Trick or Treat! Health Tricks for Your Halloween Treats

Friday, October 21, 2011

Although Halloween is only one day a year, leftover candy is likely to hang around the house for weeks, which can mean thousands of unwanted calories, fat, and sugar just BEFORE the holiday season!

Here is some advice from Coach Katrina on how what to give trick-or-treaters, what to do with leftover candy, and ideas for a healthier Halloween.

Think small. Offer mini-bars and snack-size treats such as snack-size pretzels, raisins, dried fruit and Chex-mix because they can be used for school snacks and decrease the overall calorie load in the trick-or-treat bag. Hand out mini-sized kid favorites like peanut butter cups and candy bars out one at a time rather than by the handful.

Choose less-indulgent candies. Chocolate covered raisins still count as candy, but they are at least packed with fiber and other healthful nutrients. Compared to most other candies, dark chocolates, such as Hershey’s® Dark Chocolate Kisses® or Special Dark Miniatures, have a bit less sugar, plus some fiber, protein, and antioxidants. Peppermint Patties are low in fat. Here are some calorie counts of popular candies:

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup = 105 calories
Mini Snickers = 45 calories
Mini Hershey’s bar = 45 calories
Kit Kat = 73 calories
Fun Size Twix = 80 calories
Mini Milky Way = 75 calories
Fun Size Butterfinger = 100 calories
22 Pieces of Candy Corn = 140 calories

Try organic dark chocolate. Research shows that real chocolate has health benefits, but most commercial candy bars are so highly processed many of the healthy flavonoids are lost. Give out small organic dark chocolate squares this year.

Don’t rule out lollipops. Even though they’re still all sugar, candies like lollipops that take longer to eat are a good idea because they help kids eat less overall.

Skip the candy. Kids prefer toys over candy, according to recent research. Here are some toy ideas:
• Temporary tattoos
• Bouncy balls
• Yo-yo’s
• Stickers
• Plastic spider rings
• Colored pencils
• Play-Doh
• Glow necklaces
• Super balls
• Plastic or wax fangs
• Party favors, like slide puzzles
• Noise makers or whistles

Talk it out. Ask your kids about how much candy is reasonable for a day and when during the day they would like to have the candy. Agreeing on set parameters beforehand is important in helping your children feel like a part of the decision.

Work it out—literally! You and your kids can burn quite a few calories walking (sometimes in heavy costumes) and climbing up and down stairs!

Consider other activities. Instead of focusing on trick-or-treating, go to a haunted house, pumpkin picking/carving, or hayride. Children will have a ton of fun, especially while dressed in their favorite costume! Then if your kids still have some energy left, a little trick-or-treating provides a nice way to conclude your day.

3-Step Post-Halloween Slim-Down: Out of sight, out of mind!

1. Get rid of leftover candy as soon as possible, especially those candies that aren’t their favorites.
2. Donate to local charities/shelters.
3. Many dentists and orthodontists are now paying their patients to bring candy—as much as $5 per pound! Have your kids weigh their candy if you have a food scale and make a list of what they want to spend their money on.
4. Throw it out—yes, you can!

References and recommended readings:

Schwartz MB, Chen EY, Brownell KD. Trick, treat, or toy: children are just as likely to choose toys as candy on Halloween. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2006;35:207-209.

Vinson JA, Proch J, Bose P, et al. Chocolate is a powerful ex vivo and in vivo antioxidant, an antiatherosclerotic agent in an animal model, and a significant contributor to antioxidants in the European and American diets. J Agric Food Chem [serial online]. 2006;54:8071-76. Available at: Accessed April 6, 2011.


My Husband’s Favorite Salad

I made this salad  to prepare for an upcoming cooking demo featuring fall produce. My husband said that it is his “favorite salad.” I guess I’ll be making it again soon.

Easy, quick, and most importantly, delicious, quinoa, chickpeas, and roasted vegetables adds vegan protein and heft to a simple green salad. It’s perfect for lunch or dinner.

