How to Donate Halloween Candy to Operation Gratitude

Operation GratitudeHalloween is arguably the most unhealthy day of the year.  Tonight, children across the country will travel door-to-door collecting approximately 1.9 billion dollars worth of sugar and empty calories.  While Halloween is a special, once-a-year celebration, donating most of your child halloween candy to Operation Gratitude can be a way to limit candy consumption while creating a teachable moment about the importance of giving back.

Operation Gratitude is volunteer-based organization that annually sends 100,000 care packages filled with snacks, entertainment items and personal letters of appreciation addressed to US Service Members deployed in hostile regions.  It is encouraged to include donations of dental hygiene products along with candy.

Plan, Prepare and Promote the Event

(1) Share this article with friends on Facebook and schedule a convenient neighborhood meeting place time this weekend.

(2) Put candy away until the weekend.  Tell your kids you have a big surprise.

(3) Purchase heavy-duty, durable boxes no larger than 24 x 24 x 20 (weight not to exceed 50 lbs. per box)

At the Event

(4)  Bring neighborhood kids together and show them this video to introduce Operation Gratitude.  Tell them how they can use their Halloween candy to give back.

(5) Have kids write letters of gratitude to the soldiers to include in with the donations.

(5) Have kids divide their candy into keep bags (no more than 25%) and donate bags (at least 75%).

(6) From the donate bags, have kidsseparate chocolate candy and all other candy into separate boxes marked “Chocolate” or “Non-Chocolate.” (Remove all pixy sticks, as they cannot be donated)

(7)  Adults should fill out this donation form to include with the boxes of candy.  (Remember the box should not exceed fifty pounds).

(8)  Send or deliver your candy donations by Mid-November to:

Operation Gratitude/California Army National Guard
Halloween Candy
17330 Victory Boulevard
Van Nuys, CA 91406
Attn: Rich Hernandez
Phone: 262-674-7281 (262-OPGRAT-1)

If you would like confirmation of delivery on your shipment to us prior to receipt of our acknowledgment letter, please use the tracking system provided by your shipper.

(9) Make sure to reward kids with praise to reinforce the good behavior

Food, Family, and Fun: New Weekly Column

Dad Sun DinnerI’m excited to announce that 1Aisle’s first Supermom, Jennifer Lynds, will be transitioning into her own weekly column called Food Family Fun.  Jennifer is a wife and a mother to three notoriously picky eaters.  From her community involvement and her own experiences creating a new normal for food in her family, Jennifer brings a unique perspective — the modern stay-at-home mom — and an organic understanding of family food issues to the 1Aisle food conservation.  This week, I sat down with Jennifer to discuss the new column, food in public schools, and the biggest challenges facing parents today.

What do you hope to accomplish with Food Family Fun?  What do you want your readers to take away from the column?

Parents are always looking for fast, healthy ways to feed kids. My goal with Food Family Fun is to gather and distribute useful food information for busy parents to improve the health and well-being of their kids.  Instilling healthy eating habits in children is as important as teaching them morals and responsibilities.  It’s not easy with picky eaters like mine; I win some and I lose some.  But I keep trying, and I’m excited to share my experiences as well as the experiences of my awesome mom network with busy parents across the country.

What are the biggest food challenges parents face today?

One of the biggest food challenges parents face is definitely time management.  Unfortunately, our busy lives can sometimes limit healthy food options.  In my family, we have an 80/20 rule in place which is basically 80% healthy foods and 20% kid’s choice.  I’m not a mother that will throw myself between my children and a candy bar, but I try to create teachable moments out of my kids bad choices, using the opportunity to help them make best choice for a given situation, and sometimes the candy bar wins and that’s okay.  Julia Child said “everything in moderation including moderation.”

Lately, the food trend in our family has been to move away from processed food began.  The move began with one simple step:  no more high fructose corn syrup.  The move was controversial at first as it basically excluded all of my kids’ favorite foods.  But the controversy has subsided as we’ve been able to find agreeable substitutes and create an all-around new normal in the family when it comes to food choices.   In fact, our latest venture — limiting packaged food items to 6 ingredients or less – has taken an unlikely turn, and my children have discovered juicing.  We experiment with different fruit/vegetable combination to see what they like.  I’ve found that involving my pickiest eater in the preparation process makes him more likely to try something which he tends to like.

Do you think we need to hold schools to higher standards when it comes to food choices, or do you think the responsibility is with the parents?  Is there a disconnect?

We absolutely need to hold our schools to higher standards when it comes to food choices. I think society as a whole has the mentality that kids won’t eat this or that so feeding children processed food has become the norm. While I think parents are ultimately responsible for feeding kids, it’s not always possible especially with kids in school for much of the day.  School cafeterias, like grocery stores, offer too many choices. I’d prefer that kids be limited to two healthy choices for lunch:   a hot meal or a salad meal.  It will not only make our kids healthier, but I think proper diet would also relieve some behavior issues as well.

