Staying Well This Fall

By Gina Greco, Senior Brand Marketing Specialist, SEMCA

Fall is the perfect season to slow down and take a look at your health and wellness.  And with so many fun activities to do in the fall — apple picking, corn mazes, fall festivals —  you will want to stay as healthy as possible to enjoy it all!

However, Fall also brings the start of cold and flu season, along with the temptation to stay inside and eat comfort foods.  But don’t give up on your health just yet.  Keeping up your exercise routine, eating mindfully, and resting enough can keep your health on track this fall season.  It also will boost your immune system if you continue your mindful habits through the end of the year.

Are you ready to finish the last days of the year strong?  Here are 12 fall wellness tips to keep you feeling your best!

Make Smart Swaps on Comfort Foods

There’s nothing like a savory, rich soup on a crisp fall day.  Instead of making a calorie-rich clam chowder with cream, consider opting for a veggie soup filled with fiber-rich vegetables like spinach and cauliflower.  Love sweet potatoes? Slather it with coconut oil and cinnamon instead of butter.

Consume Immunity-Boosting Foods

As the weather gets colder and flu season starts, it is important for your immune system to be in tip-top shape.  Eating mindfully foods with vitamin C (like limes, oranges, and clementines) is key to fighting off infections.  Garlic, ginger, spinach, and almonds are also big winners when it comes to boosting your health and immunity.  Sorry, but a sugary Pumpkin Spice Latte did not make the list!

Dine-In with Your Family

Fall is a perfect time to regroup as a family and reconnect over dinner.  Families who dine together tend to eat more nutritious meals. It also strengthens family relationships and can even help fast eaters slow down and appreciate food more.

Get a Flu Shot

Want to know how to stay healthier during flu season?  Get the once-a-year flu vaccine!  The vaccine can reduce flu illnesses, missed work, and doctor’s office visits. The CDC recommends everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine every season with rare exceptions.

Schedule Your Annual Check-Up

And where is a great place to get you flu shot?  During your annual physical, of course!  If you have not scheduled your annual physical yet, now is the time.  Get bloodwork and all the accompanying tests done in this calendar year to stay on top of your health!

Snack on Seasonal Foods

This time of year, beautiful vegetables and fruits make their appearance in grocery stores.  Some nutrient-dense options to consider adding to your plate: Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, crab apples, cranberries, and turnips.  Get adventurous and try a new produce item!

Rise and Shine at the Same Time

As the sun goes down earlier, it can throw off your natural energy and sleep cycles.  Try to maintain a sleep schedule of at least seven hours and keep your normal bedtime and waking hours the same as the rest of the year.  Remember: the end of Daylight Savings is right around the corner!

Drink More Water

As it gets colder, your body can quickly lose fluid due to the high energy rates used in colder climates.  And thanks to heavier clothing, you may sweat more.  Our health insurance partner Cigna recommends an average of 6-8 cups of water daily.  An appropriate water intake will also keep your skin supple, which can be a problem as the weather gets drier.  Keep your water intake high as fall fades into winter, too.

Switch up Your Fitness Routines

If you live in colder climates, you may have to give up your outdoor runs soon.  Keep your heart rates up by taking some of your routines indoors and slowly incorporating indoor gym sessions.  Try a new class like kickboxing or salsa to get your cardio fix.  If gyms have not reopened in your area or the gym isn’t for you, check out the attached “Stay Fit While Staying Home” Wellness Wednesday edition from July.

Get Enough Vitamin D

This essential vitamin helps the body absorb calcium.  When fall arrives, daylight — one source of vitamin D — is less available.  That’s why it is important to either take a supplement or eat a varied diet to maintain appropriate vitamin D levels through fall and winter.  Cod liver oil, salmon, tuna, and milk are a few ways to get your vitamin D.

Sterilize Your Most Touched Items

Your cell phone, keyboard, remote, and tablet are all germ habitats.  It’s good to make it a habit to sanitize these areas with Clorox wipes.  Throughout the cold and flu season, you will definitely want to make sure you are sanitizing these areas regularly.

Be Kind to Yourself

The holidays can cause weight gain, the shorter days can cause low mood, and the flu season can cause sickness.  Listen to your body and give it what it needs, and don’t beat yourself up!  Try reframing negative thoughts into positive ones.  Incorporating changes to your daily routines can be hard, so try incorporating one tip a week.  Ask a colleague to join you in checking off each of these tips as they become your new mindful habits!

