By Michilea Patterson, The Mercury
POTTSTOWN >> Happy and Healthy Halloween was the theme of the evening at Creative Health Services during a family fun night Thursday.
The inside of the building was decorated with orange lights, caution tape and a black cat that looked terrifyingly real. Families got the party started with a few active relay races including running in a big circle while keeping a balloon in the air. If the balloon dropped then the price was three pushups.
Jessica Garnett, registered dietitian for Creative Health Services, prepared some healthy Halloween foods for the party. A candy corn parfait was made with pineapples, oranges and a little whipped cream on top. A hearty vegetarian chili was a favorite of the night.
“It’s loaded with veggies, beans and no meat,” Garnett said adding that sour cream was replaced with healthy Greek yogurt.
The families invited to the fun night were participants of a two-year program called Healthy Weight, Healthy Families. Families learn how to live a healthier lifestyle together.
Participants get in-home visits from a dietitian, weekly fitness sessions with a trainer and membership to the Pottstown YMCA. Creative Health Services is able to offer the program at no cost with funding from the Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation.
“We’re just so grateful to be able to be a part of it. It’s a great, great program,” said Teresa Moore of Royersford.
Moore along with her sister, nieces and nephews joined the healthy program May 2014. She said the program doesn’t focus on weight loss but on healthy achievements. Moore said the program had a very positive impact on her family. At the beginning, she’d come home from work and see the kids sitting in front of the TV with a bag of chips. Now the kids no longer eat directly out of the bag and know the importance of portion control, she said.
Like Moore, Markita McAlpine said the healthy family program is a positive influence on both her daughter and herself. McAlpine’s daughter Cheyenne, 13, had high blood pressure and sugar levels so a doctor recommended the Creative Health Services program.
McAlpine said it was great to do the program with her daughter because she learned how to cook healthier meals for the both of them.
“I used to be the one to fry everything,” she said. “What I’ve learned most through the program is how to eat right and portion control.”
The healthy program also taught McAlpine about the importance of fitness. She now walks four miles daily and exercises at the Pottstown YMCA. Both McAlpine and her daughter have improved their running time since joining the program. McAlpine started off with a 16 minute mile run but can now complete a mile in 13 minutes. Her daughter Cheyenne started with a 15 minute mile run but can now finish a mile in about eight minutes, McAlpine said. Both mother and daughter have seen significant decreases in their waist, hips and BMI which is a measure of body fat.
“I was here to save her (Cheyenne’s) life but in all reality it saved my life too,” McAlpine said.
SLOW-COOKER VEGETARIAN CHILI
1 onion, chopped
1 small package baby bella mushrooms, chopped
1-2 red bell peppers, chopped
1 yellow squash or zucchini, chopped
3 (15 oz.) cans petite diced tomatoes
2 (15 oz.) cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 (15 oz.) can corn kernels, drained
2 (4.5 oz.) cans diced green chiles
1 cup vegetable stock
2 Tablespoons chili powder
2 Tablespoons oregano
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1 ½ teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
6 quart slow-cooker
Wash and chop all veggies (I use a food processor to “chop” the onion and pepper). Place all ingredients in your slow cooker. Cover and cook on High for 4 hours or low for 6-8 hours. If chili looks thin, remove lid and let cook another half hour. Serve with fat-free plain Greek yogurt (in place of sour cream), cilantro, low-fat shredded cheese, olives, jalapeños, cornbread, or any of your favorite toppings!
Recipe Adapted from Layers of Happiness