The Kitchen Think: Are No-Snack School Halloween Parties Fair?


Say goodbye to this at your kids’ school Halloween parties:

Halloween cupcakes

I have a feeling that what just happened at my neighborhood school is going to become a nationwide trend by next year: no snacks, candy or treats at school holiday parties.

Halloween is just too frightening for parents of kids with allergies.

But I know EXACTLY what those worried parents are thinking… and what they fear each time their child walks out the door. My youngest has an anaphylactic shock-inducing allergy to peanuts. She’s learned to be safe about her food. But every time I hear of a child who dies because of allergic reaction, that gnawing anxiety that it could happen to her comes flooding back.

Nut allergies were once the biggest concern at school parties. These days, navigating the allergy minefield is just too tricky, so why chance it at all? Even moving from sugary sweets to healthy treats like apples and hummus won’t work… someone might have a legume allergy.

With the nation’s obesity rate where it is, classroom parties should not HAVE to be food based… there are other ways to celebrate. Instead of decorating cupcakes, the school in my neighborhood will be making bracelets and cards to send to a children’s hospital and doing other age-appropriate community projects.

But honestly, it does make me a little sad to see that food-festooned parties are on their way out. I used to love to see some of the more inventive things the really competitive moms would bring to the Halloween parties.

Thank goodness for Pinterest!


The Kitchen Think: Could Childhood Obesity Rates Be On The Decline?


We all got some good news earlier this week, and you may not even be aware of it.

Childhood obesity rates are falling.

The trend is emerging in large cities like New York and Los Angeles, as well as smaller places like Anchorage, Alaska and Kearney, Nebraska and El Paso, Texas.

Why is this good news for you? Because falling obesity rates might mean those children won’t grow up to be obese adults who usually face the kind of medical issues that come with staggering costs.

For example, the government will spend $200 billion dollars this year alone to treat diabetes, heart disease and strokes, which are often driven by obesity. Many of those who receive treatment live at or below the poverty line. That’s something we’ll all pay for.

The childhood obesity epidemic may be reversing its course because the issue has become a significant part of the national conversation. We’ve been bombarded (in a good way) with anti-obesity advertising campaigns and many schools have switched to healthier menus and eliminated sugary drinks and snack machines. (Lord knows, Mama’s always preaching about it.)

Researchers say while the decline is welcome, it will still take a major government action to significantly reverse the trend.

I’m sure it will. But even if we’re seeing only a tiny dip in the numbers, I like it. That means there are parents (and children) taking their future health and weight seriously.

Every year around the holidays, you always hear people saying things like, “If you’ve got your health, you have everything,” and “I’m just grateful for my health (or the good health of my family).”

But really, is there anything more important?



I’m Christina Chavez

I was a TV journalist for many years, but with a house full of kids I decided to come off the road, go to culinary school and follow my passion for cooking. Mama’s High Strung is all about food… everything from creative recipe ideas to some really cool kitchen gadgets and cooking tips. I live in Chicago, but I love to travel and write about my food discoveries! You can reach me by email: