5 Tricks & Treats For A Happy, Healthy Halloween!

It’s that time of year again!! Halloween is the beginning of the almost three-month-long holiday season by the time we get through New Years. The coming months are full of candy, sweet treats galore, parties, and indulgent foods every direction you look. I don’t know about you, but I’m excited to have fun with this holiday, and enjoy it without a candy hangover! Here are a few tips so you and your family can do the same: 

1. Eat before you Trick or Treat

The temptation to dig into the huge variety of candy the kids collect while trick or treating is real! The kids want to indulge too! To ensure you and your kiddos get some good nutrition in and don’t just feast on candy for dinner, make sure to have a hearty, nutritious meal BEFORE heading out to collect all the goodies. How about this protein-rich turkey veggie meatloaf or some quick veggie-loaded peanut noodles? These Jack-O-Lantern stuffed bell peppers are a festive way to start the evening with your kids too! 

Photo cred: itsyummi.com

Photo cred: itsyummi.com

 2. If you’re throwing or going to a party, make a dish that adds value, not subtracts it.

You are in control of what you make, but not necessarily what others will make. If you make a dish you know is healthy, or at least upgraded from a less healthy version, you know you will have some options for a more nutritious meal at the party. You have two choices: 

  • Make food you think everyone will enjoy, AND know will fill the nutrition bank account of all your friends and kiddos in attendance.

  • Make food you think everyone will enjoy, BUT won’t leave anyone feeling healthier or better than they did before they ate it.

You know that food hangover I’m talking about. I love when I can add value to the lives of others, rather than be part of the battle they may be facing to make healthier choices themselves. Here are some fun, upgraded Halloween food ideas to get you started: http://howdoesshe.com/healthy-halloween-treat-ideas/

Roasted brain, anyone? 

Photo cred: cookingismessy.com

Photo cred: cookingismessy.com

3. Size Matters.

Use small plates at parties, get small bags or buckets for your kids to limit the amount of candy they collect, Choose mini sizes of candy to try instead of the full bar. Everything adds up, and on days like Halloween when there are small bites and tastes of goodies everywhere you look, do your best to keep portions and your family’s health goals in mind. 

4. Be that weird neighbor who hands out something other than candy.

How about little packets of trail mix, nuts or dried fruit, fun pencils, erasers, glow sticks, bubbles, yo-yos, or stickers? If you know it’s not doing you and your own family any favors, why add to the pile of candy trick-or-treaters are already getting? Also, if you don’t buy candy, it’s not sitting in the house tempting you. I always go by Dr. John Berardi’s (of Precision Nutrition) first law of food: “If a food is in your house, or possession, either you, someone you love, or someone you marginally tolerate, will eventually eat it” So if you or anyone in your house does not feel in control around candy, just don’t buy it. Here's a list with some fun candy alternatives: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/10/05/non-candy-halloween-treats_n_8234818.html

How fun would it be to have glow bracelets while trick-or-treating!?

How fun would it be to have glow bracelets while trick-or-treating!?

5. Be in control of your environment.

Continuing on the point above, halloween doesn’t usually end on October 31st. There is leftover candy for weeks, and possibly leftover party food in your fridge. If there is something in your house that doesn’t serve your family’s health goals, CUT. IT. OUT. (Sorry…child of the 90’s here…can’t pass up a Full House reference! :D)

Can you work out a plan with your kids to take most of their candy in to school to share, or donate to a homeless shelter? How about trade it for movie tickets, a day at the trampoline park, or a fun new board game? Can you take that leftover salami platter, or mac & cheese dish, in to work…or simply throw it out? Again, if the food is in your house, it will be eaten by someone at some point. Use this as a teaching opportunity for your kids. Indulging is fine every now and then, but having loads of candy every day isn’t going to make anyone feel healthy, wealthy, or wise. 

I’d love to know: what are some of your tricks and treats for having a happy, healthy Halloween! Share with the masses! We can use all the support and ideas we can get as the busy holiday season begins! 

Thanks as always for following me on Instagram/Twitter/Facebook and sharing me with all your friends, family, coworkers, and strangers on the street. :) I have availability for new clients at the moment, so if you or any companies you know are looking for food/wellness consulting, writing, or recipe development, send them my way!

