Welcome Fall, Hello Pumpkin Cream Cheese Snickerdoodles!

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The leaves are changing color, the weather is getting cooler, and pumpkin-flavored foods and drinks are coming out left and right. Well, to fulfill that craving for delicious pumpkin treats and to celebrate the start of Autumn, here is an amazingly tasty recipe for the best snickerdoodles ever!

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Ingredients for the cookies:

  • 3¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. freshly-ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ¾ cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

Ingredients for the filling:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

Ingredients for the cinnamon-sugar coating:

  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground ginger
  • Dash of allspice

Directions:

To make the cookies, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugars on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Blend in the pumpkin puree. Beat in the egg and vanilla until incorporated. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add in the dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated. (If you have any more dry streaks on the bottom, fold together gently with a spatula until just combined.) Cover and chill the dough for at least 1 hour.

While the dough chills, make the filling. In a small bowl, mix together the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until smooth and creamy. Cover and chill this as well (for at least half an hour).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a few baking sheets with parchment paper. In a small bowl, mix together the sugar and spices for the coating thoroughly. Take one tablespoon of dough and flatten it into a pancake shape. Place one teaspoon of the cream cheese mixture in the middle of the pancake. Form another tablespoon of dough into an equally-sized pancake shape, and place on top, keeping the cream cheese in the middle. Gently pinch together the edges of the dough around the cream cheese to seal, then gently roll into a ball. Roll the ball in the cinnamon-sugar mixture to coat. Repeat with the remaining dough to fill the sheets, spacing the dough balls 2-3 inches apart. Dip the bottom of a flat, heavy-bottomed drinking glass in water to moisten slightly. Then dip it in the sugar-spice mixture, and use the bottom to flatten the dough balls slightly. (They won’t really flatten on their own, though they will puff slightly.) Recoat the bottom of the glass in the sugar-spice mixture as needed.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until slightly firm to the touch and the tops begin to crackle. Let cool on the baking sheets about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container or ENJOY right away!

Easy Ways to Improve Sleep

Many people have trouble falling and staying asleep at night. Here are some great tips on how to change up your bedtime routine to improve your quality of sleep.

Create a Sleep Routine and Stick To It

Your body works better on a schedule. If you are going to bed and waking up at different times each day and the amount of sleep you are getting varies, your body will not work efficiently. Set a time to go to bed and a time to wake up each morning. If you stick to your sleep schedule, your body will naturally fall into it. It will be easier to fall asleep at night and you will wake up feeling rested in the morning.

All Naps Are Not Created Equal

According to the National Sleep Foundation website, taking a short “power nap” increases your energy level and alertness. Longer naps can cause you to feel groggy when you first wake up, postponing the benefits of a midday nap. The exception is if you take naps in 90-minute increments. A full sleep cycle is 90 minutes. If you have the time, a 90-minute nap can increase memory and creativity while avoiding the groggy period following medium-length naps.

Prepare for Sleep

Have you ever wondered why it is easier to fall asleep in the dark than when your bedroom is lit up by lamplight or sunlight? Your body produces melatonin, a hormone that helps your body fall asleep. When you create a dark, comfortable sleep environment, your brain will queue your body to begin producing melatonin. Preparing for sleep by dimming light and stopping the use of electronics an hour or so before bedtime will let your body know that it is time to slow down and prepare for sleep. It is also important to make sure your bed is comfortable and supportive and that your bedroom is quiet, uncluttered, and at a comfortable temperature.

Staying Asleep

It is also important to limit all light in your bedroom, including lit-up alarm-clock faces and red and blue lights on electronics and phone screens. Any amount of bright light, especially LED, white, and blue light, can disrupt the production of melatonin and your quality of sleep. If you prefer some light, limit it to soft, yellow light.

Limit Sugar and Alcohol Before Bed

Refined sugar before bed can inhibit your ability to fall asleep easily, and alcohol can reduce your quality of sleep. Foods high in refined sugar cause a spike in blood sugar followed by a steep decline in blood-sugar levels later. The increase in blood sugar can make it hard to fall asleep. The decline in blood-sugar levels while you are asleep is one of the main causes of waking during the night.

