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My birthday is just around the corner. I know that not because of the date on the calendar, but because of the way my joints mimic the sound of one of my favorite childhood breakfast cereals when I get out of bed — SNAP! CRACKLE! POP!

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Here it is October and our first frost date of Oct. 15 looks more like a guess than a prediction. If you have gardening plans you were thinking of putting off until spring, you might want to reconsider and “go for it.” Even if we turn to winter in an instant, the ground will remain warm for …

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Fruits and vegetables are easier to come by in the summer months than in the fall and winter. But to stay healthy and ward off diseases, it's important to include fruits and vegetables in your diet year-round. Here are some of the superstar fruits and vegetables of the fall and winter months.

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I adore eating a perfectly ripened Bosc or Anjou pear. That first bite through that firm, greenish-golden skin into the sweet juicy fruit is a delight for the senses. Best of all, pears are a good source of fiber, antioxidants and vitamin C. Pears seldom cause allergies and are usually safe for infants and small children. Research suggests that regularly eating pears and other fruits may even guard against macular degeneration, the leading cause of vision loss.

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You know that you're a grown-up when you fall in love with foods you disliked as a child. I never liked sweet potatoes, but we were raised to eat what was on our plates without complaint. My mother usually served them in the wintertime, so I had to endure them only a few months out of the year. Now that my job is researching, writing and cooking all types of foods, I've often revisited eating sweet potatoes.

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Fall outdoor rituals are many during these lush months of color and cooler temps. Maybe your family already has established an annual tradition of taking a mini day vacation, like heading to a favorite orchard for a Saturday of apple picking and cider tasting, touring pumpkin farms, walking through a corn maze or hiking in the woods to get exercise, explore and observe wildlife and brilliant foliage.

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I've prepared lunches for my family for several years, and one thing I know for sure, you've got to have a plan! Eating out every day is not only too expensive, the meal choices are typically unhealthy. And if your child is a picky eater like mine, buying school lunches are a waste of money.