even harder still when the snow starts.  So I’m really glad I made an effort to take advantage of the fall weather this weekend.  Hopefully there will be a few more weekends like this to enjoy before winter takes over!

pumpkins

Fall is my favorite season! I love the red, orange, and yellow foliage in my neighborhood, wearing sweaters and jeans, and, of course, all of the great seasonal produce and flavors. Apples, squash, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes are some of my favorites – gorgeous in color, full of vitamins, and easy to prepare.

I keep a constant supply of apples in my kitchen, which I’ve been peeling and chopping to add to oatmeal every morning – a sweet and easy way to sneak in a whole serving of fruit. Apples are a great source of vitamin C, and pectin, a soluble fiber. Below is a recipe for oatmeal, as well as one of my other favorite fall recipes – super simple Tofu Pumpkin pie. Also, check out this great Butternut Squash Soup recipe from the Whole Foods website (a great resource). All of these recipes are easy, and full of the nutritional benefits that Autumn has to offer.

Easy Apple Oatmeal

Peel one apple (firmer types like Cortland or Macintosh work well), chop into small pieces

Add to a bowl with ½ cup Quick cooking plain oatmeal, 1 cup water, 1 tsp cinnamon

Microwave for 3 minutes

I’ve been adding chopped pecans, raisins and little bit of Agave nectar, a natural sweetener with low glycemic impact – yum!

Keep reading for a great Tofu Pumpkin Pie Recipe! Read the rest of this entry »

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