Tag Archives: Halloween

Molly Casey: Don’t Be Afraid of Creativity This Halloween

Halloween is a time where we get to tap into a more childlike, festive side. Maybe you don’t like it because it’s easier to skip it altogether than attempt to be creative, like Dr. Molly! But there is something special that happens when we get creative.

In what areas do you get to practice a little creativity?

The Closest We Can Get to Healthy Candy

Screen shot 2013-11-06 at 1.19.47 PMHealthy candy? Is there such thing? Well, not exactly, but some are better than others. These Chocolate Tahini cups have the goodness of tahini going for them, along with the antioxidants founds in good dark chocolate. Yes, there is sugar, and all sugars should be kept in check, but sometimes you have to live a little.

Candy is normally packed with GMO-High Fructose Corn Syrup, preservatives, “natural” flavors and dyes. So, when this time of year rolls around, I prefer to have a healthier alternative. Rather than keep my boys away from any candy at all (which frankly wouldn’t be any fun) I make candy like these chocolate tahini cups and sour gummy bears , or I order from www.naturalcandystore.com and ‘trade’ for the candy they get trick or treating.

Chocolate Tahini Cups



Place paper mini muffin baking cups in a mini muffin tray.

Melt a 1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips on the stove. It only takes a couple of minutes. Stir the chips continuously and don’t let them burn!

Spoon out @3/4 of a teaspoon of melted chocolate into each paper baking cup.

Place tray in the refrigerator. Allow to cool for @5 minutes or until the chocolate is almost hard.

While the chocolate is cooling, mix the tahini, honey and salt together in a small bowl. You can use almond, cashew, peanut or sunflower butter in place of the tahini. I chose tahini because I love it’s nutrient profile plus, I am making these for my younger son’s school which is tree-nut free.

When the chocolate is nearly hard, spoon out @1/4 teaspoon of the tahini mixture into each baking cup.

Melt the remaining 3/4 cup of chocolate chips on the stove.

Spoon the newly melted chocolate on top of the mixture already in the baking cups.

Smooth the surface with the side of a spoon.

Put in the refrigerator to cool for @10 minutes or until chocolate is hard.

After the chocolate is completely hard, tear away the paper baking cups.

These can be kept in the fridge or on the counter.

Originally posted on my website Tapp’s Tips.com

Do you have any favorite chocolate or candy recipes? Share them in the comments below!

Celebrate Halloween to De-Stress From Your Scary Reality

fearstairsIt’s a scary world out there. For example, it’s the first year anniversary of the Nor-Easter Hurricane Sandy. Let’s count some of our collective fears: Terrorism, illness and mortality, alien invaders, zombies, vampires, ghosts, science and technology horrors, and any adult or child with a gun who has an ax to grind. Appearing counter-intuitive, Halloween can help you face your true individual fear by wearing a disguise, a mask and costume. Essentially, you can wear your biggest fear inside-out, revealing it to the world without any shame attached in order to help you confront and so, reduce its powerful hold.

In the imagination fear conjures up frightening catastrophic situations. Did you know that when imagining a terrible tragedy from which you believe you will never recover, you will be surprised how much better you can actually face it in reality and truly recover?  Adversity can make you stronger and more resilient. Turn stress into strength.

Here are 10 costumes and how they can help you to transcend your fears. When you dress up for Halloween, you tap into your sense of humor and fun which will reframe what you dread through role playing. Go ahead and get it out of your system.

* If you are afraid that you are merely surviving at work or just going through the motions in your activities of daily living, wear a zombie costume.
* Afraid of people dominating you or draining your energy? Dress up as a vampire.
* If you are worried about global terrorism, dress up as a scary political figure.
* If you believe that you are unattractive and do not like your body, dress up as Frankenstein.
* If you feel inhibited, wear a sexy outfit or dress up like a character in Fifty Shades.
* Afraid of people deceiving you and pretending to be your friends, dress up like a Stephen King clown.
* Feeling like you have lost your inner child, wear a baby costume.
* If you feel powerless, wear a law enforcement outfit.
* Scared of doctors or surgeons?  Wear a white coat with a stethoscope.
* Are you afraid of your dark side, wear a Breaking Bad costume.

