This a fun time of year as Halloween approaches. Many people love the costumes, parties and all around “creepiness” of this month and all the things the holiday brings. CANDY!!
There are lots of sugary treats and if you think about it, the stores have already stocked the shelves and displays with huge sales that just add to the temptation. For a dieter, this can spell disaster on the waistline!
The average American consumes 3 pounds of candy over the week of Halloween. Did you know that October 30th is “National Candy Corn Day?”
YIKES. Many studies talk about the sheer amounts of sugar that children consume during this time of the year as trick or treating is so popular but it's also the adults that are buying the treats to hand out and I know there are those dreaded leftovers!!
As a Nutritional coach, I can say that there are clients of mine that describe this as a “scary” time of the year because of the lack of environmental control. One client in particular, told me that her granddaughter comes over to spend the night for Halloween every year and that she actually doesn’t like trick or treating but she loves to dress up in elaborate costumes and hand out the candies! All the kids in the neighborhood love to come to the house because of the decorations that are in full swing. The only problem is that while handing out the candy they average consuming about 1 bag of a variety of the miniature candies per person!
The great news is that October is also the month where winter squash (along with many other veggies) are in season, such as butternut, spaghetti, acorn squash and pumpkin and the can be found almost anywhere including local groceries as well as farmers markets. It's also the time of the year that we get to enjoy the weather getting cooler and crisp so it's a great time to experiment with warm soups and stews!
I love using my crock pot and soups are so simple to play around with new recipes. Here is one of my favorite fall soups:
Creamy Curried Pumpkin- Apple Soup
- 1 can pumpkin puree
- 1 can unsweetened fat free condensed milk
- ½ tsp curry powder
- ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
- 1 red apple , peeled, cored and chopped
- 1 tsp. Brown sugar Splenda
Bake the apple in a 350’ oven until soft. Place all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Heat and serve! This recipe is absolutely delicious for fall.
This recipe is low in calories and super simple as you can tell. One note is that you can also let this soup (or any soup or stew for that matter) cool completely and use a freezer ziplock bag to freeze. Simple ladle the soup in the bag and make sure to lay flat in the freezer. This takes up less space and you can just pull it out when you are ready to use it and thaw in the sink before reheating!
The Pumpkin soup I have also made for my company in the past and when I did, I got some of the smaller pumpkins (about the size of a cantaloupe) and cut off the top, (reserving it) and hollowed the inside out. I served the soup inside the pumpkin using it as a bowl with just the top as a cute garnish! Really delicious and a cute idea for a party.
One thing I did one year when I was teaching a weight loss class, was to come up with healthy, fun alternatives for kids as opposed to the high sugar treats. I fully recognize how much fun Halloween can be for kids but does it HAVE to revolve around mass amounts of candy? Studies show that once a bunch of sugar comes into a person's system, it makes the body crave even more sugar! (Let alone the havoc it takes on the teeth!)
So I came up with some simple things that can replace or at least minimize all of that candy. I went to a popular “party store” and found so many fun things! Plastic skull and spider rings, “light up” Halloween necklaces, light up orange and black rubber bracelets, neon orange shoelaces, plastic “fangs”, etc. These are such cute ideas and believe me, kids love something fun and different! I found small Halloween bean bags that I thought would be cute to fill one of those plastic “cauldrons” for door prizes at a haunted house party for kids.
Speaking of the haunted house parties, there are some great ideas out there for decorations as well as recipes online! Most of the decor can even be found in your local “dollar” stores which means you can really stock up and go “all out” for very little money!
Here is a fun recipe that I found on EatingWell.com for Chocolate Pretzel Popcorn Balls.
Anytime you can come up with something different, it tends to be a hit, especially with kids! Especially when it comes to being around candy this whole season, it's important to think about how you can satisfy the cravings with other, healthier types of foods and that in turn will aid with weight loss and weight maintenance. The first area I look at with clients is fruits. What can we come up with that would be an equally satisfying “sweet treat?”. This time of year there are many fruits that are gloriously in-season such as cherries, apples, and pears. Here is a simple recipe that I love on a cool fall night that is sure to please that sweet tooth!
Warm Baked Pears
- 4 Bartlett pears (you could use other firm pears as well)
- 1 cup whole oats
- 1 tsp. Apple pie spice
- ¼ cup sugar-free ,maple syrup
- 1 tsp. “I can’t believe it’s not butter” spray.
Simply core the pears. In a small bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients to create sort of a “crumble”. Spoon the filling inside the pears and bake in a glass casserole dish with ¼ cup water on the bottom (to steam). Cover and bake at 350’ for 15 minutes.
Super easy and yummy!
Another great way to tackle the sweets is to add in protein shakes and bars. They add the sweetness as well as add to feeling “full”. I have blogged about many types and lots of them can be found on my website but the most important thing to remember is looking for flavors and varieties where you can play around with recipes adding them (especially the shakes).
I have a client that is doing such a great job embracing the new ideas not only with protein supplements with the additions of seasonal fruits but taking on the veggie recipes I am giving her each week which
can really add to her collection of choices this season!
The other thing she has taken on is a variety of sugar-free syrups (most commonly found in the coffee aisle of the grocery store). She has found some amazing flavors such as hazelnut, English toffee, german chocolate cake, and macadamia nut (all made by a company called Da Vinci) and even some others such as Brown sugar cinnamon, Belgian cookie and S'mores (made by a company called Torani).
Great job, Deb!!! She is learning tools she can use for the rest of her life not only for weight loss but her lifestyle changes forever!
Getting creative is the key to getting through the Holidays this year and Halloween is the first step! Remember that practicing these new behaviors will only help as we venture into the next two months with Thanksgiving and Christmas!
Call me if you would like to learn more about how to lose weight or maintain without gaining through the holidays!