Some people are born for Halloween, and some are just counting the days until Christmas.” — Stephen Graham Jones
Which type of person are you? Do you love the spooky atmosphere and costumes of Halloween? Are you excited for Trick-or-Treating and The Great Pumpkin? Or are you simply counting down to mistletoe and tree trimming?
Regardless of what holiday you prefer, Halloween is coming fast and so are all the sugary treats that accompany the day. I love to find healthy alternatives for those costume parties, school treats and monster mash parties because we all know there will be no shortage of candy in the next few months. Before I share some recipes, here are some helpful tips for October 31st for your kids (and a few for you too):
- Take a small bag Trick-or-Treating. How much candy do you really need, anyway? And, if you take a small bag, your child still walks away with a FULL bag of candy!
- Fill up before you leave. Have a healthy dinner before going out to your party or Trick-or-Treating. Your stomach will thank you later.
- Set expectations before you leave. If you have boundaries on how many sweets you’re allowed and stick to it, you are more likely to eat less of the unhealthy and more of the healthy food!
- Take care of your teeth! If you can’t brush or floss right after you eat sweets (which is always ideal to prevent cavities), drink water. Drinking plain water afterwards can rinse some of that sugar off your teeth and gums until you can brush well later.
- Minimize your treasure. Pick out your favorite loot from your Trick-or-Treating and give the rest away. Hide the rest and have the rest as treats. I like the rule of “no sweets during the work/school week” and eat in moderation on the weekend (and only after a nutritious meal).
- After a set amount of time, throw it out – there is another holiday right around the corner.
Here are some ideas for fun Halloween-themed treats this month that won’t give you a cavity by November 1st 😉
I found these fun Colby Jack-o-Lanterns on EveryDay Health. I like to substitute the butter for olive oil spray and add fresh tomato and oregano to kick up the flavor a just a bit (you can find my recipe for my favorite grilled cheese sandwich here), but these sandwiches are perfect for both adults and kids and are so cute, they will have your kids screaming for more.
- 4 whole-wheat sandwich thins
- olive oil spray
- 1 (8-ounce) block of Organic Colby Jack cheese, sliced
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Split four sandwich thins in half (so you have 8 slices) and lightly spray one side of 4 of the slices with olive oil.
- Lay oil side down on a baking sheet and layer Colby Jack cheese on them (add your fresh veggies if adding them).
- Cut out jack-o’-lantern faces on the other 4 slices, then lightly spray olive oil on one side and lay oil-side down on baking sheet.
- Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.
- Remove and place jack o’-lantern faces on top of the sandwiches.
Dark Chocolate-Dipped Apples
These healthier-than caramel dark chocolate-dipped apples are a work of art! They are super fun to make together and can just as well be a family project as well as a dessert or treat to have at home or bring to a dinner party!
- 8oz dark chocolate
- 8 Medium apples
- various toppings as desired
- 8 bamboo skewers or wooden pop sticks
- Wash and dry apples.
- Arrange toppings in medium sized bowls
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper coated with cooking spray.
- Insert wooden stick into apple cores.
- Fill a medium sauce pan half way with water.
- Bring water to a boil and place a medium glass mixing bowl over boiling water and immediately remove from heat.
- Melt chocolate in the glass bowl over the hot water.
- Coat the apple with a thin layer of chocolate by gently spooning melted chocolate on to each apple starting about one fourth inch away from apple top working downward
- If you are using additional toppings dip apples into topping bowls or sprinkle toppings over apples.
- Place decorated apples onto parchment paper and refrigerate for fifteen minutes to harden.
Pumpkin Dip with Apples
There are a lot of recipes for pumpkin pie dip that include a lot of unhealthy ingredients, or that take all day to make. I love pumpkin and this is the time of year where pumpkin and fall just go hand and hand, and what goes better with Halloween than pumpkins? Here is a healthier pumpkin dip that would pair great with apples, graham crackers, or anything else you’ve got handy to dip!
- 2 cups plain Greek yogurt (I prefer Voskos)
- 1 cup organic pumpkin puree (I recommend Farmer’s Market)
- 1 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
- 1 tablespoon organic pure maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla
- Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and pulse until smooth
- Serve in a bowl with graham crackers, apples or other dipping snacks!
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This month is not only an extremely important time to shed light on Breast Cancer and the dangers, signs and symptoms but also a good time to remind ourselves to take preventative action. The third Friday in October each year is National Mammography Day, first proclaimed by President Clinton in 1993. On this day, or throughout the month, women are encouraged to make a mammography appointment. This year, National Mammography Day will be celebrated on October 18.
A mammogram is an X-ray picture of the breast. Doctors use a mammogram to look for early signs of breast cancer. Regular mammograms are the best tests doctors have to find breast cancer early, sometimes up to three years before it can be felt. According to the American Cancer Society, guidelines for women receiving mammograms are the following:
- Women ages 40 to 44 should have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms (x-rays of the breast) if they wish to do so.
- Women age 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year.
- Women 55 and older should switch to mammograms every 2 years, or can continue yearly screening.
- Screening should continue as long as a woman is in good health and is expected to live 10 more years or longer.
- All women should be familiar with the known benefits, limitations, and potential harms linked to breast cancer screening.
Women should also know how their breasts normally look and feel and report any breast changes to a health care provider right away. Some women – because of their family history, a genetic tendency, or certain other factors – should be screened with MRIs along with mammograms. (The number of women who fall into this category is very small.) Talk with a health care provider about your risk for breast cancer and the best screening plan for you.
If you are worried about the cost of mammograms, but would like to schedule one, the CDC offers free or low-cost mammograms. Check here for programs in your area.
There is no proven method to prevent breast cancer, but there are ways to reduce your risk:
Nutrition is extremely important; good nutrition can improve health and wellbeing. Not only that, but proper nutrition can be a vital part of preventative medicine, helping your body stay well. No single food or food component can protect you against cancer by itself. But research shows that a diet filled with a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and other plant foods helps lower risk for many cancers.
Keeping a healthy weight is also crucial because obesity is the second biggest preventable cause of cancer. Many studies have shown that moderate to vigorous physical activity is linked with lower breast cancer risk, so it’s important to get regular physical activity. Getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day/5 days a week is the recommended amount of exercise by the American Cancer Society. This can be anything from a brisk walk, yoga, to aerobics – anything that gets your heart rate up. If you cannot dedicate a full 30 minutes at one time, you can break this time up to three 10-minute segments a day!
Avoiding alcohol will also reduce your risk of breast cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends that women have no more than 1 drink per day as even low levels of alcohol increases their risk. A drink is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits (hard liquor).
To learn more about Breast Cancer and more about what you can do this month to reduce your risk and increase your awareness, go to the National Breast Cancer Foundation’s website here.
“October is a symphony of permanence and change.”– Bonaro W. Overstreet