Have you noticed that it’s cooler in the mornings and the air is crisper? Fall is sneaking up on us! I love the fall. I am a hiker, and the fall is one of the best times of the year to get out on the trails. The trees are changing colors, the temperature is comfortable and the air just smells like autumn.
I distinctly remember hiking in Hocking Hills with my family when I was a kid at least once every fall. It was always such a treat—we packed a lunch, got out our hiking shoes, and piled in the car. On the trail, we would find the brightest leaves to press between wax paper or pick up the perfect walking stick along the way.
I had no idea that those hiking trips in my childhood would shape who I am today.
Growing up, my family of five was busy. Somehow, despite softball and swim team practices, my working mom going back to school and my dad commuting from Miami, we managed to eat together almost every night. Many of those dinners are now a blur, but some of the more memorable were pizza nights.
Sure, we all loved pizza (I am Italian-American after all!) but pizza night was special because we got to make our own. Together we'd add homemade sauce, pepperoni, olives, green peppers, mushrooms, and lots of cheese onto dough we'd smushed onto cookie sheets. Our pizzas were special because they: 1. messy 2. rectangular 3. brought us together.
Studies show that kids from families that eat dinner together regularly are happier and healthier. So how can you make pizza night just as fun and doubly healthy? Here are some deliciously good-for-you options:
- Use whole wheat pizza dough or purchase a pre-made whole-wheat pizza dough (make sure there are no hydrogenated oils in the ingredients).
- Try low-fat/reduced-fat mozzarella (or other cheese) to reduces the fat and cholesterol.
- Make your own sauce: To sauteed onions and garlic add 1 can of crushed tomatoes, a teaspoon each of parsley, basil, and oregano, and a splash of milk (or pinch of baking soda). Delicious and less salt, sugar and preservatives than jarred sauce.
- Load the pizza with veggies to give an added health boost and fill you up.
- Put your pizza on the grill.
- Substitute chicken- or turkey-sausage or pepperoni for less fat and cholesterol.
- Or try this collection of healthy pizza recipes.
- You can take a walk in a nearby park or in your neighborhood to enjoy the changing colors of the trees.
- You can rake those leaves into a pile and jump into them with your kids and be a kid again, even if just for a moment.
As the weather cools, there are plenty of ways to stay active even indoors.
- Pull out your favorite music and dance around the house with your kids. You can stage your very own version of American Idol.
- Play Simon Says with your kids and see who can follow the fitness moves.