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It's that time of year again where we can dress up and visit our neighbors in hopes of filling our Halloween basket with loads of candy!  But wait, do we really want to indulge in sugary, processed junk?  We thought we would share our tips and recipes for fun treats, some healthy and some sweet, that are guaranteed to go over well with all your goblins, ghouls, and ghosts!

 

Healthy Halloween Tips

 

Small Portions: Offer a candy selection in a single portion rather than letting kids enjoy a free-for-all. Lollipops and candy rings are good options for this.

 

Candy Alternatives: Try handing out colorful pencils and erasers, knitted bracelets, and small toys like colorful rubber balls, insects, cars, and scary Halloween gadgets in place of candy. Or try a mix of both and see which option kids go for more.

 

Frightening Candies to Avoid: Stay away from sugary powders, gummy or sticky candies that get stuck in teeth, or  full size or super-sized bars and packages.

 

Homemade Alternatives: If you can't make something healthy at home, opt for chocolate covered dried fruit, like cranberries, blueberries, or raisins, chocolate covered nuts, single size sugar-less bubble gum, or trail mix.

 

 

 

Some Healthy & Some Sweet

 

Frightening Meringue Ghosts  

 

Ingredients

 

6 large egg whites

 

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

 

1 1/2 cups sugar

 

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

 

Instructions

 

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees. Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar in a large mixing bowl. Beat on medium speed until the mixture is frothy, then add in the sugar and switch the mixer to high. Beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.

 

Transfer the mixture to a pastry bag or  plastic bag and clip one corner off. Squeeze the mixture into a swirl formation on a lined baking sheet. Do this until all the mixture is used. Bake for about 1 1/2 -1 hour and 45 minutes, or until dry. Remove them from the oven and let them cool.

 

Heat your chocolate chips over a double boiler (a pot with water and an oven safe bowl on top). Stir frequently so the chocolate doesn't burn. Transfer to a pastry bag or a plastic bag and clip one corner. Pipe each meringue ghost with two eyes and a mouth and let them dry.

 

 

 

Gooey Spider Clusters (Recipe adapted from foodnetwork.com)

 

Ingredients

 

1 1/2 cups toasted pecans

 

1 cup heavy cream

 

1 cup sugar

 

1/2 cup honey

 

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced into pieces

 

1/4 teaspoon salt

 

5 ounces thin black licorice strands, cut into 2-inch pieces

 

6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

 

4 ounces milk chocolate, chopped

 

Instructions

 

Prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper and non-stick spray.  Assemble about 30 clusters of pecans on the baking sheets. Pour the cream in a suace pan and warm over low heat. In a pot, heat the sugar and honey. Stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the flame to medium-high and simmer until the sugar hardens. It should take about 708 minutes for the sugar to reach 305 degrees on a candy thermometer.

 

Whisk the butter and salt into the sugar mixture. Slowly pour in the cream and vanilla and be careful not to bubble the mixture. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 5 minutes until the temperature is about 240 degrees. Remove from the heat and cool.

 

Assembly: Drizzle a little caramel over each pecan cluster to form the bodies. Stick licorice strands on each side to create the legs. You will need to work quickly since the caramel doesn't take long to harden. If it does, simply warm gently over low heat. Microwave your chocolate  at 50% for one minute or heat and stir over a double boiler. Spoon the chocolate to cover the spiders body, then cool to harden.

 

 

 

Pear Teeth (Recipe adapted from OhSheGlows.com)

 

Ingredients

 

3 pears

 

Slivered almonds

 

Raspberry or Strawberry Jam

 

Peanut Butter

 

Instructions

 

Quarter and core your pears and cut a wedge from each quarter.  If you don't plan to serve these right away, splash with a little fresh lemon juice. Smear the inside with either the jam or peanut butter, or alternate between the two. Stick slivered almond pieces at the tops and bottom of each pear wedge.  Arrange on a serving platter. For variety include apples with the pears.

