Activities for a Fit & Happy Thanksgiving!

Many of us have our favorite foods that MUST be on the table (some recipes here!), but what about all that time spent waiting for things to cook, and all evening waiting for the food to digest?

Get up and get going!

Captain Create has a few ideas to get everyone up and moving before, and after, you eat all those veggies! (and a bit of turkey). Try some or all of the activities and share them with your friends!

Around the World in 80 Plates: Exploring for Squash

It’s autumn, which means harvest-time, and yummy squash to eat! But where do squash plants come from? Who found them first and decided to eat them, then discovered they were delicious and shared them with all their friends? Let’s go with Captain Create to find out!

“Squash” comes from the Narragansett and Wampanoag Native American word askutasquash, which means “eaten raw or uncooked.” 1 These Northeastern Tribes weren’t the only people to grow and eat squash, but they were the first people to share them with the European Colonists and the word “squash” stuck in the English language from there.

All squash, commonly referred to as “pumpkins”, “gourds” and “squashes” originated in the New World and their range extends from the central United States south to Argentina, with the widest variety growing in Mexico, which is believed to be the origination point.2 The Native Americans were expert traders and travelers, and so the seeds were traded and traveled with them all across the continent. The first known record of squash in Europe did not occur until 1591.2

As colonists learned to grow and eat the squash the Native Americans had grown and eaten since the beginning of their history, the seeds were spread, saved, and shared. As history happened, and was not nice to the indigenous people, their crops and seeds were lost or stolen frome them over time. Now though, there are many seed saving networks, historical documents, and long-told stories to describe the plants and seeds and to re-connect the seeds with their original caretakers.

Henrietta Gomez and Gilbert Suazo, Sr., receive a Taos Pueblo squash in 2018. ANDI MURPHY

“To us, seeds are our relatives,” says Rowen White, an Indigenous seed keeper, who was born near Canada in the Mohawk community of Akwesasne. In 2016, she created the Indigenous Seed Keepers Network, a group of more than 100 tribal seed-sovereignty projects whose members are looking for their missing relatives. If you know someone who is Native American, ask them if they know about the seeds and foods their ancestors cared for, and find out if there is an opportunity to try them, or to learn to grow them so that you can share the story of the seeds and food.

There are lots of squash plants out and about whether they are heirloom or hybrid types, and many are available in stores and farmers markets near you. Try some this year and consider growing your own squash plants in the spring in your yard or in a pot on the porch.

Around the World in 80 Plates: Massachusetts’ Cranberry Bogs

Captain Create is learning about a truly American food this week in the state where they were first recorded to be grown for market. He’s in Massachusetts learning about the cranberry!

The Algonquin, Chippewa, and Cree people gathered wild cranberries where they could find them in what is now Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Wisconsin, and went all the way west to Oregon and Washington, and north to areas of British Columbia and Quebec, according to Devon Mihesuah, a professor at the University of Kansas. The berry was called sassamenesh (by the Algonquin) and ibimi (by the Wampanoag and Lenni-Lenape), which translates literally as “bitter” or “sour berries.” 1

Cranberries were used for everything from cooking to dyes for textiles to medicines by the indigenous peoples, who generously shared what they knew with the colonial settlers, which is why cranberries are part of what we eat each fall and winter season, as well as traditional parts of holiday feasts. Indigenous peoples cared for the plants and shared how to grow them with the colonists to ensure everyone’s survival of the harsh winters. How do cranberries grow?

Cranberries grow on shrubs that are low to the ground, and the berries are white or pink until just after the first frost, when they turn bright red. There are two ways to pick cranberries: carefully pick them by hand, known as “dry harvested”, or by flooding the bog and gathering them out of the water, which is known as “wet harvested”. Nearly all the cranberries grown on the American continent are harvested between September and October. 2 People who work in cranberry bogs care for the plants all year, then help gather the berries into containers to transport them to market or to processors.

What can you make with cranberries? Native Americans used them in the original energy bar, pemmican, as well as ate them fresh and dried. Colonists used them in a variety of recipes, often to replace other sour berries they used to get in Europe, but did not have in the “new world”. Cranberry sauce is a big part of Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts, but there are lot more things you can do with a cranberry!

Fresh cranberries are very tart and a little bitter, so cooking them with other things is the best way to take advantage of all the health benefits these bright berries contain. They are packed full of vitamin C, as well as phytochemicals, which are plant parts that help your body fight germs. Add them to cookies, stuffing, or use them in desserts. Dried cranberries add a bright bite to morning oatmeal, chocolate chip cookies, and even salads. Cranberry juice is a yummy addition to hot cider too!

Captain Create has a few of his favorite recipes below, and be sure to ask the older folks you know if they have recipes from when they were younger that use cranberries. There are a lot of traditions to learn about, and if they taste good, then that’s even better!


1- Whitman-Salkin, S. (2021, May 4). Cranberries, a Thanksgiving staple, were a Native American superfood. Science. Retrieved November 12, 2021, from

2- The Cranberry Institute. (2019, May 1). About cranberries. Retrieved November 12, 2021, from

Nutrition Tip of the Week: Fall for Fruit!

Many photos of the fall season are full of pretty shades of orange, yellow, and green squashes, toasted brown nuts, and bright stalks of corn, but don’t usually show many fruits. There are lots of fruits in season in the fall though!

Some fall fruits are often part of the usual menu for fall feasts like cranberries and apples, but don’t forget that lemons, limes, oranges, grapes, figs, and tropical fruit like guava, kumquats, and tangerines are all in season in the fall! What does “in season” mean?