And keep in mind all those Halloween goodies like candy bars and candy corn which herald the winter weight gain holiday season – how scary is this candy fest which fuels the sugar lust! Face the sweet treats and indulge a little! All you have to do is limit your allotment and exercise away the excess calories. Try dressing up in exercise clothes.

Trick or Tips For Having a Healthier Halloween

Halloween - PumpkinsI hesitate to admit, but Halloween is my favorite ‘holiday’ of all. I am not above sending cards and messages to family and friends telling them to have a Happy ‘Boo’ Day. Or a ‘Fang’tastic Afternoon.  Or a “Spook’tacluar Evening. Once I even wore a T-shirt emblazoned with: “Ding Dong, the witch isn’t dead.” (And, alas, nobody begged to differ.) I have been known to serve cocktails with a peeled grape at the bottom of the glass. (Eyeballs, see?) And display whole a cauliflower as a centerpiece. (A brain, understand?)

My kids loved it, too. After all, it’s the one night of the year when we let our children ring door bells and accept candy from total strangers –albeit friendly neighborhood ones. (Ah, such illicit liberation.) My babies are all grown up now. So that leaves my husband and me to carry on the tradition. While he doesn’t actually trick or treat — I mean, he’s a lawyer –and even they have certain standards — he likes it for a different reason.  I let him buy candy. That being said, he also never fails to fool me. We start off on a positive note. He is very concerned about what he will be handing out to the wee ones. So he methodically sorts through the bags of goodies at our local chain pharmacy

“Not this,” he says, throwing back the fun-sized Butterfingers. “Too many calories! Not these either,” he sneers, turning his attention to the Star Burst Fruit Chews. “Sugar and fat!” The Reese’s Peanut Butter Pumpkins also didn’t make the cut. Neither did the Laffy Taffy, Mounds, Baby Ruth’s, or Tootsie Pops. “That’s just begging to go to the dentist.”

Finally, he reaches the Snickers Minis. “These,” he announces, with a satisfied smile. “These are good!! A nice balance of carbohydrates with the protein of peanuts.”

Well, suffice it to say, his largesse in suddenly caring for the well-being of the little tykes in our building always seems disingenuous. The reason? Snickers Minis (preferably frozen) are the only candy he eats. So I suspect that half of them won’t make it into their plastic pumpkins. Yet I fall for it every time.

And I am always right. Not only does he insist on giving out the, er, ‘boo’-ty all by himself, but when I check the freezer before I go to bed, guess what I find hiding behind the frozen spinach? Yep, the  Snickers Minis. His sneaky little plan is to eat them himself, as snacks, during the week.

With that in mind, focusing on the adults for a moment, I asked Julie Erickson, nutrition expert and owner of Endurance Pilates & Yoga, to share a few simple suggestions we should keep in mind when choosing our treats. And if we do indulge, how to deal with the extra calories:

1. Look at the ingredients: Some of the tastiest candies have some of the scariest chemicals. Choose ones that have shorter ingredient lists and contain less chemicals and processed compounds. For example, if you are deciding between sweet and fruity candies, Swedish Fish have 9 ingredients, the first being real sugar. Strawberry Twizzlers have 20, including  corn syrup  (the first listed) and a chemical preservative.

2. Be honest: If you cannot control your sweet tooth, don’t purchase the candies that you like to give away to the kids. Instead, buy yourself a single serving of your favorite treat and get giant bags of the snacks that won’t tempt you as much.

3. Check out serving sizes, calories and nutrients: One serving of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (2 cups) contains 13 grams of fat- 20% of the recommended daily value.  One Hershey’s Bar provides 40% of the recommended daily value of saturated fat. If you want to indulge, be sure to limit consumption during your regular meals throughout the day.

