Healthy Halloween Treats to Enjoy With Your Kids

When it comes to Halloween, its often hard to think of it from a health perspective. It almost seems cruel. After all, its only one night, right? True. But why settle just for candy when you and your kids can enjoy, yes ENJOY, healthy Halloween treats that you make or eat together?

From simple to complex, creating healthy treats for Halloween should add to the overall holiday experience, not take away from it. Since trick-or-treating and candy add so much fun to the holiday, its easy to think that by supplementing or replacing them with healthier fare will result in less fun. This isn’t the case; well, unless you let it be.

So get ready for a little healthy treat fun! And if you need some inspiration, a few of members of thePlate Community already have a few great ideas to get you started.

Chocolate Fruit Bugs from The Fit Cookie

Chocolate Fruit Bugs
credit: The Fit Cookie

Raw Peanut Butter Cups from Delicious Knowledge

Raw Peanut Butter Cups
credit: Delicious Knowledge

Chocolate Halloween Pudding from Nutrition Babes

Chocolate Pumpkin Pudding
credit: Nutrition Babes

Want more healthy Halloween treat ideas? Check out our Pinterest board for some more great ideas!

5 Creative Ways to Make Good Use of Your Pumpkin

Pumpkins in a Grocery CartAlthough pumpkins are a big part of the fall season, we’ve sort of become pumpkin obsessed over the last few years. For good reason too. Pumpkins are tasty, versatile, and nutrient rich. You can add them to just about any sort of dish and with each bite you can maximize your health. Of course, you have to get creative with your pumpkin and figure out ways to incorporate both the flesh and the seeds of this fall time treat.

Due to its versatility, making good use of your pumpkin goes far beyond the pie. We asked our community members and our Facebook friends to share a few of their favorite healthy ways to add pumpkin to their day. Here are 5 creative ways to do just that:

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds. Whether you’ve just carved yourself a Jack-o-Lantern or are purchasing a pumpkin just to get to the seeds, our Facebook friend Tina R knows that these little crunchy morsels are a great way to enjoy some of the health benefits associated with pumpkin. Plus, they are a seasonal, crunchy treat you can munch on in between meals. Get creative with your seasonings too for a little extra fun or consider sprinkling them on top of your yogurt or mixing them into your homemade trail mix.

Read More: A Healthy Way to Eat Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer. If you’re a fan of Pumpkin-flavored beverages, then you’ll love this homemade dairy-free, gluten-free, and vegan pumpkin spice coffee creamer from our Healthy Eating Champion, Lisa Lately. Its a cheaper alternative than some similar drinks out on the market and its sure to be a taste bud pleaser. Plus, you’ll still be getting some of the health benefits associated with our beloved pumpkin.

Read More: Dairy Free Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer

Pumpkin Protein Balls. Lisa also has a fabulous recipe for pumpkin protein balls and we love this recipe because its unique, quick, and easy! Those are really the best kind, right? In her post, 10 Words or Less, you’ll learn a little more about Lisa and discover that pumpkin can be a versatile everyday ingredient. That’s right, you don’t need to break it out only on special fall-inspired occasions.

Read More: 10 Words or Less

Roasted Pumpkin and Sage Risotto Cakes with Truffle and Honey Fresh Cream. If you have a more developed palate and are looking for a pumpkin-inspired meal that might be worthy of a special occasion, this recipe from Recipe Guru Lynda Benson of Fitnessmomwinecountry may fit the bill. Its still a relatively uncomplicated dish, but one that is sure to make a memorable impression.

Read More: Truffle Oil, Sage, and Pumpkin? 

Pumpkin Cranberry Oatmeal. Breakfast is another great place to fit in a little extra pumpkin. In fact, pumpkin can really take your oatmeal from “blah” to “ah-mazing” with very minimal extra work. Earlier this month Ashley Galloway, MS, RD, from the Fresh Beet shared one such oatmeal creation with us. We know you’ll love the amazing flavor blend.

Read More: Pumpkin Cranberry Oatmeal 

Do you have a favorite pumpkin-inspired dish? Share it with us in the comments!

Great Veggie Challenge Day #9: Reasons to Love Fennel

Grape, Fennel, and Celery Salad
Grape, Fennel, and Celery Salad
photo credit: Natalia Stasenko, MS, RD, CDN

by Natalia Stasenko, MS, RD, CDN

If you still choose to ignore these funny looking vegetables on the supermarket shelf or at the farmer’s market, time to shake things up! Although it looks a little intimidating, fennel is incredibly easy to prepare.

If you need a little inspiration in order to give fennel a try, just imagine that fennel dates back to ancient Greek times – 1500 BC! It is even reflected in mythological traditions. Greek myths state that fennel was not only closely associated with Dionysus, the Greek god of food and wine, but that a fennel stalk carried the coal that passed down knowledge from the gods to men. This sounds pretty inspirational, doesn’t it?

The best way to slice fennel is to do so vertically through the bulb. If your recipe requires chunked, diced, or julienned fennel, it is best to first remove the harder core that resides in the center before cutting it. The stalks of the fennel can be used for soups, stocks and stews, while the leaves can be used as an herb seasoning.

Fennel is an excellent source of vitamin C, dietary fiber, potassium, manganese and folate. Fennel also contains a unique phytonutrient compound, anethole, which has been shown to reduce inflammation and prevent the occurence of cancer. And all this amazing nutrition is packed into only 27 calories per 3 oz serving!

