Monthly Archives: October 2012

Healthy Alternatives to Halloween Candy

Halloween presents somewhat of a dilemma for healthy eating families.  On one hand, you don’t want to contribute to the juvenile obesity epidemic. On the other hand, you don’t want your house getting egged or to send your kids to school the next day hiding their faces in shame because their mom was the one handing out toothbrushes and dental floss.  There are also other considerations.  Even if the kids are excited about the apples and oranges you’re handing out, their parents may not let them have anything that doesn’t come pre-packaged.  Other alternatives like trail mix or nuts might be hazardous to kids with peanut allergies.  Thankfully, with a little creativity you can still find kid-pleasing goodies that are healthy alternatives to Halloween candy.

Candy is the Halloween standard, but there are other kid-pleasing food items that are also healthy options.  Little packages of chocolate covered raisins are still high in sugar, but a good portion of it is natural sugars from the raisins.  Packages of hot cocoa or hot cider mix are another option.  Handing out sugar free gum will please kids and their dentists.  Individual packages of pretzels or baked chips are non-sugary treats.  Packaged apples with caramel or chocolate dip are a kid friendly and guilt free treat. Of course, you can’t go wrong with Tropical Smoothie Café gift cards either!

You could also consider giving away non-food items.  Glow sticks and glow jewelry are always popular with trick-or-treaters and can be found at a novelty or party supply store.  In fact, novelty stores have plenty of inexpensive games and party favors that could double as Halloween goodies.  Assortments of magic tricks, mini bubble bottles, kaleidoscopes, stickers, and temporary tattoos are all popular choices.  Choosing active toys like high bounce balls, jump ropes, or flying disks gives you a healthy double whammy:  getting kids away from the candy and off the couch at the same time.

Another great option this year is giving away a free game download.  The American Dental Association is encouraging kids and parents to fight zombies while learning about dental hygiene.  Coupons for free downloads of the ADA sponsored Plants vs. Zombies game are available at the game’s website www.stopzombiemouth.com. Print off free coupons for your trick-or-treaters.  You’ll score more cool points than going with the toothbrushes.  Trust us.

Don’t forget that October 31 is Nevada Statehood Day as well as Halloween.  Since schools and government offices are going to be closed, why not take the day to participate in some family fun?  The FrightDome at Circus Circus is ranked as one of the top five scariest attractions in the country.  Check out Oktober Fest on Fremont Street, or sign up for the Las Vegas Zombie 5k Run. For families with little ones, the Fun Town Fright Fest at Galleria Mall, the Haunted Harvest at Springs Preserve, or a ride on the Nevada Southern Railway might be good options.

Whatever your choice for Halloween fun, don’t forget to drop by Tasty Smoothie Café for a healthy and refreshing treat.  Happy Halloween!

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Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB) Awareness Week for “Butterfly Babies”

Doctors call it the “worst disease you’ve never heard of”, which has caused me to wonder why that is. It affects one out of every 50,000 live births, so it’s relatively rare, but given the effects, it still seems it should be wider known. Maybe it’s because the mortality rate is so high, and in the most severe cases, babies often do not survive to their first birthday. Or, maybe it’s because it’s so devastating to see, news organizations and hospitals and others don’t want to share the photos. Whatever the reason, it is still surprising to me, because once you become aware of Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB for short), your heart is forever changed and people become advocates for awareness and finding a cure, even if they don’t personally know the babies and children (and even a few adults) affected by it.

Babies born with EB are often called “Butterfly Babies” because their skin is as fragile as a butterfly’s wings. They are missing the protein that binds the skin to the body, and the slightest amount of friction (even picking up and holding your baby) causes severe blistering and wounds, which often leads to infection. In the most severe cases, the inside of the mouth, esophagus, and stomach are also affected – exasperated by food itself. Because of the blistering and wounds, babies are wrapped, sometimes from head to toe, to protect the skin and prevent infections. But because of the body’s imperfect attempt to heal itself, many other problems can develop, including scar tissue. And, bandages must be changed regularly, often every day to every other day, which is excruciatingly painful. Not to mention the pain of bath time with open wounds. And learning to roll over, crawl, and even the friction caused by putting on clothes. It is a life filled with pain – both for the babies and for the heart of their parents and all those who love them.

