I’ve become a bit of a food snob in recent years, and I’m proud of it! If you’re going to look down your nose at anything, fattening, processed foods with GMOs (genetically modified organisms) and artificial flavors and colors seem like a good thing to be snooty about.
By Rachel Begun, MS, RD
I may be a dietitian and advocate for healthy foods most of the time, but I believe every child should enjoy and engage in the traditions and festivities of Halloween, including those who have to eat gluten free.
It all comes down to planning ahead and parents and children deciding together what their fun and safe celebration should look like. Here are some ideas to get the discussion going:
After the trick-or-treaters have come and gone, what can you do with those leftover pumpkins? Here are six different uses for pumpkin parts, from seeds and flesh to the pumpkin shell itself:
1. Pumpkin planter: Turn your scary jack-o-lantern into a festive fall planter – just fill partway with potting soil and add the plant of your choice. Keep as decoration (until the pumpkin goes bad) or plant in the ground right away.
2. Baked goods: First, whip up some pumpkin puree by cutting your pumpkin in half, scooping out the seeds and guts (the stringy parts), and placing the pumpkin in a shallow baking dish. Add a cup of water to the dish and bake for 90 minutes at 350 degrees, or until the innards are moist and soft. Scoop out the flesh and blend in a food processor. Use your pumpkin puree for pancakes, muffins, cupcakes, breads, pies and more!
3. Pumpkin butter: The innards of your pumpkin are the perfect base for a delicious butter. Follow the steps above to make pumpkin puree, then add 1 cup of brown sugar, 1 cup of apple cider and spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, clove and ginger) to taste. Add the ingredients to a saucepan and simmer for 25 minutes. Spread on bread or fruit for a flavorful breakfast!
4. Colorful bowls: Cut down your carved pumpkins into bowl shapes, brush them with a small amount of vegetable oil and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes to make beautiful bowls for a special dinner, or to use in a centerpiece.
5. Seed snack: Save those pumpkin seeds to use in a delicious and healthy trail mix or as a topping for salads. Simply rinse the seeds, brush them with oil and bake them for 45 minutes at 300 degrees. If you desire, top them with butter, salt, spices or sugar before baking.
6. Pet food: If your pup has digestion issues or is overweight, add a small scoop of pumpkin puree to his food dish to support healthy digestion, provide fiber and other nutrients, and keep him feeling full.
Thanks to the frightening amount of sugary candy available, Halloween isn’t usually a holiday that’s synonymous with health, but a little planning can fix that. Follow these five tips to make sure this Halloween is a healthy one for you and your kids!
1. Be a good role model by passing out healthy Halloween treats to the neighborhood kids, and by limiting your own candy consumption.
2. Set limits on the amount of candy your kids eat by encouraging them to share the candy with others or trade it in for coins or small toys.
3. Avoid cavities by limiting sticky or chewy candy that can get stuck in teeth and encouraging kids to brush and floss right away after eating Halloween candy.
4. Fill up on healthy foods first. Before kids head out for trick-or-treating, make sure they eat a healthy dinner to keep them from snacking on candy.
5. Turn candy wrappers into a nutrition lesson – have your kids read the nutrition facts and ingredients lists of different candies to teach them about calories, fat, sugar and “yucky” ingredients such as artificial dyes, hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup and more.
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