Tag Archives: Halloween

Down the Rabbit Hole to Play

Long View: Disappearing Down Rabbit Holes

A few years back, some friends and I were camping just after Halloween at Indian Cave State Park in Nebraska.

The prior weekend, the park had hosted a “haunted” park drive-through where ghouls and ghosts good-naturedly jumped out to scare you in good, old-fashioned Halloween fun. While hiking on some trails high up above one of the park roads, we came across a straw-stuffed witch on a broom tied up by a rope to a tree. Untying the rope let this funny-looking witch fly out over the road and spook any car driving by. You can guess what happened next.

Brenda and Cathy (both grandmothers, by the way) agreed to be lookouts for approaching cars from around the bend. Vicki and Jackie lay down on their stomachs in the weeds to hide and relay the “get ready” sign. My buddy Fara and I held tight to the rope waiting for the “go” sign. When a car came up the road, we let our witch fly, shrieking with glee like 8-year-old naughty little boys and waving furiously at the cars we’d managed to scare below. Later, Fara marveled that she had not “played” like that in years. That statement has stuck with me all these years.

Why don’t adults play anymore? We pay money to take yoga and tai chi classes to try and clear our minds of the clutter of life. Self-help gurus tout their books about “living in the moment” or striving to “be present.” Really, isn’t that just playing? To me, playing is a special state of being where one loses all track of time and disappears down a rabbit hole that has nothing to do with lists, responsibilities, or errands. Playing definitely has nothing to do with CNN, the newspaper, or our Facebook page. Playing is the single-minded pursuit of something that does nothing but make us happy or relaxed or at peace.

I recently traveled down a rabbit hole on a Sunday afternoon and found myself wandering through a small-town cemetery looking for the graves of my great-grandparents Benjamin Hugo and Millie. I didn’t wake up with that idea on my agenda. I actually woke up that Sunday with no agenda at all. My yellow lab, Harvey Benjamin (named after my grandfather), and I had a lovely afternoon just wandering up and down the rows looking at names and noting dates and family connections. Happily, I not only found Benjamin Hugo and Millie’s graves but also the grave of my great-great-great-grandfather Hans Detlef, who was born in Germany in 1800 and died in Iowa in 1887.

No timelines, no reasons, just hanging out in a cemetery, which is probably weird to some, I agree, but it was a special day spent thinking about nothing much for me. It felt wonderful. It was like those worn-out areas of my brain that have to plan and decide and be a grown-up got a chance to power down for a while, to rest and recharge while running on power save mode in the background.

The amazing thing about it was I was deep into writer’s block at that point. I had no idea what I was going to write about for this monthly column. While that part of my brain was running on power save mode, the topic presented itself. Isn’t that cool? I also think my next dog might be named Hugo, although I recently found some ancestors in my tree named Ichabod and Wubba, so I might need a lot more dogs.

There is actual science behind the value of adults taking the time to play every now and then to reduce stress and improve their overall well-being, so let’s start playing.

Lora Felger is a community and broker liaison at Health Alliance. She is the mother of 2 terrific boys, a world traveler, and a major Iowa State Cyclones fan.

National Dessert Month

National Dessert Month

For National Dessert Month, we’re helping you satisfy your sweet tooth with healthy dessert recipes.

First up are Fudgy Avocado Brownies that won’t leave you feeling guilty.

Fudgy Avocado Brownies with Avocado Frosting

 

Use in-season apples with Low-Fat Apple Cake that’s just 116 calories per slice.

Low Fat Apple Cake

Low Fat Apple Cake

 

If your kids are adventurous, this Pistachio Chocolate Banana Sushi is an easy treat.

Pistachio Chocolate Banana Sushi
Image and Recipe via The Petite Cook

 

Feel like you’re indulging with these tasty Greek Yogurt Lemon Cheesecake Bars.

Greek Yogurt Lemon Cheesecake Bars

 

Don’t fill up on Halloween candy. Try Healthy Dark Chocolate Coconut Bites instead.

Healthy Dark Chocolate Coconut Bites
Image and Recipe via The Harvest Kitchen

 

Simple Maple Vanilla Baked Pears make the perfect dessert for cool fall nights.

Simple Maple Vanilla Baked Pears (Video)

 

Whip up Vegan Chocolate Pudding for a treat the whole family will love.