Immunity Boosting Recipes for the Fall

By Gina Greco, Senior Brand Marketing Specialist, SEMCA

We love the fall for so many things – cooler temperatures, the vibrant colors of autumn, and pumpkin-spiced everything (of course)! With the change in season and current state of our world, it’s important to be mindful of the choices you make every day for your health and wellness. We are sharing 3 of our favorite immune-boosting recipes on the blog that are filled with nutrient-dense foods and will nourish you from the inside out. If you make any of these, be sure to tag us on Instagram @sharphomeusa and use the hashtag #SimplyBetterLiving and #SharpHome.

Orange-Ginger Smoothie from the Endless Meal

This recipe is full of whole foods and makes a great grab-and-go breakfast option or mid-afternoon snack. It includes oranges, which are full of vitamin C, and carrots, which are high in vitamin A. The “zing” from the ginger and anti-inflammatory properties of the turmeric makes this one nutrient-dense smoothie! A great optional add-in would be a handful of leafy greens like spinach or kale.


  • 2 navel oranges, quartered and peeled
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled
  • 1 – a 1/2-inch piece of turmeric, peeled (or 1 teaspoon powdered turmeric)
  • A pinch of black pepper


  1. Add all the ingredients + 1 cup of ice cubes to your high-powered blender (I love my Vitamix for this) and blend on high until smooth. Add up to a cup of water for a more juice-like smoothie.

Lentil Soup from I Heart Vegetables

Nothing screams comforting and nourishing like a big bowl of soup, especially on a crisp autumn night. This recipe is one of our favorites and can be totally customizable with what’s in your pantry or fridge. Have some leftover zucchini sitting around? Toss it in! Want to add some extra protein? Shredded chicken is the solution! The options are endless, and the final product will give your body a little extra boost.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 large sweet potato (about 1/2 lb.) diced into ½” cubes
  • 1 15oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup red lentils, uncooked and rinsed
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup kale, destemmed and torn into 1” pieces
  • Salt to taste


  1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat for 1 minute.
  2. Add the onion and cook over medium heat for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the garlic and ginger and continue to cook for 1 minute until fragrant.
  4. Add the turmeric and paprika and continue to cook for 1 minute.
  5. Add the lemon juice, sweet potatoes, chickpeas, red lentils, and vegetable broth and bring to a boil.
  6. Once the soup begins to boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the sweet potato is soft.
  7. Add kale and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes until the kale has softened and wilted slightly.
  8. Season with salt to taste.

Blackened Tempeh, Avocado, Kale Salad with Vegan Cajun Ranch from Feasting At Home

Salads get a bad reputation for being boring and bland, but this recipe is anything but! This recipe includes tempeh, which is a wonderful plant-based protein that is high in B Vitamins and has immune-boosting benefits. Additionally, making the base of your salad with Kale will boost up the vitamin C and antioxidant benefits, even further making this one seriously dense and delicious bowl.


Cajun Vegan Ranch Dressing

  •  ⅓ cup vegan ranch dressing (or sub your favorite store-bought ranch)
  • ½ –1 teaspoon Cajun spice blend  (or sub ¼ teaspoon paprika and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne)

Blackened Tempeh:

  • 1 block tempeh
  • 2–3 tablespoons Cajun Spice like Black Magic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4–5 leaves of Lacinato kale, tough stems removed ( or use 3 cups pre-shredded kale )
  • 1 teaspoon oil, pinch salt, lemon zest from ½ a lemon
  • 4 radishes, sliced ( or sub cucumber slices… or ribbons are nice)
  • 1 scallion, sliced
  • avocado, sliced
  • ¼ cup pickled onions ( optional)
  • Optional add-ons sprouts or microgreens, cooked quinoa, large whole wheat tortillas, sauerkraut.


