Family Thanksgiving deep down goodness

I realize that I'm a bit behind with my Thanksgiving recap here, but my week was about so much more than food and I want to share the highlights from all the deep down good stuff!

My husband and kids were off of work and school all last week. Since we were hosting Thanksgiving at our house with family due to arrive on Wednesday, we decided to spend the first part of the week having a little family adventure. It is always good to get out and experience new places and things and it is even better to reconnect with old friends, which we also did on our trip.

We only live about 90 miles from San Francisco but rarely partake in tourist activities when we are there. It almost feels like we are being tourists in our own city when we visit because we've spent so much time there, together and separately, over the years. It was great to see the city from some new perspectives last week!

Heading into San Francisco (over the Bay Bridge) on a rainy Sunday:

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Despite the city chaos and all that being urban entails (and even though I am more of a wide open spaces kind of person), I find the city of San Francisco to be breathtakingly beautiful and endlessly enchanting. Watching the fog swirl around the Golden Gate Bridge while driving towards the city nestled just across the Bay almost makes me cry because it is so pretty. Every. Single. Time. Love.

Steve and Jackson in Marina Green Park (see the Golden Gate in the background?):

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...and again:

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Rainbow, sailboat, and Alcatraz Island:

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Pier 39:

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On Monday morning we took a ferry to Alcatraz Island and spent a couple of hours touring the buildings and learning about the history of the prison and the island itself. I love historical places and their stories!

Ferry ride:

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The view of the city from Alcatraz Island is stunning:

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We spent three days and two nights in the Bay Area, mostly on foot. Then, with a short stop to tour a Jelly Belly Factory on our way, we headed home to start our Thanksgiving-ing.

The absolute best part of Thanksgiving this year was unhurried time with family. We spontaneously jumped in the leaves in our yard and stopped to smell the roses:

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Logan said that this rose smelled "like pink":

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Oh and we snuggled, played, and wore our slippers too:

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Our Thanksgiving meal (or "feast" as the kids call it) was big! Since my non-veg family was visiting, we had things to meet every taste. Our vegetarian spread included a Field Roast (hazelnut cranberry en croute), mashed potatoes, yam (actually sweet potato) casserole, mushroom gravy, stuffing, gingered cranberry sauce with orange, rosemary bread, green beans with pine nuts and shiitake mushrooms, and chocolate pecan pie. Yum and yum and yum!

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If you celebrated American Thanksgiving this year, I hope that your feast and adventures were lovely too!

Spiced maple muffins

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I made these muffins last month for a bake sale at my son's school. They are quintessential fall treats- spiced, mapley, apple or pear-filled awesomeness...and they will make your house smell amazing when they are baking! Can you tell that is a big thing for me? Smelling things? Yes, I'm crazy...but, if you like to cook, I bet you are quirky too. xoxo

Spiced Maple Muffins

1 cup of applesauce, or pear or pumpkin puree
3/4 cup non-dairy milk
1 Flax "egg" (2 tbsp water + 1 tbsp of ground flaxseeds)
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons oil (canola, coconut, etc.- your choice)
2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
1/2 teaspoon maple extract
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans (or a combo)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine applesauce (or other puree), milk, flax "egg", brown sugar, oil, molasses, and maple extract in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flours, baking powder, salt, pumpkin pie spice, and nuts. Add wet ingredients and stir until just combined (don't over-mix). Bake in an oiled muffin pan for about 30 minutes or until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Simple crockpot enchiladas

I'm on a big crockpot kick lately. I am loving the convenience of it and the way that it fills my kitchen with yummy dinner smells! The other day I actually had the bread machine and the crockpot going at the same time- I think I might win some sort of domestic award for that, right?

When I was searching online for dinner ideas last week, I found a couple of people had posted crockpot enchiladas on Pinterest (which I'm addicted to, by the way!). One of the recipes used salsa as the sauce and, though I was skeptical about that idea, I decided that I'd give it a try. Enchilada sauce is nice, but I have been wanting to make something with the green tomatillo salsa made by my favorite salsa guy at the farmers' market (The Crazy Gringo) so green enchiladas it was!

I used a combo of sweeter ingredients in the filling that paired perfectly with the sweet but savory tomatillo salsa. My husband and I loved this combo!

Simple Crockpot Enchiladas
Serves about 4
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 small or one large sweet potato(es), peeled and cut into 1/4 inch cubes
  • 1 cup finely chopped white or yellow onion
  • 4 shiitake mushrooms, chopped
  • 4 chili peppers (serrano, jalapeno, etc.), adjust number and type of peppers to desired level of spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano (or plain oregano)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder of choice (I used red New Mexico)
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • ~1 cup grated cheese of choice (jack, non-dairy, or a vegan "cheese" sauce like this one)
  • 5-7 whole wheat tortillas
  • 1 1/2 - 2 cups salsa (preferably tomatillo)
  1. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add sweet potatoes, onions, mushrooms, and chili peppers. Saute until onions and potatoes are beginning to brown then add coriander, oregano, chili powder, sea salt, and beans.
  2. Put enough salsa to cover the bottom into the crockpot. For enchiladas, place a generous scoop of the sweet potato mixture onto a tortilla and top with a little cheese. Roll up like a burrito and place, fold down, into the crockpot. Repeat until the bottom of the crockpot is full. Spoon salsa on top of the enchiladas (reserving some if you will be doing another layer) and sprinkle lightly with cheese. If another layer is necessary to use up the filling, it is ok to stack them! When you have finished, cover the top of the enchiladas with the remaining salsa and sprinkle with cheese. Cook on high for about 2 - 2 1/2 hours. Checking to make sure that the bottom doesn't burn after about 2 hours.
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Easy crockpot applesauce

