Antidote for Strung Out Children

Halloween night.  The kids are as high as kites on candy and the intoxicating freedom of running out on the streets after dark.  Late night and, if you live in our school district, school the next morning. (What were they thinking when they came up with that calendar?!) 

Some parents limit candy consumption others not so much…  In our house, the sweets eventually get sucked into some black hole or other, and we can get back to life as usual–without all the sugar-coating. 

Several years ago we joined our home school group for a Halloween potluck before heading out for treats.  This is my take on the recipe given to me by the party host, and it has been a fall favorite ever since. 

Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup with Yogurt “Cream”

  • 2 Tb. olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 butternut squash, halved and seeded
  • 3-4 carrots, chopped
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • 3/4 tsp. turmeric
  • 3/4 tsp. coriander
  • 5-8 cups stock or water, whatever will just cover all the vegetables
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup plain, low fat yogurt
  • 1 Tb. water
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • a good squeeze of fresh lime juice to taste

For simplicity’s sake (lazy cook that I am) I roast the squash in the oven at 400 for about 30 minutes or until a fork slides easily into the flesh.  Put it cut side up in a roasting pan in an inch of water.  Then it is simply a matter of just scraping the squash out when it’s soft.  Doing this early in the day or even the night before will make things even easier.  If you prefer, you can peel and chop–or get the pre-cut kind at the market, and cook with the carrots in the next step.

Saute onion in olive oil until soft, maybe 5 minutes or so.  Add carrots and saute for 5 more minutes.  Add spices and saute for yet another 5 minutes.

Add water/stock and bring to boil.  If using water, I’ll often throw in a bouillon cube.  Reduce heat and add roasted squash at this time. Simmer until vegetables are soft, about 30 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool until you can safely blend soup. 

Puree until desired texture is achieved.  For me, that means slightly chunky. Transfer to a pan and thin to desired consistency with additional water if needed.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Stir in cilantro and lime juice.

For yogurt “cream” whisk water into yogurt and season with salt.  Add some  finely minced jalapeno for added flavor if you like.  To serve, ladle into bowls and drizzle with yogurt.  Garnish with more cilantro.

This beautiful, colorful soup is loaded with vitamins A and C and is a good source of beta-carotene, magnesium, manganese, calcium and potassium.  Serve this, or any other wholesome, vegetable laden soup or stew, the night after Halloween to counteract the sugar demons.  A good night’s sleep wouldn’t hurt either.

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Scary Halloween Story

When I was pregnant with Sam, I was filled with all the good intentions that every mother everywhere has for her children.  In particular, I was determined that Sam would grow up eating real, unprocessed food that supported and nourished his growing body and brain.  Whole foods of all colors and flavors.  I was following The Plan.

But then came Halloween.

Sam was three years old when I took him out to walk around the neighborhood for his first ever trick-or-treating experience.

Absolutely adorable, huh?   We navigated one whole block before I turned us toward home.

But wait!  He wanted to go on.  We did.  Just a few more houses.  Soon his little basket was overflowing.  It was definitely time to go home.

And to bed.  I’m not even sure he actually ate any candy that year.  That year (and that year only) it was all about the event itself.   But, my god, what was I thinking?

Where was the mother who had held such lofty ideals about healthy food for children?  I  was the one who taught him how to ring door bells and say the magic words that would induce people to throw candy into his bag.  I  was the one who was responsible for future cavities, cancers, and other nutrition related conditions and diseases.

In that wave of nostalgia for the “simple pleasures of childhood”, I had left the Path.  I had forgotten the Plan.

I sat there all alone with a basket of Halloween candy on my lap, picking out and eating all the Skittles and Tootsie rolls, as I contemplated what I had just done.  I had to save myself before things got out of hand.

I dumped all of the candy into the big bowl we had used earlier to pass out treats to the little pirates, ballerinas, and cowboys that had knocked on our door.  I stepped out, set the bowl on the bottom step and quickly retreated inside.

The next morning, the bowl was empty.  Problem solved.

How do you deal with Halloween sugar consumption and the ensuing frenzy?