10 Steps to a Healthier Halloween

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Halloween kicks off the string of seasonal holidays where food imbalance and overindulgence is at an all-time high. Make this Halloween more about the tricks and treasures than the sweet treats, and discuss openly the importance of making healthy food choices. Following are 10 easy tips to implement during the holiday season, starting with Halloween!

  1. Prepare an extra-nutritious dinner of a good lean protein source, plenty of fresh vegetables and whole grains for you and your family. Fill up on healthy foods before hitting the streets to trick-or-treat, avoiding the urge to consume far too much sugar.
  2. If you will be handing out candy to your neighbors, choose a brand like Unreal to give rather than the traditional Hershey’s. Unreal makes all sorts of delicious candy varieties that are every bit as tasty as other brands without all of the chemicals and preservatives. “No artificial stuff, grass-fed dairy, no GMO’s, gluten free, no corn syrup, traceable cacao.” Check out their website and pick some up at your local grocer.
  3. Pillow cases are for pillows- prepare your kids with smaller treat collectors, then feel okay about them filling it 75% full.
  4. Think outside the raisin box. Instead of candy (or raisins) hand out tricks and toys! Visit Archie McPhee’s or a Dollar Store for stickers, erasers, bubbles, removable tattoos, pencils, bouncy balls or any other small toys you can creatively come up with. This is sure to add some fun to the night without contributing to the $2 billion in candy sales estimated for this Halloween. Eeeek! Now that’s scary!
  5. Power trick-or-treat. Incorporate a little physical activity to balance out the sugar consumption and tucker out the kiddies in time to hit the hay. Take the long way, take a few laps around the block or race from house to house.
  6. Bring a water bottle and drink while you’re gallivanting around. This will also curb the appetite for snacking.
  7. Out of sight, out of mind. Let your children choose 5 candies to consume when they get home, then save the rest to disperse as treats for good behavior or dessert. Avoid the inevitable begging for the candy by hiding it away in a closet and only bringing it out for trade or treat time.
  8. Donate extra candy. Many doctors and dentist offices set up donation centers to turn in excessive candy. Teach children the importance of giving when they have plenty to share.
  9. Create an exchange program. 10 pieces of candy for a toy they’ve been wanting or a fun, recreational outing. Let them use the candy as currency for healthier treats.
  10. Skip the candy and trick-or-treating all together. Let your kids dress up and take the to buy a special toy or go to a fun community event.

And above all else, the bonus #11… Set an example for your children, coworkers, family etc. Limit your consumption of sweets and practice your healthy lifestyle habits throughout all of the fun events!

Besides candy, what is your favorite part about Halloween?

Seasonal Superfood Spotlight: Pumpkin Seeds!

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Don’t be too quick to toss the seeds after carving your pumpkin or making fresh pumpkin pie this fall! Pumpkin seeds are the richest plant source of the mineral zinc on the planet. Zinc is a vital nutrient in immune system support as well as the health of the digestive system and prostate. Just 1 3/4 oz of pumpkin seeds provides 3.2mg of zinc, over 1/3 of the recommended daily intake. In addition pumpkin seeds have a diverse antioxidant profile and are a great source of vitamin E. To maximize the benefits from these tasty seeds, I recommend eating the shell and all. The richest source of nutrients is concentrated in the membrane (endosperm envelope) that lines the inside of the shell, so it’s best to eat the fibrous husk as well. .

Try this Cilantro and pumpkin seed pesto over steamed vegetables and brown rice for a fantastic autumn supper. Or check out this recipe for strait up pumpkin seeds with a kick! Injoy!

      Cilantro and Pumpkin Seed Pesto

Ingredients:

2 cups chopped fresh cilantro

1 cup chopped fresh parsley

3 scallion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

1 tsp ground cumin

1/2 cup coarsely chopped pumpkin seeds

2 TBS water

1 TBS fresh lemon juice

2 TBS extra virgin olive oil

Salt and white pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Chop garlic and let sit for 5 minutes to enhance its health-promoting properties while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Blend all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Add olive oil a little at a time at end. You want the pesto to be blended yet not smooth. It is best with a little texture. Serve at room temperature. Do not heat it.