Similarly, though a glass of red wine before bed can help you fall asleep, it can cause you to wake more often during the night. According to an April 2013 study conducted by the London Sleep Centre-Neuropsychiatry, “…alcohol increases slow-wave ‘deep’ sleep during the first half of the night, but then increases sleep disruptions in the second half of the night.” If you feel hungry before bed, try a sweet low-sugar snack like berries instead.

No TV Time

Falling asleep while watching television is a popular habit in many households. According to a 2014 consumer survey conducted by LG Electronics USA, 61% of Americans fall asleep with the television on. Watching television is more distracting than relaxing.   Television keeps your body awake and hinders the body functions that promote sleep. Most often, television stimulates the mind and body, and does not help to slow breathing or relax muscles.

Now that you have some good tips for a better sleep…Happy Dreaming!

Reeducate/Recycle: What is Truly Recyclable?

In an August 21, 2015 Wired Magazine article, “Listen Up America: You Need to Learn How to Recycle. Again.”, author Nick Stockton wrote that though a majority of Americans recycle, the recycling industry is hurting. He explained that pricing for second-hand commodities is down, and that the cost of sorting through too many “non-recyclables” that get thrown into the bin by overenthusiastic people has risen. Certain things are just not recyclable. Just because a product has metal or plastic parts doesn’t mean it is recyclable. Even if a product is made entirely of plastic, it doesn’t mean that that specific plastic is recyclable, or that your local recycling center is accepting it.

The problem is not that people are lazy, but that they are throwing anything and everything into their recycle bins, hoping that maybe the broken parts of their mirror and their food-soiled pizza boxes will magically turn into new products. The article quotes Susan Robinson, director of public affairs for Waste Management: “The single biggest problem material at recycling facilities are plastic bags.” Plastic bags get caught up in the sorting equipment and can slow or completely cease sorting machinery for hours.

So let’s reeducate ourselves. What can we recycle? What items should never be put into our recycle bins?

Aluminum and Steel Products

Aluminum and steel cans, aluminum foil, and aluminum bakeware are all recyclable. According to Waste Management’s website, “Americans only recycle 49% of the aluminum cans they use.” The website also stated that “Recycling steel and tin cans saves 74% of the energy used to produce them.” If we are saving that much energy, we should definitely make an effort to recycle all the cans we use. Energy-saving tip: Make sure to rinse off any food residue from recyclable products before throwing them into the bin. Many recycling centers will not accept products with food residue. Clean products also increase efficiency at the sorting facilities.

Newspaper, Magazines, and Other Paper Products

Newspaper, magazines, catalogs, and magazine-type ads (like grocery inserts) are easily recycled and accepted at most recycling centers. Items that are usually, but not always, accepted are corrugated cardboard, paper, and paperboard. Cereal boxes and non-styrofoam egg cartons are good to recycle. Used pizza boxes and milk cartons are not accepted because of oils and food residue that are not easily removed. Drink boxes lined with wax are also not recyclable.

Plastics

Know your plastics. Non-recyclable plastic products are one of the biggest problems for recycling centers and sorting facilities. Unless the plastic has a three-arrow recycle symbol on the bottom, it is not recyclable. Additionally, just because the product has a recycle symbol on the bottom doesn’t mean that your local facility accepts it. If your recycling center accepts plastics (not all do), they most likely accept products labeled PETE 1 and HDPE 2. Some centers accept other types of plastics, but always contact your local center for a list of the products they accept.

Glass

Glass is another product that is not always automatically accepted at recycling centers, because they need to have specific equipment to process it. If your local center accepts glass, make sure to ask that they specify if they accept colored glass, and if so, which colors.

Mirrors, Pyrex, light bulbs, and ceramics are never recyclable. Broken pieces of these products pose a danger to sorting-facility employees.