Some easy ways to enjoy fennel include:

  • Roast fennel with olive oil and balsamic vinegar for a vegetable side dish
  • Incorporate grilled fennel into a salad with grilled chicken, goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, and granny smith apples
  • Combine thinly sliced raw fennel with grapefruit or orange segments for a fruity salad
  • Add sliced fennel to a sandwich (instead of lettuce and tomato)
  • Caramelize fennel on a pan with some olive oil and a pinch of sugar and serve with fish
  • Bake fennel seeds into breads
  • Grill fennel stems with fish, meats, and vegetables

This recipe for fennel, grape, and celery salad is a hit with my family, including kids and may be another great way for you to incorporate fennel into your day. I find that many children prefer raw, crunchy vegetables over their cooked version. The sweet grapes and toasted almonds add to the appeal, too!

Natalia Stasenko, MS, RD, CDN is the owner and lead dietitian of Tribeca Nutrition. Specializing in both child and family nutrition, Natalia is a great resource for any parent looking to incorporate healthier eating habits and new ingredients into their daily meal plans. For more information on Natalia and her services,  be sure to check out her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter

Get Inspired to Eat More Veggies with thePlate Community!

VegetablesRecently I attended my son’s first musical production. It was absolutely wonderful – right up until the part where they all sang about how much they disliked Brussels sprouts! I started wondering how many of them have actually ever had Brussels sprouts and how if they hadn’t, they probably never would now. To be fair, most of them probably wouldn’t have liked them anyways. They aren’t the most easiest food to get on board with and it can be challenging to know how to prepare them.

As we gear up for our Great Veggie Challenge, we wanted to start encouraging people early to give their veggies another chance. Whether it’s Brussels sprouts, kale, or carrots, we hope that at least one recipe we share will get you to rethink common, or not so common vegetables. They’ve come along way after all. My mother use to boil our veggies – and all the flavor and texture out of them too. Now days, most vegetables can be added to an already favorite food or roasted for incredible flavor and simplicity.

Our food, nutrition, and health bloggers can also help you rethink your vegetables through their creative twists and turns down the vegetable path.

For instance, Nutrition Expert Alyson Heller RD, LD, ACSM, is a whiz when it comes to inspiring your love of all things green! Spinach and Arugula aren’t the only ways to add a little color to your plate! No, you can celebrate St. Patty’s Day or any other day with these 50 Shades of Green Alyson points out on her blog, Simply Nutricising.

Or how about simply adding enough veggies to your meal to fill up half your plate? If green’s not your color or if you aren’t quiet ready to love your vegetables, this can be a great goal. Nutrition Expert Elizabeth Patton, MS, RD, LD, CDE from Good Food Tastes Good has some great ideas and tips to help get you there. Believe it or not, its not usually as challenging as it may first seem.

Want to get even more specific about they types of vegetables you’re adding to your day? Then you may want to start thinking about how to eat the rainbowRecipe Guru Elle from We Can Begin to Feed not only points out a variety of colorful veggies, but a few of their benefits as well. Thinking through what sort of vegetables your consuming based on color, really can be a good thing since each provides slightly different benefits.

And why stop there? Once you know how to incorporate a few more veggies into each meal, why not start making them the focus? Lunch is a great place to start. Its a relatively simple meal and requires planning anyways, so it lends itself well to vegitizing. Not sure where to start? Healthy Eating Champion, Jess Smith from Jessness Required, has some great everyday clean eating lunch ideas to get you started.

Are you ready for our Great Veggie Challenge? Share with us how you incorporate veggies into your day. Who knows – you might just inspire someone else to eat more veggies too. 

Laura from Fit Running Mama Shares How She Eats Healthy, Her Way, Everyday!

Ever wonder how some of your favorite bloggers make eating healthy look so simple each and every single day? In honor of National Nutrition Month, we’re featuring a few of our favorite food, health, and nutrition bloggers and highlighting how they eat their best routinely. We hope it sheds a little insight into the many different ways you can eat right, your way, everyday!

If you think its hard eating as a party of one, consider the challenges of eating with a party of two, or three, or more. As a mom,  Laura not only feeds herself, but sets a good example for her daughter as well. Running (literally!) from here to there, this Fit Running Mama keeps it healthy while managing her busy life. Its something many of us can relate to and Laura’s love of food, running, and family definitely keeps us entertained and inspired.  Setting a great example for the rest of us, Laura’s blog gives us the courage to tackle anything… even marathons!

Fit Running Mama
Laura’s blog, Fit Running Mama, features giveaways, healthy living advice, workouts and recipes. 

To find out even more about Laura and the way she makes eating healthy work for her and her schedule, we asked her a few tough questions. We hope you enjoy her answers! And be sure to follow her on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates and daily doses of healthiness.

Laura from Fit Running Mama
Meet Laura!

AtP: How would you define the meal plan you currently follow?

Laura: I believe in clean eating and live by the 80/20 lifestyle plan. You need to be able to enjoy treats and you shouldn’t restrict yourself from everything. I’d be lost without my red wine and frozen yogurt! Life is about moderation!

AtP: What’s the one food you could never give up? 

Laura: That’s tough! I’d never give up my roasted and grilled veggies! They are my favorite! I’d also never give up nut butters!

AtP: What’s your go-to healthy meal? 

Laura: I have so many!! Roasted veggies with a side of quinoa or a great jar of overnight oats!

AtP: What foods were your favorite as a child? 

Laura: I loved Taco Bell! Ha ha, I was the pickiest eater ever!! I barely touched a vegetable. Oh, how times have changed!

AtP: Have your preferences changed throughout your lifetime or have they stayed the same? 

Laura: They have totally changed!! In college I did all the late night eating of pizza and breadsticks. I’ve grown to love the way I feel when I put good things in it! Eat a lot of garbage… well, then you feel like garbage. It’s true when they say, “you are what you eat.”

AtP: What’s the one piece of advice you’d give someone who’s looking to establish their own healthy eating plan? 

Laura: Just keep it basic! Shop the fresh produce at the grocery store and stay away from processed foods! If you can’t pronounce the ingredient, then stay away!