Fall Harvest Quinoa Salad

Serves 6 as an entrée or 12 as a side dish

Salad Ingredients

1 acorn squash, peeled and diced
1 large red onion, peeled and diced
Nonstick cooking spray
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup quinoa, uncooked
1 ½ cups low fat, low sodium vegetable or chicken stock
½ cup water
½ cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
1 cup chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup dried cranberries
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 large ripe pear, stemmed and cored, cut into bite-sized pieces
¼ cup fresh chopped parsley
2 large handfuls baby spinach leaves
Salt and pepper, to taste

Dressing Ingredients

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
½ teaspoon whole grain mustard
1 tablespoon honey
Salt and pepper, to taste


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place squash and onions on a large baking sheet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Toss with olive oil and honey, salt and pepper to taste. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, or until tender, tossing once while cooking. Meanwhile, cook quinoa according to package directions, using a combination of broth and water (above). Whisk together dressing ingredients in a large salad bowl, and add remaining ingredients. When vegetables are done roasting, add them and the cooked quinoa to the salad bowl, tossing to coat with the dressing. Serve immediately or chill.

Serving size: 2 ½ cups (entrée); 1 ¼ cups (side dish)


405 calories, 1g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 254mg sodium, 1111 mg potassium, 63g carbohydrate, 10g fiber, 13.8g sugar, 11g protein

Quick tips and a grocery list for making fast, healthy meals at home.

Here are some quick tips for getting dinners on the table every night of the week, along with a list of groceries and kitchen essentials…

 Plan your meals, make your list, and grocery shop on a regular basis.
 Practice healthy cooking techniques.
 Cook and freeze. Use leftovers in new ways.
 Try a new recipe or new kind of produce each week.
 Have FUN and ENJOY your meals with those you love.

Your Healthy Grocery List:

Refrigerator Staples
 Fresh, sliced fruit and vegetables
 Prewashed salad greens
 Eggs, lean, low-sodium turkey breast
 Low fat/ nonfat cheese, yogurt, milk
 High flavor cheeses
 Rotisserie chicken
 Leftovers from the night before

Freezer Staples
 Vegetables and fruit, no sauce/sugar added
 Fish, skinless poultry, and lean (or trimmed) meats
 Veggie, salmon, turkey burgers
 Lean ground poultry and meat
 Healthy, low sodium entrees
 Whole grain breads, bagels, tortillas
 Pre-cooked and portioned homemade soups and entrees

Pantry Staples
 Low-sodium or no salt added:
      Canned beans/lentils (all types)
      Canned tomato products
 Fruit (in water/juice only)
 Whole grains
 Dried beans/lentils
 Chunk light tuna (in water), salmon, chicken, clams, sardines
 Nuts, seeds, dried fruits

Flavor Enhancers
 Vinegars, mustards, hot pepper
 Cayenne, crushed red pepper flakes, hot sauce, wasabi
 Low-sodium soy sauce
 Flavored broth or stock
 Grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
 Tapenade (olive paste)
 Melted anchovies or anchovy paste
 Salt-free seasoning blends
 Herbs & spices
 Citrus juice and zest
 Grated ginger, onions, and garlic

Your Healthy Cooking Tools:

 Nonstick cookware
 Steamer basket insert or microwave
 Plastic flexible cutting mat
 Hand grater
 Veggie peelers
 Good chef’s knife and sharpener
 Wooden spoons
 Silicone spatulas
 Baking dishes
 Roasting rack with handles
 Aluminum foil /parchment paper
 Blender or food processor
 Slow cooker
 Grill or grill-pan
 Thermometer

What’s For Lunch? Easy tips to start brown-bagging it.

Fall is almost here, and this time of year is a time for many to get back into the daily grind after months of fun in the sun, and long, lazy days. It’s a perfect reason to get back to packing lunches for the kids AND, just as importantly, for yourself. Already packing for the kids but not yourself? Simply add another bag to the bunch as if you had an extra child.

Why pack?

It’s cheaper. A homemade lunch is better for your wallet than a restaurant or café meal that can cost up to $15, totaling up to $75 per week, and $300 per month! Wow, that’s a lot of savings!

More importantly, a brown-bag lunch is healthier for your body. This is because you control what goes into the bag and if you don’t want mystery meat or hidden dressings, sauces, and spreads, you don’t have to worry. You can save countless calories, sodium, fat grams, and sugar by preparing your own lunch, and by portioning out exactly how much you plan to eat. You may even lose a few pounds!