  1. Stir the Cajun spice into the dressing, starting conservatively. Taste, and add more to taste. You want it bold!
  2. Add the tempeh, whole to a sauté pan of generously salted water, just enough to cover it. Let simmer gently for 8-10 minutes to help soften and reduce bitterness. Slice it into ½ inch wide slices and generously coat each side with Cajun Spices.
  3. Pan-sear the tempeh in a little oil until crispy and heated through. Set aside.
  4. Stack the kale ( removing any thick stems) and cut into thin ribbons. Place in a bowl and add a teaspoon or two of olive oil ( just enough to barely coat), a pinch of salt, and lemon zest. Massage with your fingers until tender. To the kale, add the radishes, scallion, pickled onion, and avocado. Toss with some of the Vegan Ranch dressing, enough to coat. ( You can also keep everything separate, especially if making grain bowls)
  5. Either divide the salad among bowls or place it in a warm, whole wheat tortilla, topped with the blackened tempeh and sprouts.
  6. The salad is hearty enough that it will taste good the next day.

Immunity-Boosting Hot Chocolate from Clean and Delicious

Life’s too short not to finish the day with something sweet (at least that is what I always tell myself)! This hot chocolate recipe includes mindful ingredients like raw cacao, which is full of antioxidants and natural sweetness from the honey. A big cup of this at the end of the day is an excellent way to sneak in additional nutrients and immune benefits for you and your family.


  • 1 cup of milk, either whole milk preferably grass-fed or plain unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon raw cacao powder
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated peeled turmeric root
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. coconut oil optional


  1. Place the milk, cocoa powder, sweetener, turmeric, cinnamon, and coconut oil in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, occasionally whisking until the cocoa and spices are mixed well, and the mixture is warmed through.
  2. Pour into your favorite mug and enjoy!

Fun Family Fall Festivities


By Daniel Troise, Marketing Intern, SEMCA

There is no doubt that these past six months have been very different and inconsistent. Not knowing what the next few weeks will bring, I have spent a bit more time at home and thinking of ways to reinvent some of my favorite fall activities. Surprisingly, there are many ways to adapt to all your activities and not miss out on them. Throughout this fall activity roundup, I plan to share with you some of the most adaptive and innovative ways to partake in family-fun fall activities without leaving home or practicing social distancing.

The only thing normal about this past year would be the weather, and the weather calls for certain activities. If you have children, it is important that you really capture these perfect fall moments with them so you can look back and remember them even if you alter them from the traditional format. Spending time with your loved ones doing seasonal and festive activities always brings out the best in everyone and puts a smile on everyone’s face.

As usual, we love to hear and see how our favorite readers are enjoying the tips and awesome content we love to deliver. If you have any favorite fall activities at home or enjoy any of these, feel free to let us know by connecting with us on social using #SharpHome on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Mother and daughter in pumpkin patch

The Backyard Pumpkin Patch

You guessed as I spoiled it right at the party. As I look over my backyard right now, I see a large green space that could serve as the perfect pumpkin patches that my niece and nephew will absolutely love and remember forever. You can even sell the idea of telling them you have a private pumpkin patch. Surpassingly, with little work and a straightforward process, you can create a patch in your own backyard while making family memories without leaving your home.

It’s October, meaning pumpkins are for sale everywhere and not just a typical pumpkin patch at the farm. You can find them when you are walking into the grocery store or even at a stand on the sign of the road. So next time you are out picking up your favorite groceries, pick up a few pumpkins to spread across your lawn. Just make sure you have room in your trunk to carry them all. You may want to pick up a few more pumpkins than there are people so that the pickers still feel like they have a choice. The rest you can use for decorations on your front porch or anywhere you feel fit.

Young girl holding a pumpkin

The next step is to unload them and place them in the garage or a place where the kids may not see them. If you check the weather beforehand, you may be able to put them outside right away. Spread them each 6 feet apart to ensure you practice social distancing guidelines and only invite close family and friends. Between limiting the number of people and keeping it outside, you should be good to go.

Once all the pumpkins are set, call all the pumpkin pickers outside to pick their pumpkins. Some may want the big ones, while some small, so having a few extras, so there are more options is ideal.

Painting pumpkins outdoors

This does not need to stop here. If you want to take this a step further, set up a table with carving materials (under adult supervision, of course) and some paint to throw on the pumpkins. This will allow the children to tap into their creative side and make the pumpkin their own.

Overall, pumpkin picking is a staple activity every season, and this year it should be no different. Trust me, after thinking of this idea, and I just knew I had to share it with you. Have fun!

