Yes Virginia, a Halloween Treat Can be Healthy



It’s definitely not what the dentist likes to see – kids eating all the Halloween candy they collect in bags and buckets. You can help your children avoid the temptation of eating all their treats along their path by serving them a little healthy snack so they will be full while they are out trick or treating.

Below is a recipe for a healthy snack provided you are not allergic to nuts. The recipe serves eight and has only one gram of saturated fat. Bibina Varughese, RD, registered dietitian at The Children’s Hospital at Saint Peter’s University Hospital, recommends this snack. The recipe can be found on the website of our partner organization the American Diabetes Association.  Made with the help of a pumpkin – how appropriate at this time of the year – it’s a good choice if you are tired of traditional trail mixes.

Enjoy and please share your recipes on the Saint Peter’s University Hospital Facebook or Google + pages or via Twitter @SPHCS_news. Mention #mytastythursday when you post.

Pumpkin Seed Cluster Snack Mix


½ cup salted pumpkin seeds (in shell)
¼ cup unsalted peanuts
2 cups (about 4 ounces) high-fiber cluster cereal
¼ cup golden raisins, or dried cranberries
2 tablespoons mini chocolate chips


  1. Place a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Cook the pumpkin seeds and peanuts 2 to 3 minutes or until beginning to lightly brown, stirring frequently. Set aside on paper towel in a thin layer to cool quickly, about 5 minutes.
  2. Combine the pumpkin seed mixture with the remaining ingredients.



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It’s about Hand and Respiratory Hygiene

WomanWashingHandsThe New Jersey State Department of Health recently reported that hand sanitizers were not effective at protecting against EV-D68, the strain of the enterovirus that has caused children, particularly those with asthma, to become ill late summer into fall.

There is still plenty we can do to protect children from getting EV-D68 and it all starts with hand as well as respiratory hygiene.  Maintaining as clean an environment as possible is also helpful in preventing the spread of the virus.

We practice hand hygiene is practiced by washing our hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, especially after touching others who may be ill, pets and commonly touched surfaces.  Make sure you do not touch your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.  Enterovirus is found in feces, so special care should be taken to wash hands thoroughly after changing diapers.

The best way to practice respiratory hygiene is to cough or sneeze into a tissue and then properlydisposing it in a waste basket , not where someone might pick it up.  Don’t have a tissue? Then use your sleeve or elbow but never your hands.  Some people find putting on a mask on someone who is exhibiting the signs and symptoms of an upper respiratory tract infection the best way to proctect others.  As a matter of fact many physician practices and hospitals will require that you put on a mask if you arrive for treatment and are sneezing and coughing.

Practice good hygiene in your living space too.  EV can survive on surfaces long enough to allow the virus to spread to others. Frequent cleaning of commonly touched surfaces such as tables, chairs, countertops, doorknobs, toys and computer keyboards can help limit the spread of EV to others. If no such cleaning product is available, you can use a solution made with 5 tablespoons to 1.5 cups of household bleach per 1 gallon of water. If you are unable to use bleach, look for cleaning products that list “Alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride” as an active ingredient on the label and say that the product kills norovirus (a virus that can cause vomiting and diarrhea) and rhinovirus (another virus that can cause upper respiratory tract infections).. This includes products such as Lysol All-purpose Cleaner, Pine-Sol All-purpose cleaner and Clorox disinfecting spray/wipes. Follow instructions on the label.  Enteroviruses are resistant to alcohol disinfection. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website has a list of commercial cleaning products for noroviruses; these also kill enteroviruses.

If a child does come down with EV-D68, he or she should not attend school until they are symptom-free.Children with a fever (oral temperature of >100.4°F) must stay home until they are symptom-free and fever-free for at least 24 hours without fever-reducing medication (e.g., acetaminophen [Tylenol™] or ibuprofen [Advil™ or Motrin™]). For school exclusion guidance, go to:


This blog is published courtesy of Peter N. Wenger, M.D., a pediatric infectious diseases specialist  at The Children’s Hospital at Saint Peter’s University Hospital.  To find a physician affiliated with Saint Peter’s, visit or call 1-855-SP-MY-DOC (1-855-776-6932).  




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