Celebrating National Johnny Appleseed Day

Johnny Appleseed StampSeptember 26 is National Johnny Appleseed Day. For those of you who may not be familiar with this oft-overlooked holiday, here’s the lowdown on who Johnny is and how to celebrate the day!

I know when I worked with 3rd graders, Johnny Appleseed was celebrated and taught with enthusiasm. He is an affable American hero that we can all be thankful for. Even if you don’t like apples or apple pies or apple fritters or applesauce or apple muffins or dried apples or bobbing for apples or making apple witches (seriously – does anyone not like something here?)… you can enjoy the story and legend behind his germination of apple orchards throughout the Midwest Ohio River region.

John Chapman, aka Johnny Appleseed, was born September 26, 1774 – hence the timing of Johnny Appleseed Day. Rumor has it Johnny’s orchard smock was made from a coffee sack with holes cut out for arms and he wore his cooking pot on his head while traveling. Can’t verify that is true, but it does make for some great graphics for posters and children’s books.

JA was able to acquire large tracts of land from western Pennsylvania along the Ohio River on which he transported 16 bushels of apple seeds and saw to their plantings. At that time, certain requirements were set before the colonies granted land rights. There was an act defining how the land was to be used.


 Why should we care about the lowly apple? Henry David Thoreau, a naturalist and noted author, took time to pen the following related to the timing of men’s and apple’s appearance on the earth.



So.. here at FBFGF, we offer the following apple related choices for your celebration of Johnny Appleseed Day:

  • The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin: A great book about the life of an orchardist. It’s fiction that rings true. The story revolves around William Taldrage’s care of his apple and apricot orchard and the peace and solace it provides him. It also provides insight into the thinking and hard work of a dedicated and professional nurseryman. For some time I have nurtured the fantasy of being an orchardist, but details like hard work and commitment didn’t enter in to muddy my fantasy!


The Orchardist

  • Apple Butter. Who could resist the opportunity to have this great smelling concoction simmering away while enjoying a lovely fall day full of your favorite pursuits?? Click on the picture for a great recipe courtesy of Cooking Light.


  • Baked Apples. My husband and I found these pottery dishes for baking individual apples. (This must have been in one of the in-between times when we didn’t have any chicks that had yet to return to the nest and individual dishes seemed like a great idea.) We just wash the apple, core it, place it in the dish and cover with cinnamon, brown sugar, whatever other spices look great and bake at 350° for about 20 minutes. This is one of our favorite desserts!


  • Apple Products. Mac Book, ipad, iphone – all great devices which can add new dimension to your busy lifestyle and streamline certain processes. They also teach great lessons in why we don’t always need to be connected to our great devices. We can use the apple logo to remind us to get out and enjoy the natural things in life from time to time. I’ll bet there’s an app for that!!!


  • Apple Cider/Wine. I feel wine of any sort really needs no explanation. If you feel like making your own apple wine, click on the picture for instructions. If you would rather just pick up a bottle, I am sure this seasonal wine is available at a great artisanal wine shop somewhere near you!



Take some time to celebrate the versatile apple and give thanks for all it’s history and delightful pleasures!!


Bonus Apple Facts:

  • Scientists believe that apples were first domesticated in the Tian Shan region of southern Kazakhstan. In fact, by as early as 2000 BC, domesticated apples were being grafted in the Near East.
  • The Greeks and Romans introduced the domesticated apple to North Africa and Europe during their trading and conquests.


10 Lo-Cal and No-Cal Ideas for Your Christmas Table

10 Lo-Cal and No-Cal Ideas for Your Christmas Table









Enjoy the little splurges that make the holiday special – those foods that you can only get this time of year, a seasonal drink or two, that dessert you’ve been dreaming about. But you don’t want to undo a year of effort in a two-week period or start the New Year with holiday regrets. Want to put the “ho ho ho” in Christmas without the next day “oh no, oh no, oh no”? Here are 10 Lo-Cal/No-Cal ideas to celebrate the joy of Christmas where “indulging” is more about time with loved ones and friends than calories consumed.