Vegan Chocolate Pudding
Image and Recipe via Paleo Running Momma

Spooky Holiday and Fall Treats

Halloween and Fall Treats

This week, we featured some healthy fall treats, perfect for Halloween, that will keep your kids happy and healthy for the holiday.

First up is a warm and tasty Fall Harvest Hot Apple Cider.

Fall Harvest Hot Apple Cider

 

Healthy Caramel Pumpkin Dip is a great alternative to your kids’ favorite fall snack.

Healthy Caramel Pumpkin Dip {Vegan}

 

These Clean Cinnamon Pecan Pie Bars are perfect for the holidays.

Clean Cinnamon Pecan Pie Bars

 

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls will fill your house with the smells of fall.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
Image and Recipe via Amy’s Healthy Baking

 

Try these Maple Pecan Baked Stuffed Apples for a twist on a classic.

Maple Pecan Baked Stuffed Apples

 

 

Make these delicious Pumpkin Snickerdoodles instead of your average cookie.

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

 

These Baked Apple Cider Donut Holes are healthier than fried.

Baked Apple Cider Donut Holes

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Pumpkin Recipes for Pumpkin in Everything!

Healthy Pumpkin Recipes

This week, we featured ways to eat everyone’s fall vegetable in healthy pumpkin recipes. It can be in more than pie and coffee!

First up was a recipe for Pumpkin Hummus, which is perfect for your fall or Halloween parties.

Pumpkin Hummus

 

Baked Chicken with Pumpkin Rice is a savory, fall dinner your whole family will love.

Baked Chicken with Pumpkin Rice

 

This Chocolate Pumpkin Bread is actually good for you, even though it looks decadent.

Chocolate Pumpkin Bread
Image and Recipe via Love From the Oven

 

Spicy Black Bean Chicken Enchiladas with Pumpkin Sour Cream Sauce are a Mexican fall go-to.

Spicy Black Bean Chicken Enchiladas with Pumpkin Sour Cream Sauce

 

This Savory Pumpkin Pizza is packed with veggies and quick and easy to make.

Savory Pumpkin Pizza
Image and Recipe via Love Lola

 

Turkey Pumpkin Chili is the perfect healthy tailgating recipe for chilly night games.

Turkey Pumpkin Chili

 

Pumpkin and Kale Lasagna is a tasty, healthy version of your favorite Italian comfort food.

Pumpkin & Kale Lasagna
Image and Recipe via Foxes Love Lemons

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Height of Halloween

My Healthy Journey: Mixing Procrastination and Halloween

So, I know I’ve mentioned before now that Halloween candy is hard for me to resist, but I’m not sure that I’ve mentioned that Halloween is also my favorite holiday.

I did theater as a kid, and dressing up and doing fun makeup is my favorite part, but I love lots of things about Halloween.

I have enough candy in the house all month long to really damage a person’s insides. (There are candy dishes in multiple rooms of the house, and bags of it stashed in other multiple rooms.) I love caramel apples. I love Curtis Orchard, for you Champaign area residents, and their cider and donuts. I love the creepy and cute decorations. I love horror movies, even the bad ones.  I love seeing little kids in costume* all over the neighborhood, and I’m not normally a kid-person either, so that’s saying something. (I have an irrational fear that my arms will suddenly give out, and I will drop and kill any child I am holding.)

*If you too love seeing babies in costumes, you have to look at this blog post with our social media recap from last week. Have you ever seen a happier and cuter Chucky?

So, every year around Halloween, my life gets a little crazier and busier. Most years, I make homemade candy and popcorn balls and eat way too much. This year, I was good and resisted the urge, (even though our Pinterest has some really great lighter candy recipes, if you too have a sweet tooth problem,) and instead snacked on microwave kettle corn.

I also plan elaborate costumes and carve lots of pumpkins, and I usually try to use some of the wasted seeds and pumpkin in recipes. This year, my roommate and I even went a little crazy on decorations:

Halloween Decorations 1

Halloween Decorations 2

Halloween Decorations 3

And these are just the big displays. We also have Halloween handtowels, an all-black candelabra in the dining room, and candles everywhere…

I had to cut back my Halloween love this year though because we’re all still pretty busy here at Health Alliance with the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period going on, and with the regular Open Enrollment Period about to begin.

So while I didn’t make a lot of food, (truthfully for the best,) I did still carve seven pumpkins and go costume crazy. (Both of which my dog hates. She does not appreciate my cuddling pumpkins on my lap every night for a week instead of her, nor does she enjoy not recognizing me and getting makeup in her mouth when giving kisses.)