But here’s what’s amazing – and what captures your heart – is the resilience and spirit of EB children and their families. When you read their stories – found on blogs, fundraising sites, and Facebook – you are touched by their smiles in the midst of all that pain, the joy they find in the simple things of life, the camaraderie and closeness of the families, and the spirit of community of those who advocate for awareness with the ultimate goal of finding a cure. One of the newest Butterfly Babies is Easton Friedel. You can find his story on Facebook – click “About” on his page at https://www.facebook.com/SupportBabyEastonFriedel. You are sure to join the other 47,000 readers of his page in loving this little guy and wanting to help him fight the fight against EB.

It is heartbreaking to realize there is no cure at the present time, but there is groundbreaking research occurring at the University of Minnesota (www.puckfund.org), Stanford and elsewhere. And while there are only four clinics in the country with dedicated services for EB patients, they are invaluable to the children and families who have very specialized needs for care. But, because this “worst disease you’ve never heard of” is so unknown, funding is scarce. Which is where we come in. I have become involved in a movement called “I Refuse” (www.irefuseeb.org). Based on a song by Josh Wilson, I Refuse works tirelessly to raise awareness for EB, because with awareness and passion comes funding for research to find a cure and to end the pain and loss caused by EB. What does “I Refuse” mean? It means that I refuse to stand by and wait for someone else to make a difference that I myself can make. It means that I refuse to let EB win and rob a beautiful baby of the life they are meant to live. It means that I refuse to allow lack of awareness to stop the progress made toward a cure. What could “I Refuse” mean to you?

What I hope it means is that you won’t refuse a special invitation from us. Our two Tropical Smoothie Cafes in Henderson and Las Vegas are participating in the international EB Awareness Week. It’s held annually the last week of October – the 25th through the 31st. We will have information in our cafes about EB, including cards that tell the stories of some Butterfly Babies. Our heart is simply to raise awareness, but we will also accept donations that will be sent directly to Pioneering Unique Cures for Kids fund (www.puckfund.org), which is out of the University of Minnesota and a division of the Children’s Cancer Research Fund. You can also donate without even visiting the café, simply by texting “TRIPP” to 50555 on your cell phone. A $10 donation will be added right to your cell phone bill. (Tripp Roth is a Butterfly Baby who lost his fight with EB earlier this year – to read his amazing story, visit www.randycourtneytripproth.blogspot.com). What’s great about donations to PUCK is that there is a grant to double every donation that comes in during 2012 – which means even more research toward finding a cure. (For your tax records, the 501c3 tax number is 41-1893645.)

"I Refuse" - EB AwarenessWhile we know many of our generous and loving customers will donate out of the kindness of their heart, because these babies mean so much to us we want to thank you for your donation by giving you a 99-cent smoothie on a future visit. Simply come in to the café during EB Awareness Week October 25-31, make a $5 donation or more, and receive your coupon. Also, we will be hosting a fundraiser specifically for Butterfly Babies on Monday, October 29, where we will donate up to 25% of every sale to fund more research. All you have to do is come in on Monday and order what you normally order – 25% of that is what we’ll be sending to PUCK personally.  If you’d like to know more, please watch the video below.

“I Refuse” to let this opportunity go by without thanking you for taking the time to read about EB, and for visiting our cafes during EB Awareness Week to learn even more. We also have some information on our Facebook sites (for both the Henderson café and our Las Vegas café…plus our “coming soon” site in North Las Vegas).

With Warm Tropical Wishes,

Michelle Shriver

Celebrate National Vegetarian Month with Extra Veggies

Hummus Veggie WrapDid you know that October is National Vegetarian Month?  If you’re not a vegetarian but have been curious about that type of diet or wonder if you could go without meat, it might be fun to give it a try for the next month to see if it is a lifestyle that’s a fit for you.