1. Cream Cheese Berry Coffee Cake.  Personally, I’m tempted to sneak this one for myself when everyone has gone to bed on Christmas Eve.  I can brew myself a fresh cup of coffee and relax knowing that the stockings were hung by the chimney with care and all has been done for the early morning celebrations. You can of course be virtuous, and save it for the morning when others are around to share in the deliciousness. This dessert is versatile enough that you could serve it with your other options. It does save on calories and fat but it is also rich enough to hold its own with your other desert selections. Click on the picture for the recipe and nutritional information.

Cream Cheese Berry Coffee Cake


2. Grinch Kabobs.  A fun choice for pre-dinner snacking as well a dessert companion for those wanting a lighter bite of something sweet. Click the picture for instructions for the pictured dish. I’ve also seen this combination with a simple face on the grape – two dots for eyes, diagonal slashes over them for angry eyebrows, and an upside-down half-circle for a frown. I think they may have been squeezed on with a thin line of squeeze-frosting.

10 Lo-Cal and No-Cal Ideas for Your Christmas Table

3. Lighted Burlap Garland. This homey decoration, used instead of a table runner, can light up your dining surface without losing much serving dish room or the fire hazard of knocked over candles. Click on picture for the how-to.

10 Lo-Cal and No-Cal Ideas for Your Christmas Table

4. For adult sipping. This indulgent recipe for eggnog is half the calories of the regular version. You’ll want to make this the day before so it’s plenty chilled. But remember, portions are a half-cup. Click picture for the recipe.

10 Lo-Cal and No-Cal Ideas for Your Christmas Table

5. The Christmas Tree Napkin. It’s not as complicated as it looks. Sometimes it’s easier to learn by seeing it done, so we’ve linked to the site that has both pictures of the folding sequence as well as the simplest video instructions we could find at Handimania.

10 Lo-Cal/No-Cal Ideas for Your Christmas Table

6. Green Beans with pizazz. For an alternative to the traditional creamy green bean casserole, how about beans with the crispy prosciutto and pine nuts? Tip: Almonds can be substituted for the more expensive and harder-to-find pine nuts without losing the crunch. Click the picture for this Eating Well recipe.

10 Lo-Cal and No-Cal Ideas for Your Christmas Table

7. Whole Grain Biscuits. Making a few savvy ingredients swaps moves this biscuit from the “avoid” category to an acceptable “enjoy in moderation.” Click the pic to check out the Food Network’s recipe.

10 Lo-Cal/No-Cal Ideas for Your Christmas Table


8. Dinner Conversation. There’s certainly more to celebrating than the food. To enhance the table chat in a way that will get everybody talking, check out these fun conversation-starters.

10 Lo-Cal and No-Cal Ideas for Your Christmas Table

9. For a sweet ending, there’s nothing mousy about this bite of cherry, chocolate and almond – well, except for the shape, maybe! Click the pic for the MidWest Living recipe.

10 Lo-Cal and No-Cal Ideas for Your Christmas Table

10. Poppers. Also called “Crackers” sometimes, these festive rolls have been a traditional holiday-meal ender at our house for years. The guests tug at both ends at the same time, a satisfying “Pop!” is heard, and surprises spill out. Usually a paper crown in addition to a silly joke (we take turns going around the table reading these) and a trinket or two. Poppers come in a variety of price ranges and the contents vary accordingly – from Cracker Jack-like toys on up to useful items like nail clippers – but each Cracker in a box has a different surprise. I am usually able to find some at the discount store Tuesday Morning, but there are also many on-line options. They are also available for Hanukkah celebrations.

10 Lo-Cal/No-Cal Ideas for Your Christmas Table10 Lo-Cal/No-Cal Ideas for Your Christmas Table







10 Lo-Cal and No-Cal Ideas for Thanksgiving

10 Lo-Cal and No-Cal Ideas for ThanksgivingThe list of what there is to be thankful for in our lives would probably take days to write – the people, the moments, the things, the freedoms, the blessings are probably just too numerous to count. And yet, there’s room for more. Here are 10 Lo-Cal and No-Cal Ideas for Thanksgiving that will help you add that you enjoyed the holiday season without gaining weight to your gratitude list!


1. Gobble up a couple of servings of these guilt-free tasty turkeys – great as a stroll-by appetizer before dinner or a later-in-the-day grazing snack.

