Today’s Superfood: Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate has been around for 3000 years! Before 1689, the only chocolate around was dark chocolate. Then, milk became a popular addition. While milk chocolate remains popular, its dark chocolate that holds all the secret goodness.

What makes dark chocolate a powerful superfood?

Cocoa! Cacao grows on trees as orange colored fruit. The seeds are the size of small pumpkins. These seeds can be used to create cocoa powder- through a process of roasting and grinding.

Fun Fact: Every second Americans collectively eat 100 pounds of chocolate!

blog post_superfood_chocolate02Health Benefits

Rich source of nutrients:

  • Fiber
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Zinc
  • Selenium

Unbelievable antioxidant power

Many people would be surprised to know – Dark chocolate has comparable antioxidant power to fruits like acai and blueberries.

Makes us happy

Filled with blissful chemicals like serotonin that makes us happy. Even the smell of dark chocolate can improve our mood.

Heart Healthy

Dark chocolate has been greatly studied for its heart health. It actually can lower our blood pressure and bad cholesterol.

blog post_superfood_chocolate01Choosing Chocolate
  • Not all chocolate is healthy. Look on the label for “cocoa”
  • Did you know white chocolate is actually not chocolate? It contains zero cocoa!
  • When purchasing chocolate bars, choose high percentage of cocoa, at least 70%

The greater percentage means:

Richer in flavor   //   Less added sugar   //   Good for you!

Chocolate should be consumed in moderation:

Limit cocoa intake to 2oz or less per serving

You do not need to consume chocolate daily to receive all its amazing benefits

A minimal amount, 2- 3 times per week is ideal

Use 100% cocoa powder

Replace packaged hot chocolate with 100% cocoa powder

Add a tablespoon in during baking or making smoothies

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Try a warm cup of cocoa hot chocolate

1cup fat-free white milk

1-teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

Handle of miniature marshmallows

Heat milk on stovetop till warm

Add cocoa, vanilla extract and stir

Top with miniature marshmallows and enjoy!



Fall Family Fun in Arizona

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Visit a pumpkin patch

The pumpkin patch is an old fall tradition. Enjoy family time, take fall photos, and pick your perfect pumpkin. After decorating your pumpkin, bake the seeds for a delicious snack.

Click here to view the superfood benefits of pumpkin seeds.

View a list of some of Arizona most popular pumpkin patches here. There is something for everyone!

  • Hay rides
  • Picnics
  • Petting zoos
  • Corn mazes

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Go for a Hike

Fall brings the perfect weather for outdoor activities like family hikes.

There are also numerous health benefits

  • Learn about nature
  • Improve mood
  • Strengthen muscles
  • Improve blood pressure
  • Control weight

Find parks, trails, and nature sites near you and your family visit


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Nature Scavenger Hunt

Get outside and get searching with a family scavenger hunt. This can be done at a park or in your own backyard. Just make a list of items to search for. Bring a camera along to document what you find!

Find Did you find it?
A beautiful….

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Pack for a Picnic

What better way to spend a fall day than with a family picnic? Visit your favorite outdoor area and bring a healthy lunch!

Lunch Ideas

  • Sandwich
    • Chicken salad with fresh grapes
    • Turkey and cheese
    • Peanut butter banana
  • Sliced fruit and veggies
    • Apples with peanut butter
    • Carrots with ranch
    • Celery with almond butter
    • Frozen grapes
  • Snacks
    • Cheese and crackers
    • Yogurt
    • 100% fruit juice

Mummy Dogs with a Side of Monster Apples

What you need:

  •           Hotdogs
  •           1 can Crescent Dough
  •           Optional: Mustard or Ketchup
  •           Favorite Apples
  •           Peanut Butter
  •           Jelly
  •           Optional: Halloween candy, Dried fruit

Mummy Dogs

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Monster Apples

While you are waiting for your mummy dogs, get creative with sliced or whole apples.

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  • Use apple slices to create monster mouths!
  • Place peanut butter or jelly on both sides of apple slices
  • Use sliced apple pieces to create jagged teeth!
  • Use a whole apple to build your own monster!
  • Cut out the monster mouth
  • Place jelly, peanut or both inside
  • Use dried fruits, other fresh fruits, some Halloween candy and more to give your monster a scary look!

Give your mummy some ketchup or mustard eyes and enjoy!

Eat this not that

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Try replacing these typical meal and snack items for healthier alternatives.



Sugary Breakfast Blues

White bread

Frozen waffles

Sugary Cereal

Strawberry pop tart

Donuts and Pastries


Sodium Loaded Lunch

Top Ramen

Canned soup

Fried Foods


Kids Cuisine


Say No to Salty Snacks

Potato Chips

French Fries

Cheese It Crackers

Chips and salsa


Kick the Sweet Tooth



Ice cream


Candy Dish


Avoid the Sweet Drinks


Energy Drinks

Hawaiian Punch


Healthier Breakfast Options

Whole wheat bread

Peanut butter banana toast

Oatmeal with sliced fruit

Granola with yogurt and strawberries

Carrot muffin


Healthier Lunch Options

Whole Wheat Pasta w/ Marinara

Tuna Fish Sandwich

Baked Chicken Strips

Grilled Cheese

Macaroni and Low Fat Cheese


Healthier Snack Options

Mixed Nuts


String cheese

Pita Chips with Hummus


Healthier Sweets

Frozen Grapes

Dried Fruit

Yogurt w/ fruit

Celery and Peanut Butter

Fruit Bowl


Healthier Beverages

Coconut Water

Vitamin Water

Orange Juice

Fruit Smoothies

Today’s seasonal superfood: Pumpkins

Pumpkins are not just fun to carve and decorate your home with- they are a powerful superfood! Pumpkins occupy 100,000 acres of farmland in the United States. The start of fall means all the planted pumpkins are finally ready to be sold, decorated and eaten.

