Category: Uncategorized

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


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


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 to submit your post for feature consideration.

Chef Jason’s Coconut Curry Mahi-Mahi

Mahi Coconut Curry retouchedIngredients:

12 ounces Mahi Filet cut into cubes
1 Cup Chili Powder
1/2 Cup Tumeric
1/2 Cup Curry Powder
1 Teaspoon Paprika
4 Jalapenos cut into Rings
1 Clove of Garlic Minced
1 Red Onion Julienned
1 Cup Mint Leaves Chopped
2 Whole Tomatoes Quartered or 10 Cherry Tomatoes
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 8oz Can of Coconut Milk
1/2 Cup Olive Oil

Mix chili powder, tumeric, paprika and curry powder in a mixing bowl.
Mix Mahi Cubes into dry mix and let sit.
Heat up oil in a large saute pan. Saute Onions until opaque and add jalapenos. Add Salt & Pepper.
Add Mahi to the saute pan and saute until brown. Add Garlic, and saute until garlic aroma is strong.
Add more Salt & Pepper to taste. Add Tomatoes to the pan and saute until the tomatoes are soft.
Add Coconut Milk, and Mint Leaves. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer for 10 minutes.
Serve on Rice or with Naan Bread.

Mahi-Mahi: Sweet and Sustainable

Grilled-Mahi-Mahi-Mango-Salsa-with-Rice-and-Peas-and-PlantainsThis week’s fish Friday feature, mahi-mahi, is a sweet, lean, mild-flavored fish that reaches adulthood within 4-5 months and reproduces quickly and often.

1Aisle Executive Chef Jason Francisco recommends grilling mahi-mahi and serving it with a citrusy compote.  “Mahi-mahi is very lean so it cooks fast,”  says Francisco.  “You just season it and grill it.  They stay together really well on the grill.  Plus, it’s a very low-calorie source of protein with moderate amounts of mercury (.19 parts per million) far below the FDA’s recommended limit for human consumption.”

Food and Water Watch recommends looking for US-caught mahi-mahi, particularly hook-and-line caught varieties.  The organization further points out that the thousands of eggs released into the ocean during the mahi-mahi’s months-long spawning season keeps its populations thriving indefinitely, despite its popularity in the US.

Photo courtesy of Grilling in South Florida – Grilled Mahi Mahi with Mango Salsa by The Hungry Goddess.

Supermom: Do-It-Yourself Lunchables

Easy, Healthy Do-It-Yourself Lunchables

Easy, Healthy Do-It-Yourself Lunchables

Normally, I try to grocery shop without the kids.  But that’s not always possible.  Recently, I had my 6-year-old, Jack, and 8-year-old, Mark, along to pick out their lunch for the week and they knew what they wanted:  Kraft’s dreaded Lunchables, with a list of 27 ingredients, many of which even I can’t pronounce.

Hoping for a teachable moment, I gave my kids an impossible mission:  find a Lunchables with 6 ingredients or less.  They flipped box after box with no luck.  Aggravated, Mark rummaged through my cart and flipped over my bag of cauliflower to look at the ingredients list.  “What’s it say?” I asked.  “Cauliflower,” he replied, clearly exasperated.

To avoid an uprising, we collaborated and came up with a healthy, do-it-yourself alternative that makes us all happy.  Using Ziploc 3-compartment containers and reusable silicone cupcake liners for additional partitioning, we put together our own Lunchables with nitrate-free ham or turkey, cheddar cheese, Triscuits, grapes and carrots.  Best of all, we’ve reduced the ingredient list and taken out the tongue twisters.

1Aisle Supermom Jennifer Lynds

1Aisle Supermom Jennifer Lynds

The pace of life today makes it necessary to take advantage of teachable moments like these.  My kids now understand that if there is an ingredient on a box that they (emerging readers) can’t pronounce, they should look for a better choice.   A healthy lunch will get them through the day.  The ability to make healthy decisions…  that’s for life.

Jennifer 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.

Fish Friday: Skate, a Chef’s Secret No Longer

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Let’s face it, on the outside skate just doesn’t look good and, for many consumers, that alone is reason enough not to try.  Those who see past the thorny projections on its back and the shark-like composition of its body, however, tend to like what they find.

Underneath it all, the skate has a flaky, sweet white meat with long, separated strands that run along the line of the bone that make it easy to eat.   Yet despite the rising costs of other flaky white fish like flounder or trout, the general public remains, at least here in the States, skeptical.  As a result, skate is a chef’s secret:  a high-end meat that you can still get on the on the cheap.

(Still not convinced?  Check out this article from 1998 in which the New York Times called skate “elegant” and “A-list” or this 2006 article where the Washingtonian declared that skate has gone from “trash fish to treasure.”)

Despite it’s unpopularity in the US, Greenpeace lists several varieties of skate on its seafood red list due to unsustainable fishing practices.  Whole Foods, according to this Huffington Post article,  no longer carries skate because “[it] has been very overfished. The majority are caught with bottom trawls, which result in accidental catches and significant damage to the seafloor.”

With it’s profile on the rise among chefs across America and high-minded businesses and organizations pushing for more sustainable fishing practices, it’s only a matter of time before this bottom feeder gets its time in the sun.

Photo Above:  Emeril Lagasse’s Galician Style Fish Recipe from 

Supermom: Jennifer Lynds Gets Her Kids in the Kitchen

1Aisle Supermom Jennifer Lynds

1Aisle Supermom Jennifer Lynds

Jennifer Lynds is an ultra-busy stay-at-home mother of three who rarely finds herself at home.  Between her volunteering activities and her re-commitment to living healthy, however, Lynds finds that spending a little extra time engaging with her kids in the kitchen goes a long way.

“I have two ridiculously picky eaters,” says Lynds.  “But we had a bit of a breakthrough this week.  I decided to make butternut squash ravioli and brought my son Jack into the kitchen.  He helped out and tasted everything as we prepared it.  It was a really positive outcome.”

Butternut Squash Ravioli

Butternut Squash Ravioli

At dinner, Jack was excited to try his creation but a little too full to make it all the way through his meal.  Nevertheless, Lynds considers this a dinnertime win.  “I needed to bolster my credibility in kitchen and convince him that I’m not trying to ‘poison’ him,” jokes Lynds.  “Plus, he was so excited for Scott [his dad] to try his work. Scott made a huge deal about how delicious it was calling it the best ‘the best he ever ate.’  Jack was on cloud nine.”

Lynds’ dinnertime experiment proves that time spent introducing kids to the kitchen is an investment that can help transform how your kids think about food.   And who knows… in a few months six-year-old Jack may well be saving his mother time in the kitchen.

Jennifer 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.