Exercise-wise, to work off the extra candy-induced (would-be) poundage, Julie recommends the Halloween HIIT (High-intensity Interval Training) 30 minute Calorie Scorcher below. (Note: This is an advanced level workout that assumes a high level of fitness going in. It is designed to burn off as many calories as possible in a half hour. The number of repetitions or duration of each group, however,  can be reduced for those who are newer to exercise. But whatever your fitness level, the effort on the work phases should be all out and the rests should be a complete stop.

1. Warm-up: Run for one mile run at VO2 Max (as fast as you can).. Rest 30 seconds.

2. Jump Rope: For 4 Minutes. Rest 30 seconds.

3. Tabata Pushup Sequence: Push-ups for 20 seconds. Rest 10 seconds. Repeat 8x. (Tabata is another form of HIT).

4. Pilates Rollups/Neck Pulls: Lie on the floor, arms and legs extended. Roll upper body away from floor, stretching arms and chest up and over legs and reaching past toes.  Repeat 10x. Try rolling up from the floor with hands behind the head. Repeat 10x.

5. Tabata Cone Hop Sequence: Jump side to side over a small cone for 20 seconds. Rest 10 seconds.  Repeat 8x.

6. Plank/Teaser holds: Alternate these two power stretches: Facing the mat, press forearms into the floor and extend legs out like the ‘up’ part of a pushup so that thighs are off the ground and toes are curled under. Hold Plank for 30 seconds. Rest 10 seconds. This is the Forearm Plank stretch. For the Teaser stretch, sit up for 30 seconds on the mat with your pelvis tilted, legs extended to 45 degrees and your arms parallel to your legs. Switch back and forth until you have done both stretches 4x.

7. Burpees: From standing, leap into the air with the arms stretching overhead as high as possible. Then fall into a squat position with your hands and feet on the mat and jump your feet back to the ‘up’ part of a pushup position. Immediately do one full pushup, then quickly jump your feet forward toward your hands again and start leap from this crouch position. Repeat 10x.

Armed with the above info, go ahead and eat your Snickers Minis.  But as Julie suggested, try to show some restraint. (Even The Lawyer keeps it to one a day until his cache runs out.) Just know that I scare because I care. I ‘witch’ you all a happy and healthy Halloween. (Sorry, couldn’t resist!)

VOD: 4 Young Poets Speak the Truth About Costume Sexualization

Have you noticed when you go to buy a Halloween costume that the outfits get skimpier and skimpier? Or that it’s impossible to be something like a nurse or a police officer or firefighter without the word “sexy” on the front of the package? It’s a phenomenon that has been going on for years, but what is the message we are sending to our children?

These four girls teamed up to recite a poem called “Monster” where they discuss the problematic nature of store-bought costumes for women these days. They stand up for their own image, the right to own Halloween without showing all of their parts to the world – to decide for themselves what is sexy based on what they think is cool rather than how naked they are. They are monsters and they are heroes. Cheers, ladies.

What do you think of the girls’ performance? Do you have a suggestion for our Video of the Day column? Tell us in the comments below!

10 of the Best Family Halloween Costumes from Around the Internet

Halloween is usually reserved for ghouls, goblins and scary things – but who says it can’t also be fun for the entire family? Every year actor Neil Patrick Harris and his partner David come up with themed family costumes that get more and more adorable every year. This year they dressed up as the cast of Alice in Wonderland. The picture inspired us to look around for what other families have created inspired Halloween costumes. Check out the slideshow below.

(Photocredit: Tumblr & Buzzfeed)

HELP: How Do We Stop Sexualizing Children for Halloween

A recent Causes petition exhorting Target to stop carrying sexy Halloween costumes for young girls recently landed in my in-box.

“From sexy witches to naughty leopards and “slutty crayons,” Halloween costumes that encourage young girls to sexualize themselves are everywhere. News flash: little girls aren’t sexy – do we really want society to look at our daughters this way?“

Absolutely not!

I’d almost added my electronic name to the petition when it suddenly hit me. Wait a minute. You have a choice as a mom and a choice as a consumer. If it offends you, don’t buy the product.

