Halloween may be only a couple of days away, but I've been talking to worried nutrition patients about this tricky wellness subject for over a month now. The thought of free, unfettered all-day and night access to candy sends a shiver of diet dread down their spines.
Well, I have good news, one day of being a chocoholic will not make you fat! The Cleveland Clinic reports that chocolate, in moderation, is good for you. Yes, the super dark chocolate is better than a mini kit-kat but it still has a bunch of flavonoids, antioxidants and falvanols -- all of which help reduce stress on the little cells in your body.
No bones about it! Halloween, like all holidays, can be celebrated and should be something to look forward to. I can remember the taste of trick-or-treat victory like it was yesterday, with my pillow case in hand--yes, I was that kid. The smell, taste and texture of that half eaten snickers mini is as burned into my memory as is the plastic mask pinching my face with the smallest eye-holes ever. There is no reason to overreact to temptation and hide from Halloween with kale in hand to ward off the candy calories. We all know that chocolate can be healthy, so Halloween candy is mandatory for your nutritional wellness and for one night a year can make you feel like a kid again.
That being said if I see an orange pumpkin filled with fun size bars sitting on your desk on November 10th then we are going to have some issues. Luckily, candy is not the only food that can make you feel like its Halloween. Try these three scarily healthy foods that pack in the nutrients and fall flavor you can enjoy the weeks after Halloween:
Pumpkin. Yes, that thing you leave outside of your door and set on fire is also good for eating. You can go Martha Stewart on that pumpkin and use every last bit of it, but I'm not in love with gutting my gourds and separating seeds, drying, blending, etc. It can be a bit intimating. Canned pumpkin is super nutritious and very easy to work with for recipes like soups, waffles, parfaits, and oatmeal.
Apples. In the Northeast, by this time of the year, all of your friends have gone apple picking and have given you half a bushel of apples each--you've got to be creative or they will go bad and your friends will think you don't care about their "gift". I like to dehydrate them, this removes the water which naturally increases the concentration of sugar. Also, with the pectin in a higher concentration, the apples have a texture similar to candy. Just as sweet is their nutrition profile.
Cinnamon. With the nights getting longer, adding some spice to your evening treats can give you the feeling like you've just had a special indulgence, when in fact you've added a spice that is full of fiber, has almost no sugar, and has almost every amino-acid (protein).
Remember, Halloween is not just about candy but if you really enjoy it include some in your celebration. Just keep in mind that back-in-the-day we had to walk for those treats. The average trick-or-treater walks two miles and burns 100 calories.
Be Fearless, Be Full.