Written by Inspired Life on September 12th, 2012. Posted in Newsletters

Our Summer 2012 Newsletter is out!  Click on the graphic below to download the PDF version.

Written by jhowarth on December 1st, 2011. Posted in Newsletters

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?  Dr. Seuss

The holiday season is upon us! Last minute rushes to shopping centres, long line ups, not enough time to concentrate on what is most important. Try to remember that the holidays aren’t about how much you spend, but about being around the people you care for, sharing good food and creating fond memories.

Wishing you all happy, safe and love filled holidays and the happiest of new years! See you in 2012!


Thinking Healthy:
Tips to boost your brain

By Patrizio Nardini, MSc, ND

Have you ever entered a room and forgotten why you went there?  Or caused a minor scene at a bank machine because you couldn’t remember your PIN?  Maybe it’s time to boost your brainpower.

Memory loss is generally considered a normal part of aging.  As the brain ages, it becomes less nimble and takes longer to perform certain tasks.  Underlying health conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hormone imbalance and hypothyroidism (low thyroid gland function) have all been shown to contribute to declining mental function.  They can lead to decreased blood flow to the brain, which can reduce its fuel supply.  If you suffer from any one of these conditions, it is important to consult your doctor before using any supplements or making dietary changes.  If you’re generally in good health and want to boost your brainpower, read on…

The old proverb “use it or lose it” is as true for the brain as any other part of the body.  Working activities into your daily routine like reading, writing, crossword puzzles, chess, or even learning a new language are excellent ways of staying mentally fit.  But don’t sit still for too long.  Get up and move.  Studies have shown that people between the ages of 20 and 60 who are physically active have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease later in life[i].  Simple aerobic exercises like walking and swimming are beneficial because they deliver more oxygen-rich blood to the brain.  Yoga, on the other hand, soothes the nervous system.  It may improve your ability to recall information by teaching balance and poise in difficult or disorienting situations.

Much has been written on essential fatty acids (EFAs), but the fact remains they are still one of the best brain foods around.  These healthy fats, especially the Omega-3 EFAs, help maintain healthy brain cell membranes and promote blood flow to the brain.  A US study suggests that supplementation with EFAs may decrease the likelihood of developing neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease[ii].  Molecularly distilled or supercritical-extracted fish oil, from salmon, anchovies, and sardines, is an excellent source of EFAs.  Lemon flavoured fish oil makes a delicious addition to salad dressings!

The herb Ginkgo biloba has been shown to improve mental faculties in cases of age-related memory loss[iii].  Ginkgo is available in loose-leaf form, in capsules, or as a liquid extract.  But it should only be used under doctor’s supervision, especially for anyone taking blood-thinning medication or with a history of heart disease.

The Indian herb Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), used for its stress relieving and immune enhancing properties, is also a proven memory booster[iv].  It is available as a liquid extract or in capsule form.

Remember, your brain is an organ that needs to be fed and exercised.  If you follow any one of these simple tips, you’ll be thinking healthy before you know it.


[i] Friedland RP, Fritsch T, Smyth KA, Koss E, Lerner AJ, Chen CH, et al. Patients with Alzheimer's disease have reduced activities in midlife compared with healthy control-group members. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2001; 98: 3440-3445
[ii] Youdim KA, Martin A, Joseph JA. Essential fatty acids and the brain: possible health implications.  Int J Dev NeurosciUSA 2000; 18(4-5): 383-399
[iii] Brautigam MRH, Blommaert FA, Verleye G, et al. Treatment of age-related memory complaints with Ginkgo biloba extract: a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study. PhytomedicineUSA 1998; 5: 425–434.

[iv] Bhattacharya SK, Kumar A, Ghosal S. Effects of glycowithanolides from Withania somnifera on an animal model of Alzheimer’s disease and perturbed central cholinergic markers of cognition in rats. Phytother Res 1995; 9: 110–3.


