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A Few Easy Halloween Crafts

Are the little ones becoming a little stir crazy?  Here are a few fun and easy crafts using supplies most of us already have in the house.  So break out your craft box and enjoy a craft-filled Halloween!

Balloon Ghosts

A white balloon
2 white plastic grocery bags
A black marker

1. Cut the handles off the white plastic grocery bags. If there are colored markings on the bags, cut them off too.

2.  Leaving the seam at the bottom of the bags intact, cut the bags into strips.

3.  Blow up a white balloon.

4.  Tape the plastic bags around the end of the balloon (tape the bags in a circle a few inches from one end of the balloon). If you plan on hanging the ghost up as a decoration, tape the plastic bags around the plain end, leaving the tied end of the balloon exposed so you can tie a string to the top of the ghost.

5.  Using a black marker, draw two eyes and a mouth on the ballon.  You now have a spooky ghost that you can use as a Halloween decoration or as a toy (but not for very young children). This ghost flies really well!

Egg Carton Bats

1.  Separate 3 cups from an egg carton.

2.  Cut out part of the bottoms of the 2 outside cups to resemble bat wings.

3.  Add eyes, a mouth, and decorate.

4.  Hang it from a string or a rubber band.

Egg Carton Spiders

1.  Separate one cup from an egg carton.

2.  Using the point of a scissors, an adult should make 8 small holes (4 on each side) at the base of the cup.

3.  Insert a pipe cleaner into each of the holes for legs.

4.  Draw a face and decorate the body.

Pasta Skeleton Craft

A few different types of pasta and dried beans, like spaghetti, macaroni, tiny tube pasta, long tube pasta, wagon wheels, long spirals, tiny shells, wagon wheels
A piece of black construction paper
White glue
A white crayon to write your name (or label the bones)

1.  Glue the pasta to the black paper using white glue. Have the kids arrange the pasta on the paper before gluing (to make sure that they have room for the whole body on the piece of paper).

2.  You can use just about any type of pasta (or dried beans) for the bones. A wagon wheel is nice for the head. Spaghetti makes good fingers and toes. Tiny tubes or dried lentils are good as vertebrae in the spine. Long tubes make collar bones. Longer tubes or long spirals make good arm and leg bones. Small shells or dried white beans are nice for the kneecaps, wrists and ankles. Two dried lima beans make good hips.

3.  Here is a great template to use for the skeleton if needed.


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7 Ways To Stay Healthy This Fall

With the change in temperatures and kids back in school, this is the prime season for sickness in your house.  Here are a few easy ways to help keep your family a little healthier this fall!!

-Eat those apples (and other seasonal fruit). Apples have been shown to strengthen your immune system. Other seasonal fruits such as pomegranates and citrus also help you fight fall illness by giving you a big boost of vitamin C and phytonutrients. Try to get 2-3 servings of these nutrient dense foods a day.

-Slow down. It seems like we always tend to be overwhelmed in September and October. For those with kids, the start of school is partial relief, partial stress creator. So as the air is turning colder, take some time out to relax and let your body renew. Even if it’s just 10 minutes a day, sit in your favorite spot and watch the world go by. Maybe have a cup of herbal tea. This helps keep your immune system healthy since stress can cause it to weaken!

-Part of slowing down is also getting your 8 hours of sleep a night. I know it’s hard to get 8 hours during the long days of summer. The shorter days make fall the perfect time to start a habit of getting to bed earlier and recommitting to 8 hours of sleep a night.

-Get those leafy greens. We often think of green for spring, but greens are also a perfect fall food. Greens grow better in the cooler weather, and are actually sweeter than when grown in the summer. So now is a perfect time to try kale or mustard greens, arugula or bok choi. Don’t forget the broccoli and cauliflower too!

-Wash up. One of the easiest ways for germs to spread is through hand-to-hand contact. You don’t have to get excessive about it, but be sure to wash your hands, especially after you sneeze or if you are traveling with lots of people.

-Spice it up. Spices have been used for centuries to boost your immune system. Try any of these spices to boost the flavor of your dishes, as well as strengthen your immune system. Turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, garlic, black pepper and more. For a wonderful relaxing drink that will help you slow down and boost your immune system at the same time, try some hot tea!

-Try some herbs. Many rave over the benefits of Echinacea, but I have a big fan of Astragulus. It can even be taken by those with auto-immune conditions because it is an adaptogen which means it is thought to help protect the body against various stresses, including physical, mental, or emotional stress. Like many herbs, you don’t want to take it forever. Instead, take it for week when you start feeling run down or if you’re traveling, take it a few days before, during, and then a few days after your trip.

-Mushrooms are great for increasing your white blood cells which are responsible for fighting off illness. Whether sautéed, marinated or raw, mushrooms are amazing foods. While maitake and shitake are the most coveted for the immune boosting powers.


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Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal With Pumpkin Cream

Nothing kicks off a meatless Monday quite like a warm bowl of oatmeal!  Here is a great twist on the traditional favorite that is nutrient packed and delicious!