The colors of fall are appearing all over the place where I live. I absolutely love running at sunrise this time of year! The light is golden and it shines through the leaves of red, gold, orange, and brown that line the streets of my neighborhood.

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Simple beauty first thing in the morning is a great way to start the day!

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I love the green heart in the middle of this leaf!

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To help us get into the fall spirit, the kids and I took a trip to Apple Hill a couple of weeks ago.

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We had some treats (apple turnover and apple strudel):

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Visited some farm animals...

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...including a "plaid" chicken (in the words of my five year old)...

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...walked a hay maze...

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...and came home with a box of apples, pears, squash, cider, and mulling spices:

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I bought three kinds of apples: Gala (for eating), Fuji (for applesauce), and Granny Smith (for pie or crisp).

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I used the Fuji apples for this applesauce and they were perfect. I don't usually eat a lot of applesauce but my kids do (one of their favorite breakfasts is oatmeal with applesauce and raisins). This sauce is so good, though, that I added some to my morning oats too.

It tastes just like apple pie- yum!

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Easy Crockpot Applesauce
Makes about 32oz.

About 10 sweet apples (Gala or Fuji work well), cored chopped (you don't need to peel them)
~1/4 to 1/2 cup water
1/2 cup unsweetened apple juice (or more water)
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Place all ingredients in your crockpot and stir to coat apples with cinnamon. Cook on high for several hours (4-ish) until apples are very soft. 
  2. Turn off the crockpot and let apples cool until they are no longer steaming hot. Pour into a blender and blend until smooth. If you prefer a chunkier sauce, mash the apples with a fork or potato masher instead of blending.
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Get Natured birthday and new recipe index!

As of November 2nd, Get Natured is officially two years old!

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Yay!

Since my first post in 2009, Get Natured has grown so much! To keep all of this content organized and to help you, dear readers, find recipes more easily, I have just added a new recipe index page.

Now there are three ways to find recipes and other content on Get Natured:

1. By using the category tags on the right side of the page:
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2. By using the search box on the right: Screen shot 2011-11-07 at 4.31.19 PM.png

3. By using the new recipe index page!

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I hope that this will help you to locate your favorite recipes and find some new ones to try!

My favorite running gear

All you really need to start running is a pair of good shoes, of course. But, as I've gained more experience, I've found a few things that make running just a little bit better for me. These are all things that I regularly use and I thought I'd share them here*.

Garmin 305

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For a long time I used an app on my phone to track my distance, pace, etc. This Garmin works so much better for me! It is really affordable (especially on Amazon) and very easy to use. It takes the guesswork out of knowing how far to run before I turn around on long training runs. Also, knowing my speed helps me to pace myself on long runs and tells me how my body is handling the training. I tend to run slower than usual when my body needs a few days off.

Lululemon Wunder Under tights
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I had tried on countless pairs of running tights and had never found a pair that I would be willing to leave the house wearing...until I found these! They are comfortable and warm and not too revealing as some tights can. Love them!

SpiBelt
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This little belt is great for holding my cell phone, keys, Clif Shots, tissues, whatever I need with me on a run. The best part is that it doesn't bounce when I run- perfect!

Audible.com
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I run with an iPod and usually listen to music on shorter runs. I have playlists with different kinds of music and this gets me through most runs. Some days, though, I need something to sink my brain into. A distraction or maybe just the company of a story. I love audiobooks and Audible.com has a great selection. Since Audible is a subsidiary of Amazon.com, you can purchase audiobooks through Amazon.com or Audible.com. Love.

Layers
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I have a Nike Dri Fit top and a few lower price versions from Target (Champion brand) like this one. They keep me just warm enough (but not too hot) when I wear them over a wicking tank top or t-shirt on cooler mornings. For really cold days, I add a layer of fleece on top and wear a hat and gloves.

Sweaty bands
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When I'm not wearing a hat, I pull my hair back into a ponytail and use a Sweaty Band to hold back the sneaky shorter pieces that like to reach around and tickle my nose. These bands are the only ones that I've found (and I've tried quite a few!) that don't slip out of my hair while I'm running. I've seen them at running stores and online (including Amazon).

Bodyglide
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Ok, this is not a sexy product. Or, rather, the reason that I use it is not sexy. But it is necessary and helpful nonetheless! I have issues with chafing in a few areas so I apply this to those spots before heading out on long runs. Problem solved. You can find this at running or sports stores.

Do you have any favorite running or other fitness or outdoor gear?

*Disclaimer: These are all things that I have discovered in my own journey with running. I am not being paid to recommend any of these items.