This week, try replacing high fat meats, such as sausage, bacon, ribs, and untrimmed beef or pork with lean meats and use cooking methods that don’t add extra fat (such as baking, broiling, or grilling). You may be surprised by what’s out there and find a new favorite meat!
I recently had a reader ask, “How can I avoid Halloween weight gain without missing out on the fun?”
It’s a question I’ve asked myself every October. Between holiday parties and baskets filled with high-calorie sweets, it’s little surprise the number on the scale tends to rise through late October and into the winter holidays. So how do you prevent packing on the pounds or sticking to your diet while still participating in all the spooky festivities?
One of the easiest ways to enjoy your favorite treats without the additional calories is to choose foods and beverages with low-calorie sweeteners. For example, choosing sugar-free chocolates can save 50 calories a day. Over the course of a year, those daily calorie savings can really add up. Drinking a diet soda can shave off 150 calories!
Here are a few more tips to surviving Halloween without gaining weight:
- If you are throwing a party, serve reduced-fat popcorn, fat-free pretzel twists or sticks and diet sodas instead of their full calorie counterparts. Toss in some chocolate candies, as an added treat, but watch portion sizes.
- Instead of caramel apples, try serving whole or sliced apples with fat-free caramel sauce.
- Cut out bread (try a reduced-fat or light version) with a Halloween cookie cutter. Serve with smoked turkey, reduced-fat cheese, tomato, lettuce and other sandwich “fixings.” You can also send this in your child’s lunchbox. Kids will love this “spooky sandwich.”
- Use sugar substitutes and applesauce to replace oil and sugar when baking treats for Halloween. Explain to your children that you are using these substitutions to make these treats more healthy.
- After trick or treating, allow your children to choose a designated amount of candy (such as five pieces) to eat that night instead of a free for all. Not only will that control calories, but your child’s tummy will thank you later- even if he doesn’t!
- After Halloween is over, let your child pick one treat to eat each day. You can put this in her lunchbox as a special surprise.
- Choose candy that is sugar-free or is reduced-fat over full calorie options.
- Watch your portions by choosing a few pieces and putting the rest away before eating. Out of sight is (usually) out of mind.
- Keep the wrappers out so you see how much you’ve eaten. Studies show that the visual feedback keeps portions in control.
UPDATE: I’ve added two more lower calorie and kid-friendly recipes this year. These are sure to “scare off” any Halloween weight gain and keep everyone in a festive mood!
Ghosts in the Graveyard
1 package sugar-free instant chocolate pudding
1 container of whipped topping, thawed
2 cups chocolate cookie wafer crumbs
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes dyed with green food coloring
1 package sugar-free marshmallows
1 package of mini, semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 package of sandwich cookies (oblong shape)
strawberry or raspberry jam
Optional decorations: red gel food decoration, sugar-free candy corn, sugar-free gummy worms,
Mix pudding as directed, using only half the amount of skim milk indicated on the back of the box. Fold in one container of whipped topping. Spoon evenly into a 9×9 pan. Coat the top with the chocolate cookie crumbs to create the dirt. Scatter the green coconut flakes on top to resemble grass.
Before serving, place sugar-free marshmallows on top (these will be the “ghosts”). Press in two mini chocolate chips for eyes. Stick sandwich cookies into the pudding throughout the graveyard to resemble tombstones. Gently spoon strawberry or raspberry jam over tombstones to look like fake blood, or decorate with red gel, as the picture shows. Scatter sugar-free candy corn and/or gummy worms across the “graveyard” for added decoration.
Halloween Popcorn Witches
1 package (4 serving size) lime gelatin
1 cup light Karo syrup
8 teaspoons (or 24 packets) sugar substitute
5 quarts air popped popcorn
1 box of waffle ice cream cones (I used chocolate, but you can use any flavor)
Optional decorations: cashews for noses, mini chocolate chips for eyes, skinny red licorice whips for a mouth
Combine lime gelatin, syrup and sugar substitute in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour over 5 quarts of popped corn. Form into popcorn balls (using greased hands). Place on a baking sheet covered with wax paper. Spread a small amount of peanut butter on top of each popcorn ball. Add shredded carrots for “hair.” Top with ice cream cone. Additional toppings can be added for eyes, nose, etc. per your desire.
Small apples can also be used as a substitute for popcorn for an even healthier version. Use royal icing to make the decorations stick to the apples.
Beth Hubrich, MS, RD, LD is well versed in clinical nutrition, food service, nutrition communications, and community and public health. She holds a B.S. in nutrition and food science from FSU and a Master’s in nutrition and food science from Texas Woman’s University. Beth has worked with CNN and has written for Today’s Dietitian and USA Today Magazine. She is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), as well as a founding member of the Weight Management and the Dietitians in Business and Communications dietetic practice groups. Beth has served as a nutrition and food communications specialist for the Calorie Control Council for a number of years. She currently lives in the Southeast with her husband and three young children.
Homemade sweet potato gnocchi is one of those amazing dishes you’ll squirrel away and break out for special occasions or the weekend when you have some extra time. It’s impressive when paired with the browned butter sage sauce and surprisingly healthy and easy to make; it just needs a little love and attention.
If you have children, let them help you make and shape the gnocchi for a fun family meal they’ll love. You can serve this by itself as a simple, comforting dish or pair it with our baby spinach and bacon salad.