I’m Dreaming Of A Green Christmas

I love snow! I especially have a warm place in my heart for it during the holiday season. The green Christmas I want though is the one that reduces waste and helps the environment.Here are some tips and tricks on how you can reduce your holiday waste:

  • Reuse old holiday cards as labels for gifts.
  • Try to buy gifts with rechargeable batteries.
  • Donate old gifts to charity.
  • Reuse the foam and packaging from gifts for mailing out other items.
  • Compost everything possible! (Green Bin Guide)
  • Turn out any and all lights during the day or when you go to sleep.
  • Give living gifts like plants, trees or seeds.
  • Make your presents! Sew, draw, bake, knit…Homemade is the BEST!

GREEN Events in Toronto:


Recipe of the Month:

Red & white pear tart with poire william snow custard

Red & white pear tart with poire william snow custard

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • 4 small beurre bosc pears
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 2 cups (500ml) each white and red wine
  • 2 cinnamon quills
  • 1 1/2 cups (330g) caster sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
  • 45g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup (60g) almond meal
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 375g block puff pastry
  • Icing sugar, to dust

Poire William snow custard

  • 300ml ready-made vanilla custard
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 tbs each cornflour & caster sugar
  • 3 tbs Poire William liqueur or brandy

Method

  1. Peel pears, then rub with cut side of lemon to prevent browning. Halve and core, then rub with more lemon. Set pears aside, then pare lemon rind, discarding fruit.
  2. Place red and white wine in 2 separate pans, each with 1 cinnamon quill, 1/2 cup (110g) caster sugar, half the rind and half the vanilla pod and seeds. Stir over low heat for 5 minutes to dissolve sugar, then add 4 pear halves to each pan. Poach over medium-low heat for 10 minutes or until just tender (this will depend on ripeness of the pears), then leave to cool in liquid.
  3. Preheat oven to 180°C. Whiz butter, remaining 1/4 cup (55g) sugar, meal, vanilla extract and egg yolks in a processor until combined. Set frangipane mixture aside.
  4. Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface to a 12cm x 48cm rectangle. Place on a large lined baking tray. Lightly score a 1cm border around edge, without cutting right through. Prick area inside border with a fork and spread with frangipane. Pat pears dry with paper towel, reserving poaching liquid. Lay cut-side down on frangipane, alternating white and red pears head to tail about 1cm apart. Cut a strip of baking paper to fit over pears (leaving pastry border exposed) so pears don’t dry out. Bake tart for 20-25 minutes until pastry is golden.
  5. Meanwhile, for custard, gently whisk custard, yolks, sugar and cornflour in a pan over low heat until thickened. Cool slightly. Stir in liqueur. Whisk eggwhites to soft peaks, then gently fold into custard.
  6. Carefully brush each pear with a little poaching liquid and dust with icing sugar. Cut into slices between each pear, then serve warm with custard.

Notes

  • You can poach the pears a day ahead, then refrigerate until you’re ready to bake.

Bonus Winter Recipe:

The best hot chocolate

The best hot chocolate

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (110g) caster sugar
  • 125g good-quality dark chocolate, broken in pieces
  • 300ml pure (thin) cream, plus whipped cream to serve
  • 3/4 cup (75g) good-quality cocoa powder, plus extra to dust
  • 1L (4 cups) milk

Method

  1. Place the sugar and 1/2 cup (125ml) water in a pan over medium-low heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then simmer for 2 minutes until slightly thickened. Add the chocolate and stir until melted, then whisk in cream, cocoa and 1/3 cup (80ml) milk. Transfer to a jug.
  2. Meanwhile, warm remaining milk in a pan over medium-low heat to just below boiling point. Divide among mugs and let guests add warm chocolate mixture to taste, then serve topped with whipped cream and extra cocoa.

Serves: 6

Sources:www.taste.com.au (Pear)

www.taste.com.au (Chocolate)


Did You Know…

Every hour, about 180 million newly formed red blood cells enter the bloodstream. Red blood cells are basically shells. Before being released from the bone marrow, most of a red blood cell’s internal structure is ejected, creating a disc-shaped balloon that is ideal for carrying oxygen and a small amount of the body’s carbon dioxide.