The best thing to keep in mind when deciding what to throw into your recycle bin is whether the product in question would be easily processed into a raw material or if it is just a part of another product that would have to be disassembled first (i.e., garden hose, shovel, etc.). Recycle centers are processing raw materials into raw materials to sell. In order to do business efficiently, they need consumers to be educated to save time and reduce the cost of processing.

Healthy, Delicious, and Fresh Packed Lunch Ideas

8459976360_3c160f881d_bNow that the kids in back and school, the routines can begin again. In my house we prepare for school the night before by making sure the homework is checked, clothes are picked out, and lunch is packed. Often times, I find that we get stuck in food ruts and pack the usual sandwich and carrot sticks. To battle the food rut I look to the internet to search for new and healthy ideas, and I get overloaded with options.

Here are a few new favorite foods that are loved in our house so far:

Whole-wheat “Pita Pizza” (toasted in the toaster oven and then served cold)Pita_pizza_(17188259486)Organic Ham and Cheese Rolls

Whole-wheat waffle sandwich stuffed with fresh fruit or jelly

6995490557_690963d7ff_oPlain yogurt with a variety of delicious add ins

  • Granola
  • Peanut or Almond Butter
  • Fresh Fruit
  • Vanilla Extract and Coconut Flakes
  • Honey
  • Vanilla Extract and Mini Chocolate Chips

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Popcorn

Frozen Smoothie

Apple with Peanut Butter

8466410432_65a56dbe8a_oWhole-wheat carrot applesauce muffins

Carrot_Cake_Muffins_(4135137580)Grilled Cheese with Pesto on Whole-wheat (served cold)

Whole-wheat Cinnamon Raisin Bagel with Organic Cream Cheese

BLT on Whole-wheat

15169375890_5b513e327cAn other great choice that allows your child to have fun is packing lunches themselves. Here are two really terrific and yummy packed lunches from the Blog 100 Days of Real Food:

Build a Taco Lunch

  • Corn Tortilla
  • Shredded Pork Taco Meat with Bell Peppers
  • Cheese
  • Lettuce
  • and other desired sides100 Days of Real FoodConstruct a Pizza
  • Whole-wheat Pita
  • Organic Tomato Sauce
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Additional Desired Toppings such as Vegetables and Pepperoni, etc.

100 Days of Real FoodDon’t get stuck in a rut because there are a lot of great sources that help you to expand the food options you can pack in the lunches. Whatever you choose to pack, make sure it is delicious and nutritious!

Meet the OrganicPedic™ Terrene

Terrene

The OrganicPedic Earth™ Terrene is an ultra-plush, 12” sculpted-surface pillow-top mattress made with 100% natural and GOLS-certified organic natural rubber latex. It starts with a 3” core of medium, supportive latex.  The core is joined with two inches of soft latex on the top and bottom and covered in our signature certified organic cotton and wool quilting. A removable two-sided pillow top (3 1/2” deep)—also made of 100% natural rubber latex—is then placed on the mattress. The pillow top is made with two surface options: our exclusive sculpted surface on one side, and a flat surface on the other. This provides sleepers with maximum comfort and flexibility. The pillow top is fully covered with our signature certified organic cotton-and-wool quilting, and is attached to the mattress using our exclusive “button-down” process.

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Features and Benefits

  • Sculpted surface offers pressure-point relief and increases air circulation
  • Button-down pillow top can be used on either side
  • Motion-absorbing construction
  • Naturally mold-, mildew-, and dust-mite resistant

Specifications

  • Firmness: Ultra-Plush
  • Depth: Approximately 12”
  • Core: 100%-Natural & Certified Organic Rubber Latex
  • Cover: Certified Organic Wool & Certified Organic Cotton
  • Foundation: Wood Slat Padded with Sanitized Organic Cotton
  • Sizes: Twin – King
  • Warranty: 20-Year Limited Warranty
  • *All dimensions are subject to a slight variance due to being custom made.

MSRP (mattress only): twin $4,299 • full $5,799 • queen $6,799 • king $8,599

Foundation sold separately.

For more information on the OrganicPedic™ Earth Collection or OrganicPedic™ products, click HERE.