Nutrition in Disguise

 By Mary Nicholson

It’s here!  Time for the Big Pumpkin!  Is your pumpkin patch sincere?  Just in case this doesn’t make any sense, you might tune in to “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” (8:00 pm ET on ABC).  Making its debut in 1966, this special features the Peanuts gang getting ready to celebrate Halloween. Linus is sure this time the Great Pumpkin will rise from his pumpkin patch, while Charlie Brown and the rest of the crew go trick or treating.

If you’ve been down the dairy aisle at your local grocery store during the last couple of weeks, you may have seen some of the Peanuts gang showing off their own chocolate milk mustaches.  You know, of course, that chocolate milk is the official drink of Halloween, don’t you?  Just as  trick-or-treaters venture out in disguise, chocolate milk is nutrition in disguise!  Who knew 9 essential nutrients could taste so good?

Chocolate milk has all the goodness of white milk.  Oh sure, we all know milk has calcium for strong bones and teeth, but what are those other eight nutrients?  Milk is fortified with Vitamin D, which helps your body absorb the calcium; you might say they are a dynamic duo, a powerful pair, a terrific twosome, and so on.  The protein in milk is high quality, and it help build and repair muscles.  You’ll need strong muscles to carry all that trick-or-treat loot!  There’s also Vitamin A, important for vision and skin, not to mention keeping your immune system strong.  Vitamin B12 serves as an oxygen transporter, and riboflavin (vitamin B2) helps convert food into energy.  That’s very important when exercising those muscles! Continue reading

Halloween Menu Ideas

By Mary Nicholson

What do ghosts serve for dessert?  I scream!  Get it?  I scream/ice cream??  Yes, it’s almost Halloween, so let the haunting begin!

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays.  We usually start October by watching old black and white horror movies and “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”.  That certainly sets the mood around the house!  When my kids were little, we had lots of fun deciding and making costumes.  There were princess and Power Ranger costumes, along with a robot, Superman, a red M & M and a cheerleader, too.   Ah, the good old days!  Way back when I was growing up, our town had (and still does have) a huge Halloween parade.  Marching bands from all over the area participated, and every organization in town made a float, the chicken wire and tissue paper kind.  The homecoming queen got to ride in a convertible, and candy was tossed to the crowd all along the route.  Maybe that’s why Halloween is a favorite time for me.

So now I’m planning our annual Halloween party menu.  Getting to play with food is another reason I enjoy this season.  It’s not hard to make everyday kinds of food a little creepy.  Making regular cookie dough but shaping it like witch’s fingers is a standard for our house.  I have my tried and true items, but I always like to add something new.  This year I’ve run across several intriguing things to broaden my selection.  Here’s a recipe for cheesy cobwebs that only has four ingredients. And what table wouldn’t be complete without a plate full of skulls! For something on the sweeter side, I might try these chocolate candy corn truffles  or these black cat sandwich cookies.  There’s no shortage of ideas and recipes on the internet.  That’s why I stick with things I know my guests have enjoyed in the past, and add in just a few new ones each year.

So as the skeleton said to his guests, “Bone appetite!”

Trick or Treat – Smell My Feet – Give Me Something Healthy to Eat!

Halloween brings out the kid in all of us. It’s fun to get dressed up in a costume and parade around the neighborhood or go to a party. Treats are a part of the fun. However, treats don’t have to be sticky, gooey candy. The words “healthy” and “Halloween” don’t appear to fit together in the same sentence but can! If you are the type of mom who is concerned that Halloween isn’t the most nutritionally healthy night for your children, there are some steps you can take to help minimize the “candy craze”.

Tips for a Healthy Halloween

Happy Chocolate Day!

By Mary Nicholson 

What holiday will be celebrated this month that revolves around the wonderful world of chocolate?  If you said Halloween, I’d have to give you the buzzer and say, “No!”  Even though October 31 includes plenty of chocolate in my trick-or-treating goodies, October 28 is actually National Chocolate Day.  So you can start celebrating early!

Chocolate is created from cocoa, thought to have originated in the Amazon at least 4,000 years ago.  Many archeological sites find evidence of cacao beverages from the residue found in ceramic vessels.  Since sugar was not yet created, but bitterness of the cocoa was mixed with different spices to make it palatable.   Seeds from the cocoa tree were even used as currency at one time.