Easy for me to say—I don’t have the terrific task of explaining to a kid in various stages of public whining, pouting and storm just why a particularly slinky, slit-to-there witches outfit isn’t for her.

“It’s not appropriate.” Was there ever a more tired response guaranteed to trigger more “why not?” whining than that? And how, in God’s name, can anybody adequately explain inappropriate sexual behavior and what it might trigger to an eight-year-old anyway? In a store? Running late for gymnastics class?

And how did society get us in such a terrible place that we have to have this kind of conversation in the first place? Is it as bad as I think it is? Or is it a generational thing? I remember my mother saying things like, “You’re wearing that over my dead body.” But I was at least 16 at the time.

Times have indeed changed if eight is the new 16.And not in a good way.

Sexualization of women and little girls has reached epidemic proportions. And then there’s Miley Cyrus in a class by herself where she’s apparently always wanted to be. No wonder the petition-starting mom wants to cut the conversation off at the source! But darn-it, are the stores really the source? Is Target really the target?

I don’t think there’s a conspiracy driving the sale of revealing clothes—although it’s a great gimmick for the garment industry selling clothes with less and less actual cloth in them for ever higher prices. And I don’t think there’s a conscious desire to sexualize children. Corporations are just following the buying trend. And the trend of ever-more-exposed, younger female flesh is visible in almost any magazine, billboard, video game, advertisement, movie or TV show.

Maybe it’s a response to global warming?

Nah. It’s a time-honored tradition, and, as any salesman knows, you don’t mess with a good thing. You just keep ramping up the show. Yes, sex sells. Why child sex sells I cannot fathom or want to fathom. But here’s what’s puzzling. Over 85 percent of consumer sales, no matter what the item (okay, maybe not automatic rifles), are made by women.

In an average year, women control over $20 trillion in consumer and business spending worldwide. Hello? Do we have a clue how much power lies in our hands?

If we don’t like how something is presented or over-packaged in plastic—we can kill it. If we don’t like how our food is grown, sprayed, polluted with toxic chemicals and GMO’d into something our bodies can’t even recognize as food—we can kill it. If we don’t like how our bodies are portrayed or how our little girl’s bodies are being exploited—we can kill it.

WE’RE NOT BUYING IT. I guarantee when we don’t, markets will change.

Yes, I can hear the screams of millions of frantic-to-be-popular little girls about how “everybody else is doing it, wearing it, and piercing it.” I can hear the howls of young men when their sexually degrading, physically abusive to women video games are wrenched from their clenched fists and thrown in the trash. I can hear the sighs of boyfriends and husbands as certain magazines hit the dustbins and the TV remote CLICKS off a particularly gruesome show or movie showing yet one more violent rape, stabbing and disemboweling of yet one more terrified, victimized woman.

Too bad, so sad.

Will it be easy? Hell no. Is it the “right” direction to go? What do you think? And now, excuse me, I’m going to go sign that petition. Every message counts.

photo by: Veronicaj410

Do You Know Who You Really Are?

36519-2560x1600Are you a fairy, a ghost, batman, a pirate, witch, goddess, a favorite movie star, or a monster? It’s that time of year when we don our masks and become whoever we want, or maybe someone we think we really are.

What aspect of yourself will you be expressing? One year we were two geisha girls in tight kimonos and white make up. For Ed it was a chance to experience the feminine; for Deb it was a moment of stepping into someone else’s shoes and realizing how restricted such a lifestyle can be, which made her confront places she was restricting in herself. Another year Deb went as a lotus pond wrapped in a blue sheet with pink paper lotus flowers pinned all over, while Ed was am Indian holy man in orange robes and a turban, so as not to take the spiritual journey too seriously.

Does dressing up in a costume enable you to act out your secret fantasies? One year we were invited to Dublin to be on Kenny Live, a popular Saturday Night TV show, and we arrived at the hotel where we were staying to find ourselves in the midst of an over-50’s costume party. We got stuck in an elevator surrounded by every type of she-devil you could imagine, and the fantasies were pretty outrageous! It was hilarious.