Family in Halloween costumes

Old-Costume Fashion Show

Want to know a little secret? Everyone loves a rainy day now and then. It is a day to take a break from the sun and not feel guilty about staying indoors. This past weekend, it poured all weekend, and rain has been in the forecast in New Jersey. This can sometimes create a bit of mystery about what you are going to do. I mean, you can always revert to cleaning out closets or painting a room in your house but trust me, that can’t be too fun and seems like a lot of work.

In my attic and in the back of my closet, there are bins of old Halloween costumes that I probably spent a fortune on and never worn again. From vampires to famous singers and all the cool wigs and accessories, why not take this chance to get out those old bins and place them all in the middle. Have the children design and create their own costumes, mixing and matching all the old pieces. If you want to jump into the fun, be my guest.

Not only is this an opportunity to take a trip down memory lane, but for sure guarantee laughs along the way. As a child, I remember the whole month of October just being a countdown to the final day, Halloween.  While picking out your design fit, put on a Halloween movie. This just will add and make the environment much more festive.

Once the kids have picked out and organized their costumes, send them to their rooms to change when they don’t need help getting into their new personas, clear and identify a runway to have your fashion show, and show your kids the way to come down. Once you have communicated it with them, grab a seat on the couch and make scorecards with the numbers 1-10 (or whichever interval you choose). And let the show begin!

Each child or participant will walk down and strut their custom costume in front of the judge’s panel. Once everyone is done, the ones with the highest score win. Feel free to make this go 2-3 rounds if everyone is down. Once we have declared a winner, you can reward them with candy, favorite dinners, etc. Overall, this is a fun and cheap way to have family fun indoors or on a rainy day.

Orange bath bomb

DIY Pumpkin Bath Bomb

One recent trend that I have noticed to be skyrocketing are bath bombs. The concept is that it is a figure with specific colors that turns your body of water, most likely a bath, into the color that you desire, creating a specific vibe. Even though this trend is huge amongst young adults, the children will love them just as much and if not more.

If you have young ones at home, you may know that the nighttime routine can be quite difficult. Between getting everyone bathed, teeth brushed, and the pajamas on adding a bit of creativity to the process may engage them. This should overall make your evenings simpler and put a smile on their face.

So, I am sure you guessed it by now. We are going to make bath bombs! This awesome craft idea from “Fun at Home with Kids” is the perfect way to get everyone involved and have them look forward to bath time. Just make sure that you leave enough time to make them, approximately an hour and a half before bath time.

Father bathing two children

Surprisingly, you won’t need much to make these bath bombs, and you most likely have all the supplies in your home and throughout cabinets. Start searching for olive oil, citric acid powder, cinnamon, and baking soda. Additionally, you may want to look for a pumpkin-shaped cookie cutter and liquid food coloring. No cookie-cutter, no worries. You can always tap into your artistic craft and use your hands to form the shapes.

Let’s go through the steps:

  1. Grab a large bowl and pour in 1 1/2 cups of baking soda and a tablespoon of cinnamon, stirring them together.
  2. Once stirred, we are going to add in some color. If you have liquid watercolors, add about 3/4 teaspoon, or have food coloring drops, add a few along with 3/4 teaspoon of water.  
  3. Next, add in about 6 tablespoons of citric acid powder and completely mix it. Don’t worry if it is a bit cold, that’s known to be normal.
  4. Add in 2 teaspoons of olive oil and mix it to create a dry dough. At this point, you can act like it is cookie dough and create the bath bombs. Use the pumpkin-shaped cookie cutter or your hands to make the shape. Allow for it to dry for about an hour or more, then take it to the bath and watch the magic happen!
Woman enjoying nature with mask

Nature Walks Are Key

When we all think of the Fall season, the biggest indicator is the leaves changing. Ask anyone to pull out their phone or camera. I can almost guarantee that they have pictures of orange and yellow leaves changing from green on trees, whether in a large wooded area, along the highway, or even outside their local shopping center.

