#226 Happy Halloween!
Tell a friend

Double, double, toil and trouble
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

William Shakespeare, the Witches in Macbeth

Best and Worst Halloween Treats

By Monica Ciociola

Are you scared of having big bags of sugary, chocolaty Halloween treats around the house? Then you've probably read the advice from the experts to hold off on your trick-or-treat purchases until the day before or only buy stuff you don't like—for me that's 3 Musketeers Bars. But come on, with child obesity rates on the rise, isn't it a little cruel to hand out a type of candy just because you don't find it tempting? Instead here's a list of the best treats any child would be happy to receive . . . Plus a list of the worst treats, too.

Best treats

  • Pretzels, crackers, and popcorn. They're low in fat and filling, too. Plus, if you get whole-grain versions of crackers and pretzels, you can add some much needed fiber to the season's high-chocolate diet.

  • Pumpkin seeds, almonds, peanuts, and trail mix. Nuts and seeds contain a lot of protein and fiber. Trail mixes are great, but watch out for the ones that are full of marshmallows, chocolate chips, or hydrogenated-oil-laden granola, which is high in saturated fat. If you get those, you might as well hand out candy bars and get the credit.

  • Juice boxes. Kids can work up a thirst trick or treating! Give them juice boxes (just check the label to make sure it's juice and not colored sugar water!). They also make good treats to give to the little ghosts and goblins that show up at your own door.

  • Anything that glows in the dark. Spider rings, skulls, witches, and dangling eyeballs. Kids will have fun wearing these and scaring their friends on Halloween night. Plus, these toys have the added benefit of making your little boos and ghouls more visible to drivers.

  • Other non-edible treats. Stickers and hair accessories for little girls while boys will be excited to receive race cars and comic books, and festive pencils and erasers.

Worst treats

  • Gummy bears, jelly beans, caramels, fruit leather, gum, and other sticky treats. Not only are they loaded with sugar with no nutritional value, but they're also bad for your kids' dental health. Enough of them, and toothless hobo might be the costume of choice for next Halloween.

  • Full-sized chocolate bars. Handing these out may make you the most popular parents in the neighborhood among kids but think of all that saturated fat! The worst offenders are Mounds (11 grams of saturated fat!), Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bar (9 grams of saturated fat), and Almond Joy (8 grams of saturated fat).

  • Cookies and snack cakes. Stay away from the following snacks voted worst vending machine snacks for kids by the Center for Science in the Public Interest: Chips Ahoy!, Oreos, Hostess HOHOs and other snack cakes, Keebler Club & Cheddar Sandwich Crackers, and Starburst Fruit Chews.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, just email us at mailbag@beachbody.com. If you'd like to receive Steve Edwards' Mailbag by email, click here to subscribe to Steve's Health and Fitness Newsletter.

Check out Steve's responses to your comments in Steve Edwards' Mailbag on the Message Boards. And if you'd like to know more about Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope.

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Frightfully Good Pumpkin Recipes

By Jude Buglewicz

Pumpkins appear in markets and roadside stands everywhere in the U.S. in October, when 80 percent of the pumpkin crop becomes available. Like most people, you'll probably buy a few pumpkins to make scary jack-o'-lanterns for Halloween. But while the kids are getting creative carving frightening faces, why not spend a few minutes roasting the seeds for tasty treats and making pumpkin puree for moist, yummy low-fat cookies packed with pumpkin's potassium, fiber, and vitamin A? Try these easy recipes!

Homemade Pumpkin Puree

Get those jack-o'-lantern pumpkins for the kids and the variety called "sugar" pumpkins for making puree—they're much better in baked goods. Figure that a four-pound sugar pumpkin will yield about two cups of puree. Two cups of pumpkin puree equals one 16-ounce can of pumpkin. Since your homemade version will be runnier than canned pumpkin—pumpkins are 90 percent water—you may want to strain it overnight in the refrigerator before using it for baking.

Start by thoroughly washing your pumpkin, then cut it in half and hollow out all the seeds and stringy stuff. (Save the seeds for roasting!) You can soften the pumpkin either by baking or boiling it.

Baking: Place the two halves, cut side down, in a roasting pan or large casserole dish with a quarter cup of water. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until very tender, about 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Scoop the flesh into a bowl to cool.

Boiling: Cut the pumpkin halves into chunks and boil until soft. Drain, let cool, then slide the skin off each piece.

Blend cooled pumpkin flesh for a couple minutes in a blender until smooth. If you want thicker puree, strain the pumpkin for a few hours. Line the strainer first with coffee filters or a double layer of cheesecloth, then put the strainer in a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Put the whole thing in the refrigerator. Your strained puree will last in the fridge for three days, and up to six months in the freezer. So go ahead and freeze a few pumpkins' worth for those Thanksgiving pies next month!

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Seeds, rinsed, from one medium pumpkin
Olive oil
Salt
(Optional coatings: 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper or garlic powder, 1 Tbsp. curry powder or seasoning salt)

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Place seeds in a saucepan with water (2 cups water to every half cup of seeds) and salt, and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 10 minutes, then drain. Spread a tablespoon of olive oil over a cookie sheet, then spread pumpkin seeds on the cookie sheet in a single layer. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until seeds are lightly browned. Let cool completely in a medium-sized bowl. For spicy seeds, coat with one or more suggested spices before roasting.

Low-Fat Pumpkin Cookies

1/2 cup plain, nonfat yogurt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
1-1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. cloves
1/8 tsp. ginger
1 cup rolled oats
2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup white flour
1/2 cup raisins or dates
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, blend together first five ingredients. Mix in spices, oats, and baking powder, then fold in flour, raisins or dates, and nuts. Drop by tablespoons onto a nonstick cookie sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Yields 2-1/2 dozen cookies.

Nutritional Information
Calories 67 Protein 2 g Fiber 1 g
Carbs 12 g Fat Total 2 g Sat Fat < 0.5 g

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, just email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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