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As chilly weather arrives in our lives, blown in with swirls of leaves and shorter days, humans naturally rekindle the urge to stay indoors, cook up a big pot of something warm, and gather around the hearth to reconnect.

Humans are bound to seasonal changes, and these fall food rituals can help you celebrate the changing nature of life as expressed in the colorful autumn moment of Now.

Carve a jack-o-lantern: No special tools are needed for this favorite Halloween ritual. Just draw on your desired face with washable marker, cut a lid, scoop the innards out with a spoon, then cut out a scary/funny/silly jack-o-lantern face. Set the pumpkin on your stoop and bring it to life with a tea light candle. And don’t throw away the pumpkin innards because you’ll need them for the next ritual.

Roast pumpkin seeds: Separate the gooey pumpkin pith from its slimy seeds, and then wash the seeds well in a colander. Spread on a baking sheet and let dry (or use a hair dryer to speed things along), then top with 4 tablespoons of melted butter, salt and pepper. Bake in a 325 degree oven until toasted, about 30 minutes, stirring seeds every 10 minutes to make sure they are not burning. Store your roasted pumpkin seeds in an airtight container and enjoy their health benefits, which include everything from combating depression to preventing osteoporosis and prostate problems.

Watch a scary movie with popcorn and natural soda: Gather your friends and rent the scariest movie you can find, or if you don’t like thrills, opt for a funny-scary flick from the 80s with bad special effects and even worse hair. Fill glasses with ice and your favorite bubbly beverage, such as Hansen’s Naturals, then douse a giant bowl of popcorn with garlic salt and parmesan cheese. Now turn off the lights, and see who screams first.

Picking apples: Those with kids will find that an apple-picking excursion to a nearby farm is a fun day and first-person display of the farm-to-mouth process that most people today have forgotten exists. Gather the ripest, prettiest fruits you can find, and have plans for your bounty once you return home… teach your son how to bake an apple pie, make caramel apples for the neighbors or deliver thank-you treats to the teachers in your life.

Chili for the first chill: The first day you feel that “nip” in the air that makes you squeal inside and run for the indoors is the perfect time to cook the season’s first pot of chili. Whether you prefer spicy Texas-style beef chili, a white chicken chili or a hearty vegan version with beans and veggies, a stewpot of warm, nourishing chili will hit the spot and remind everyone of the blessings of cold weather and the pending winter season. Pair with fresh biscuits or homemade corn bread.

Donate food: Food banks are kicking into high gear as the colder weather descends and more people need help feeding themselves and their families. Writing a check to your local food bank always works, but a better family tradition is to buy and gather food with your kids and deliver it to the food bank together, so everyone can better understand the plight of the less fortunate. Make it (at least) a yearly event.

image: nightthree