sugar, sugar, sugar....

Halloween is over and now the candy frenzy begins... This year it is especially important because of the threat of swine flu to be careful with the candy intake for you and your kids! Obviously everybody knows how bad candy is for you but there are so many levels to the 'badness'... most people are concerned with candy rotting away teeth, but that's only the beginning... Candy weakens your body and immune system and it is particularly alarming this year with the swine flu sweeping through schools and neighborhoods. So just be extra careful to watch the amount of candy being consumed.

I see lots of kids whose diet consists of white pasta, milk and bread... all of these 'foods' (if you can call them that..) are exactly what creates mucus in the lungs and sinuses add to this lovely meal processed sugar in the form of candy and you are in big trouble. I don't think that the 'scientifics' need to be explained here, it's all pretty clear, right? Be extra careful that you are eating a balanced diet and pile on the steamed or raw veggies at this time and you will help fight colds and flu and not add to the problem.

It's all pretty simple but sometimes you just need a 'nudge' or a reminder to keep on track. It starts to get crazy now with the candy at halloween, the cakes and cookies of Thanksgiving and then the final ZAP with Christmas and the Holidays! So think ahead and come up with ways to keep everyone healthy and happy without so many sweets this season... I know this is not easy but if you are a new family with young kids it's a good time to start some healthy holiday eating habits and they will never know the difference!

Here are some ideas to start you off but come up with your own and please share them with us here but adding your comments!

-bake your own cookies instead of buying them and then half the sugar in the recipe... exchange rasins for chocolate, apple juice for milk, or even experiment with alternative flours and see what you and your family like best.

-serve hard cheese or goat cheese and get your kids used to them, they have less milk and fats and you will be surprised at what your kids like!

-edamame makes a great snack and sometimes kids love to peel them out of the hull (if not your kids will love the ones out of the shell) remember to always buy organic when you are looking at Soy products.

-have carrot sticks cut and ready when kids come home from school, if they are 'dippers' use a bit of salad dressing mixed in with greek yogurt.

-use rice crackers (or also rice cakes) instead of regular wheat based or processed crackers (and try them with apple butter for a sweet snack)

-toasted nori seaweed - just prepare it by toasting it on your stove until it turns bright green. most kids love the taste and if you don't act like it's a crazy kind of food they don't know it's anyting different! so even if it's not normal for you keep up a good face and watch your kids eat it without a problem! (babies LOVE the stuff!!)

-if you don't have any allergies in your family nuts are great... just keep trying different nuts to see what your kids like, there is bound to be something they will love... my kids love pistachios! (of all the crazy things...??) - this one is not for babies as you have to be alert for alergies so talk to your pediatrician to see when your baby is ready for nuts.

-an apple a day keeps the doctor away... we take this saying to heart and we ALWAYS eat an apple a day especially now when they are at their juicy best!

But you get what I mean.. if you think about it it's easy to come up with wonderful snacks that have nothing to do with processed food and sugar.