How to Trick the Kiddos into Curbing their Treat Intake

‚ôꬆThis is Halloween. This is Halloween. This is Halloween.¬†‚ôę

Well…as of tomorrow, anyway.

This bewitching occasion for both the young and young-at-heart is marked by ghosts and goblins, pirates and princesses, superheroes and starlets traipsing around¬†the block together, chanting that quintessential phrase — “trick-or-treat!”

Undoubtedly, Halloween represents a childhood rite-of-passage, filled with excitement, fantasy, mischief…

And, of course, sugar.

Otherwise known as the kids’ main motivation for dressing up.¬†That haul¬†of Skittles, Twizzlers and Milky Ways, which they‚Äôll triumphantly drag home then ceremoniously dump on¬†the kitchen floor, might just be their favorite part of the whole evening. But, as a parent, excessive candy consumption is likely¬†your¬†biggest complaint.

So, how can you keep your children from wolfing down unhealthy amounts of refined sugar without squelching their innocent fun? These pointers will do the trick! (See what I did there?)

halloween treats without the tricks

1. ¬† Sort the¬†pieces of candy into small piles (about four–five apiece) and transfer¬†each grouping into a snack-sized Ziploc bag. Store these bags out of¬†reach until the weekend. Then, give your kids a sweet treat to enjoy on¬†Friday movie night, or pass out individual ‚Äúgoodie bags‚ÄĚ during¬†their Saturday sleepover. If you¬†associate candy with special occasions, they won‚Äôt crave the cavity-causing sugar on a daily basis.

2. ¬† Start¬†a rewards system, so candy becomes a sweet incentive rather than TV-watching ‚Äújunk food.‚ÄĚ Let‚Äôs say your kids received stellar report cards in the classroom, or completed their chore charts with minimal protest.¬†Recognize these achievements by handing over a¬†chocolate bar as positive reinforcement. Use the¬†treats¬†to motivate exemplary¬†behavior —¬†both at home and school.

3.   Combine a handful of candy with healthy snack alternatives. Add M&Ms to pistachios, pumpkin seeds and coconut flakes for a wholesome trail mix. Bake dark chocolate into zucchini bread, or serve alongside sliced apples and almond butter. Drizzle melted caramel chews over whole-grain oatmeal or poached pears. Therefore, kids can satisfy that sweet tooth, while you sneak nutrients in their diet.

4. ¬†¬†Avoid stockpiling the Halloween candy stash over a long period. Cut down on those trick-or-treating leftovers by purging your house after a couple weeks. Surprise co-workers with a peppermint jar¬†in the break room. Include Hershey squares in care packages for a neighbor or the¬†kids’ teachers. Sweeten up holiday get-togethers¬†with party favors for each guest. Chances are, as the Halloween novelty wears off, your little ones won’t even notice the missing candy right away.

Of course,¬†sugary indulgence is part of childhood, so I’m not suggesting you deny them altogether. Parents should encourage kids to be‚Ķwell, kids.¬†The key word is MODERATION.

Provided your children aren’t¬†over-stuffing themselves on Halloween goodies, there’s no reason to micromanage. Simply offset those empty calories by serving balanced nutrition at meal times.

After all, even the youngsters will probably concede¬†that fresh vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains are more substantial¬†in the long-run than a temporary sugar high or quick-fix craving.¬†So, let ’em¬†have their thrills. Just make sure it‚Äôs within predetermined boundaries.

happy halloween

On Turning Your Body Image from Naughty to Nice

The holidays are a challenging time of year for me.

I won’t even bother pretending otherwise.

So, with Christmas just 2 days around the corner, that telltale anxiety has begun creeping up on me.

In T-48 hours, the festivities will commence. I’ll be plied with cut-out cookies, green bean casserole (whose appearance at the buffet table always makes me wonder: why is this even a thing???), and every sugary beverage imaginable. I’ll spend Christmas dinner inwardly squirming because there’s no socially acceptable reason to escape “family time” for a stress-relieving workout.

And — most cringe-worthy of all — I’ll nod and *fake* smile as the table conversation invariably shifts to,¬†“I reeeeeeally shouldn’t eat this, but…”

Don’t give me wrong though, I still love the holidays.

No, seriously. I do.

I’m a sucker for seasonal traditions. I can flawlessly quote¬†Elf, and I know the lyrics to every musical sequence in¬†White Christmas¬†(that’s right…not just the title song!). I’m always convinced reindeer can fly upon watching the “Santa Tracker” with my younger cousins. In fact, I’m even listening to “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” while typing this post.

Yep. There’s no denying it. Christmas is magical.