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal With Pumpkin Cream

1 cup steel cup oats
4 cups water
1 tsp salt
1 cup rolled oats (optional – I used to thicken up a bit)

Once oatmeal is cooked and fluffy, fold in:
1 cup pumpkin puree (if using canned, add this when oats are still simmering so that it melts easily)
1/2 cup apple sauce (helps to sweeten naturally – sub with mashed banana or fave sweetener)
1-3 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1-3 Tbsp flax seeds
1/2 cup mixed nuts (walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts..)
sweeten to taste (maple or agave syrup, organic sugar, your choice)
non-dairy milk to loosen oats (about 3/4 cup added for me)
vegan buttery spread (as desired)

Serving – Add over top:
1/2 cup Pumpkin Cream per bowl of oats (more/less)

1 Tbsp chopped walnuts
1/2 tsp flax seeds
1 tsp vegan omega oil blend
splash of soy or almond milk
1/2 tsp vegan buttery spread

Pumpkin Cream:
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup soy or almond milk (add more based on how thick or thin you’d like it)
1 Tbsp vegan buttery spread or virgin coconut oil + pinch of salt
dash of pumpkin pie spice
sweeten to taste (1-2 Tbsp maple or agave syrup)


1. Bring your water to boiling in a large pot. Add in the steel cut oats, salt, spices and rolled oats. Bring to boiling and cover with lid. Reduce to a simmer and cook until tender – usually 35 minutes or so.
2. When oats are cooked, remove lid and stir in the fold in ingredients. Continue simmering on very low heat to make sure everything melts together nicely.
3. Blend your pumpkin cream in a blender. I advise you to sweeten and salt to taste. You want a rich buttery flavor, mildly sweet. Remember you can always drizzle more maple or agave syrup over top – or add some raw or organic brown sugar to sweeten.
4. To serve, scoop the oats in a bowl and carve a little donut hole in center. Pour a nice puddle of the pumpkin cream in the hole. The hole oats should warm the cream just enough. Add as much pumpkin cream as you like and garnish as desired as well.



Trick-or-Treating Safety Tips

Trick-or-treating is one of the most exciting parts about Halloween for the little ones, however it can also be one of the most dangerous.  While most parents go along with their kids, which helps increase the safety, there are still a few things to remember to help keep everyone safe this Halloween!

– Buy costumes and wigs labeled “flame resistant.”
– Never walk near lit candles or luminaries while wearing costumes.
– Wear shoes that fit well.
– Fasten reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see you.
– Be cautious with face paint–much of it isn’t FDA-approved and could trigger allergic reactions. (Always test it first on a small patch of skin). Remove it before bedtime to avoid skin/eye irritation.
– Never use decorative contact lenses; they can result in severe eye infections.
– Avoid trick-or-treating alone. Walk in groups or with a trusted adult.
– Hold a flashlight while trick-or-treating to help you see and others see you.
– Always walk and don’t run from house to house.
– Stay on sidewalks whenever possible, or on the far edge of the road facing traffic. Look for cars when walking by a driveway. Eat only factory-wrapped treats. Avoid eating homemade treats made by strangers.
– Enter homes only if you’re with a trusted adult.
– Only visit well-lit houses. Don’t stop at dark houses.
– Never accept rides from strangers.


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Spooky Ghost Pizza

Is tonight pizza night?!?  Why not switch it up and do a halloween themed pizza with this great spooky ghost pizza!!

Spooky Ghost Pizza

1 homemade pizza crust (use this recipe)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup marinara sauce
8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
Black olives, chopped
Green olives
Rosemary leaves


1.  Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Grease a pizza pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2.  Roll out the crust on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin to about 1/4-inch thickness.

3.  Spread the pizza sauce over the crust until it’s fully covered. Bake the crust for about 8 – 10 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.

4.  Slice the fresh mozzarella. Using a ghost cookie cutter cut out some ghost shapes. Place the ghosts on top of the pizza sauce. Using the finely chopped olives, place eyes on the head of the ghosts. Bake the pizza for about 5 – 6 minutes, or until the cheese is fully melted.

5.  Once the pizza is baked, make spiders by sticking the rosemary leaves into the green olives. Place the spiders next to the ghosts and serve.


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Keeping Your Little One’s Healthy On Halloween

Halloween is one of the most popular holidays for candy consumption.  The thrill of trick-or-treating is always a favorite activity of kids.  Here are a few tips to help keep them healthy and avoid the sugar overload!

1. Don’t buy candy weeks ahead of time. Even if it’s just two weeks before the holiday, and you ARE already at the grocery store, and the bags ARE on sale, resist the urge to make your purchase this far in advance.

2. Avoid purchasing your favorite candy. Technically, these are going to be handed out to other people so there is no need to buy the one that tempts you the most.

3. Most gummy and hard candies are fat free or very low in fat. You can also modify any Halloween themed recipes to be lower in fat than the traditional options. Focusing on hard candies can even decrease their intake further because they take longer to eat.

4. Stay smart about leftovers. Still have an extra bag of candy that wasn’t handed out? Kids come home with three bagfuls of treats? Instead of keeping them around the house, keep a few, toss out the rest of them. You could donate them to a homeless shelter, but those higher fat candies really do not do much good for anyone.

