Photo: Toni's daughter picks a pumpkin for Halloween
The Halloween season is one to be enjoyed, not feared, as it is filled with an assortment of seasonal produce that can be just as tantalizing as the candy your kids bring home from trick-or-treating. Halloween is the first of many tempting holidays that include food and festivities which leave many of us unbuttoning our pants from overindulging.
In this post I am going to share my tips for making Halloween a healthier holiday this year! Together, we can make this a Healthoween (Did I just coin that term?).
Picking pumpkins over candy
Pumpkins are my absolute favorite part of the Halloween season. Pumpkin picking is the first step to a healthier Halloween because not only do you get to pick a healthy pumpkin but you can add in the element of exercise by walking around the patch, lifting pumpkins and making your way through a corn maze. After you have taken the pumpkins home you not only get to carve them into jack-o-lanterns, but you can also eat them.
Pumpkins are packed with nutrition containing carotenoids, protein, essential fatty acids, vitamin A, vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, zinc and fiber. You can start by roasting the seeds for a healthy, delicious snack. The pulp can be steamed and pureed to use in any recipe that calls for pumpkin. I personally love adding pumpkin to my smoothies.
During this time of year, I also stock up on canned pumpkin so I can benefit form pumpkins nutrients all year round, just make sure you buy canned pure pumpkin, not canned pumpkin pie mix which is loaded with extra calories and sugar.
Setting limits on trick or treating
Trick-or-Treating has been a tradition in the United States for over 50 years and my kids participate in this tradition every year. Trick-or-Treating is lots of fun and can be a great way to get in some exercise for the day, that is if you don’t eat the candy as your kids collect it.
I make sure my kids are not hungry when they go trick or treating. Hunger plus bags full of candy and treats is a recipe for a calorie disaster. Feeding the children a healthy snack, like an apple, before heading out is always on my checklist.
As far as eating the candy goes, I do not allow my children to gorge on their candy after we get home. I set parameters on how much they can eat daily. The first thing we do when we get home is inspect the candy, throwing away any that are open or without wrappers. We then separate the candy they like from the candy they dislike, I usually will bring the extra to work or donate it to a charity. Once we have finished the inspections and separating I allow my kids to pick two treats they can eat, after they eat a healthy dinner, and the rest is put away. We repeat this every night until the bag is gone, which could be Christmas time, or until they have lost interest and then I bring the extra to work.
Fitting in a Halloween workout
In addition to walking on Halloween during trick-or-treating, I make it a priority to squeeze in a workout that morning. I like to burn some extra calories just in case the kids get something I really love. Then I can indulge without feeling guilty.
In addition to these tips you can balance the indulgences with all the healthy, seasonal items available this time of year. Some of the seasonal items I use are winter squash, kale, apples, sweet Potatoes, pears, brussel sprouts, figs and my personal favorite pomegranates. These items are all packed with nutrition and are at their prime this time of year. So in addition to indulging on the goodies, be sure to indulge on nature’s goodies this season too.
How do you plan on making this Halloween a healthy holiday?
Editor's Note: Toni Church is a registered nurse and mother of two daughters. She posts every Monday at Real Health on fitting in fitness to a busy schedule. While she had to drop out of the 2012 New York City Marathon, she looks forward to setting some new health goals with you.
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