Well, simply put, that is when most of the fruits or vegetables naturally grow in and around the place you live, which means there are a lot of the fruit or vegetables nearby, and cost less to pick and take to the store or market.

Try mixing up a few of the tasty fall fruits you have for a yummy salad! Any combination of fruit you like will taste great with the light yogurt dressing Captain Create has for you below.

Around the World in 80 Plates: Celebrate Diwali

Today in India it is the first day of Diwali, a five day festival to celebrate the “victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance”. This festival is celebrated and is known worldwide as one of the major festivals celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, and some Buddhists.

The first day of the festival, celebrants prepare by cleaning their homes and making decorations on the floor, such as rangolis, which are colorful circle art, often with lanterns or candles in them.

The second day is Naraka Chaturdashi. On this day Hindus get up earlier than usual to bathe, apply good smelling oils and wear clean clothes. Relatives and friends gather for a large breakfast, special sweet snacks are served at midday, and evenings include loud and colorful fireworks.

The third day is the day of Lakshmi Puja, the goddess of prosperity and wealth. It is said that she likes cleanliness and will visit the cleanest house first to share her blessings for a good year ahead. On this day, the mothers, who work hard all year, are recognized by the family. Mothers are seen to embody a part of Lakshmi, the good fortune and prosperity of the household. Windows are left open and lanterns called diya are lit to welcome her on this night, which is the darkest night of the year.

In some parts of India, the fourth day is marked with the Govardhan Puja and Balipratipada. In general, on this festival day, Hindus exchange gifts, as it is considered a way to please Bali and the gods.

Some Hindu communities mark the last day as Bhai Dooj, which is dedicated to the bond between sister and brother, while other Hindu and Sikh communities mark this day as Vishwakarma Puja and observe it by performing maintenance in their work spaces and offering prayers.

Care to try a recipe often shared with family and friends during Diwali? Captain Create has an easy and sweet rice pudding recipe to share!

Nutrition Tip of the Week: Get Kids into the Kitchen

Cooking is a skill to be used for your entire life, so why not learn it early!? Kids are always eager to learn and help, and there are lots of kitchen skills kids can do. The busy holiday season is a great way to start new traditions, try new things, and get everyone involved.

Research shows that kids are more likely to try new foods if they helped to prepare the food! Letting them dump, stir, scoop, and smash are great ways to get kids of any age started in the kitchen. This handy chart can get kids started, and kids can learn new things and move through tasks the more they practice them. Cleaning up is on the chart too, so everyone can help after the food is cooked too!

Nutrition Tip of the Week: Snack before Trick or Treating

Trick or Treating is lots of fun, and uses up lots of energy to walk (or run) from house to house (or car to car) to gather all the treats and/or toys. But eating up all those treats and candy while you walk is a recipe for disaster!

Don’t over-do the sweets and have an upset tummy before the night is through; eat snacks that will give you all-evening energy before the sweet ending to a fun night.

There are lots of ways to upgrade your regular dinner options to exciting and spooky Halloween themed snacks. Stuffed bell peppers can become stuffed Jack-O’Lanterns, sandwiches can become Monster Sandwiches, string cheese and pretzels can become Witches Brooms, peeled nectarines resemble tiny pumpkins, and a few carefully placed mini chocolate chips turn bananas into ghosts!

Captain Create’s friend Candi has a whole section of her Create Better Health Utah blog dedicated to tried and true spooky snacks that are sure to get all the costumed folks at your house through the wild night that is Halloween!

Its Apple Crunch Day!

Join folks all across the country and crunch into an apple today! Whether its locally grown, hand-picked by you, or from the produce section, it will still be a yummy and nutritious addition to your day. Not only are they tasty, apples are also a good source of antioxidants, fiber, water, and nutrients like potassium, and vitamin C.

There are lots of ways to enjoy an apple this season, even spooky ways! Get ready for Halloween and keep the spooky season yummy with these fun and easy to make Monster Apple Snacks.

Nutrition Tip of the Week: Top 5 Ways to Upgrade Tomato Soup

Soup season is here!

Soups are an easy way to get a lot of nutrition in a warm and comforting meal as the seasons change to colder weather. This week, try adding some extra flavor and nutrition to a can of tomato soup! Try toasting a grilled cheese sandwich or adding a small salad for an easy lunch or dinner that anyone can make to warm up. What combination will you try first?

Around the World in 80 Plates: Kyiv, Ukraine

Captain Create is in eastern Europe this week eating a tasty soup called Borsh! If you’ve ever read the book about Stone Soup, this is a recipe like that. Every family has their own version, and they can be filled with root vegetables, cabbage, and even meat like lamb or beef. Just find some yummy things you’d like in your soup and add them in! Captain Create has one recipe below, and you can change it up as much or as little as you’d like for your family.

Captain Create is also visiting a very old city called Kyiv. It is the capital of Ukraine, and people have lived there since 32,000 B.C. Mongols, Vikings, Ottomans, and Russians have fought over and controlled Ukraine many times in the past, and now it is an independent country. The city of Kyiv has a river running through it and is quite busy with advancing technology while holding on to their traditions.

Kyiv is home to a variety of cultures, but they all seem to agree that soccer is their favorite sport, they love their embroidery, and even have a love of chess! There are about 85 Chess Grandmasters and 198 International Chess Masters in Ukraine. Captain Create is pretty sure this recipe for Green Borsh would be a great dinner for both soccer and chess champions to try!

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