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Have a happy and healthy – not hurried – Halloween

October 18, 2018

Lori Mager, MBA, RDN, LDN, CDE, Clinical Nutrition Manager at Northwest Community Healthcare (NCH)

The stress of getting costumes ready, buying enough candy for trick-or-treaters and getting a meal on the table before all the festivities start can be overwhelming. But a little preparation goes a long way for any busy day of the year, not just Halloween.

Having a well-stocked pantry with staples that are versatile can make or break your ability to prepare a healthy meal in a pinch.

Below, check out helpful pantry tips from Mindful by Sodexo, along with two great recipes that can be prepared ahead of time, in just 10 minutes, no tricks involved.

Slow Cooker Chili

A quick, easy, and nutritious entrée to make ahead and eat when needed on a busy evening like Halloween

Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 4 hours


  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 20-ounce can hominy
  • 1 4-ounce can diced green chiles, undrained
  • 1 15-ounce can red kidney beans, undrained
  • ½ cup pearl barley
  • 1 16-ounce jar mild salsa
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth


  • Place all ingredients in a slow cooker.
  • Cook on high for four hours or low for eight hours.

Nutrition Facts: Calories: 155, Carbs: 31g, Protein: 6g Fat: 1g, Sodium: 560mg, Fiber: 7g

Quinoa-Stuffed Bell Peppers

Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 40 minutes | Yield: 12


  • 2 cups quinoa
  • 5 cups vegetable broth, separated
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups diced onions
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups diced celery with leaves
  • 1 10-ounce bag of shredded carrots
  • 1 tsp ground thyme
  • 1 tsp ground sage
  • 1 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • ½ cup chopped parsley
  • 12 bell peppers: red, green, orange or yellow (consider carving faces into them like a pumpkin prior to cooking)


  • Rinse the quinoa in a strainer. Place the quinoa and four cups of the broth in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer until all the liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, garlic, celery and carrots, and stir to coat with the oil. Add the thyme, sage, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper, and toss well to combine. Sauté the vegetables until they begin to wilt, about five minutes.
  • Add the quinoa and stir to combine. Add the remaining cup of vegetable broth, cranberries, walnuts and parsley and heat through for another five minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Cut off the tops of the peppers, remove the seeds and ribs and place on a sheet pan. Spoon the quinoa stuffing into each of the pepper cavities and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until the peppers begin to soften and the stuffing is heated through.

Nutrition Facts: Calories: 210, Carbs: 33g, Protein: 5g Fat: 7g, Sat. fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 379mg, Fiber: 7g