Cover photo cred: Howdoesshe.com

Pomegranate Jelly Bites

I received free samples of POM Wonderful mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by POM Wonderful and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

Jell-O: a favorite snack and dessert of kids everywhere. It's fun, it's jiggly, it's colorful, and even grown-ups jump on the Jell-O bandwagon (usually with some sort of alcohol involved!). It's also an uninspired, sad snack at hospitals everywhere. :( Even more sad is the fact that this seemingly innocent treat is loaded with food dyes, added sugar or artificial sweetener, and all sorts of other artificial ingredients that I don't get very excited about eating or feeding to kids. That's why I took things into my own hands...

Photo credit: recipe4living.com

Photo credit: recipe4living.com

Enter the beautiful, naturally colored POM Wonderful 100% pomegranate juice! Not only is it free of food dye, added sugar, and chemicals X, Y & Z, it is absolutely loaded with antioxidants and just 8 oz has as much potassium as a banana.

The antioxidant content is thanks to the deep red hue (from anthocyanins) of the juice, so you can feel really good about where all that color is coming from. One 8 oz bottle contains the cold-pressed juice from two whole pomegranates (including the fruit - or pomegranate arils, pith, and rind!). POM - my clothes and my body sincerely thank you for doing all that work for us! We love getting all these benefits stain-free! 

Side note, if you are determined to harvest your own pomegranate arils, have a look at this little how-to video. Pro tip: wear an apron or clothes you don't care about. :D 


Now to turn this beautiful beverage into a jiggly gelatin... There are gelatin products all over the market. You've probably heard the stories of gelatin coming from horse hooves and various other leftover animal parts. Well, I'm not a vegetarian, but the extract of horse hooves certainly does not sound appealing to me. Of course, there are higher quality alternatives that come from grass-fed animals, or vegan gelatin substitutes (which I use in this recipe). Besides turning liquids to hand-held solids, gelatin and some of its vegan alternatives actually do offer some health benefits. They are a good source of protein, amino acids, and minerals known to improve joint health, skin, hair and nail growth. 


Just as expected, when I combined the beautiful hued, antioxidant superpower of POM with gelatin, something pretty cool happened! Liquid turned to solid! Remember all those fun childhood science experiments? Baking soda volcanoes, making rock candy, homemade slime? Making (and playing with) Jell-o Jigglers fell into this category for me as a kid. Now that I'm older and wiser (I hope!) I feel pretty excited about sharing this favorite fun snack with my kids and others since I have such a nutritious option! 


Full disclosure, my son is only 6 months old, so he didn't get to enjoy any of these jelly treats. My husband and I devoured them all and we enjoyed every little bite we popped in our mouths! In all seriousness, these make a very pretty, chic appetizer or finger-food for your next cocktail party or dinner. They are beautifully colored and have a perfectly tart, yet sweet taste. 

Two ingredients. That's it. Well, 3 if you count the little bit of fruit I add for some fun texture. This literally could not be any easier. Boil juice, whisk in gel powder, pour into molds and let set in the fridge. Voila! 


Pomegranate Jelly Bites

Serves 4

Cook time: 5 minutes

Total time: 4 hours


  • 2 cups POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice

  • 1 10 gram packet of unflavored gelatin

  • 1/2 cup pomegranate arils or other fruit of your choice, finely diced


  1. Prepare a 16-cup mini muffin tin (flexible, silicone muffin tins work VERY well here). Line each cup with a single layer of pomegranate arils (about 1 tsp) or other fruit of your choice.

  2. In a small saucepan, bring 2 cups of POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice to a boil. Remove from heat and slowly sprinkle in gelatin while whisking until all the powder is completely dissolved.

  3. Transfer liquid to a measuring cup for easy pouring. Pour the liquid into each mini muffin cup, on top of the pomegranate arils.

  4. Place muffin tin in refrigerator and chill until solid - about 3-4 hours. When ready to eat, run a small rubber spatula or knife around the edges of each muffin cup to release the jelly bite and ENJOY!

NOTE: If you don't have mini muffin tins, or just want a larger serving size, just divide the mixture between four small ramekins or cups and serve topped with pomegranate arils or fruit of your choice. 

Pomegranate Jelly Bites.png

Eat A Better Breakfast

Did you know September is National Better Breakfast Month? When hunger strikes first thing in the morning, starting your day off with a solid breakfast can make the difference between a great day and a mediocre one. A nutritious breakfast has been linked to better mental and physical performance throughout the day. So what exactly is a nutritious breakfast and how do you make better choices?

I teamed up with Flatout Flatbreads to help you find those answers and level up your breakfasts for good!

Start by taking a look at your normal breakfast choices. Are you a breakfast skipper? A pastry or pancakes kind of person? Oatmeal or toast? Do you make a green smoothie or veggie omelet for yourself most mornings?

Source: amysinvictus.wordpress.com

Source: amysinvictus.wordpress.com

What does your normal breakfast routine look like?  Is it hurried or non-existent? Leisurely enough to allow you to cook your breakfast most mornings? Depending on how you normally approach your first meal of the day, start by choosing just one single way to make it a little better (i.e. more nutritious) each and every day! Check out our suggestions below for some simple upgrades:

Source: www.multiplemayhemmamma.com

Source: www.multiplemayhemmamma.com

Make it Balanced

Look to get a balance of carbohydrates, protein and fats to give you all the nutrients and energy you need to last you all morning. For example, most breakfast staples -  oatmeal, toast, cereal, pastries - are rich in carbohydrates, but don’t offer much fat or protein. Not only do protein and healthy fats help keep you satisfied longer after meals, they fuel your brain, your muscles, your hormone production, and help keep your blood sugar stable so you don’t have an energy crash soon after eating that bowl of cereal. Try adding some eggs, cream cheese and salmon lox, natural deli meats, chicken sausage, avocado, or beans to a Flatout flatbread for easy, balanced breakfast options. Bonus points for adding in whatever veggies you have on hand!

Veggies? Check! Protein? Check? Smart Carbs? Check! Healthy fats? Check!!

Veggies? Check! Protein? Check? Smart Carbs? Check! Healthy fats? Check!!

Make it Fiber-ful

Fiber keeps you full! No one likes eating a banana for breakfast in the car on the way to work only to be hungry an hour later in the middle of their morning meeting. Add some fiber to help you make it to lunch before hunger hits. Grab a whole grain, high fiber Flatout flatbread, spread it with a little peanut butter (or any other nut or seed butter you like), slice up that banana and wrap it up with the peanut butter for a portable, high fiber breakfast you can take on the go.

Source: www.flatoutbread.com

Source: www.flatoutbread.com

Make it Doable

If you have just 5 minutes every morning to make breakfast and usually grab a bagel on your way out the door, don’t commit to whipping up a homemade veggie omelet as a way to eat healthier. Instead, make it easy on yourself and choose something you’re confident you can do every day. For example, swap that bagel for a high protein, high fiber Flatout flatbread, microwave a couple eggs or egg whites for some quick scrambled eggs, toss in whatever veggies you have on hand and wrap it up for a quick and delicious breakfast wrap ready in minutes.

Source: www.flatoutbread.com

Source: www.flatoutbread.com

Are you up for the challenge to make your breakfasts just a little bit better each day to level up your performance?

Try out some of these other delicious, easy breakfast recipes using Flatout Wraps, FoldIt and Pizzas! Click here to find a variety of Flatout Flatbreads in the deli section at your local grocery store.

Thanks as always for following me on Instagram/Facebook/Pinterest and sharing me with all your friends, family, coworkers and strangers on the street. :) I have availability for new clients at the moment, so if you know any health-focused companies looking for nutrition consultant or coach, send them my way!

Strawberry Shortcake Trifle

Strawberry Shortcake Trifle

Layers of light and flakey buttermilk biscuits, tart greek yogurt lemon custard, and fresh, sweet strawberries form an unconventional trifle that make this upgraded, low sugar childhood favorite a beautiful dessert for any meal during strawberry season!

Read More

Breakfast Tostadas

Breakfast Tostadas

Most of us have done breakfast for dinner, but how about dinner for breakfast?! Tostadas are one of my go-to choices when I get Mexican food. It’s pretty much just a pile of delicious ingredients on a crispy tortilla - easy enough for busy mornings! Of course, this recipe includes a few nutritious upgrades to your typical tostada.

Read More

A Better Burger (& Sides) Recipe Roundup!

I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for new, fun recipes to make and share with my friends when we get together for cook-outs or pot lucks. Summer BBQs are a prime opportunity to share your love of creative, delicious (and healthy), cooking! 

With that in mind, I decided there should be an awesome resource out there for all your summer BBQ recipe needs! I polled some of my fellow Registered Dietitians who like whip up healthy, AND oh-so-tasty creations in the kitchen. What follows are some of their best recipes to make your time at the grill, and with your friends and family, a lot more fun and delicious than just serving up those same old burgers, hot dogs, and potato salad every weekend.  

