4 Tips for A Healthy Halloween Without Swearing off Sweets

It’s my favorite time of year!

Halloween is the holiday that is marked with all kinds of delicious treats. From chocolates to candies to cookies to cupcakes, it’s hard to stay away. There’s no problem with indulging every once in a while because hey, you should enjoy life, but what if you want healthier options during this time of year. You don’t have to make Halloween about sugar filled delicacies all the time.

First understand that Halloween is not just a holiday made for the kiddies. Adults get into it just as much. Whether you’re eating sugary foods at the office or you’re tempted to buy that delicious 3 layered chocolate Frankenstien cake at your local grocery store- it happens! Let’s take a look at how to have your sweets, but in a healthier way.

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  1. Get Dark Chocolate instead of Milk Chocolate

I’m starting with dark chocolate because it’s a guilty pleasure of most of us- especially when this holiday creeps up on us. I know you’re tempted to indulge in all sorts of milk chocolates that are available out there, but you can just as easily eat dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is excellent for your health because it contains antioxidants which fights off toxic free radicals in our bodies. It also plays a role in heart health, just be sure to eat it in moderation. Additionally, make sure to check those food labels for harsh chemicals that are lying around.

2. Fill the Candy Bowl only on Halloween Day

Many people make the mistake of filling up the candy bowl days before Halloween starts. Don’t do this if you can’t control yourself! If the bowl is filled, you’ll be tempted to indulge and before you know it, all of your Halloween candy is gone. When trick or treaters start arriving, start filling that bowl up.

 3. Buy Options that Are Better

Instead of getting the standard Halloween candy that everyone in town seems to get, why not opt for healthier things? Try pretzels, animal crackers and even fruit snacks made out of natural fruit juice. Peanut butter crackers that are mini work well too! These are better options than the standard candy bar or wafer that you may have lying around. Educate yourself and you won’t be susceptible to the sugar war that goes on.

4. Be Active on Halloween Day

If you have children, go out and take them trick or treating. If not, take a walk or do some jogging to burn off those snacks that you might have had. You can look at those wonderful costumes around your neighborhood and you can get your dose of exercise for the day. It’s a win-win situation. Plus, when you get home you can still enjoy a little taste of candy without all of that guilt.

Overall, Halloween should be a fun time of year for you as well as the kids. Don’t let the sugary treats bring you down. Control yourself and moderate your portions. Don’t forget about exercise as well. Have a wonderful Halloween!

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Enjoy a Healthy Autumn with All Things Pumpkin

It’s my favorite time of year again! The air is crisp in many areas of the nation, Halloween decorations are out and there is an influx of pumpkin products all around. We’ve all heard of pumpkin spice latte and pumpkin pie, but what if we look past all of the sugar and focus on the natural masterpiece at hand? Did you know that pumpkins are filled with all kinds of nutrients that you should take advantage of this season? Let’s take a look.
First, let’s briefly clarify. The question that people have been asking for quite some time now- are pumpkins vegetables or fruits? The pumpkin is a member of the squash family and though it is treated like a vegetable, it is technically a fruit due to the containment of seeds. Those seeds are a great source of protein, minerals, vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids- which we will delve into later!

Additionally, in general, pumpkins come in an orange or yellow color; however, some varieties exhibit dark to pale green, brown, white, red and gray. The color is largely influenced by yellow-orange pigments in their skin and pulp. The rind is smooth with light, vertical ribs.
The power behind the hue of pumpkin is the beta-carotene, an organic compound that is converted to vitamin A in the body. Known for its immune-boosting powers, beta-carotene is essential for eye health and has also been linked to preventing coronary heart disease.
When boiled or steamed, pumpkin tends to be very low in calories. A pumpkin that is about 100 g provides approximately 26 calories and contains no saturated fats or cholesterol. It should also be known that it is very rich in dietary fiber, anti-oxidants, minerals, vitamins. Furthermore, it is one of the food items recommended by dietitians in cholesterol controlling and weight reduction programs.
Still, the real treasure may be in the seeds. One ounce (about 140 seeds) is packed with protein, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. Studies suggest pumpkin seeds provide a number of health benefits— such as blocking the enlargement of the prostate gland, lowering the risk of bladder stones, and helping to prevent depression. Plus, they contain high levels of phytosterols, which research suggests can reduce cholesterol. So get scooping!



The Bottom Line
There are plenty of ways to sneak pumpkin into any meal — whether it’s the seeds or the flesh, canned, cooked, or raw, or in a main dish versus a chocolate chip cookie. For a hot breakfast filled with fiber, try adding pumpkin to oatmeal. And take note: if a recipe calls for canned pumpkin, don’t be afraid to replace it with fresh. Placing a small, cleaned-out pumpkin in the microwave for six minutes will make it easy to scoop out the insides.

And save those seeds— they’re easy to roast. After removing seeds from the pumpkin’s inner cavity, wipe them off with a paper towel. Place in a single layer on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with some seasoning, and lightly roast at 160-170 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. Roasting for a short time at a low temperature helps to preserve their healthy oils. Happy eating!

Anita Haridat, Ph.D