What prompted the name change, from Supermom to Food Family Fun?

I felt the title Supermom was too divisive, too exclusive. There are so many moms who deserve the title “Supermom,” that it just felt wrong.  I want the column to be inclusive, to bring moms and dads together to share tips and ideas about food and family that are fun and accessible.

Editor’s Note:  The Supermom feature will continue to showcase healthy-eating solutions from America’s best mothers.  E-mail dustin@1Aisle.com with your feature ideas.  

Photo courtesy of Family, Fun and Food: Making meals enjoyable! from Mass Public Health Blog.

Jennifer Beck-LyndsJennifer Lynds is a mother of three (Jack, 6; Mark, 8; Rachel, 12) from Warren, PA.  Her approach to healthy eating includes obtaining the majority of her food locally and minimizing food waste.

Keep It Seasonal: Pumpkins

Pumpkins:  healthy, not scary!

Pumpkins: healthy, not scary!

Pumpkins are more than just props to ward off evil spirits on chilly October nights.  The popular Halloween gourd also happens to be ultra-versatile, ultra-delicious and ultra-healthy.  According to this article from the Huffington Post, pumpkin contains over 200% of your daily recommended intake of Vitamin A, which is – like other orange-colored vegetables – converted from beta-carotene.  Even better, pumpkin seeds are nutritional powerhouses as well, containing magnesium, zinc, and plant-based Omega-3 fats, which combine to offer a wide range of benefits to your heart and immune system.

Photo courtesy of TLC’s Pumpkin Patch Pictures.

Keep It Seasonal: Persimmons

Forget apples.  For fiber, try a persimmon a day to keep the doctor away.

Forget apples. For fiber, try a persimmon a day to keep the doctor away.

Persimmons look like quirky heirloom tomatoes on the outside, but they offer something a little bit different inside.   At first bite, the taste is hard to describe.  It’s subtle, but sweet, with dense tomato-like flesh that makes it a great addition to salsas and salads.  According to this article from Science Daily persimmons (as compared to apples) have higher atherosclerosis-fighting concentrations of dietary fiber, minerals, and phenolic compounds.  They also contain 80% of the daily recommended intake of Vitamin C, as well as other antioxidant compounds like Vitamin A, beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, zea-xanthin and cryptoxanthin, which combined can help prevent cancer and promote longevity among.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia.

From the Editor: 6 Tips To Get Featured on 1Aisle

1Aisle_Logo_FINAL

The goal of 1Aisle is to spark a multi-level conversation among people for whom healthy eating is a priority.  Whether you’re an expert or a beginner, if you have something to say about healthy eating – a tip, a recipe, an idea, or a success story – 1Aisle is your place to say it.  Here are some tips to get your post featured on our blog:

#1  Make it useful.  Give readers information that they can use today.

#2  Make it personal.  Write about what you know about, and write how you talk.

#3  Frame it.  Give your tip context by answering like:  Where did the idea come from?  What problem does it solve?  What hot topic does it address?

#4  Make it concise.  While it’s important to personalize your blog, it’s also important to make your point quickly.  Your post should run anywhere from 250-400 words, 75% of which should be content-driven, answering W-H questions like Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How?

#5  Make it pretty.  Each picture is worth a 1000 words, as long as it’s focused and pretty.

#6  Add a short bio.  Send a picture and short bio (3-4 sentences) that tells us who you are, what you do, and what your approach to healthy eating is.  Include links to your Facebook, Twitter, Blog, or Website.

So what are you waiting for?  E-mail Dustin Newcombe at dustin@1aisle.com to submit your post for feature consideration.

My Husband the Pescatarian

Newlyweds Dave and Peggy Orenstein

Newlyweds Dave and Peggy Orenstein

She’s a carnivore.  He’s not.  But so far, newlyweds Dave and Peggy Orenstein have struck an easy compromise despite their different food agendas.

How?

“He cooks,” laughs Peggy.   “Well let’s say he does about 60% of the cooking, plus he’s a great chef.  I get my red-meat fix when we eat out. ”

It’s not that Dave is a pescatarian by choice.  “He was diagnosed with a digestive problem when he was young,” says Peggy.  “He couldn’t digest certain kinds of protein, and so he had to change the way he ate.  I’m okay with the lifestyle change.  It’s definitely healthier, but we also have to monitor how much fish we eat due to mercury and radiation in Japanese waters.  We eat a lot of vegetables, and we’re talking about introducing chicken and turkey into Dave’s diet.  We’ll see how that works.”