If you aren’t already brown-bagging it, you may feel intimidated or overwhelmed. Not to worry, here are some tips to consider:

  1. Start small. Choose 2 days out of the week that you plan to pack your lunch. Perhaps Monday and Friday are chaotic, but you can manage Tuesdays and Thursdays (if your Mondays and Wednesday evenings are relatively open). This will get you into the habit of packing without causing too much strain.
  2. Double up on dinner. If you like hot lunches, then this is a perfect solution. Simply prepare an extra serving of food for dinner and when you are serving your food, have your lunch container empty and ready to be filled. Lunch—done!
  3. Stretch out your protein. Leftover grilled fish, lean meats, roasted chicken or turkey, tofu, or even beans make a perfect topping to a bed of pre-washed salad greens or steamable frozen veggies. Pair it with a fruit in its own package such as a banana, orange, apple, or pear, and/or a whole grain roll or a handful of whole grain crackers and you’ve got a meal.
  4. Keep it simple. Why not combine reduced fat cheese cubes or slices with ready-to-eat fruits such as grapes and berries, and a handful of whole grain crackers. Similarly, a few tablespoons of peanut butter spooned into a plastic container with a baggie of ready-to-eat baby carrots and a whole wheat pita is just as simple, yet very satisfying.
  5. Put safety first. Remember to use a reusable ice pack or, better yet, a frozen water bottle to keep foods cold. By the time the water melts, you’ll be ready to eat (and drink).

As a nutritionist and health coach with a passion for healthy eating, I’m proud to say that I pack my lunch (and afternoon snacks) every single workday. Today, I brought LEFTOVERS—one of my favorite lunch options. Last night, I made a super simple chicken stir fry with frozen colored bell peppers, red onion, garlic, fresh ginger (that I zest from a piece of ginger that’s been in my freezer for weeks), and whole wheat couscous that took 5 minutes to make as I was stir frying the veggies. I had my lunch container ready to go as I was plating up the dinner plates, which made preparing the next day’s lunch that much easier.

I will highly recommend my lunch box of choice, a flexible, zip-up 12-can size pack which has an ice pack lining built right in. Simply store it in the freezer overnight, and it’s literally an ice chest that keeps the food cold all day long.

In addition to my packed lunch, I always make sure to throw in a fruit (my favorite is a banana) and a nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt to snack on in the afternoon. Easy, and delicious.

I challenge you to start packing your lunch this week, whether it’s for 2 days or all 5 days. Who knows what benefits you’ll experience from a healthier, cheaper, more delicious, lunch!


Japanese? Greek? Mexican? What do I order?

Here are some ideas for what to choose at specific types of restaurants you may visit:

Diner/Breakfast: Egg white omelet prepared with cooking spray (no butter) with your choice of non-starchy vegetables; side green salad or steamed vegetables; 100% whole grain toast with optional 1 teaspoon soft margarine; fresh fruit

Japanese: Miso soup, 4 oz. fish (sashimi) ; green salad, dressing on side, and steamed vegetables w/ low sodium soy sauce; limit to 1 six-piece California roll (or other flavor) with ginger, low sodium soy sauce, and wasabi (watch extra sauces—often mayonnaise-based); avoid the words “spicy, dynamite, tempura, and crunchy”; edamame (steamed soybeans); yosenabe (seafood and veggies in broth); su udon (hot noodles and broth); sumashi wan (clear soup with tofu/shrimp)

Italian: Grilled lean meat/seafood (share if portion is larger than 6 oz); side of vegetables; seafood in marinara sauces; fresh salads; grilled vegetables; primavera (with garden vegetables); marsala (wine sauce); share pasta dishes or order a side order of pasta only; request whole grain if available

Indian: request no ghee (butter), avoid: coconut oil/milk, kandhari, malai, korma, samosa (fried), pakori (deep-fried) thick cheese pudding, and honey pastries; choose: gobhi matar tamatar (cauliflower with peas/tomatoes); matar pulao (rice pilaf with peas), pulkas, nann, chapati kulcha (low-fat breads), salads/vegetables with yogurt dressing, mulligatawny (chicken) or del rasam (lentil) soups; tandoori (grilled), vindoori (marinated/braised), or tikka (roasted) dishes; vegetable or dal based curries; papadum/papad (lentil wafers);

Mexican: Steak, chicken, shrimp, or fish fajitas without butter, 1-3 corn tortillas, salsa, pico de gallo, cilantro, jalapenos, peppers, onions, tomatoes, red sauces/green sauces, small amount of guacamole, no cheese or sour cream, black beans instead of pinto beans, fresh garden salad; remove chip basket from table and request bell peppers for dipping

Cajun: boiled/grilled seafood (crawfish/shrimp/fish); creole/jambalaya dishes, turkey or roast beef Po-Boy sandwiches, red beans and rice without sausage; request sauces/gravies on the side; avoid fried dishes

Chinese: steamed chicken, shrimp, or tofu with vegetables and sauce on the side (drizzle 1-2 tablespoons) ; ½ cup steamed (not fried) brown rice (100 cal); request “little oil” and no MSG on any stir-fried dishes; wonton/egg drop/hot and sour soup; steamed dumplings; portions are HUGE—share!