Pumpkin Parts

The Skin of a pumpkin is the thin shiny part that protects it from anything bad getting to the edible inside.

Pulp is the inside of the pumpkin that is used to make yummy entrées and deserts.

Pumpkin pulp is one of the richest foods in vitamin A. It provides 246% of the RDA (recommended daily allowance). Our bodies use vitamin A to:

  • Fight infection
  • Allow us to see in the dark
  • Keep our skin healthy

Ribs are the ridges that run from top to bottom along the pumpkin. They give each pumpkin its own character and look.

Brain/Guts are the slimy, stringy, mess that you pull out of the pumpkin before carving or eating it.

Seeds are packed with nutrients and planted to make next years pumpkins

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The seeds of a pumpkin are commonly roasted and eaten for their chewy texture and nutty flavor. During this time of year, pumpkin seeds are a great snack that contains minerals and antioxidants.

An antioxidant is a nutrient that protects our bodies. The seed of a pumpkin has a unique blend of antioxidants like vitamin E, zinc and magnesium.

A mineral has many jobs in the body just like a vitamin. Minerals are not commonly associated with food, and people may forget their importance. Pumpkin seeds have minerals magnesium, copper, iron and zinc.

The World Health Organization recommends pumpkin seeds as one of the best sources of the antioxidant and mineral, zinc. One of the most well known functions of zinc is the boost it has on our immune system which helps us avoid getting sick.

Tip: When baking your pumpkin seeds, cook between 15 and 20 minutes. Anything longer then 20 minutes may damage important parts of the seed.

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Picking a Perfect Pumpkin
  • Orange with little or no green
  • A medium pumpkin is best for carving while a small is better for cooking
  • A hard shell that is not easily scratched
  • Free of soft spots
  • The shape does not reflect the health of a pumpkin- chose what you like!

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Pumpkin Waffles

Put a fall spin on your morning waffles with a recipe from Super Healthy Kids

  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 TBL pumpkin pie spice (or 1 tsp. each of cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg)
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 2/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup oil

Mix the dry ingredients together.  Then mix the wet ingredients together. Fold them together and give it a few stirs.  Heat a waffle iron, and cook 1/4 cup of batter at a time.


The George Mateljan Foundation. (n.d.). Worlds Healthiest Foods.

Roskelley, A. (2009, October 12). Pumpkin Waffles | Blog

Vegetarian Quinoa Chili

Fall is finally here and that means it is time to warm up with our favorite comfort foods. Try a hearty boll of chili with a delicious spin. Created by our very own registered dietitian nutritionist, Chandis Siwek.



  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-15oz cans petite diced tomatoes
  • 1-15oz can tomato sauce
  • 1-7oz can diced green chiles
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1-15oz can black beans, low sodium
  • 2-15oz cans kidney beans, low sodium
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt and black pepper to taste


Add oil to pot on medium heat. Add onions and sauté until soft, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes, tomato sauce, green chiles, vegetable broth, and quinoa. Simmer until quinoa is soft and translucent, about 15 minutes.

Add chili powder, cumin, cocoa, paprika, and coriander. Let simmer for 10 minutes. Add beans, corn, lime and cilantro. Stir together. Serve hot and top with your favorite ingredients, like shredded cheese, sour cream, diced avocado, or additional cilantro.

Prep time: 15 minutes ~ Cook time: 35 minutes ~ Yield: 12 servings

Nutrition Facts

Calories 205
Total Fat 2.5
Saturated Fat 0g
Trans Fat 0g
Sodium 323
Cholesterol 0mg
Carbohydrate 38g
Fiber 10g
Protein 10g

%Daily Value

Iron 18%
Calcium 8%
Vitamin A 30%
Vitamin C 25%

Float vs. Sink: A Food Experiment


  • Large glass bowl
  • Water
  • A variety of fruits and vegetables
    • Fruits: banana, orange, mango, lime, apple, grape
    • Veggies: carrot, potato, avocado, peppers
    • Halloween Themed Experiment: pumpkin, squash, oranges, carrots
  • Paper and pencil
  • Kitchen scale (optional)


~Fill large glass bowl with water

~Collect your fruit and vegetables for the experiment. Any will work!

~Take your pencil and paper and create four columns as shown below

~Record all your fruits, vegetables and their weight

~Look at each fruit and vegetable and guess if it will sink or float when placed in water. Take your time and think about:

  • How much it weighs
  • Does it have a peel or skin?
  • What is its shape?
Fruit or Veggie Weight Do you think it will sink or float? Did it sink or float?
Banana 4 ounces Sink Float

~One at a time, place each item in the glass water bowl and record whether it sinks or floats

~Take everything out that can be peeled (ex. banana, orange)

~Peel each item and place both the fruit and peel back in the water. Did they float or sink?

*Want to examine more? Remove the core out of the mango and avocado. Remove the seeds out of the lime and pumpkin. See if they sink!

Fruit for Thought

  • Weight:
    • Did the weight effect if something sank to the bottom or floated at the top? Not always, something as lite as a baby carrot will sink but a heavy apple will float.
  • Shape:
    • Did the shape impact the results? If weight is distributed across a greater area it will help it float.
  • Whole vs. Peeled:
    • Did peeling the fruit change the result? The protective skin of some fruits (banana and orange) have air pocket that keep it from sinking. Explain that is the reason we wear life jackets!

What really controls if a fruit or vegetable sinks or floats? Density! Both the weight and the amount of space the food takes up will determine if an object or food can float.

What other food items did you think of using? What was the most surprising fruit or vegetables?