10 Lo-Cal/No-Cal Ideas for Thanksgiving


2. Greet them with this Sparkling Cranberry Pear Punch from Women’s Health Magazine. 1-1/2 cups cranberry juice + 1 cup pear nectar + 1 liter sparkling water + 1 orange sliced = a festive drink! Substitute sparkling wine for the water for an adult-only version!

10 Lo-Cal/No-Cal Ideas for Thanksgiving


3. 100% Whole Wheat Stuffing Muffins with Sausage and Parmesan revamp a traditional side dish. [Click on picture for the recipe]

10 Lo-Cal and No-Cal Ideas for Thanksgiving


4. Kale Salad with carrots and apples. From complaining about kale ice cream to becoming completely enamored with this green that appears regularly on “super food” lists in a matter of months, this salad caught our attention. A plus to using kale as the main salad green is that the hearty greens can be dressed early with no need to worry about wilting. [Click picture for recipe]

10 Lo-Cal and No-Cal Ideas for Thanksgiving


5. Fun alternatives for place cards make sure everyone feels special and thought about when they gather to find their place at the table. Here are a couple of examples – one with character and the other a more classic or traditional option. You know your crowd, find an idea that inspires. For even more ideas check out the blog A Cultivated Nest.

LoCalNoCalNameCards for Thanksgiving


6. Wishbones for everyone – a party favor that can make dreams come true! No more tussling over the one and only wishmaker – and no need to wait until it dries out!

10 Lo-Cal and No-Cal Ideas for Thanksgiving


7. Interesting table talk.  Generate conversations that include all the generations, teach something about the holiday, or just get you talking with the 3 options at this link.

10 Lo-Cal and No-Cal Ideas for Thanksgiving


8. Turkey Trot: A little something to do while waiting for the bird to cook! To see if there’s one in your area, Google “Turkey Trot” and your zip and I’ll bet you find something close. Even if you don’t find one nearby or its too late to register, you can trot all by yourself or with family and friends. Put the turkey in the oven and head out for a trot (or jog or walk) to ensure that some of the damage done on Thanksgiving will be mitigated.

Thanksgiving LoCalNoCal Ideas

9. A centerpiece to remember. We love the re-purposing of an old globe; love the nod to exploration; and love the simplicity of this centerpiece.  Bet your local goodwill, library, school system, thrift store, etc. will have just what you’re looking for!  If not, you could probably find an old map and decoupage a bowl to create a similar look. Find more information about this centerpiece and other ideas at Midwest Living.



10. What’s Thanksgiving without dessert? Incomplete! But most holiday desserts have enough calories for a whole day – or at least more than you should have at one meal. Not this Country Pear Tart!  With reduced  fat and amped up fiber, the total calories for a slice come in under 200.  [Click on picture for recipe]



Send your guests home with leftovers in style! World Market has containers for soup, pies and meals-to-go!

10 Lo-Cal and No-Cal Ideas for Thanksgiving





Friday Five – Pumpkin Lite!

Friday Five - Pumpkin Lite!

Pumpkins are another one of my favorite orange things that indicate fall is here. Full of vitamins and flavor, here are five great ways to use that incredible veg in ways that celebrate what’s good about it. Pumpkin – it’s not just for pie anymore!

1. For breakfast, try these whole wheat Pumpkin Pecan Pancakes – mmmmm! [Click on pictures for the recipes.]

Pumpkin lite

2. Remember how good for you chia seeds are? How about Pumpkin Pie-Chia Pudding for a mid-morning snack?

Pumpkin-Lite  3. For lunch or dinner, this Red Lentil-Pumpkin Soup packs the crunch of pumpkinseed for a wonderful contrast to the texture of this rich, creamy soup!

Friday Five - Pumpkin Lite!

4. What’s soup without a chunk of bread? This Spicy Pumpkin Biscuit can be a light, flaky addition if you keep a light hand with the dough.

Friday Five - Pumpkin Lite!

5. At only 133 calories, these Skinny Pumpkin Butterscotch Bars are just the little sweet treat to finish off a meal or enjoy with an evening coffee or cuppa!

Friday Five - Pumpkin Lite

 How do you get a pumpkin to see the lite light?

Friday Five - Pumpkin Lite!