Although they manage to cook 6 nights a week, home-cooked dinners are not always easy for the ultra-busy couple.  “I have a two hour commute, so that usually leaves Dave, who’s in real estate, to do the shopping,  We don’t plan our meals out for the week in advance, and it’s difficult to keep track of what we have,” says Peggy.  “1Aisle sounds so cool.  Anything to help make the process easier would be a big help.”

Peggy Orenstein is a Health Forecasting Analyst at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health.  Her approach to healthy eating has changed somewhat since marrying a pescatarian, and although she enjoys the health benefits from her switch, she gets her read-meat fix at restaurants.  

9 Post-Breast Cancer Food Tips

Leasa Ireland Breast Cancer Walk

You may have started eating healthier for general health, to prevent breast cancer or reduce your chances of a recurrence, but no doubt you’ve realized it can be a tough road. The benefits to your overall health, energy and skin make it worth the extra effort and proper nutrition can be a great weapon in the fight against breast cancer. Whether you jump completely into a gluten free, dairy free, sugar free diet or you’re just trying to “eat clean” to help during treatment and beyond, here are some quick tips to help manage it all and maintain a busy lifestyle.

#1 Give it 3 weeks - It takes that long to clean the junk out of your system and start training your taste buds for “real food” again. After about a month, believe it or not you may crave blueberries for dessert over cake because the heavy sugar content may be overpowering.

#2 Monitor soy and other GMOs – this is a confusing topic because studies show that organic soy is actually beneficial for fighting breast cancer.  Most soy sold today is genetically modified and the bulk of it is not labeled, so it’s increasingly tough to determine what’s “pure organic,” the good kind of soy to fight breast cancer.  This means a simple latte order can be fraught with worry but luckily more options are popping up. For example, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf now offers almond and coconut milk in addition to soy.

#3 Water, water and more water – It’s so simple but most of us forget to drink enough H2O.  Eight 8 oz glasses are recommended but 70-80 ounces a day is better. Water cleans out your system, helps curb hunger and can be a huge contributing factor to overall health. If you’re willing to go “all in,” there are whole house water filter systems so even your shower water is as pure as possible (chlorine can be an issue in tap water). Otherwise, a nice Brita filter or bottled water works.

#4 Think old school food – The first question when starting a gluten free, dairy free, sugar free diet is usually, “what’s left?” Really good stuff is what. Chicken, fish, veggies, Mexican food, Asian stir fry, Thai food, quinoa pasta – many, many tasty dishes.  And probably things your grandparents eat regularly.

#5  Make friends with your grocer More choices are not necessarily better choices. More often than not, the options are between bad and worse wrapped in a healthy, “earthy” package to make us feel good about ourselves.  Talking to the face behind the fish counter about the differences between sustainable farm raised and wild salmon can help you learn as you go.

#6 Use pill bags – Think you’re too young to be walking around with pill dispensers?  More 20- and 30-somethings are doing it to stash vitamins and supplements in their bags, cars or whatever they have on the go. They can fit in wallets and bags and  you’ll never forget your vitamins again.

#7 Plan to pay more – It’s a cruel fact that healthy eating is more expensive, and it should be.  Yes, I said it should be.  Have you ever wondered how someone can only charge 29 cents for a taco?  What processes and ingredients are they using to make those numbers work?  Of course, there’s simply no way to have organic, non-GMO foods that are as inexpensive as those plumped full of hormones and pesticides, and that’s ok. It’s worth it and should be prioritized in the monthly budget.

#8 Limit meals out – Thinking of a restaurant outing as entertainment rather than nourishment can help give it the proper perspective for nutrition. There’s a reason it tastes SO GOOD – extra salt, butter, lard, the wrong oils can all delight the taste buds at first but can cause problems later.  Doing it night after night because we’re too busy to cook is putting your nutritional health in someone else’s hands.

#9 Cheat, but make it count – All gluten, dairy and sugar don’t have to be banished forever. That’s a recipe for failure, but when you do indulge make it count.  A piece of birthday cake is a must, or maybe you’d rather have your sugar in a glass of wine.  Be honest with yourself and track what’s really going into your body and remember these food choices can truly have an impact on your health.

Editor’s note:  1Aisle profiled the author of this post, Leasa Ireland, earlier this week in Food Equals Control for Breast Cancer Survivor.

Breast Cancer Survivor Leasa Ireland

Leasa Ireland lives in Manhattan Beach with her husband John and 11-year-old son Jack. She spends her days running a boutique PR firm specializing in technology and consumer products, volunteering at local schools and trying to play tennis and fit in a yoga or Pilates class. Her breast cancer is in remission and she’s in near constant pursuit of the perfect kale salad.