By Oanhie “Shinsen” Pham, Copy Editor
Provide healthy snacking choices this Halloween, keeping in mind the foods that help build a stronger body and better bones.
Carrots, pumpkins and cheese sticks may not sound like fun snacks to you, kids or younger family members, but you can make snacktime fun and healthy with some of these great snack ideas.
But before moving onto the recipes, here is a little tidbit about an orange vegetable that is abundant at this time of the year — pumpkins.
Halloween candy might be all over the shelves at the markets, but so are pumpkins. Pumpkins are in season and ready to be picked up from a pumpkin patch, or they can be found at a grocery store. Carve out the pumpkins for decoration and use the flesh for pumpkin pies. The flesh is not the only edible part of a pumpkin — its seeds are, too!
Pumpkin seeds are packed with nutrients that are good for the body. The seeds not only contain calcium, vitamins D and K, they are a zinc-rich food that can help prevent osteoporosis, according to www.beinghealthy.tv.
If you plan on carving pumpkins, keep the seeds to eat as a healthy snack. For those who are not feeling as creative, check out local grocery stores for ready-to-eat pumpkin seeds and you may find them with added flavors, such as green tea.
Make the fall season a little more vibrant by consuming healthy foods as snacks. And as always, consume everything in moderation.
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
1. Rinse pumpkin seeds under cold water and pick out the pulp and strings. (This is easiest just after you’ve removed the seeds from the pumpkin, before the pulp has dried.)
2. Place the pumpkin seeds in a single layer on an oiled baking sheet, stirring to coat. If you prefer, omit the oil and coat with non-stick cooking spray.
3. Sprinkle with salt and bake at 325 degrees F until toasted, about 25 minutes, checking and stirring after 10 minutes.
4. Let cool and store in an air-tight container.
Pumpkin Spice Cookies
(NOTE: all ovens are different, so the time you need to keep the cookies in the oven might be different from the given time)
• 1 (18.25 ounce) package spice cake mix
• 1 (15 ounce) can solid pack pumpkin
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.
2. In a large bowl, stir together the cake mix and pumpkin until well blended. Drop rounded spoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheet.
3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
Iced Pumpkin Cookies
• 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 cup butter, softened
• 1 1/2 cups white sugar
• 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
• 1 egg
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
• 3 tablespoons milk
• 1 tablespoon melted butter
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves and salt; set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, blend together the 1/2 cup of butter and white sugar. Add pumpkin, egg and 1 teaspoon vanilla to butter mixture, and beat until creamy. Mix in dry ingredients. Drop on cookie sheet by tablespoonfuls; flatten slightly.
3. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven. Cool cookies, then drizzle glaze with fork.
4. To make glaze: Combine confectioners’ sugar, milk, 1 tablespoon melted butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add milk as needed, to achieve drizzling consistency.
• Mozzarella string cheese
• Green bell pepper (or substitute it)
• Cream cheese
1. Wearing plastic gloves or sandwich bags over your hands to keep the cheese as smudge-free as possible, use a paring knife to cut each string in half and then carve a shallow area for a fingernail just below the rounded end of each half.
2. Mark the joint right below the nail as well as the knuckle joint by carving out tiny horizontal wedges of cheese .
3. For the fingernails, slice a green bell pepper into 3/8-inch-wide strips. Set the strips skin side down on your work surface and trim the pulp so that it’s about half as thick. Then cut the strips into ragged-topped nail shapes and stick them in place at the ends of the fingers with dabs of cream cheese.
• Vegetable dip
• 4 long carrots
• 1 medium carrot
• Softened cream cheese
• Sliced almonds
• Baby carrots
1. To prepare them, just fill a serving bowl with your favorite vegetable dip. Wash and peel 4 long carrots for fingers and 1 medium carrot for a thumb.
2. With a paring knife, cut a flat, shallow notch in the tip of each carrot. Then use a dab of dip or softened cream cheese to glue a sliced-almond fingernail atop each notch.
3. Stick the fingers in the dip, as shown, and serve with plenty of peeled baby carrots for dipping