Steakhouse: Small portion of lean cuts (London broil, filet mignon, round, flank, sirloin, tenderloin without butter, side of steamed broccoli and/or asparagus, green salad (dressing on side), tomato/onion salad, baked potato or rice

BBQ: poultry with skin removed; kid’s size pulled pork sandwich, green beans, baked potato with a drizzle of BBQ sauce

Seafood: 4 oz. steamed seafood of your choice with double order of steamed vegetables (no butter), side green salad; baked potato with salsa or hot sauce
Pub/Bar: Large salad with lean protein, baked potato with salsa; shrimp cocktail; celery sticks and wing sauce

Café/Bistro: half turkey or roast beef sandwich without cheese/mayo; broth-based soups, large vegetable salads with light dressing, fruit salads (watch high calorie toppings such as nuts, cheese, croutons, bacon, dressing)

Family Restaurants: Boiled/baked, grilled/blackened items; veggie burgers; salads with low-fat dressing; broth-based soups with veggies; steamed shrimp; baked potato/rice without gravy; greens without lard/salt pork; sautéed veggies; nonfat frozen yogurt; Look for heart-healthy/low-fat designations
on menu

Fast Food: Salad with chicken (no other toppings), small chili with side salad; grilled chicken sandwich; baked chips; apple slices; low fat yogurt; baked potato with salsa or ketchup/mustard; low fat/fat free milk

French: Steamed mussels, salad with dressing on side; French onion soup without cheese, sauces on side; lightly sautéed vegetables, fruit for dessert

Pizza: thin crust with veggies, request less cheese if possible; large vegetable salad with light dressing or oil/vinegar (small amount of oil); meat toppings add tons of saturated “artery-clogging” fat and sodium

Greek: Tzaziki (yogurt dip), baba ghanoush (eggplant dip), hummus, torato (cold vegetable yogurt soup), broiled/grilled meat, chicken, seafood, kebabs, souvlaki (grilled lamb), fish in plaki sauce (tomato/garlic), dolmas (steamed grape leaves); Greek salad with less feta and dressing on the side; couscous, bulgur, pita

Vegetarian/Health Food: fat free/low fat granola; salad with low fat/fat free dressing; low fat/fat free mayonnaise on sandwiches and in sandwich fillings, mustard, low fat yogurt-based dishes; choose avocado instead of cheese/mayonnaise

The Best Broccoli You’ve Ever Had: Crispy, Tangy, and Addictive!

If you don’t like broccoli OR if you LOVE broccoli, try this recipe. Roasting brings out the sweetness of this cancer-fighting vegetable and the best part is that the florets get slightly crispy on the outside. It ALMOST tastes fried!


4-5 pounds broccoli florets; make sure they are thoroughly dry. This is very important.
4-5 garlic cloves, sliced (optional)
1 lemon (or 1 tablespoon bottled lemon juice)
1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400.

Place  broccoli on a cookie sheet sprayed with olive oil flavored cooking spray. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add garlic if desired.

Roast in the oven 15-20 minutes, until “crisp-tender and the tips of some of the florets are browned.”

When it’s done, take it out of the oven.

Zest a lemon (use a parmesan cheese grater and rub the outside of the lemon against it; careful not to include any of the white pith) over the broccoli and slice the lemon, squeezing it on top of the broccoli.

Top with optional 1 tablespoon parmesan cheese.

1 cup roasted broccoli = ~25 calories

Skinny Caesar Salad Dressing At Home: New Recipe!


¼ c liquid egg (Egg Beaters work well)
1 clove garlic
1½ tsp anchovy paste (sold in tube near anchovies in supermarket)
½ tsp Dijon mustard
¼ tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 T lemon juice
2T olive oil
¼ cup finely grated Parmesan
Salt and fresh ground pepper

Whisk together first 6 ingredients in small bowl. Slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream while whisking. Stir in Parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper. Makes 2/3 cup dressing.

30 calories per tablespoon (Compare to 85 calories per tablespoon in typical bottled versions)