Don’t Let Halloween Scare You!

Trick or Treat!

It’s that time of year again. The stores have been full of candy and decorations for months and now the candy is about to take center stage. Or is it? Here are some tips to keep Halloween from spooking you and derailing your healthy eating efforts. Halloween is just the first in a series of holidays which will be coming over the next few months, a little planning now, will go a long way in ensuring that your New Year’s Resolutions aren’t too desperate in January!

  • Make a plan – I’ve said it a million times but it really bears repeating. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Take a moment today and decide what tomorrow will look like. Don’t “save up” calories so that you can eat lots of candy tomorrow night, that’s a recipe for disaster! Instead, make sure to eat some healthy balanced meals throughout the day so that you aren’t ravenous at trick or treat time. Make a decision in advance about what kinds of treats, and how many, you will choose to enjoy. An all or nothing attitude will not end well, but deciding ahead ahead of time to enjoy 2 or 3 fun sized candy bars, is a sensible way to go.
  • If you have children that will be going tick or treating (and bringing their candy back into your house) make sure that you are not the keeper of the stash. It’s all too easy (and I say this from experience) to take a little something every time you walk by the bags. You can request that your spouse or partner be the one in charge of the loot and have them put it someplace you don’t happen upon throughout the day; or if your kids are older, request that they put it someplace out of sight. There’s no need to hide it, just make sure that it is out of eyesight throughout the day, which will make it much easier to resist!
  • If you have leftover candy, get it out of the house as soon as possible or, put it out of eyesight (see above) to a place where you won’t see it all the time. It is also advisable to not buy your favorite candy to give out to trick or treaters. If you cannot resist Butterfingers (and really, who can?) don’t buy them! Get some other kind of candy that the kids will like but you look at and think – eh, not so much.
  • Halloween is one day only, don’t let it continue on into Thanksgiving. We are headed into the holiday season believe it or not. Try to get back into your routine as quickly as possible and stick to it until November 22nd. If you do end up overindulging on Halloween (or if you are reading this post too late), check out my previous post on mitigating damage done on food holidays.
We can all get through the holidays as long as we keep our focus. I am definitely an advocate of enjoying the sometimes treats that go hand in hand with most holidays, just make sure to keep them special by only indulging sometimes. Happy Halloween!

Second Annual Food Day

Tomorrow October 24th is Food Day, a nationwide celebration of food started by the Center for Science in the Public Interest last year. Food Day is a way to “strengthen and unify the food movement in order to improve our nations food policies”; the five core priorities are to 1) promote safer, healthier diets 2) support sustainable and organic farms 3) reduce hunger 4) reform factory farms to protect the environment and animals and 5) support fair working conditions for food and farm workers. If these action items are things you have never thought about before, the list can sound very overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be! In the same way that I encourage you to take small steps to improve your diet, you can take small steps towards improving food policies.

  • Try going an entire day without eating pre-packaged foods (don’t forget to bring your own coffee cup when you go to your local coffee shop!)
  • Donate some much needed items to your local food pantry
  • Make sure that you have at least one serving of vegetables or fruit with each meal and snack
  • Shop at a farmers market or local farm
  • Prepare a meal for your family or friends (it doesn’t have to be on Food Day itself) and make a note of where each ingredient came from
  • Be aware of what you eat throughout the day. Ask yourself where the ingredients came from and how they were grown (this will also help you to be more mindful!)

I’ll be celebrating Food Day with some fellow RD’s by attending a talk about sustainability in the nutrition field; I’m really looking forward to the speaker from Farm Aid! How will you celebrate Food Day?

Incredible Edible Eggs

One of my favorite foods has gone back and forth from the good food list to the bad food list for far too long. Recently egg yolks were equated to smoking in forming plaque in carotid arteries! This single study brought fear back to egg eaters, but it did not control for many factors which also lead to plaque buildup such as exercise, high fat meats, alcohol, and other high fat foods. In reality, consumption of dietary cholesterol is not a big factor in heart disease unless you happen to be one of the few people who hyper respond to cholesterol. Trans fat, saturated fat, smoking, lack of physical activity and eating excessiveprocessed carbohydrates are much bigger factors in heart disease.

Eggs are a great, inexpensive source of well digested protein and can be cooked in a myriad of ways. It is said that the many folds of a chef’s toque represent the 100 ways to cook an egg; history is cloudy on the truth of that statement, but there are more than 100 egg recipes and many more that utilize eggs. Eggs can be used as a leavener, thickener, emulsifier or glaze. Chances are, if you don’t like eggs cooked by one method, you might like them cooked another way!

One large egg contains about 70 calories, 6 grams of protein, and 5 grams of fat; they are also a source of vitamins D, E and A. Eggs are also a good source of selenium which is involved in pancreatic function, DNA repair, enzyme activation, and immune function, and choline which is important for cell membrane health, and lutein which is important for eye health.

Personally I like to keep a few hardboiled eggs on hand for when I need an easy way to add some protein to a meal or snack. If you have ever had a problem with hardboiled eggs turning green or being difficult to peel, try cooking them using the Julia Child method which is detailed in her book The Way to Cook. At first it seems to be complicated, but when you break it down, it’s just being prepared (having your ice bath ready) and utilizing the kitchen timer accurately. When I use this method, I have perfect hardboiled eggs every time that are easy to peel. You can cook up a batch and keep them in the fridge (labeled or in a separate bowl!) for an easy grab and go protein option. Bon appétit!

Roasted Chick Peas

You may have enjoyed chick peas (also known as Garbanzos) in your salad or eaten them ground up as Hummus or Falafel, but have you ever considered them as a snack? When I’m looking for snack options, I want them to meet three criteria. #1 Great taste. #2 Be satisfying. #3 Have nutritional value. While I’m sure most people will agree to #1 and #2, you may not have always put #3 on the list. Of course you want a snack to taste great, that’s a given; there is no point to eating bad food. Ideally we would also be satisfied with whatever snack we choose so we aren’t looking for something else 15 minutes later. I like to make sure that my snacks also have some nutritional value because there are only so many hours in the day and we might as well make our snacks work for us!

These roasted chick peas are certainly delicious and satisfying. One serving (122g) delivers about 6 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber which are both important components of satiety. As an added nutritional bonus, they contain about 25% of the Daily Value for Iron and almost half the Daily Value for Folate!

The recipe if you can call it that, is to take a can of chick peas, rinse and drain them well so that most of the moisture is gone. Place them in a bowl and drizzle with some olive oil, then sprinkle them with seasonings of your choice (I used curry powder and salt but you can create almost any spice combo you like) and stir them well. Spread them out on a rimmed baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees until they are browned and crispy; this takes about 35-40 minutes depending upon your oven.

One can will make about 3 servings depending upon the snacker. Make sure to enjoy them with a big glass of water because of the high fiber content, and let me know if you come up with any other great seasoning combos I should try!