5. Limit the focus on food and candy. Halloween does not have to be all about sweets! Have your kids engage in fun activities like pumpkin carving, costume pageants, haunted houses, ghost stories, and other fun ghoulish games: Extra points if your activities get you moving!


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Healthy Halloween Party Snacks

Do the kids have a Halloween party at school next week?  If so, here are some healthy holiday themed snacks that are easy to make and are sure to be a hit!! If the school does not allow snacks to be brought then you can easily put some of these in the lunchbox for a great surprise!!

Clemen­tine Jack ‘o Lanterns – Use a black per­ma­nent marker to draw a Jack ‘o Lantern face on clemen­tines or small tan­ger­ines or navel oranges. Alter­na­tively, you could cut out the shapes on a black adhe­sive craft paper and and stick them on the orange. Either way, you should be sure to wash the orange thor­oughly first to remove any oils and residues from the peel.

Banana Ghosts – Cut the banana in half and coat the bananas with organic vanilla Greek yogurt Use about 1 ounce of Greek yogurt for every banana ghost. Be sure to freeze the banana on the stick before apply­ing the yogurt.  Add 3 chocolate chips or raisins for the eyes and mouth!

Edible Spiders -Spread peanut butter or cream cheese on a round cracker. Put another round cracker on top, leaving a little space between them. Insert eight pretzel sticks between the crackers for spider legs. Using a dab of the peanut butter or cream cheese, attach raisins or chocolate chips to the top of the crackers to make the spiders’ eyes.

Spooky Fruit – Use small cookie cutters to cut fall shapes out of thin wedges of cantaloupe, or carve funny mouths out of apple slices and put them on pumpkin shaped slices of Cheddar cheese (see suggestion above) or rice cakes. Peeled grapes make great slimy eyeballs, too.


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“Candy Corn” Parfait

Candy Corn is quite possibly one of the most identifiable Halloween candies on the market, but they are loaded with sugar and calories that are unnecessary for the little ones.  Instead of giving them a few pieces of candy, you can make this adorable and easy candy corn parfait for an afternoon snack so that way they can have their candy corn and eat it too!

'Candy Corn' Parfait

Fresh pineapple. peaches, or mango cut into cubes

Orange slices

Greek Yogurt or Vanilla Yogurt


Layer pineapple and oranges into clear dish and top with a dollop of yogurt!!  Enjoy!!

**Tip- you can also do a veggie version using yellow peppers, carrots, and your favorite veggie dip!!

Adapted From:

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Ending The Bedtime Battle

One of the biggest challenges any parent faces is bedtime.  Just when you get them settled, something happens and they are back up again or they just fight you on it regardless of how tired they are.  Here are a few tips to help the process become a little easier!

1. Even though little ones can’t tell time, their bodies can. Going to bed at the same time every night helps them physically and mentally get into a sleep routine. Although it can be tempting to change the schedule on weekends and during the summer, try to keep bedtime consistent.

2. Don’t use TV to help kids relax before bed.  Even calm content can interfere with sleep. Facing a light source close to bedtime can trick the body into thinking that it’s still daytime.

3.  Having a bedtime routine with three or four activities helps a child wind down and get ready to sleep.

4.  It is recommended that kids have a bedtime between 7:30 and 8:30 through elementary school to make sure they are well rested since the more tired they become, the harder it is for them to fall asleep.

5.  For preschoolers, it may be helpful to make a bedtime chart so they can see all the steps they’re going to take before going to bed. Draw a picture of a bath, pajamas, and the exact number of books you read each night, “that way, if you read two books and your child asks for three, you can point to the chart and show him that there are just two books on the chart,”

6.  Make sure your child gets enough activity during the day so that she’s not full of energy at night. In addition to making kids’ bodies and minds healthier, exercise helps kids sleep better.


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Pumpkin Hummus

Halloween is a little over a week away so why not start celebrating early with a great afternoon snack.  Pumpkin hummus provides a new spin on  traditional favorite and makes the perfect compliment to those veggies we all try to get the kids to eat!!

Pumpkin Hummus

1 cup chickpeas, cooked (or canned)
3/4 cup pureed pumpkin (or canned)
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons water (possibly more to adjust for consistency)
juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 curry powder (optional)
freshly ground black pepper
Garnishes: additional chickpeas, a splash of olive oil, parsley, cilantro, black olives, roasted pumpkin seeds, pine nuts
serving ideas: pita bread, crusty fresh bread, crackers, rice cakes, fresh vegetables such as carrot sticks, celery, cauliflower and broccoli florets, cucumber sticks, jicama, apple slices.


1.  Soak, drain and cook dried chickpeas until soft (or drain canned chickpeas*)
2.  Roast pumpkin or other winter squash (or open a can of pumpkin*)
3.  In a blender or food processor, puree pumpkin, add chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and spices until smooth. Adjust consistency with olive oil and/or water.
4.  Spoon over to a plate, pressing down slightly. Garnish as you like with olive oil, olives, chickpeas, fresh green herbs, roasted pumpkin seeds, ground spices, etc.


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