With the spookiest week of the year for sweets and treats almost behind us and—coincidentally, or not—more and more studies being published on how bad processed foods and too much sugar are, I couldn't think of a better time to remind us all that it doesn't take much to reach for something tasty and truly good for us when it comes to snacks and meals. The neat trick is that when we move away from sugary, fatty, processed foods, including those Halloween treats, they're often way cheaper, so they're good for our pocketbooks, too, in these scary inflationary times.
Sure, we all need a wee treat now and then, but bottom line is when making good food choices, it's often just a matter of breaking habits and routines that trigger certain cravings that spell trouble.
I know: now that the spooky fun time is winding down and we head back to normal, getting over-amped juggling work with kids over-amped on sugar, and more, the last thing you need is one more thing niggling at the back of your mind.
But maybe this little trope of "G" standing for good grains and greens and anything smacking of goodness might stick with you in a fun "alpha" way—like those giant spiders and skeletons that make you smile even as you take them down and tuck them away until next year's hijinx.
By the way, researchers report that it's good to scare kids at Halloween. The adrenaline rush makes them feel energized and excited, and it helps kids learn to control their emotions and build confidence. It usually makes them giggle, too.
Speaking of fun, I tip my hat to CBC Radio's Margaret Gallagher, host of the popular show North by Northwest, and her regular guest, the Word Guy, Jonathan Berkowitz, professor at UBC Sauder School of Business and a wordplay wizard whose latest book, Tales from the Word Guy: What Your English Teacher Never Taught You, is as lighthearted and interesting as Jonathan is.
I'm sure there's a word for it Jonathan would know, since the device I'm using this week ("G" is for "good-something") was inspired by his Oct. 21 NXNW segment—word mistakes that start with “M,” like malapropisms, where people misuse words in a humourous but illiterate way ( "They were singing without accompaniment, you know—Acapulco.") This after he playfully reminded us that "laughter" is "slaughter" without the "S."
Click on the link above to distract yourself with lots more "M"-type amusements, including mixed metaphors. But first, here are some good food Gs to keep you healthy, and happy.
'G' IS FOR...
Garlic and ginger… Both fresh. Use often. Way cheaper and tastier than powdered forms. Fresh garlic is low in calories, and has been proven to boost your immune system, and lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Some say it boosts athletic performance, too. Fresh ginger increases serotonin and dopamine levels and reduces inflammation, which may cause depression. Try thinly slicing some into a pot; add a cup or two of water; bring to a boil and simmer. A great elixir—way better than sugar!
Grains, whole grains… If I see one more TV commercial showing moms buying sugared cereals by the armload, I'll scream. Stop it. Kids need whole grains just like the rest of us; whole grains that are way cheaper than that processed stuff. I've written about it before: Go oatmeal (or Sunny Boy or Red River Cereal), or even brown rice and quinoa, or go home. Add a bit of sweetener, if you must, or, better, nuts or raisins for breakfast. Fresh veggies for dinner. Best fuel ever.
Green anything fresh… You know the story: Shop the outer aisles of your grocery store. Fresh produce, fresh meat and dairy. Anything fresh that's green (or not) is better than what's in the middle aisles, except for those whole grains. Green cabbage; green grapes; kale; lettuce; celery (good for your heart). A handful of parsley makes a great snack (tons of fibre; rich in vitamins C and K).
By the way, if, like me, you're still not done with Halloween and enjoy the way it's morphing into a week-long affair, like Christmas, take heart. Día de Muertos or Day of the Dead, the traditional holiday of joyful, even humourous, celebrations of the dead widely observed in Mexico and beyond, happens Nov. 1 and 2, though other days, Oct. 31 and Nov. 6, may also be included, depending on the region.
Here's to more play—and good food—and less stress.
The electrical side of us
Here's a soundbite about brainwaves to keep in mind, add winking emoji. Our lovely brains produce five different brainwaves (alpha, beta, delta, gamma and theta)—the electrical impulses between neurons that communicate actions, emotions, and ideas.
When we're awake, beta waves dominate, but if the frequencies get too high, we can feel agitated and stressed. Theta waves occur during light sleep, while alpha waves occur when our minds relax, and during activities like yoga or doing creative things.
We humans are all about electricity in more ways than one. Remember, electricity was key to poor Dr. Frankenstein creating his "monster" in Mary Shelley's classic, Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus, published in 1818 when she was only 21.
An intriguing aside: It was the poet Lord Byron who, while they were all hanging out together in Switzerland, suggested that Mary and the young poet Percy Shelley each try writing a ghost story. Only Mary finished hers. It was the start of something big.
After she turned down Percy's suggestion of a ménage à trois with his then-wife, Harriet, Mary and Percy ran away and eventually married. Harriet drowned herself. Not long after, Percy also drowned in a mysterious sailing accident.
All very spooky.
Glenda Bartosh is an award-winning journalist who was due to be born on Halloween, but popped out two days early just to scare everyone.