This has been a stressful time over the past few months, without a doubt, with so much uncertainty and adaptation to a new normal, relaxing your mind. Do a quick online search or think back to a favorite walking trail near or around your home that will allow you to observe all the fall leaves on a beautiful day and practice social distancing. Whenever I go on a walk outdoors, especially in 2020, here are my top 5 must-haves (in addition to a mask, of course):

People enjoying nature with mask
  1. Comfortable footwear is a must. No matter how long you plan to be walking, make sure to wear a nice pair of sneakers so you can really maximize the most out of your trip.
  2. A sweater or a light jacket. Be sure always to check the weather conditions and see the temperature. Keep in mind to check the temperature of where you are going; if you live along the shoreline (like me) and drive to the mountains, there could be a change in the weather.
  3. A small umbrella, you never know what could happen. My second-grade teacher taught me many years ago, “it is better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.” Corny, but true!
  4. This one is my favorite, but make sure to pack some extra water and some snacks from home. Be sure to check out “Simply Better Living” for awesome snack recipes and ideas for you and your family. Pack something everyone will like.
  5. I know you are probably thinking, how am I going to fit this all? Well, you guessed it! The final must-have on your fall leave tour is a backpack for you to carry all your essentials in. This will take up fewer worries and give you less distraction to observe the beautiful landscape of nature.

You can add two more things (because you are all my favorite) are a portable charger for your phone and a camera. While your phone may have an awesome quality camera, bringing a portable charger will ensure that you can really capture every moment and save each memory forever.

Halloween candy exchange

Candy Scavenger Hunt

Ask any child what their favorite part of Halloween is. You will get one of two answers, candy or costumes. This is the one day of the year where dressing up and pretending to be one of your favorite characters or creatures is embraced, rewarding kids with candy. Looking back, some of my fondest memories include getting in my costumes. In fact, if you were to look at old photos, most of them are from Halloweens of past years, proving that it is memorable.

With the nature of everything going on, many have been thinking of creative and innovative ways to reinvent the typical trick or treating idea. Instead of going door to door, there is no reason why you can’t practice your own candy exchange within the walls of your own home and throughout your property.

Children dressed up for Halloween on front porch

An awesome way to make sure that the children don’t miss out on one of their best days of the year is to design a trick or treat scavenger hunt throughout the house. While searching the internet, I stumbled upon this awesome pre-arranged candy hunt from “Hey, Let’s Make Stuff By Cori George.” They offer free activities and worksheets that allow you to set it up in your own home.

Simply go online or mask up and go to the store to buy Halloween candy. Your children may even enjoy this more as you can be selective of the candy and pick out their favorites. You can also be aware of any food allergies or nutritional restrictions and ensure that all the candy will be perfect. Here are a few more tips that you may want to include:

  1. If the weather is cooperating, feel free to hunt inside and outside, creating more of a feel. Going from one end of the house or property to the other will make the hunt longer and build their adrenaline.
  2. Set up some other Halloween-like activities. This could include painting small pumpkins, playing Halloween bingo with candy, putting on a movie, etc. It does not take much to set up your house and convert it to Halloween headquarters.
  3. If you want to take it a step further, set up a virtual video call with some friends and family to show off your costumes and say a Happy Halloween!

Click here Fun Family Fall Festivities to continue reading this blog. (Appeared first on Simply Better Living.)

Perfect Pumpkin Recipe Roundup

By Daniel Troise

As soon as October rolls around, you see pumpkin-shaped figures all over the place, seriously everywhere! From the entrance to the grocery store to the doorsteps of your neighbor’s home, it’s no secret that the pumpkin is the perfect representation of the season, serving as a mascot for fall.

Some of my fondest memories of fall come from going to the pumpkin patch with my siblings, where we would each go and pick our favorite pumpkins (yes, I was the kid who always would pick the smallest ones because I felt bad they never got picked.) After our time at the farm, we would go on home to put on dirty clothes and grab carving utensils to create our favorite designs adding personality to the pumpkin tuned Jack-O-Lantern.

After realizing that while this process is fun and practiced by many families, not many choose to save the pumpkins and throw out what there is. Well, you’re in for a special treat. Literally! Instead of just throwing the insides of the pumpkin away, save them.

Over the past few weeks, I have found the best and most unique recipes containing pumpkin on social media and throughout the web. There is no better time than ever to share these delicious and sweet recipes with you. As tempting as it may be, I ask that you read all the recipes even though these amazing creations may drive you to put down your tablet and head to the kitchen.

The post Perfect Pumpkin Recipe Roundup appeared first on Simply Better Living.