We've got you covered in the burgers (of the turkey, beef, and non-meat variety), and sides departments! Scroll through, check them out, try them out at your next party, and let us know how much everyone loves them (and you for making them!)!  



Beef Burgers:


Healthified Classic American Cheeseburger from Stacey Mattinson.

Portion size, beef quality, veggies & condiments can make or break a burger in the nutrition department. Stacey shows you how to choose the best of them! 





Blended Portobello Hamburger from Triad To Wellness.

What kind of nutrition nerds would we be if we didn't try to hide veggies in a dish?! The best part about this is? You'd never know veggies were in there! In fact, there is research being done on college kids with this very ground beef blend concept to prove it!



Three Ingredient Healthy Hummus Burgers from Abbey’s Kitchen.

Not only do these look festive with all that color, but the hummus mixed in with the meat and on top makes these taste amazing! 





Turkey burgers:


My Greek Turkey Burgers with cool & creamy Tzatziki and grilled veggies are always a hit!

These burgers are pictured atop a bed of greens, but just add your favorite bun option to make it more of a traditional, hand-held burger!




Southwestern Turkey Burgers from Snacking in Sneakers.

Simple, straightforward, packed with flavor, with an amazing texture. Guacamole is NEVER a bad idea! 





California Turkey Burgers from Erica Julson.

Herbs, spices, veggies & cheese...yes please! And again...guacamole is NEVER a bad idea! 






Easy Sweet Potato Turkey Burgers from Bucket List Tummy.

Sweet & Easy - two of my favorite words! If you choose to use super lean ground turkey breast (97-99% lean), you often end up with a pretty dry burger patty. However, the sweet potato mix-in keeps these burgers nice and moist! 




Meat-Free burgers:


Grilled Fresh Salmon Burgers from Nutrioulicious. 

You don't have to tell me twice to get my omega-3s in burger form! 





Meatless Monday Veggie Burgers from Nutrition by Nazima:

Black beans, quinoa, AND lentils make this a completely satisfying form of complete protein...in non-meat form!  





Curried Beet & Quinoa Veggie Burgers from Byte Sized Nutrition. 

You know what? The color of the beets in this mixture could fool anyone into thinking you're eating the real (beefy) burger deal!  




Easy Bean Sliders on Sweet Potato Buns from Eat Real Live Well. 

This is just clever beyond clever for those of you looking for bun or gluten free alternatives. Also, tahini and Sriracha on a burger?! This is happening in my kitchen VERY soon!






Try out this summer lime slaw recipe I reproduced from Hemsley & Hemsley. The color, refreshing flavor, and crunch are so irresistible, you can't help but go back for seconds! 





Or my flavorful Summer Lentil Vegetable Salad:

Mediterranean flavors come from sun-dried tomatoes, feta and olives in the salad and lots of oregano in the dressing. The satisfaction factor of this salad is bumped up even more by the fiber and protein rich lentils! 




Citrus Quinoa Salad from Amy Gorin:

Ok, prunes may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you're thinking salad toppings, but these are such an awesome sub for dried cranberries or other fruit in a salad! They lend a chewy texture and sweet flavor to the already diverse salad components that make this dish a party in your mouth! 



Grilled Zucchini with Mint, Lemon & Feta from Erica Julson:

These look gorgeous and are such a bright, zesty, simple, yet incredibly tasty dish to prepare for a big group in no time flat on the grill! Lemon, mint, and tangy feta are some of my favorite Summer flavors! 




Potato Lentil & Beet Salad from Triad To Wellness:

The color of this dish makes it extra festive and fun! The perfect way to update that boring white potato salad on your table.  




Guamamol-eggs! Guacamole + Eggs = Guacamol-eggs! No one will miss those mayonnaise-y items that look congealed and crusty after about 20 minutes in the sun! These guacamole filled egg halves will be gone well before the 20 minute time mark! Even if they do sit out longer, they'll still be safe and delectable enough to devour! 



Now, off with you to play with some new ingredients in the kitchen and enjoy your summer parties! I want to hear how it goes!

If you try any of these recipes, tag the appropriate recipe-creator on social media channels to show us your handiwork! I'm at @jeannereillyrd! 

Thank you, as always, for following me on Instagram/Facebook/Pinterest and sharing me with all your friends, family, coworkers and strangers on the street. :) I’m have availability for new clients at the moment, so if you know of any health-focused companies or individuals looking for nutrition consultant or coach, send them my way! Happy grilling!