Why am I telling all of you this? Because I’ve sadly been too busy for my Rally goals. I started out good on the stretching, but it didn’t last once I hit last week. The only mission I’ve really been doing is the bedtime routine, and even that’s been thrown out of whack with how busy I was. Which is why I haven’t blogged. I don’t have much good health news to report.

So, because November is the month where I stop eating candy, and start making good, you get one last post all about my distracted failures. To make up for the fact that I’m not much of a health inspiration, let me be your holiday one!

Because of my costume, I went with Disney themed pumpkins:

Ariel Pumpkin Carving

Ursula Pumpkin Carving

Maleficient Pumpkin Carving

Sleeping Beauty Pumpkin Carving

Evil Queen Pumpkin Carving

Snow White Pumpkin Carving

Cruella Pumpkin Carving

Now, I know most of you have never actually seen me before, so this photo of my costume won’t be much of a transformation to you, but I promise that’s not normally what my face looks like! I went as Ursula from “The Little Mermaid,” because I loved the costume with the movable tentacles, but I wanted to be a really evil Ursula. The kind mermaids would actually be afraid of. I think I ended up looking a bit like the creatures from “Avatar,” but it was a lot of fun!

Ursula Costume

(Also, I’m making that face because I even had fangs!)

Ursula Makeup

And finally, just for kicks, here are some pumpkin oldies from a few years ago, when I did my personal favorite theme, ’80s horror movie villians:

My Bloody Valentine Pumpkin Carving

Chucky Pumpkin Carving

The Lost Boys Pumpkin Carving

Slasher Villian Pumpkin Carvings

Hellraiser Pumpkin Carving

Freddy Pumpkin Carving

I apologize for my lazy journey progress, but take comfort in knowing my punishment, as I’m now nursing a sugar hangover and seriously abused skin, and yet I encourage you to waste a little time on the things you love! Happy is an important part of any healthy journey.

Have your own awesome costumes or decorations? Feed my obsession and share in the comments or on our social media!

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Halloween Treats

Healthy Halloween Treats

This week in food, we featured healthy Halloween treats each day that would be perfect for a party or just for the family.

First, we featured a recipe for Black Cat Sandwich Cookies which are just 156 calories per serving, but surely a smash with your kids.

Black Cat Sandwich Cookies

 

Try these honey-based, homemade Caramel Apples for a lighter Halloween classic.

Caramel Apples
Image and Recipe via 101 Cookbooks

 

Consider all the chocolate-covered fruit possibilities for a healthy treat for your kids this holiday. Start with these Salted Chocolate Dipped Mandarin Slices.

Salted Chocolate Dipped Mandarin Slices
Image and Recipe via Deliciously Yum

 

Pair with this Candy Apple Punch for a fruity snack.

Candy Apple Punch

 

Make this Caramel Popcorn for a lighter version of a Halloween classic at just 126 calories per serving.

Caramel Popcorn

 

These Chocolate Spiderweb Cookies are a delicious and easy treat at just 102 calories a serving. Spin up a batch today.

Chocolate Spiderweb Cookies

 

Try this fluffier Spiced Pumpkin Chiffon Pie for a great end to a Halloween dinner party at just 274 calories per serving.

Spiced Pumpkin Chiffon Pie

 

This Pumpkin Pie Pudding will be good this holiday weekend or all November long, with just 288 calories.

Pumpkin Pie Pudding

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Halloween Safety

Halloween Safety

This week on social media, we had Halloween safety tips for your kids this holiday!

First up, talk to your kids to make sure that they know only to enter the homes of trusted adults they know, visit well-lit houses, and never take rides from strangers.

Put reflective tape on costumes or hold a flashlight while trick-or-treating so drivers can see you.

Make sure kids know road safety like using sidewalks & looking both ways before crossing the street.

Swords and the like should be soft, flexible & short. Make sure kids can move and see in their outfits.

Avoid candles & buy flame-resistant costumes. Test make-up on a small area & remove before bed to prevent skin problems.

Never let kids trick-or-treat alone! They should go in groups or with a trusted adult.

Examine all treats when your kids get home for choking hazards and tampering. Eat only factory-wrapped treats from strangers. But you can make healthy treats for friends and family.

Limit the amount of candy your kids eat. You can also find healthy holiday treats on our Pinterest.