Written by jhowarth on November 3rd, 2011. Posted in Newsletters

“A man without a mustache is a man without a soul.” ― Confucius

Happy Movember Everyone! For anyone who is able and willing to grow a moustache this month to raise prostate cancer awareness and funds, we salute you!  (Can’t grow a moustache? No problem! Click here to print out your very own moustache and join in on the fun!)

November is also National Health Food Month! Our Holistic Nutritionist has once again written some great articles about what to look at and consider when you are at the grocery store.


Cracking the Codes

Written by Daniel Chiang RHN

Have you ever wondered what the numbers on the little stickers on your apples, bananas and other produce mean? It’s actually quite simple but very important for health conscious consumers to know, understand and memorize. After all, most of us ‘healthy’ shoppers spend our hard-earned money on slightly more expensive goods and we deserve the right to know what we’re getting, right? This article will show you how to read the price look-up (PLU) codes which are required for most produce nowadays.

The next time you go grocery shopping, be a detective! Don’t only look at the Nutrition Facts labels on your processed and boxed goods, but also look at the stickers and labels on your produce.

PLU stands for price look-up code and is an international numbering standard that identifies each type of produce. Most, if not all, grocery stores will use the PLU code to ring up the correct price on their cash registers automatically. The code also indicates whether the food is grown from a conventional, organic or genetically modified (GM) food crop or farm.

Codes are generally 4 digits long with a 5th digit added to the beginning of the number to indicate whether the food was grown in an organic or GM crop. Now, here’s the most important part to remember: If there is a 5 digit number that starts with a 9, the food is organic. If the 5 digit number starts with the number 8, then the food is a genetically modified product. Lock this number combination to your permanent memory stores and remember it every time you shop! If there is no PLU on the produce itself, check the sign which contains the price of the product, or ask a clerk or store manager to tell you the PLU code if you still can’t find it.

So, remember, when you shop for fruits or vegetables at your local “mixed” market (selling a combination of organic and conventional products), instead of just looking at the signs saying “Bananas $0.29/lb”, look at the actual stickers on the produce themselves. Many times, I have found the grocer mixing non-organic fruits in the organic fruit isle – possibly due to the fact that they don’t have enough space for the produce in the ‘regular’ food isle or simply because they are trying to slip one past shoppers that assume the organic isle is all organic. While this would be ethically and morally wrong, I wouldn’t put it past some companies to pull a stunt like that in order to increase their revenues.


Organic vs Local Foods

Written by Daniel Chiang RHN

Organic food is popping up everywhere. And I mean everywhere. Major grocery chains including Walmart, Loblaws, Superstore and Dominion, and many other stores across Canada and the United States are allocating valuable floor space to selling organic products, and companies are building and growing organic-only stores and organic co-ops like The Big Carrot, Kootenay, and Karma. Whole Foods Markets are also being constructed every year in Canada, US and the UK, and even the major food manufacturers are jumping on board by creating or buying out (in the case of Green and Black’s) organic companies just so that they can get a piece of the organic pie.

But what does this all mean? Does it mean that we’re getting better quality food on our tables when we buy organic food? Does that mean that an organic apple from South America is better than an apple that was grown locally on a non-organic farm? Or are we just paying more money for an organic labeled product when we could save some coin and just buy fresh, locally grown produce?

First off, please note that I’m not comparing organic foods to genetically modified products – there is absolutely NO doubt in my mind that GM products are dangerous to our health and I strongly believe that genetically modified products should never be consumed by any human or animal.

Read the following statistics about organic foods [1]:

  • Organic food is the fastest growing sector in agriculture, with sales increasing by 20% per year.
  • Organic livestock production is increasing dramatically. From 2004 to 2005, the beef herd increased by 30%, sheep numbers by 19%, layers by 20% and broilers by 56%.
  • The number of certified organic processors and handlers increased by 47% between 2004 and 2005, with the largest increases observed in British Columbia and Quebec.