Today, chocolate is readily available in many varieties and forms.  From mini- chocolate chips to elegant chocolate candies, there is something for just about every chocolate lover’s palate.  Having had the opportunity years ago to attend the National Restaurant Association’s Food Show, I was dumbstruck at the intricate sculptures on display there that were made out of chocolate. Who knew that something so tasty could be used as an art form?  Well, perhaps you did, but that was a long time ago when I was pretty naïve!

Now that the weather is cooling off a bit, I believe I will celebrate National Chocolate Day with a nice cup of cocoa.  Here’s a recipe from the good folks at Hershey that’s simple enough for kids to make:  If you’ve got a little more time, here are some interesting cocoa recipes from the Food Network’s Alton Brown:   I don’t plan on keeping my celebrating to just one day, especially when there are 364 others in which to enjoy chocolate’s yumminess.  But on National Chocolate Day, I believe I will raise my glass (of chocolate milk, of course!) to the wonders of chocolate!

Pumpkin Recipes Perfect for Halloween!

Here are some Spooktacular pumpkin recipes I found and wanted to share with you! They would be great for Halloween!


For the topping:

  • 2 cups low fat vanilla yogurt
  • 1 cup raisins

For the pancakes:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup 1% low fat milk
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup low fat vanilla yogurt

In a small mixing bowl, briskly combine vanilla yogurt and raisins until yogurt becomes looser texture. Reserve. For the pancakes, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine milk, butter, egg, pumpkin, and yogurt, mixing well.

Add wet ingredients to flour mixture and stir until just moist. Do not overmix. Batter may be lumpy. For thinner batter, add milk. Lightly coat a griddle or skillet with cooking spray and heat on medium. Using a quarter-cup measure, pour batter onto hot griddle. Cook until bubbles begin to burst, then flip pancakes and cook until golden.

Serve warm, topped with yogurt-raisin mixture and dusting of cinnamon.

  • 1 (15-ounce) can pure pumpkin
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 (30-ounce) bag frozen cheese ravioli
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese

Place a large saucepan of water over high heat. Cover and bring to a boil. While the water is coming to a boil, combine the pumpkin, broth, sugar, butter, garlic powder, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium saucepan and stir to combine. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the butter melts and the mixture is heated through, about 10 minutes.

When the water comes to a boil, add the ravioli and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside. Just before serving, stir in the sour cream as desired. Serve the ravioli on individual plates, top with pumpkin sauce and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.


  • 1 can (14 ounces) pumpkin, chilled
  • 3 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese
  • 1 container (6 ounces) lowfat vanilla yogurt
  • 2 cups lowfat milk
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 6 teaspoons graham cracker crumbs, optional

Place all ingredients (except graham cracker crumbs) in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into glasses and top each serving with a teaspoon of graham cracker crumbs, if desired.

Howling for a Healthy Halloween

Halloween brings out the kid in all of us. It’s fun to get dressed up in a costume and parade around the neighborhood or go to a party. Treats are a part of the fun. However, treats don’t have to be sticky, gooey candy. The words “healthy” and “Halloween” don’t appear to fit together in the same sentence but can! If you are the type of mom who is concerned that Halloween isn’t the most nutritionally healthy night for your children, there are some steps you can take to help minimize the “candy craze”.

Have a Healthy, Happy Halloween!


1.)Exercise During Halloween? Trick or Treating is exercise! Make sure children get enough physical activity to burn off excess calories. Trick-or-treating can be a fun way to incorporate walking. Plan a few extra loops around the neighborhood. This can tire out kids and prepare them to hit the sack when they get home.

2.)Boundaries. Set limits with your child on how many pieces of candy they’re allowed to eat on Halloween night. The ‘come home, dump out all the candy and have at it’ method is not the best. Allow your children to make their own selections, but tell them they can only pick a few pieces.

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Don’t Trick Your Bones, Treat Them!

By Diane Ruyack

A big problem in our country is back pain, as well as arthritis, osteoporosis, broken bones, trauma (caused by sports injuries or automobile accidents for example), and other spinal disorders, hip, knee and foot pain, cerebral palsy, and congenital problems like clubfoot.

The medical costs for these musculoskeletal conditions in the United States is estimated at $849 billion annually.

Every October 12-20 the Bone and Joint Decade celebrates National Action Week to educate the public about prevention activities.

Worldwide, musculoskeletal conditions are the most common causes of severe long-term pain and physical disability. Aging populations throughout the developed world will result in significant increases in musculoskeletal conditions, with attendant increases in costs to those countries.

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