Studies actually show that vegetarians live longer. According to the Huffington Post, one study found that vegetarian women can live up to 30% longer than meat-eating women, and veggie-loving men can live up to 50% longer than their burger-chomping counterparts. Since vegetarians often have a healthier diet than the general population, that could play into the results of those studies (not just excluding meat, but watching the ‘bad fats,’ and getting most of their calories from plant-based foods).  Other benefits to the vegetarian diet include warding off disease, keeping the weight off, building strong bones, easing the symptoms of menopause, and gaining energy.

Some people are concerned about getting enough protein on a vegetarian diet, but there is plenty of protein in everyday foods like whole grains, beans and lentils, nuts, soy products and even some vegetables.  According to LIVESTRONG.COM, “The USDA recommends that most adults consume 2 to 3 cups of vegetables daily and 1.5 to 2 cups of fruit daily. A vegetarian diet that meets energy needs and includes a variety of fruit, vegetables, nuts, beans, dairy and whole grains typically provides adequate amounts of protein, according to the Vegetarian Resource Group.”

Some vegetarians still consume eggs, which are a great source of protein, or you can also add whey or soy protein to our smoothies if you desire to increase your protein intake further.  Tropical Smoothie Café has tasty “veggie” options as well – like our hummus veggie wrap, salads, or a carrot smoothie.  Plus, since each of our menu items is made fresh to order, you can always request that we replace the meat on any of our menu items with extra veggies to make it vegetarian-friendly!

Whether you’re a vegetarian or not, there’s no better way to celebrate the love of veggies during National Vegetarian Month than stopping by Tropical Smoothie Cafe for a tasty treat! And, you’ll really be excited to know that we have some new limited-time spinach options coming very soon — watch our Facebook page for more details in the coming weeks!

Healthy Alternatives for National Pizza Month

Did you know that October is National Pizza Month?  October begins the cooler temperatures, school activities and football related get-togethers, and pizza is one of those convenience foods that students, football fans, and Halloween party-goers seem to reach for. Pizza was reserved for peasants back in the 1800’s until a baker by the name of Raffaele Esposito quickly transformed the nature of pizza and made it appealing for everyone, even royalty. Today, you can find a pizza joint around every corner where you can indulge in a deep dish, thin crust, and even cheese filled crust pizza. You can order pizzas today with a lot more than just cheese and overwhelming amount of toppings and layers of sauce sure can make a pizza high in fat and calories. Many people don’t need a “National Day” as an excuse to chow down on a slice of pizza (or two or three).

The wide-spread love for pizza has come at a high price. Obesity and unhealthy eating habits have followed the “fast and fatty” trend and millions of American’s are paying the health consequences. This doesn’t mean pizza is horrible. Tropical Smoothie Café even has a cheese and a cheese and chicken flatbread pizza on our kids menu.  Pizza can even be healthy – there are garlic and artichoke pizzas and pesto pizzas.  You can make healthier homemade pizzas on whole wheat English Muffins, low fat cheese and fresh veggies.  Or go for the thin crust and forgo the greasy pepperoni. And portion control is a biggie.
When something you love isn’t good for the heart or waistline, look for healthier alternatives.  Either a heart-healthy designation on the menu, your own homemade version, or fresh flavorful food that is so satisfying that when National Pizza Day rolls around again, you’re not even tempted to go for the grease.  Tropical Smoothie has toasted flatbreads that pack their own flavorful deliciousness.  If you love Hawaiian pizzas, try our Caribbean Luau flatbread instead.  Or our Chicken Pesto flatbread offers an oh-so-good alternative to pizza.  Our high quality ingredients, low fat options, and significantly lower calories make our menu options a satisfying alternative to the “fast and fatty.”

We love teaching moments for our kids, especially around nutrition to help combat childhood obesity.  When your kids are asking for the kind of food that requires dabbing it with a paper towel to soak up the grease before they can eat it, talk to them about healthier alternatives to their favorite fatty foods. Keep their minds sharp by throwing in fruits and colorful vegetables to promote good habits and healthy behaviors.  They’ll thank you later!