With such a drastic increase in the production of organic foods, one might think that it is always a better choice to go for organic products versus everything else that can be found in the supermarket.

The issue of Organic vs Local is actually an ongoing debate and, in the end, you will have to decide what’s best for you and your family. Before making your decision, think about the following factors.

Unripe Picking and Ethylene Gas

All fruits and vegetables (both organic and non-organic), before being shipped thousands of miles to their destination, are generally picked unripe and transported (sometimes for periods of up to 2 weeks) to their destination. Before reaching the stores, these foods are exposed to Ethylene gas in order to quicken the ripening process. That is, a lemon may be picked when it is still green, transported thousands of miles, and then exposed to Ethylene gas to hasten the ripening process making the lemon turn yellow. If the lemon was picked before it ripened, did it really have enough time to absorb the proper amount of nutrients during its limited growth phase?

Food Irradiation

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency states that, “Food irradiation is the process of exposing food to a controlled amount of energy called ‘ionic radiation’. There are three different types of radiation allowed: Gamma rays, X-rays and electron beam radiation.” [2]

RADIATION?!?! Yes, radiation – the same stuff that you see in comic books, but this time no superheroes are being created. Many foods which cross into Canada are irradiated for several reasons.

  • Prevent food poisoning by reducing the level of harmful bacteria like E.Coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter and parasites
  • Prevent spoilage by destroying bacteria, molds and yeast
  • Increasing shelf life by slowing the ripening or sprouting in fresh fruits and vegetables

Food irradiation is not mandatory according to the CFIA. Currently, the following foods are irradiated and approved for sale in Canada:

  • Onions
  • Potatoes
  • Wheat
  • Flour
  • Whole wheat flour
  • Whole ground spices
  • Dehydrated seasonings

The CFIA is proposing to expand this list by including fresh and frozen ground beef, fresh and frozen poultry, prepackaged fresh, frozen, prepared dried shrimp and prawns, and mangoes.

To many, food irradiation may sound like a good idea, and I do have to agree that it sounds good in THEORY, but in REALITY, it’s a nightmare waiting to come true in about another 30 to 50 years.

To find out more issues with irradiating food, click here.

Supporting Your Local Economy

Buying local helps to sustain farmers and their families in your region. What’s even better is if you buy from a local farmer’s market as each farmer gets to sell their products directly to the consumer, thus increasing their take-home profits and keep their farms operating efficiently.

Environmental Costs

The BBC recently aired an interesting piece about a UK study which found that in Great Britain, the total environmental cost of importing organic produce could be higher than that of non-organic local produce, because of the long distances the food had to travel to get to the market.

Imagine the total environmental impact from the airplanes, ships and trucks that transport food overseas – the carbon footprint must be huge! (click here to calculate your carbon footprint) A 2002 Worldwatch report says that a typical meal made with ingredients from a supermarket takes 4 to 17 times more petroleum consumption in transport than the same meal made from local ingredients. Also, take a look at this article from Dale Allen Pfeiffer, about how much energy it takes to produce food (click here).

Personal Financial Costs

Currently, consumers are paying, on average, a 50 to 100 percent premium to buy organic products versus a comparable conventionally grown product. The higher price can due to many factors including supply and demand, overhead costs, and price possible gouging. (Oops, did I just say that?)

It’s true, high demand usually increases the cost of a product due to limited supply and corporate profit taking. Don’t get me wrong, I’m in favour of businesses making a profit, but when it costs you $1.75 to buy a single lemon, I have to start thinking that someone is taking advantage of us consumers.

Seasonal Availability

Not all farms can grow the same foods year round. Therefore, you if you stick to locally grown foods, you may be finding yourself with possible limitations in food choices every season. If you live in a colder climate, like in Canada or the northern United States, you may only find only root vegetables and low, sprawling foods from local farmers. If you’re lucky, some farmers may have greenhouses or specially equipped farms in order to expand their variety of foods.