 

Sausage & Cheese Mummies

 

Ingredients

 

3 sausage links

 

3-6 slices of cheese

 

1 packaged phyllo dough, thawed

 

1/4 cup flour

 

1 egg, lightly beaten

 

1/4 cup water

 

Instructions

 

Dice your sausage links into thirds or halves, depending on how big they are. Heat them in a saute pan. While these cook, roll out your phyllo dough with a pin on a floured surface.  Whisk together the beaten egg with water to create an egg wash and set aside. Slice your phyllo into strips about 1/2-inch wide. Once the sausages are cooked, wrap them in half a slice of cheese. Working quickly, brush your phyllo strips with the egg wash and wrap them around the sausage and cheese links. make the strips a little messy to look like mummies. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until the phyllo dough is cooked through and stays in place.

 

 

 

Floating Fingers

 

Ingredients

 

1 bag baby carrots

 

1 cup slivered almonds

 

Cream cheese

 

Hummus

Instructions

Use a knife to smear a dab of cream cheese on one end of each baby carrot. Fix a slivered almond on top of the cream cheese.  The almond will resemble a finger nail on the carrot "finger".  Repeat until all the carrots are used. Pour your hummus into a bowl and place the clean end of 5-7 carrots upright int he hummus.  Arrange the other fingers on the edge of the serving platter.

 

 

 

 

Candied  Caramel Apples

 

Ingredients

 

Vegetable spray

 

6 small-medium sized organic apples (use organic so they don't have a wax coating, which will prevent the caramel from sticking)

 

18-20 ounces of soft caramel candies

 

1/4 cup of pulp-free orange juice

 

4 ounces of dark chocolate, chopped

 

Assorted candies, nuts and/ or dried fruit like chocolate chips, M&M pieces, pecans and walnuts, and dried cranberries

 

6 wooden sticks or branches (cleaned and scrubbed thoroughly)

 

Instructions

 

Prepare a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper and spray. Insert your wooden sticks or branches into the stem-end of the apples. In a medium saucepan, combine the caramel candies and orange juice over medium heat. Stir until the caramel has melted. Once the mixture is smooth, remove from the heat. let it cool for 2 minutes. Dip the bottom portion of the apples into the caramel and set on a rack to cool for 2 hours. (You can also add candies, nuts, and /or dried fruit on the apples and let them set into the caramel)

 

Melt the chocolate in the microwave at 50% heat or over a double boiler. Stir frequently to prevent the chocolate from burning and cook over medium-low heat until melted and smooth. Use a fork to drizzle the chocolate over the apples, turning with the stem as you drizzle. Sprinkle with the candies, nuts, and dried fruit .  Set hem on the rack to dry and harden for about 2 hours.

 

 

 

Severed Finger Cookies

 

Ingredients

 

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

 

1 cup confectioners sugar

 

1 egg

 

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

1 teaspoon salt

 

1 teaspoon baking powder

 

1/2 cup sliced almonds

 

Raspberry or strawberry jam

 

Instructions

 

In a large mixing bow, beat the butter until creamy. Add in the sugar,  egg, and vanilla.  Mix in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about a half hour.

 

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Working quickly, take a tablespoon of dough and roll into a finer shape. Place the finger dough about 2-3 inches apart on a non-greased baking sheet. make an indentation at one end of each finger. Using a knife, smear a little raspberry jam on the indentation and top with a slivered almond. With a clean knife, make lines for the knuckles. Pop them in the oven to bake for 20-25 minutes. Let them cool once cooked.

 

Pour about1/4 cup of jam into a small sauce pan and heat over medium-low flame. Stir and cook together until it is a saucy consistency. Dip the severed end of each finger into the jam sauce and let dry.

 

 

 

Bloody Eyeball Cocktail (Recipe adapted from foodnetwork.com)

 

Ingredients

 

12-24 fresh blueberries

 

12 canned lychees in syrup, reserving the syrup

 

3 cups blueberry or grape juice

 

4 limes, juiced

 

2 cups sparkling water or club soda

 

Ice

 

*For the adult version, include gin or vodka to taste

 

Instructions

 

Assemble your eyeballs by sticking two blueberries into each lychee. Place on a sheet plan and freeze for about an hour. In a pitcher, stir 5 tablespoons of the lychee syrup, the blueberry or grape juice, and the lime juice. Pour in the sparkling water and add the lychee eyeballs. make sure the lychees are thawed just a bit so you can bite into them. If it is too tart, add more syrup. Serve over ice in tall glasses. Spoon in the eyeballs.