Get “Actively” Involved for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Walking for the CureOctober is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and while we talk a lot about getting the right nutrients for your health, being active is also a critical part of getting healthy and reducing the risk of certain types of cancers.  If you’re already active, consider challenging yourself — a marathon, perhaps?  If you have let the exercise  routine slide and aren’t in great shape, start out slow but doing something that will get you moving.  A 20 minute walk each day is 20 minutes of exercise you weren’t getting before — that’s 2 hrs and 20 minutes a week (see, a little here and there can really add up).   Grab an exercise buddy since studies show you’re more likely to stick with a routine if you’re accountable to someone else and not trying to go it alone.  Grab your neighbor and get caught up on each other’s lives while taking a brisk walk.

And October not only gives you plenty of opportunities to get active, but also to get involved with activities that help raise awareness and funds for breast cancer prevention.  So get active for your health and get moving with an organized event to help others with theirs.  For your convenience, we’ve listed several happening in our local area below.  Have fun!

Breast Cancer events

  • Pink for Life
    September 8, 2012 – November 8, 2012
    Get your nails done while supporting Komen Southern Nevada. Stop by Pink Nails, make a donation to Komen and receive a special gift. Don’t forget to sign the pink wall while you’re there!
    Pink Nails, 8414 Farm Road, #160, Las Vegas, NV 89131
  • Premium Outlets Pink Event
    October 1-31, 2012

    During the month of October, Las Vegas Premium Outlets South and Las Vegas Premium Outlets North offers customers the opportunity to make a $10 donation to Susan G. Komen for the Cure and receive a discount card for 25% off one item at participating stores, while supplies last.
    Las Vegas Premium Outlets South, 7400 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Las Vegas, NV 89123
    Las Vegas Premium Outlets North,875 South Grand Central Pkwy, Las Vegas, NV 89106
  • Las Vegas Review Journals Annual Pink Paper Day
    Monday, October 1, 2012

    The Las Vegas Review Journal will publish its annual Pink Paper to raise dollars for breast cancer on October 1st.  If you’re not already a subscriber, be sure to pick up a copy of this very special edition of the LVRJ.
  • 2012 Making Strides Against Breast Cancer of Las Vegas, NV
    Saturday, October 6, 2012

    The journey to end breast cancer starts with a single step. Take that step at the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk. This event is an inspiring opportunity to unite as a community to honor breast cancer survivors, raise awareness about what we can do to stay well from breast cancer, and raise money to help the American Cancer Society fight the disease with breast cancer research, information and services, and access to mammograms for women who need them. Sign up at http://www.strideslasvegas.com/
    JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort and Spa at Summerlin, 221 N Rampart Blvd, Las Vegas, NV
  • The Pink Tee, A Golf & Social Event at Southern Highlands Golf Club
    Tuesday, October 9, 2012

    If you’re an experienced golfer, or even if you’re not, sign up for a great day of golf, food, spirits, special boutique shopping, auctions and more. Hosted by Southern Highlands Charitable Foundation and M.J. Christensen Diamonds, everyone who attends is sure to have a fabulous time. Proceeds from this event will benefit Komen Southern Nevada and St. Rose Dominican Hospitals.
  • Flightlinez Las Vegas
    Wednesday, October 17, 2012

    Head to Fremont Street to ride Flightlinez Las Vegas and support Komen Southern Nevada.
  • Valhalla Med Spa’s 2nd Annual Monster Bash
    Thursday, October 18, 2012

    Valhalla Med Spa is supporting Komen at their 2nd Annual Monster Bash on Thursday, October 18th from 5pm-8pm. During this event, Valhalla Med Spa will be offering their lowest prices of the year while you enjoy a DJ, food, prizes and fun. Tickets are $20 with $10 from each ticket sale going to Komen Southern Nevada. Call Valhalla Med Spa for more information at 702.658.0204.
    Valhalla Med Spa, 6804 W. Cheyenne Ave, Las Vegas, NV 89108