Nutrient Value

Several studies have suggested that organically grown foods contain higher levels of vitamins and other nutrients than their conventionally grown counterparts. In a paper published in October in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a team from the University of California, Davis, demonstrated that organically grown tomatoes had significantly more vitamin C than conventionally grown tomatoes. However, the very same study showed no significant differences between conventional and organic bell peppers.

Awareness

There is something to be said about knowing who exactly is growing your food and where it is from. Instead of placing our faith in science by allowing imported foods to be ‘cleansed’ of their impurities, it would be great to know that the food I am feeding myself and my family is as close as natural as possible, and was picked just days ago on a farm an hour’s drive away.

Taste

Worldwatch researcher, Brian Halweil, states, “Locally grown food served fresh and in season has a definite taste advantage. It’s harvested at the peak of ripeness and doesn’t have to be fumigated, refrigerated, or packaged for long-distance hauling and long shelf-life.”

Now, it may seem that I am biased towards locally grown foods being the better choice and, in some ways, you might be right. However, I’m not convinced that you have to only choose from these two options. I think your best bet would be to choose local and organic if the option is available to you in your region. Why local and organic? Because you get the best of both worlds, of course!

So, what’s your pick?

Sources:
[1] Canadian Organic Growers, Quick Facts about Canada’s Organic Sector, http://www.cog.ca/orgquickfacts.htm
[2] Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Food Irradiation http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/fssa/concen/tipcon/irrade.shtml


GREEN Events in Toronto:


Recipe of the Month:

Zesty Wheat Berry-Black Bean Chili

This rib-sticking chili offers a hearty mix of wheat berries, beans, peppers and onion. Feel free to add an additional chipotle pepper to crank up the heat in this one-pot meal. Cooked wheat berries will keep for up to 1 month in your freezer and there’s no need to thaw them; just stir them directly into the chili.

Zesty Wheat Berry-Black Bean Chili Recipe

6 servings, about 1 1/2 cups each

Active Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper,chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed
  • 2 14-ounce cans no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1-2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced (see Tip)
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
  • 2 cups Cooked Wheat Berries, (recipe follows)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Preparation

  1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add beans, tomatoes, chipotle to taste, broth and brown sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes.
  2. Stir in cooked wheat berries and heat through, about 5 minutes more. (If using frozen wheat berries, cook until thoroughly heated.) Remove from the heat. Stir in lime juice. Garnish each bowl with avocado and cilantro.

Tips & Notes

  • Tip: Canned chipotle peppers (smoked jalapeños) in adobo sauce add heat and a smoky flavor. Look for the small cans with other Mexican foods in large supermarkets. Once opened, store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator or 6 months in the freezer.

Source: Eatingwell.com


Did You Know…

The average human body contains enough: iron to make a 3 inch nail, sulfur to kill all fleas on an average dog, carbon to make 900 pencils, potassium to fire a toy cannon, fat to make 7 bars of soap, phosphorous to make 2,200 match heads, and water to fill a ten-gallon tank

Written by jhowarth on October 12th, 2011. Posted in Newsletters

There are nights when the wolves are silent and only the moon howls.
~George Carlin

Halloween is just around the corner!! It is by far my favourite time of the year. Dressing up, treats, pumpkin flavoured everything, eerie decorations, zombies, cheesy ghost and monster jokes (Q. What’s a monsters favourite bean? A. Human bean. hee hee) What’s not to love? Best part is, it’s not just for kids! :)


Have a Happy (and Healthy) Halloween!

By: Daniel Chiang RHN

It’s back…and it’s scary.

Well, at least if you’re a parent with one or more young children this Halloween, that is.

