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Happy (Healthy?) Halloween!

Out comes my party pooper hat—a nutritionist speaking about Halloween. No, I won’t lecture you to not let your kids collect their sweet treats. I won’t even ask you to throw out the leftover candy. I just wish the holiday could have more meaning, like I do with others: that Christmas didn't spotlight big glittery presents, and Thanksgiving wasn’t about gorging ourselves into a food coma. I wish Halloween were more about having spooky fun get-togethers with friends or cute dress-up parties with the neighborhood tots than collecting mountains of chocolate. I don’t like seeing the greedy eyes of young trick-or-treaters ogling my basket of candy and frowning when they get two pieces (many are bolder and yell “that’s it?”). I don’t like being compared to my kindly elderly neighbor whom all the kids flock to because she doles out full-size Snickers.

With the epidemic of obese kids whom we’re fighting to save from early health problems, the issue heightens during this season. The major holidays from Halloween through New Year’s Day add thousands of extra calories to our usual diets. In addition, the cold weather and shorter days may discourage the physical activity needed to balance out that extra intake. So, now that I’ve spoken my peace, here are some ideas:

  • Give out treats with a little less fat and calories. The cute pretzel packs are best but I doubt most kids see them as treats. Miniature or fun sizes of 3 Musketeers, Peppermint Patties, Tootsie Rolls, candy corn, and dark chocolate are appreciated. And yes, two or three pieces of this size are enough per child! For your own kids, allow a few pieces each night but with the agreement that they brush their teeth extra carefully afterward as all candy, regardless of calories, has lots of sugar.
  • Organize a fun costume party for your child inviting a few kids over, with small prizes and games. Make sure to include dancing to Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Or attend a dress-up Halloween or Harvest Party held in your community or local church.
  • If you go trick-or-treating, plan to eat supper first or at least a snack so your kids aren’t starving for sweets. Set a time or location limit of a half-hour or 1-2 streets, which controls the total amount of candy your child collects. Take some attention off of the candy by admiring all the fun spooky decorations at your neighbors’ homes and the creative costumes the other trick-or-treaters are wearing. Include time for some great photo sessions.
  • Try ghoulishly delightful recipes like Maggoty Pumpkin Soup, found at Kaboose.com. Find other Halloween activities and craft ideas at Apples4theteacher.com.

b.good - i.happy!

b.good, the chain of healthy fast food restaurants, has been around for a while and I’ve certainly been a fan. Now that its newest location is a hop skip away from me, I wanted to share a quick review. This place just makes me happy. It helps that this particular branch sits next to my two favorite athletic stores, Lululemon and Lucy, adding to its aura of health. I know I can walk into this very family friendly eatery and get food I really like, cheap. Pseudo fast food that’s entirely satisfying without all the grease and salt that usually leaves me Less Guilty Friesbloated and tired. One of my ultimate noshes is French fries, and there are two great varieties here, both oven-baked with the skins left on and lightly seasoned: the regular version that my son loves more than McDonald’s fries, and a sweet potato version that offers thick-cut deep orange strips (ahh, all that vitamin A, my eyes feel better already!). There are four kinds of burgers (beef, turkey, veggie, and grilled chicken) made to order six different ways. My favorite is the West Side with avocado, tomato, and chipotle salsa. There are also not-your-run-of-the-mill salads, steamed seasoned veggies, and delicious fruity shakes or milkshakes thickened with nonfat frozen yogurt.

West Side Turkey Burger and Crisp VeggiesIf you sign up for the e-newsletter, you’ll get coupons and info on store events (like their garlicky-greens eating world championship where the winner downed 7 pounds of sautéed spinach!). I also learned that they’re adding back eggs into their veggie burger recipe—a welcome change that should help alleviate the dryness. I even get a 10% discount on all orders because of b.good’s partnership with my health club. Now they just need delivery! Visit b.good.


Pumped Up Pumpkin

Pumpkins aren’t just for decorating! Belonging to the squash family, pumpkins are an undervalued yummy and nutritious ingredient. Even if you’re too intimidated like me to use fresh pumpkin, canned pumpkin is just as nutritious and available year round. Its deep orange hue advertises its high beta carotene content (a form of vitamin A), the same nutrient found in carrots. Beta carotene is an antioxidant that helps fight off certain components that may damage cells, sometimes leading to cancer. Pumpkin also contains fiber, vitamin A, and minerals like iron, potassium, and magnesium. Vitamin A helps promote a strong immune system and benefits your vision. Below are two easy delish ways to use pumpkin, great for the holidays or whenever else!

Pumpkin Potato Mash


5 medium Idaho potatoes, peeled and cubed

15 oz canned pumpkin

1/4 c evaporated skim milk

1-2 T soft margarine (optional)

Salt to taste


  1. In a large saucepan, cover potatoes with water. Bring to boil and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10-15 minutes. Drain well and set aside.
  2. In same saucepan, heat evaporated skim milk just until warm. Add potatoes and pumpkin.
  3. Mash with a potato masher or blend on medium speed of a hand blender until mixture is smooth.
  4. Mix in margarine and salt if desired.

Pumpkin Cheesecake


1 c graham cracker crumbs, crushed

8 oz reduced fat cream cheese, softened slightly at room temperature

14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

15 oz canned pumpkin

3/4 cup egg substitute or 3 eggs

1 T orange juice

1 t pumpkin pie spice

1 t vanilla extract

1/4 t salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spread graham crumbs over bottom of 9-inch springform pan and spray with cooking spray. Press crumbs firmly down. Set aside.
  3. In large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Slowly beat in sweetened condensed milk, then the rest of the ingredients.
  4. Pour pumpkin mixture into pan and bake for about 1 hour or until cake springs back when lightly touched in center.