Thursday, October 23, 2014
     

Halloween spending is expected to reach $7.4 billion this year.

That's a lot of candy.

According to a survey conducted by the National Retail Federation, the average person will spend $77.52 this Halloween, up $2.49 from last year. And it's not just candy; that amount also includes cards and decorations, as well as costumes.

"There's no question that the variety of adult, child and even pet costumes now available has driven the demand and popularity of Halloween among consumers of all ages," says NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay in a news release late last month.

Halloween spending is expected to reach $7.4 billion this year.

That's a lot of candy.

According to a survey conducted by the National Retail Federation, the average person will spend $77.52 this Halloween, up $2.49 from last year. And it's not just candy; that amount also includes cards and decorations, as well as costumes.

"There's no question that the variety of adult, child and even pet costumes now available has driven the demand and popularity of Halloween among consumers of all ages," says NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay in a news release late last month.

William "Bill"  Fillingham
William "Bill" Fillingham of Parryville celebrated his 90th birthday on Oct. 21. He was born in Geneva, New York. He served in the United States Army in the China Burma India Theater during World War II as an MP. After the service, he decided he would like to live in the Allentown area. He got a job at Western Electric, where he met his wife, the former Florence Shoenberger. They were married almost 59 years before her death in December of 2007.

Q. Does fiber in your diet reduce cholesterol?

There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber is acted upon by the normal bacteria in your intestines. Insoluble fiber is not digested by the body and promotes regularity and softens stools. Wheat bran, whole grain products and vegetables are good sources of insoluble fiber.

Q. How dangerous is secondhand smoke? My son smokes in the house and it is annoying.

Secondhand smoke also called environmental tobacco smoke is made up of the "sidestream" smoke from the end of a cigarette, pipe, or cigar, and the "mainstream" smoke that is exhaled.

Nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke absorb the same 4,000 chemical compounds that smokers do. More than 60 of these compounds are known or suspected to cause cancer.

Q. Are vitamins worth taking?

It's very important to talk with your doctor before you take any vitamin and mineral pills, especially if you take prescription medicines, have any health problems or are elderly. Taking too much of a vitamin or mineral can cause problems with some medical tests or interfere with drugs you're taking.

Vitamins and minerals are "micronutrients" your body needs in small but steady amounts. Your body can't make most micronutrients, so you must get them elsewhere.

Q. Is it dangerous to take a beta blocker for high blood pressure?

There was one study that found that beta blockers may increase the risk of having a heart attack or stroke if you are using them to treat high blood pressure alone. If you are taking a beta blocker, discuss it with your doctor. Warning: Don't stop taking the drug on your own.

Admittedly, it sounds like a Halloween trick. Chocolate hummus.

It's either disgusting or just a cruel joke, right? Neither, actually. But when I first saw it sold alongside "real" hummus at the grocer, I decided it had to be one of those.

There was no way a traditional hummus base with all sorts of savory things like chickpeas could possibly play nice with chocolate.

I was pleasantly mistaken. I bought it only because my son as most 10-year-old boys are is smitten with anything chocolate. Frankly, I was just curious what he'd make of it.

This Sept. 29, 2014 photo shows orange zest pudding with dark chocolate shavings in Concord, N.H. Orange zest, the thin outer skin of an orange, has fragrant and flavorful oils that can add sweetness to dishes. (AP Photo/MatthewMead)

When it comes to sweets, I have a surprising trick up my sleeve. And the best part about it? It probably won't cost you a penny because most likely you already have it, but throw it in the trash.

I'm talking about orange zest, the thin outer skin of an orange. I don't mean the white part, called the pith. That's bitter. The zest is just the paper-thin layer of colored skin, which has tons of fragrant and flavorful oils.

This Sept. 8, 2014 photo shows salted caramel pumpkin buns in Concord, N.H. The bun combines two classics, pumpkin pie and a cinnamon bun, which is topped with a homemade caramel sauce. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

A pumpkin pie. Rolled up in a cinnamon bun. Do we have your attention yet?

That's right ... We took our autumn baking to a delicious new level by combining two classics, then topping them with an intensely good homemade caramel sauce spiked with flaked sea salt for added oomph and contrast to all that sweetness.

When slicing the log of dough into individual buns, a serrated knife works well. You also can use unflavored, unwaxed dental floss (or heavy thread).

This June 9, 2014 photo shows Dijon tomato and sweet onion pie in Concord, N.H. The Tomato Pie is a classic Southern dish made in summer when the tomato plants are heavy with ripe fruit. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

Tomato Pie is a classic Southern dish made in late summer when the tomato plants are heavy with ripe fruit, but everyone has had their fill of tomato sandwiches and salads. It is essentially a pie shell filled with fresh sliced tomatoes and sweet onions, topped with mixture of shredded cheese and served with a sprinkle of fresh basil.