With two young boys, one of the biggest challenges my wife and I face this time of the year is deciding on how we are going to handle things AFTER the kids come back from Trick-or-Treating. Our eldest is 6 years old now, so with some trial and error we’ve just about figured things out, and we are definitely faster at getting prepared for this frightful-yet-fun occasion.

Okay…let’s see…

Costumes.

Check.

Location and route.

Check.

Loot buckets.

Check.

Weather forecast.

Check.

Preparation for the onslaught of sugary “goodness” when we get back home.

Oh boy…

If you’re reading this, and you’re feeling even the slightest bit of anxiety towards the aftermath of Halloween, fear not! I’ve got some ideas for you that have helped us successfully manage things over the past few years – without any tears.

In the rest of this article, you’ll discover 2 secrets to making Halloween fun for you and your kids this year, and every year thereafter.

Secret #1: How to have kids leaving your house with treats in their bags and not toilet papering your front yard afterwards.

I agree that it’s really easy to go to your local store and pick up a jumbo crate of teensy-eensy chocolate bars and candies and dole them out at Halloween, but sometimes handing out things other than sweets can be even sweeter! Here are some alternate items you can hand out this Halloween:

Non-food Items

  • Play Dough or other small toys/games
  • Stickers
  • Temporary tattoos
  • Balloons (the scarier the better!)
  • Whistles and other noise making things
  • Rubbers spiders, bugs and icky-sticky worms
  • Plastic rings, bracelets and other costume jewellery
  • Glow in the dark wristbands, sticks or necklaces
  • Crayons, pencils, erasers and other school supplies
  • Baseball or other collector’s cards
  • Anything from the dollar store

If you’d rather hand out food this year, here are a few alternative and healthier ideas for you.

  • Small bags of pretzels
  • Granola bars
  • Small packs of nuts or raisins
  • Prepackaged fruits
  • Packages of dry fruits and nuts
  • Juice boxes
  • Small bags of popcorn

(I have to admit that my kids LOVE it when they get small toys or trinkets at Halloween. They’d much rather prefer getting 30 to 50 TOYS instead of treats.)

Secret #2: How to manage your kid’s sugar intake while still having fun (and keeping your sanity in the weeks after).

Here’s the tougher part to Halloween. While you get to control what you give out at your front door, you have zero control or say as to what your neighbours will be handing out at theirs.

One of the first things that we do before we head out is we lay out the rules with our children.

Rule #1: Always stay beside mom or dad when we are walking from house to house. For those who have kids who are more independent and want to go up to houses on their own, I suggest that you tell him or her to make sure that they can always see you (and that you can see them).

Rule #2: Wait until we get home to inspect everything you’ve received. There are 2 reasons for this. First, it’s a safety thing, and second, it prepares your child to understand that there is a process afterwards that must still be followed.

Rule #3: Have fun!!!

Here’s a quick suggestion for you, as a parent or guardian, that will help you ensure that you don’t have bags and bags of candy and toys to go through. Plan your adventure to be 1 to 1.5 hours at the most. Don’t go out for several hours on end with your children in order to get 200 pounds of candy. You’re asking for trouble when you do this, and you also set a precedent that “more candy is better”.

Okay, once we all get home, we work with our kids on dividing up all the different types of candies into several categories. Examples of different categories can be:

  • Chips
  • Chocolates
  • Candies
  • Toys
  • (and whatever else you think would be appropriate)

When you’ve finished categorizing everything, decide on what candies you are going to allow your child to consume and, over time, let them pick one large piece or 2 small pieces at a time. It’s best that you spread this out over time; don’t give your child a selection each and every day, but rather stick to Fridays and weekends if possible. Giving too much candy at one time will spike their blood sugar levels, resulting in additional craving and potentially undesired behavioural shifts that many kids experience when they gorge on sugar

Like our family, you can also choose to donate some of the candy rations to other children or organizations. This teaches them how important it is to share and bring smiles to others.

Lastly, all candy should be stored in the kitchen, out of the reach of the kids. This lessens any temptations to sneak a snack here and there behind Mom and Dad’s back.

