October 2009

pumpkins 2As Halloween approaches this Saturday, we are faced with a bit of a challenge!  The kids are out of school, so they are home all day waiting to go trick or treating.   Or maybe you are thinking of hosting a party to entertain young kids and the young at heart.  If you’re not careful, it could be a day of unhealthy eating because so much is promoted to us to eat ghostly treats.     

 By focusing on the FUN of the holiday and not just the food, we CAN serve healthy treats that won’t create the sugar over load, and kids will not even know what they are missing.

Start with fun, healthy meals

As always, start your day with a hearty breakfast.    

  • Try pancakes  or waffles topped with seasonal  fruits  such as  apples or pears: simply sauté the sliced  fruit  in  light vegetable  oil  (only 2 tablespoons needed)  until soft  and  flavor with cinnamon or nutmeg .  No sugar needed.   
  • Pancakes with pumpkin are also another seasonal treat.   Most recipes call for ¼ cup of plain canned pumpkin added to your recipe.     
  • You can also try Gobbling good rice pudding http://www.whymilk.com/recipe/gobblin_good_rice_pudding

During the day, serve sandwiches cut into fun shapes. Use cookie cutters for bats on dark pumpernickel bread or make great pumpkins cut out of whole wheat bread.  I use tuna mixed with plain yogurt, but you can also try turkey or low fat cheese for the filling. And don’t forget the veggies!  Mummy fingers made of   baked sweet potato fries adds to the scary meal. Eye balls made of low fat string or mozzarella balls topped with a slice of black olive or carrots slices with green olives look like bugs.  Or try this recipe for spooky slaw. http://www.365halloween.com/spooky-slaw-recipe

One of our Facebook contest winners, Dave, suggested having low-fat brownies made with canned pumpkin. For this simple recipe, take one box of chocolate cake mix and add one can of plain pumpkin. Mix together with no other added ingredients.  Pour into brownie pan or 2a 4-muffin tin and bake as directed.  Each muffin or small brownie is about 100 calories with small amount of fat and 2 grams of fiber.    

Throughout the day, don’t forget to hydrate children well with water as first choice. However, if kids want extra, try vampire punch or witches’ brew. Mix 4 ounces of 100% grape or cranberry /raspberry juice with 6 ounces of club soda or flavored seltzer. No sugar added, but tons of FUN!  And make sure to stay away from the soda!

Add a dose of fun activity

Be sure to plan activities throughout the day, for just as much fun as trick or treating. Another Facebook winner, Emily, suggested planning an outdoor scavenger hunt. Place clues throughout the space so that kids are moving.  Add in that they can hop or skip between clues. This gives kids physical activity and FUN. The prize can be a chest of healthy non candy treats. See below for alternatives to candy treats.

Pumpkin carving is another fun activity that our final Facebook winner, Tania, suggested.  Make sure to include roasting the pumpkin seeds into this activity. Here’s a simple recipe.  http://www.fitsugar.com/5772766     

Thanks to our winners for these healthy Halloween suggestions.

trick or treatAnd finally, on to trick-or-treating

Finally the time to trick or treat is here.    As  parents, we don’t have to hand out candy bars – instead  pass  out  small, pre-packaged bags of pretzels , animal crackers or  granola bars and feel good about giving kids a nutritional treat.    Yes, I know we don’t want to be the house that doesn’t give a good treat but consider this.  When kids get too much candy, most parents say “enough candy” and toss it out after a few days.    You may be offering kids something different that could be added to a lunch bag or offered as a snack.

Play dough and other non food items that kids like to play with beyond d the holiday are other options. 

So I encourage parents to opt out of the candy treats and take charge of Halloween FUN by creating memories that are centered on the joy of the holiday not how much candy they receive.  

Last tip:  Click on the link for Healthy Halloween Treats to see additional ideas for trick-or-treaters.

Healthy Halloween Treats


The federally-funded Women, Infants, and Children Nutrition Program, better known in the community as WIC, is making history!  This month, the WIC Program has expanded the foods it offers to include a variety of healthy foods from every food group.  This is the first major change for the WIC Program in its 35 years of serving the community! 

 WIC Logo






The WIC Program serves nearly 9 million low-income women, infants, and children, providing them with a number of services including breastfeeding support, nutrition counseling, and checks to purchase healthy foods.  Since the WIC Program serves such a large number of families, the potential impact WIC can have on family food choices as well as the general health of the country is great.  


Foods that were chosen for WIC families were based on recommendations found in the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.  The foods offered along with the messages that they send are beneficial for all Americans, not just WIC families.  After all, each of us could use more fiber, additional vitamins and minerals and less saturated fat in our diets.

veggie basket












Foods that are now being offered through WIC include fruits, vegetables, whole wheat bread, brown rice, tortillas, baby foods, and a whole lot more!   WIC’s key messages:


–          Offer a variety of healthy and appealing foods to your family  

–          Lower the fat: offer fat free or 1% lowfat milk to loved ones over the age of 2

–          Eat more fruits and vegetables—you have always known it is the right thing to do!

–          Make half your grains whole—switch to brown rice and whole wheat bread

–          Drink less juice and sweetened beverages

–          Breastfeed—babies were meant to be breastfed


These are messages any family or individual can benefit from.  Which message or messages will you bring home to your family?  We’d love to hear from you!


Share on Facebook. and thanks to Kara  for contributing to the blog this week.

Did you know?  

The first apple developed in America was grown in Roxbury, MA, known as the “Roxbury Russet”.   From this humble Boston beginning to now, apples have exploded in cultivation and popularity.   There are 2,500 varieties of apples grown in the US, with Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Gala and Fuji being the five most commonly consumed varieties.

Roxbury Apple










Heard the old saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”?

An “apple a day” is a great way to get some important nutrients.  Apples are rich in pectin, a form of soluble fiber known to help lower cholesterol, and they provide a decent amount of vitamin C, an antioxidant.   Whenever possible, be sure to leave the peel on: that’s where two-thirds of the fiber and many of the antioxidants are found.  The apples’ skin also adds fuller flavor.

In terms of In a nation survey of dietary patterns, people who reported consuming apples (in any form) within the past day were 27 percent less likely to have symptoms of metabolic syndrome—like high blood pressure or a large waist measurement—compared to those who didn’t. The apple eaters also had lower blood levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation that suggests an increased risk for heart disease and diabetes. This study was cross-sectional (that is, it didn’t prove that eating apples was the cause of these benefits), but  it and others add  to the growing evidence indicating  eating whole apples  and apple products (without too much added sugar)  can be  beneficial for our bodies.












Buy local or pick your own – it’s the season.

 Earthworks in Boston is hosting apple cider pressing and harvest festivals – what a great activity for the whole family to watch cider pressing and sample some of Boston’s fresh apples!  Click here for dates and locations.  http://www.earthworksboston.org/

 If you’re interested in local apple picking, check out http://www.applepickingboston.com/ 

 Want ideas of what to do with all the fresh local apples that you might pick?










Here‘s a couple of good sites for recipes to try.



Happy fall and enjoy one of nature’s tastiest fruits!