Halloween: The Trick is the Treat

                                                              http://bit.ly/1NzOXpu

                                                              http://bit.ly/1NzOXpu

Trick or treat, smell my feet! Give me somethin' good to eat!

How cute it is to see all the little monsters and witches, superheroes and princesses knocking on your door, begging for a treat. A treat, right? Something good to eat, that's what they're asking for. But is that what they're getting? Are we giving these adorable little urchins something suitable and proper to eat? Hardly. We are filling their bags with sugars, additives, chemicals, fats, and all kinds of junk that serves no purpose other than to wreak havoc on their poor little bodies. We're damaging our kids, one bite size at a time. As it turns out, we've been tricked into believing we're giving these kids treats.

So what is the parent of one of these little panhandlers to do about all of these tricked up treats that are brought home? I'll tell you what we do in our house. Following tradition, the candy is first dumped out onto the middle of the floor so each child can see their spoils (literally, in this case) and admire their own Mt. St. Sugar. As a dutiful parent, I look through each mound, searching first for razor blades and stick pins (yes, I did grow up in the 80s). After removing anything unwrapped or questionable, I go in for round two. Anything that is mostly comprised of artificial dyes and flavorings (with a little high fructose corn syrup mixed in for taste) gets the boot immediately. Each kid is then allowed to pick a certain number of goodies from the remaining not-so-super-unhealthy candy. The rest of their loot is bought out. Yes, I pay my children for all of the junk that well-meaning neighbors donated to them because I happen to place a high value on their health. We take a trip to the store the following day and they get to spend their hard-earned cash on the toy of their choice. The edible goodies they picked out are given sparingly, usually over weeks, until they forget about it.

So what happens to the remaining cavity causers? Garbage. I throw away quite a bit of candy, let me tell you. The first couple of times I felt a guilty little twinge; I know people spent money on those sugary gifts and I abhor waste. In the end, we must do what is best for our family, and I know--and you know--that keeping a giant bowl full of sweets sitting on the counter is no good for anyone. It takes a tremendous amount of willpower for you and your child to resist a limitless amount of candy so easily accessible--get rid of it! Outta sight, outta mind!

Victory note for us: I just threw away some chocolate pumpkins from last year! Note to self: clean out the candy jar a little more frequently.

Okay, I'm not going to leave you hanging. Let's address the question that's been nagging you since my opening paragraph, if it's not good to hand out candy, what should we hand out? You can get bulk bags of toys, trinkets, pencils, puzzles, stickers, etc. for a price comparable to candy. If you have a larger budget, splurge on treats that offer some sort of nutritional value or, gasp!--real chocolate. What about money? My kids must visit at least one hundred houses, if they had a quarter--even a dime from every house they'd be in heaven!

What are your ideas? Can you list some healthier alternatives to hand out to the trick-or-treaters instead of candy? Ideally something that won't risk getting your house egged!

We will never forget, but will we remember?

It’s 9/11. A day etched on the hearts and minds of millions for all the wrong reasons. The internet is lit up with messages of not forgetting. We will never forget. A day of such horror and devastation could never be erased from the mind. The anniversary of pain and loss reminds us that evil exists and that life is not to be taken for granted. It was a monumental moment during which the very lifeblood of our great nation was caught unawares, crippled by the blow and brought to our knees. It’s impossible to forget. We can never disregard the thousands who lost their lives; we will not overlook the thousands more who were afflicted by injuries. To forget would be impossible.

But, do we remember? Do we remember all of those brave firefighters, police, and other service workers who willingly risked their lives to help others? Can you remember hearing of those selfless men and women who marched into a burning building, only to have it topple down upon them? How many towns, stations, precincts, and districts sent volunteer team members to New York to aid in the aftermath? To sift through the rubble, searching for signs of life? These men and women were our heroes; we showered them with the praise, respect, and dignity they deserve on a regular basis. Do you remember that? If we remember, then how have we gotten to a point in time where police officers are being slain simply for wearing a uniform? How have we gotten to a point where we question the motives of those who vowed to serve and protect? How did these brave men and women go from being lauded and appreciated to being suspect, mistrusted, and guilty until proven innocent? Do we remember? Do we truly remember their sacrifice? The risks they take on a daily basis?

Do we remember what it meant to be a nation, undivided? Can you recall how quickly, how strongly we banded together as a country? We worked in unison, as neighbors, doing what we could to help in some way, shape, or form. We briefly rekindled that American spirit of “One nation, under God,” and it was good. Every person, in every town, in every state saw it as an attack in their own backyard. Do we remember that? If we remember, why do we seem so quick to divide ourselves today? Why do we so willingly jump under labels of “conservative,” “Republican,” “Democrat,” “Liberal,” and allow our viewpoints to be dictated by these labels? If you share the liberal opinions, does that mean you must also support the mutilation and selling of humans? If you are more conservative does that mean you must automatically support war and deny the right that people have to choose their own partner? Remember what it was like to simply be a “human being” in a world full of other beings, just trying to make some sense out of the chaos?

Do we remember how tightly we squeezed our loved ones? The realization of just how precious, how fleeting life really is was fresh on our minds. When we picked up a phone it was to call someone and tell them we loved them; it wasn’t to play a game or check a status. Our televisions were turned to the news, not the latest reality show. We had conversations with friends about life and death, not weather and sports. Prayers were unending. Can you recall what it felt like to crave human contact, to give human contact? Do you remember that time when all the extraneous fell away—possessions didn’t matter, work and school were put on hold, and differences were cast aside? Do you remember that brief moment in time when all that mattered was life? Life that was lost, life that kept going, life that served to help and heal.

No, we will never, ever forget. But will we remember?