Does expressing different parts of yourself highlight parts of your personality that normally never see the light of day? Do you feel you’re releasing some pent up hidden part of you that you need to express?

Or does it show how you normally hide behind false images and labels, such as race, religion, or profession? We tend to identity with the content of our lives, yet beneath all the labels is our essence, that which we truly are. Can you find who is there without the masks or the façade, without all the many images of yourself? We so identify with the masks we may lose sight of what lies behind them. But the labels are only a part of us, not the whole of us, and we need to honor our whole being.

Try the questions below to get reconnected with who you really are:

Naming the Masks

Find a comfortable place to sit quietly. Have a pen and some paper with you. When you are settled, begin by making a list of all your big labels, the ones that are most obvious, such as race, age, mother, father, child, brother, sister, religion, job, profession, and so on. Build a list that would tell the outside world who you are.

Then make a list of all your personal labels, the ways in which you see yourself, such as your physical health, size and looks; then your emotional and mental labels, how you see your personality, strengths and weaknesses. This is a list that says how you see yourself and how you are seen.

Then make a list of all the parts of yourself behind the labels; the inner you that few people ever see. This may start negative, such as insecure, frightened, angry, sad, depressed, and so on. But then focus on the positive, such as caring, loving, generous, kind, aware.

Now read your lists through a few times. Can you find the real you, in amongst the labels? Can you find a you that hides behind the masks? Are there ways that this inner you can find expression in your life? Write down any ideas on how you could bring this more hidden part of you into your life, so that you can begin to let go of the labels and the masks and live more authentically.


Ed and Deb are the co-founders, with Brian Jones, of RevolutionaryMindfulness.com. Join to get our newsletter, free meditation downloads, community support, and learn to balance your nervous system. They are the authors of award winning Be The Change. See more at Revolutionary Mindfulness.com and EdandDebShapiro.com

Halloween Candy: To Limit or Not to Limit?

Every year around this time, I hear a lot of conflicting opinions on what parents should do about Halloween candy. Some believe it is one day out of the year and that your kids should be allowed to eat as much candy and treats as they want, while others believe that too much candy can be “too much of a good thing.” While some parents look for healthier options for the holiday.

Personally, I think there are a lot of days out of the year where we think indulging is okay: birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving, sick days, etc. And although I do believe that Halloween is for indulging, I sit in the camp that believes it isn’t bad to set some limits. After all, it could avoid tummy aches, sugar spikes and crashes, and even, possible sickness. Sugar consumption actually lowers our immune system function, making us more susceptible to colds and flu!

If you are leaning towards the “limit camp.” Consider some of these option:

Day of Halloween

  • Fill Up First on Good Nutrition: Serve your kids a healthy meal that is well-balanced and nutritious before to stave off gorging themselves during and after trick-or-treating.
  • Talk to Them: Before you go trick-or-treating with your child, talk to them about the treats they like the most.  Ask them about what they think is a good amount to consume that night and make a pact with them about how much they will eat and what you will do with the “left-overs”.
  • Mini Bag it: Use smaller bags for trick-or-treating.  In Mindless Eating: Why we Eat More Than We Think by Brian Wansink, it is argued that people consume more food when it comes in bigger packages.  Limiting the size of your trick-or-treat bag will help your child to accumulate less candy.
  • Indulge: Whether or not you have discussed an appropriate amount of treat eating prior to trick-or-treating, let your children enjoy some candy in moderation post-trick-or-treating.   Either watch how much they consume or keep the treats in a place that you can manage so that you can decide an appropriate stopping point.