Have a wonderfully fun and safe Halloween this year!


Spooky Recipe Ideas for Halloween:

Here are some fun, healthy and quick snack ideas for Halloween events. These are simple and are great to have the kids help out with.

Pizza Mummies

Pizza Mummies

Disguises aren’t just for Halloween. Surprise your family with these dressed-up, spooky-looking snacks any time of year. Kids can help by spooning the pizza sauce on the English muffin and making the mummy face with the cheese and vegetables.

Ingredients:

  • English muffins
  • Pizza sauce
  • Black olives
  • Scallions
  • Red or green pepper
  • Cheese sticks or slices

Instructions:

  1. Heat the oven to 350º F. For each mummy, spread a tablespoon of pizza sauce onto half of an English muffin (toast it first, if you like).
  2. Set olive slices in place for eyes and add round slices of green onion or bits of red or green pepper for pupils.
  3. Lay strips of cheese (we used a pulled-apart cheese stick) across the muffin for the mummy’s wrappings.
  4. Bake for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the muffin is toasty.

Apple Bites

Apple Bites

These toothsome treats are a fun and healthy break from Halloween sweets.

Ingredients:

  • Apples
  • Slivered almonds

Instructions:

  1. Just quarter and core an apple, cut a wedge from the skin side of each quarter, then press slivered almonds in place for teeth.
  2. Tips:If you’re not going to serve them right away, baste the apples with orange juice to keep them from browning.

Eco Events:


Did You Know…

When you were born you had over 300 bones. As you grew, some of these bones began to fuse together. The result? An adult has only 206 bones!

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Written by jhowarth on October 12th, 2011. Posted in Newsletters

It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge. — Albert Einstein

Back to School Lunch Tips

It’s the second week back to school and I know most parents can already feel the pressure of packing a fun, yet healthy lunch. Here are 3 tips for doing both:

  1. Try to appeal to a child’s sense of sight, by cutting their sandwiches into fun shapes. Also, play around with a variety of colourful fruits and veggies (great for colour and texture).
  2. Kids love to dip. We all know ketchup and ranch can be staples in a child’s meal, but how about a healthy dip alternative? Try Hummus, guacamole or yogurt.
  3. Think beyond the sandwich. Sandwiches are great, but eating the same thing everyday can be dull. Thermoses are great lunch alternative for soup, chili or stir fry. Even wraps can be a nice change from sandwiches.
Try to get your kids involved and have fun. Let them have a say in which (healthy) snacks are going into their lunches.

GREEN Events in Toronto:

September 21 – Insider’s Guide to GreenBuild
September 25 – Toronto Garlic Festival


Recipe of the Month:

The temperature is dropping and fall is officially on its way. I thought it would be nice to have a warm and comforting recipe for this newsletter. What better combination than apples and soup. Enjoy!

Squash and Apple Soup

You can garnish this autumnal squash and apple pureed soup with very thin, unpeeled apple slices or with sliced green onion.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 pickled jalapeño pepper, seeded, deveined, and finely chopped (wear gloves when handling; they burn)
  • 1 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 pound MacIntosh apples, cored, peeled, and thinly sliced
  • 1 pound Granny Smith apples, cored, peeled, and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, ginger and jalapeño and sauté 5 minutes or until onion is softened. Add squash, sprinkle with sugar, and sauté 5 minutes or until crisp-tender.
  2. Add apples, chili powder, salt and thyme and stir to coat. Add stock and 1 1/2 cups water and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, 30 minutes or until squash is tender. Working in batches, transfer to a blender or food processor, cover, and puree until smooth. Return squash and apple soup to pan and cook until heated through.

Serves 4.

Source: The Ultimate Soup Cookbook, Reader’s Digest


Did You Know…

Laughing lowers levels of stress hormones and strengthens the immune system. Six-year-olds laugh an average of 300 times a day. Adults only laugh 15 to 100 times a day. (source)