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I’ve written about how we can avoid dining disasters when eating out, but many of my examples have involved selecting the establishment you desire to visit.  So, what happens if you find yourself in a situation where you’re dining at a restaurant that’s not exactly known for it’s healthy fare?  One option is throw caution to the wind and chalk it up as one of those times where you go with the flow–hey, we all have them.  However, if you’re really determined to find a way to stick to your healthy eating regime, there’s hope!  Let me share a recent experience of my own and how I was successfully able to enjoy a healthy meal based on the MyPlate guidelines.

Last week, I attended a business meeting in New York City with my husband and the individual he was meeting had selected the venue.  It was one of the city’s oldest and best steakhouses.  If you’ve ever eaten at a traditional steak restaurant, you know that portions are traditionally large, everything comes a la carte and if you’re not a meat eater the other options are limited.  I wondered if I’d be dining on bread and water.  As expected, there were numerous cuts of beef and the salad selection was a Caesar salad that had a heavy dressing or iceberg lettuce with bleu cheese dressing–again, not exactly what I was thinking in line with vegetables and salad.  I spied broiled Chilean sea bass, which seemed to be the best entree choice and then from the sides I selected the steamed asparagus.  My husband and his business colleague also ordered some broiled mushroom caps.  What I ultimately ended up with was a plate that you can see below–half my plate was fish and half was veggies.  Ideally, a quarter would have been fish and a quarter would have been whole grains, but this was the best I could do in the situation. 

Healthy Plate

I tend to eat lighter lunches and since this was more than I’m used to having I decided to pass on dessert, but I was pleased to see there was an option for fresh mixed berries.   Had I decided to get dessert I would have been able to go with a healthy choice!  So, you see–even at an unlikely location you really can end up with a healthy and delicious meal.  Here are a few more tips for making healthy choices when dining out.  It’s really not all that difficult once you get the hang of it.

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Each fall I encourage families to go to their local farm or orchard and take advantage of the in-season, local produce while having some autumn fun.  This year, I decided to visit my favorite place, Milburn Orchards, and take a few photos to show you what local farms have to share during harvest season for you and your children.  I stopped by Milburn’s on a Tuesday since weekends are prime time for apple picking and it can get pretty crowded.  It was great because I was able to speak with a member of the Milburn family and she told me how they had not only expanded their farm market store, but also added lots of fun activities for the kids.

 I’ll start with the farm market store since the abundance of fresh fruits and veggies is at the top of my list.  Needless to say, they had every type of apple I could possibly think of and what was especially helpful was a board posted on the wall that described the different varieties and how they are best used (i.e. baking, snacking, etc.).  Different kinds of winter squash like butternut and acorn filled baskets as did various sizes of pumpkins.  I made a beeline to the refrigerated section for my favorite item–the homemade apple cider.  Seriously–this is something I look forward to all year! 

Farm Market

As with many farms, Milburn’s allows consumers to “pick-your-own” apples.  There are fields upon fields of different varieties of apple trees and they have tractors that will take you out to the field and bring you back to the parking area.  Outside the farm market is also the fun area for kids.  Hay rides, a corn maze, animal petting area, pumpkin pyramid …I could go on and on.  The day I was there a small group of daycare children were visiting and a Milburn staff member was teaching them about the different animals that live on the farm.  As you can see from the photo below, the long haired rabbit was an instant hit.  I also loved the big sign about how an apple grows–a great educational tool for children.  It provides a colorful step-by-step explanation of the transformation from bud to apple as you can see in the photo.

Long-haired Bunny

Check out our Fruits & Veggies Happenings page, specifically the Community Database to find Farmer’s Markets and autumn events near you.  It’s a great way to introduce your kids to healthy eating and teach them how produce is grown.  I had fun the day I visited the orchard and I’ll definitely make another visit before the season is over–I’ve got to get more fresh apples and some of that delicious cider!

How an Apple Grows

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Halloween is just a few weeks away and it seems like each year more parents are opting for different activities than the usual trick-or-treating.  In many cases, this allows parents to cut down on the amount of candy their children consume and provides a safer environment for them.  Many schools and community centers host activities, but there’s no reason you can’t host your own Halloween costume party and make it fun while keeping your party menu both tasty and nutritious for your ghoulish guests.

Recently, Fruits & Veggies–More Matters hosted a Twitter Party on “Healthy Tips for Halloween.”  There were so many great ideas from participants, I have to share some of them with you since these are sure to be a hit at any Halloween party.  California Cling Peaches shared a photo of “pumpkin cups” where they took individual peach cups and drew little Jack-o-Lantern faces on each.  These are great for both a party or to hand out for Halloween as an alternative to candy.

Pumpkin Peach Cups

Everyone loves caramel apples this time of year so why  not try an apple dipping bar at your party?  Set up sliced apples with warm caramel dip and then set out different toppings like crushed nuts, toasted coconut or chocolate sprinkles.  Some other healthy party treats include mini veggie pizzas, dried fruit and nut mix and low-fat string cheese.

California Grown Fruit had a spooky idea for hard boiled eggs by turning them into “ghosts” as can be seen in the below photo.  Another simple and healthy idea kids will love!  Dandy Fresh actually created a Pinterest board just for Halloween.  You’ll love the “Slimy Radish Eyeballs” and the “Veggie Skeleton” (complete with dip!).

Egg "Ghosts"

I hope you’ll try some of these creative ideas this year for Halloween.  Remember, for most kids Halloween is really about the fun of dressing up as their favorite character and the thrill of the season–if you make the most of the holiday they’ll enjoy it without the massive amounts of candy.  Enjoy and happy Halloween!

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