 

*For  adult cocktails, stir in gin or vodka to taste

 

 

What's so Great About Grapes?
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Post By Shelly
Sep. 13. 2012
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We've been tickled all month with all the local grapes coming in from Michigan!  We look forward to these late summer gems all year, but who knew grapes had such powerful health benefits? From green to deep purple, seedless and sweet, we've got five varieties of local Michigan grapes to choose from, including Concord, Candice, Goldenrod, Niagra, and Suffolk. And here are five reasons why grapes are so great for our health:

 

Weight Loss: Grapes work to trim us down in two ways- first by reducing our cells' ability to store fat (by 130 percent), and second by causing fat cells to disintegrate at a rate over 200 times higher than normal.

 

Protecting Your Heart: The nutrients in grapes improve dilation of blood vessels, making it easier for blood flow through the vessels. They also help to relax the walls of our blood vessels, making their diameter larger and in turn lowering our blood pressure and allowing more blood to flow more smoothly throughout our bodies. When this process runs smoothly, we get more oxygen and nutrients in all of our cells.

 

Reversing Brain Damage: Resveratrol in grapes has been found to absorb brain-

damaging plaques and free radicals in our brain, which have been linked to Alzheimer's disease. This nutrient has become so key in it's health benefits to our brain, it has been referred to as "Reverse it all" by health professionals. This is particularly true for the darker, redder varieties.

 

Digestive Properties: Grapes have anti-microbial properties that are not harmful to the beneficial bacteria in our stomach. Grape extracts have been shown to inhibit the growth of 14 different types of harmful bacteria, like e-coli, and Salmonella.

 

Serious Disease-Fighters: Rich in flavanoids and anti-oxidants, which give way to free radicals, grapes are known to combat most serious diseases. Free radicals protect our cells and prevent most cancers, vascular disorders, mental health diseases, and more.

 

Store your grapes in your refrigerator and not on the counter top. Keep them in a sealable container, preferably one  that is shallow so that they may be stored in a single layer. This way the weight of those on top will not destroy those on the bottom. Rinse your grapes only when you are ready to enjoy them. Rinsing them before can turn them sour.

 

 

10 Reasons Why We Love Tomatoes
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Post By Shelly
Aug. 24. 2012
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It's August, therefore fresh tomatoes are popping up everywhere. If you have a tomato plant, you are likely harvesting your own right now. And if you don't, here are a few reason why you should add some to your next Fresh Picks delivery:

 

1. Tomatoes are loaded with Vitamin C to keep your immune system strong.

 

2. Tomatoes contain an important phytonutrient called Lycopene, which has the highest antioxidant activity of all  carotenoids, has been proven to have anti-aging properties and is an inhibitor for many types of cancer especially those that are particularly aggressive,  including prostate and breast cancer.

 

3. Tomatoes contain all three high-powered antioxidants: beta-carotene, Vitamin E, and Vitamin C.  A USDA report, What We Eat in America noted that a thirds of us don't consume enough Vitamin C and nearly half of us don't consume enough Vitamin A.

 

4. Combine your tomatoes with broccoli for a special synergy between these two reduces the risk of prostate cancer.

 

5. Tomatoes are loaded with potassium. Get your daily dose of potassium with either  1 cup of tomato juice or 1/2 cup of tomato sauce.

 

6. When eaten with healthy fats, like olive oil or avocado, the body's absorption of the carotenoid phytochemicals in tomatoes can increase by as much as 15 times!  The Harvard School of Public Health discovered that the consumption of oil and tomato based products together was associated with cardiovascular benefits.

 

7. Tomatoes are a staple in the Mediterranean diet, which is also known for herbs like basil, parsley, and oregano, peppers, eggplant, and more. The University of Athens Medical School found that those who most closely follow this diet have lower death rates from heart disease and cancer.

 

8. Mothers who are breastfeeding can consume tomatoes to increase the concentration of lycopene in their breast milk.  Researches say that for this purpose, cooked tomatoes are best.

 

9. Tomatoes require so little preperation. In fact, their peels are concentrated with nutrients so leave the peels on to maximize the health benefits.

 

10. We love tomatoes all the time, but especially now that they are in season! The month of August brings sweet, juicy tomatoes of all shapes and colors. Try slicers, heirlooms, cherry or grape tomatoes in your next Fresh Picks delivery!

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