Clean hands save lives

No one ever thinks of soap as a super hero but it kind of is.

Inexpensive and best friend to water, soap keeps us clean. It keeps us and those we love happy and healthy. We emphasize cleanliness in the kitchen for many reasons, but keeping it clean extends far beyond working with food.

Friday marked Global Handwashing Day – it’s a real day! Check out

The child-centric holiday has a simple sanitary message with a big goal: Helping people stay healthy! Washing your hands can affect your life outside of your home.

Children don’t always realize the impact which they can make. That’s a funny thing because they’re also the ones most willing to change their ways. And when kids are willing to change, adults around them follow their lead. It’s this logic that inspired Global Handwashing Day organizers to focus on children. That and the fact that about half of the about 120 million children born in the developing world each year will live in households with limited access to sanitation.

This limited access – which as we mentioned previously extends far beyond the kitchen – leads to poor hygiene which can lead to sickness and often be fatal for youngsters.

Those numbers can drastically diminish by introducing soap and water into our daily habits. It’s the most inexpensive way to ensure our kids are safe.

Started in 2008 by the Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing with Soap, the group simply hopes to make clean hands a part of all kids’ daily lives. Doing so should greatly diminish health-related issues.

The great news is if your kids get in the habit of washing their hands, they’ll keep those soap-using habits when with their friends. The domino effect will continue with your little one’s little friend. Thankfully rumors – and habits—spread amongst little ones just like they do adults. But in this case, it’s a rumor epidemic that could lead to healthier children.

Talking about hand washing can be an interesting way to integrate other cultures into the world.

Some don’t wash their hands because water is scarce. How lucky are we that clean water is easily accessible? Worldwide one child dies every eight seconds without access to healthy water. Locally, students in San Mateo County decided to do something about it.

San Bruno youngsters, who were in fourth grade when they started this effort in 2007, started Water For Life – an effort of selling spring water with a student-designed logo. Proceeds from the bottled water are pooled with other fundraising efforts to buy water pumps to be placed in Africa. By partnering with other student efforts nationwide, the kids have helped purchase two pumps.

The good news here is anyone – soap, water and your own little one – can be a hero. First they need to be informed.


Pumpkin breakfast treat

Let’s use pumpkins for a healthy breakfast this time.

Pumpkins are wonderful! First, the flavor is quintessential fall. But more importantly it is chock-full of vitamin A, which is good for your eyes. These gorgeous gourds also offer the ability to supply ingredients for multiple cooking or craft adventures!

Let’s start with breakfast using a baked pumpkin oatmeal recipe courtesy of Be warned, the prep time is limited but cooking will take 40 minutes to an hour.

It all starts with two cantaloupe-sized pumpkins called sugar pumpkins. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Then, carefully cut the top off your pumpkin and clean the inside out. Keep the seeds in a bowl. These will come in handy for other possible tasks!

In a large bowl combine 1 tablespoon of melted butter or canola oil, 1 teaspoon baking powder, ½ cup unsweetened apple sauce, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 2 cups of old fashioned oats and 1 egg. Stir well and divide evenly between the two pumpkins. Sprinkle the tops lightly with brown sugar. Place both pumpkins on a cookie sheet and bake for 40 minutes to one hour or until the pumpkins are soft enough to scoop and the oatmeal is cooked.

Once finished, you can add a bit or milk or a splash more sugar to get the desired taste. This should be enough to serve four. When serving, be sure to scrape some of the baked pumpkin deliciousness in with the spiced oatmeal.

After enjoying a fall-filled breakfast, you have pumpkin seeds to play with. Pumpkin seeds are edible but can also be used for crafting. Regardless of your chosen activity, you’ll need to clean the seeds first. This is easy but messy!

With clean hands, slowly separate seeds from pumpkin innards. (By the way, this is way easier while the insides are still wet. Maybe it’s better to do this while breakfast cooks!) Clean the seeds in cold water. Sometimes I half fill a bowl with cool water so the seeds soak as I separate.

If you’re going to bake them, place the seeds in a single layer on an oiled baking sheet. Stir the seeds around to coat. Then sprinkle salt and bake at 325 degrees until toasted, about 25 minutes. Check after 10. Or try making a bunch of different kinds.

Do you like cayenne pepper? Add a little in one corner. Sprinkle some lemon garlic on another. What flavors does your family like? Try different spices. If you don’t like it, you’ve got something new to try also baking.

The seeds can also be used for crafting. Start by preparing the seeds. If you want colorful seeds you can use markers, paint or colored nail polish. Alternatively, you can dye seeds by boiling them for about five minutes in a mixture of water and 1 teaspoon of food coloring. Do not remove seeds until the color is a little darker than you want. Then rinse the seeds in cold water and let them air dry.

Colorful seeds can be used to decorate picture frames or a mirror. Alternatively, you can string a bunch together using a needle and thread to make a necklace or bracelet.