Autumn is here!
With autumn comes all the fall festivals, including the candy-coated Halloween treats that entice even the most dedicated sugar-avoidance person to cave in to the sweet tooth frenzy. So, how can one indulge in this season's fun without indulging the waistline?
Start by enjoying your favorite treats in moderation. Sample a variety of fall festival goodies by sharing with friends or family members. Tasting one or two bites allows you to sample all the goodies without over-indulging.
Did you know that a typical festival route is about one-third of a mile? So while you’re sampling, burn some calories. At a leisurely stroll at 2 mph, a 150-pound adult can burn about 50 calories.
Make a couple of loops so you don’t miss a thing!
Craving chocolate? (C’mon, who doesn’t?) Try alternatives without all the calories. Libby Mills, RDN and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics offers tricks to cutting back on the calories without feeling like you’ve been left out of the fun. Try her recipe for Raw Chocolate Mint Slice. Yummy!
If you need a quick York Peppermint Patty fix, try brewing a cup of fresh hot coffee and dropping in a square of dark chocolate & some muddled peppermint leaves. Stir until the chocolate melts, remove the leaves and enjoy!
If you are like me and love a salty/sweet combination, try making your own fruit and nut bars. Start by throwing a handful of Medjool dates into a food processor and pulse until it starts to form a paste. Then add some fresh cherries to taste and about a dozen roasted, salted almonds. Continue to process just until the cherries and nuts are broken up and blended together. Pat out onto a shallow pan or cookie sheet, then chill, cut and enjoy.
Bonus fact: Dates are rich in fiber and are excellent sources of iron, potassium and important minerals.
If spooky characters are your thing, dip sliced strawberries and frozen bananas into white chocolate. Once the chocolate is set, decorate using mini dark chocolate chips for eyes and mouth. Try carving a ‘mouth’ opening into an apple and push almonds inside to represent spooky teeth. There are all kinds of fun things you can do with fruits and veggies to represent the scarier side of the festivities. Just search online for the words “fun with food” and get creative!
Save calories and keep yourself hydrated by skipping heavy, sugar-laden sodas. Instead try drinking water infused with fruit and spices to get you in the fall mood. Try adding slices of tart apples, or a splash of cider and some cloves in a pitcher of water and let it sit for a bit. Pour into a glass and ahhhh.
Ghouls, goblins and calorie-laden treats aren’t the only focus of the cooler temperatures of fall. This time of year, when the leaves start to turn beautiful colors, get outside and enjoy your surroundings. Hiking outdoors, especially in the cooler weather, can burn roughly 400 calories per hour. It is always great to get exercise outdoors, but surrounding ourselves with the beauty that God created can lower your blood pressure by helping to decompress from life’s hectic pace, which in turn eases depression and lowers stress. According to a study done by the University of Illinois, a walk outside can help us concentrate better. Less stress, lower body weight, and lowering high blood pressure equal a healthy boost to our immune system and a longer life.
This fall, make a point to look beyond the candy aisle to celebrate the season’s changes.
Be in the moment, enjoy your family and friends and the wonder of the colors. These little treats my friends, are no tricks.
Guest Blogger Mindy Kaye is a Christian Holistic Health Coach, wife, mother and nana. She has 3 blogs: one dedicated to life in general; one for her journey during and after breast cancer; and one called It All Begins with Dirt, which is dedicated to getting back to the basics of growing and eating healthy, organic foods.