                                                                                            Image: http://bit.ly/1XTr1TG

                                                                                            Image: http://bit.ly/1XTr1TG

Wilted Lettuce and Fuzzy Grapes: Tips to Save Your Produce From the Trash

Why, oh why do we purchase lush, vibrant, nutrient-packed produce, only to bring it home and banish it to a slow and painful death in the refrigerator crisper? We find the prettiest, healthiest fruits and veggies in the store--bursting with color and flavor--and then we welcome them into our home by stuffing them into a drawer with no light, little air, and only rot for company. We forget about it until garbage night rolls around and we're forced to sort through the stinking, browning, oozing remains; tossing all of the previously beautiful produce into the trash.

Maybe you're like me, heartbroken over the gloriously planned meals gone to waste, or maybe you're like my husband, frustrated by the money spent and tossed right into the garbage. Either way, here are some tips to save your produce and your pennies:

1. Quit buying so many fruits and veggies!

Didn't see that suggestion coming, did you? Obviously I'm a huge advocate of eating fresh produce, and it's great when you go to the grocery store full of good intentions and load up your cart with healthy foods, but if it doesn't get eaten, it was all for naught. Rather than being wasteful and risk having the mindset, "We didn't eat it last time, why should I buy more?" on your next shopping spree, plan to pace yourself. Don't buy all of the stuff you should eat, buy the produce your family will realistically eat. Personally, I never buy plums and peaches on the same shopping trip; there will be far too many casualties.

2. Test the law of supply and demand.

Despite all of my best attempts at mothering, my children still bicker over food. When I don't want to hear them argue, I'll put a fair amount on each plate, but I'm not above using their greediness to my advantage. I'll chop up half a bell pepper and tell them that's all there is, get it before it's gone; the pieces usually disappear before I have a chance to offer some hummus. I like to put out a plate of chopped up broccoli and watch them fight over who can eat the biggest piece, the only rule being if you take it, you eat it. When I have one lone mango remaining, I announce I'm cutting up the last one and listen to them come running for it. Limit the supply and it will increase the demand.

3. Assign a Food Manager.

Give someone in your household the task of going through the produce drawers every few days. Ideally it's not the person who does the shopping (because they already know it's in there and have grand plans to use it!) and bonus if it's a frugal person. Kids would make great managers, as they'd love the opportunity to nag their parents a bit! The food manager's job is to check inventory and remind the household chef to use it, this is not to round up the weekly donation for the garbage collector.

4. Honor their sacrifice.

Okay, so it sounds a little hokey, but maybe we should put more honor and value on our produce. It was part of a living thing and ideally a bunch farmers put a lot of effort and care into growing and harvesting all the fruits and vegetables we find in our markets. Try to appreciate the abundance of vitamins and minerals that produce offers; it's certainly more miraculous than a bottle of supplements.

5. Go on a rescue mission.

Try to salvage whatever you can, however you can. The food manager will play an important part in this, as the fruits and veggies most in need of rescuing must be identified. Some produce that can't be eaten right away can be frozen. An abundance of vegetables can be thrown together to make a stir-fry or a salad. Fruit can also be mixed together in a salad, it can be served as dessert, or you can experiment with ways to incorporate it into a meal (think mango salsa or peach chicken). Be creative and be bold in your rescue mission; above all else, save the celery!

Share some ways you save produce and pennies in the comments below.

The Devil Can't Make You Do It, But He'll Certainly Try.

First post--no pressure, right? I decided to kick things off by exploring the Feeding Demons tagline and why it's so important, because seriously, it's crucial.

Image credit: Davide Restivo http://tinyurl.com/pgcnndh

Image credit: Davide Restivo http://tinyurl.com/pgcnndh

Nobody buys the tired old excuse "the devil made me do it" because really, he doesn't. We each have free will; the freedom to choose and make our own decisions. The problem is that in embracing the concept of free will, we seem to have forgotten the fact that the devil is still trying. He is trying very hard and judging by the increasing trends in obesity, he is doing quite well. 

So why would Satan bother trying to tempt us with unhealthy foods? Because he wants us sick and miserable. I might be skinny, but I'm just as guilty as the next person of gorging on too much food. I know how good that chocolate cake tastes while it's dancing on your taste buds; I know what it sounds like to tell yourself, "just one more bite and then I'm done." I know the feeling of that fork taking on a mind of its own, continuing to shovel bite after bite into your mouth. Yes, I've been there. So I also know how it feels to finally push the plate away; stomach painfully bloated as those horrible feelings of disappointment and self-disgust wash over you. The physical repercussions will sit with you the rest of the day, sometimes the next. Bloating, indigestion, heartburn, nausea, sugar crashes, grogginess--there's no denying it, overindulgence will leave you feeling sick and miserable. Score one for the bad guy.

It's no secret that temptation has long been a tried and true method for the enemy. We are highly susceptible to it--and if it ain't broke, don't fix, right? The devil isn't dumb, he's not reinventing the wheel; he's just using whatever vice, whatever weakness we have to accomplish his goals. When you think of it that way, you almost can't blame the guy for trying.

Here's the good news: Satan holds no power. None. He can't make you do it. 

"But then why do I struggle? Why can't I make better choices?" you might wonder. Here is my question to you: Did you ever think, even for a passing second, that such evil forces could be behind your poor eating habits? I'm guessing not. We like to blame fats, calories, genetics, restaurants, you name it--and the entire time the real culprit has been sitting there with a big grin on his face, yet you had no clue. That's hardly a fair fight.

So now you know. And knowing that the devil is trying to thwart you should actually embolden you. Knowledge is power; being aware of his evil tactics gives you the upper hand. You can defend yourself, deflect his shots, and reach for the prize. Game on.

Need some scripture? Check out 1 Peter 5:8-9, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world."

In what ways is the enemy tempting you? Comment and share so we don't have to fight alone.