The Day After

  • Portion out the Loot: Divide the left-over candy into “single-serving” treats they can indulge in once-a-day or with whatever frequency you deem most appropriate.   You may even want to formalize these portions by using little Halloween party favor bags to hold two or three small treats.  You can staple them to make it clear that the bag is a single serving.
  • Giveaway Leftovers: If the idea of giving your child candy every day is distasteful, consider giving away leftovers to places like your office, libraries or pediatrician offices, or to children at hospitals who won’t get to go trick-or-treating.
  • Out of Sight: If you want to keep the leftover candy around, but don’t want to not make it a daily ritual, put the extras into a cabinet that is out of reach or inconvenient.  The less you or you child sees the treats, the less likely they will think about them.
  • Sales: A lot of stores will sell candy for deep discounts on November 1st.  Resist the urge to stock up.

Are you going to limit your child’s candy intake for Halloween or do you believe in letting them enjoy to their heart’s content?

photo by: CarbonNYC

5 Recipes for Halloween Treats to Make With Your Kids or Friends

If you don’t have kids you can still enjoy these fun recipes. Halloween is one of the biggest holidays in America even though it lasts just one day.

Why not partake this year and have some friends over for some scary treats!

Pumpkin Head Cup Cakes

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Prepare 1 box (18.25 oz.) of devil’s food cake mix according to the package directions.
  • Add batter to 12 sized muffin pans and bake until done.
  • After cooking, pop out muffins and cover with organic pumpkin orange frosting. Add little licorice bits for the stem and let the kids make faces with bits and pieces of candy.
Organic Ghosts
Makes 24 servings
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare 1 lb of pound cake mix to directions and stir in ½ cup of organic peppermint candy (or chocolate baking chips or your favorite candy).
  3. Fill organic ice cream cones (available at Whole Foods and other markets and do not contain corn syrup) with ½ cup of batter each of the pound cake mix and bake standing upright in two 12 cavity muffin tins. Bake 30 minutes. Once cooled of, trim to level so they stand up evenly.
  4. Use melted semi sweet chocolate to stick the ice cream cones on a cookie base of your choice. Use organic frozen whipped topping, thawed to coat cones into ghost shapes. Use semi sweet melted chocolate to stick on eyes of reese pieces or m & m’s and use little cuts of licorice bits for eyebrows, or just lay out little bits of candy and let the kids decorate them however they like!
Pear and Cheese Faces
Makes 8 servings
  1. Remove organic pears from can, drain and cut in halves and remove the “meaty” center.
  2. Lay out on a tray so the round part is facing down.
  3. In a pastry bag fitted with a round tip add soft blue cheese and, spicy mustard and fill the inside of the pears.
  4. Flip over and lay down on the flat side, on a harvest colored plate and add your favorite crackers to garnish. Use a little filling for eyes and a smile. Add some pine nuts for eyeballs. You can also add a sprig of mint for hair!
Drinks For the over 21 Crowd
The Red Royal Season Pleaser
  • 500 grams of cranberries
  • 50 grams of sugar
  • 2 tbsp of orange jucice
  • 1 tsp of orange zest, grated
  • 1 bottle of champagne
 In a large pan over medium heat add cranberries, orange juice, zest and sugar until syrupy and slightly liquid.

Blend in blender until smooth then strain solids and let cool.

Pour 2 tablespoons of the syrup into the bottoms of 4 chilled champagne glasses. Garnish with some cranberries and gently top off each glass with Champagne.
The Grand Orange Drink
  • 4 Large Navel Oranges
  • 115 grams of sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons of Water
  • 2 Tablespoons of Grand Marnier
  • 16 Strips of Candied orange peel
4 large navel oranges, peeled, all white membrane and strings removed, cut vertically into small slices and placed in a serving bowl.
Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to boil (do not stir) until the mixture bubbles (should be syrupy), cover with lid and boil for 1 minute longer. Remove from heat.

Add in Grand Marnier to taste and stir to mix. Pour the hot syrup over the orange slices and stir to mix.
Garnish with the candied peel, serve and enjoy.
Always Organically Yours,
Renay Matthews

Originally published in 2009

Renay Matthews is a certified Nutritionist and Holistic Life Coach.
She can be reached at
www.organeewellnes.com or practitioner@organeewellness.com

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