Too bad the magic often takes a backseat to my “holiday weight”-centric neurosis.

Negative body image seems grossly intensified during this time of year, and I sure wish Santa would fill my stocking with manuals on getting through the season, unscathed by those pesky insecurities. All gift-wrapped and foolproof because I am¬†on the Nice List, don’tcha know.

Right. If only.

Instead, I’m left to my own devices when faced with excessive eating, thoughtless comments, and degrading voices inside my head. And — if you’re anything like me — you’ve likely experienced the exact same struggle.

But, since we’ve established the Big Guy won’t be bringing any “Body Image Survival Guides” on his sleigh anytime soon, I’ll leave you with this:

3 strategies, which have empowered me to sidestep feelings of inadequacy, so I can actually enjoy the festivities. Maybe you’ll find them helpful, as well. Just sayin’…

  1. If you want a cookie, have a cookie!¬†Depriving yourself ¬†is counterproductive and will frequently lead to a binge. Instead of suppressing a sweet tooth or restricting your regular intake to compensate for said sweet tooth, only to lose control and devour the whole damn cookie jar when nobody’s looking, allow yourself some wiggle room. Don’t overindulge, but listen to those internal hunger cues. If your body is craving chocolate chip goodness, for instance, feed the urge. ¬†Eat 1 cookie. Taste it. Savor it. Then, walk away from the remaining dozen. Sweet tooth satisfied. Anxiety alleviated.
  2. Enough already with “good” vs. “bad” foods!¬†There are no bad foods (unless they’re loaded with artificial preservatives…then, they can’t really be considered food). Only bad eating habits. Example: I might avoid green bean casserole, but my sister loves that shit. Therefore, green bean casserole is neither “good” nor “bad.” Regardless of our individual taste buds, it’s still just food. How food is consumed, though, can be detrimental. Whether you’re obsessively counting calories or mindlessly munching until nausea ensues, you fall into the disordered eating category. ¬†So, eliminate those labels. If you like something, just eat it.
  3. You can be social while staying in shape!¬†Rather than sneaking away from the crowd to sweat off Christmas dinner, turn exercise into a family bonding activity. Take a brisk walk around the neighborhood together, while enjoying holiday lights. Organize a backyard touch football scrimmage. Even play Wii Sports with your cousins (that’s what I do!). By all means, get moving! Just don’t let fitness take precedence over relationships. Strike a healthy balance. Instead of turning your desire for physical exertion into a covert mission, invite others to join in the action.

Oh, and (because…randomness) here’s a picture of some cookies.

Christmas cookies¬†Yes, I baked them. I also —¬†gasp! — ate them.

Guiltlessly.

If I can, anyone can.

You’re welcome (and Merry Christmas!).

Satisfy that Sweet Tooth the (Almost) Vegan Way

I say “almost” because this recipe uses 1 egg, which qualifies as an animal by-product, but true vegans need not despair. Simply substitute 1/4 cup pureed banana, 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt or 1/4 cup oil of your choice, and you’ve got a bona fide vegan party-in-the-mouth!

And, for all you other foodies out there, meet the answer to your ongoing dilemma: Do I eat dessert and regret it later, or skip dessert and regret it RIGHT NOW?¬†These¬†Avocado & Almond Butter¬†Cookies deliver all the indulgence¬†of your favorite guilty pleasure…only without that pesky guilt-part. Rejoice!

  • Ingredients:
  1. 1 egg yolk
  2. 1 tsp. baking powder
  3. 1/4 cup almond butter
  4. 3 tbsp. raw honey
  5. 2 packets Stevia
  6. 1/2 cup almond flour*
  7. 1/4 cup dates (chopped)
  8. 1/2 avocado (mashed)

*You can easily and inexpensively make your own almond flour by grinding 1/2 cup slivered almonds in a blender or food processor until finely powdered.*

avocado cookie ingredients

  • Preparation:
  1. Combine the mashed avocado, egg yolk, honey and almond butter together in a mixing bowl.
  2. Add the baking powder, Stevia packets and almond flour, then stir until the batter is smooth.
  3. Fold in the dates, then spoon the batter onto a greased baking sheet in the shape of cookies.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 15 minutes, or until the cookies have cooked thoroughly.

avocado cookie batter

avocado cookies pre bakingavocado cookies post baking

  • Serving Suggestion:

In addition to a sweet mid-afternoon snack or lighter after-dinner dessert, enjoy these tasty treats in the morning for an omega-3 and protein-packed breakfast.

avocado cookie taste test

(And, of course, I¬†was obligated to take these babies out for a test chew, now wasn’t I…?!)