October brings crisp fall weather, warm jackets, colorful leaves and of course Halloween.
I am pretty sure that I started seeing the giant bags of candy at the grocery stores before October even began. It's so funny how marketing works -- and how much we actually buy into it way earlier than necessary.
I sure hope that you are not the one who bought the Halloween candy extra early and tried to pretend like it was for the trick-or-treaters, but not it's the 27th and you already need another bag. That sort of thing happens when you are confronted with giant bags of temptation every time you go to the store weeks before the Halloween.
The trouble with Halloween is that it does not stand alone; it is bunched up at the end of the year along with Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's. That's when the "I'll start after the Holidays" mentality sets in.
OK, great, so it is the end of October and you are going to just let go for the next two months because it's "the holiday season" despite the snowball effect? That's what you do, right?
Wrong. This year do not let yourself go at the end of October and start feasting and over indulging until the end of 2012.
I really hope that your house is not overflowing with enough candy for you and every trick-or-treater in town because you would be surprised what's packed into those mini candies. One mini Kit-Kat bar has 67 calories, one mini bag of Skittles has 80 calories and there are 110 calories in just one Reese's Peanut Butter Cup.
These numbers may not seem like a lot, but I have seen people pop mini candies in their mouths and devour multiple pieces without any regard for the calories they're consuming.
When I worked as a receptionist at many locations in college, there were always big bowls of candy around at this time of year. I really had to fight the urge to eat that candy, because it was in my face every single day just waiting for me to dive in.
Luckily, I exercised my self-control muscles regularly so they were extra strong and ready to fight back.
If you are going to have candy, watch how many pieces you have, don't go overboard and don't have some every day. Save candy for your cheat day, or better yet, on Halloween so you can enjoy some candy with your kids, family and friends.
One thing I love about Halloween is pumpkin. I enjoy pumpkin carving, the pumpkin seeds and the pumpkin flavor.
Pumpkin carving is so much fun and so easy now that there are all those stencil books that turn pumpkins into Halloween masterpieces. Carve a few this year, it can be an intense arm workout scraping and pulling all of the guts out of the pumpkins.
This year was my first year taking out all of the seeds, washing them and baking them. Like a lot of seeds and nuts, they are high in calories, but most of the calories in pumpkin seeds comes from protein (12g per serving) and mono-unsaturated fatty acid (MUFA), which is the good fat that helps raise good cholesterol (LDL) and lower bad cholesterol (HDL).
Pumpkin seeds are also filled with a bunch of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Like with any nut or seed, portion control is key and you never want to sit down with a huge bag to devour.
I collected roughly 1¾ cups of pumpkin seeds, melted 2 tablespoons of Smart Balance Light butter and drizzled that on top of the seeds, with just a pinch of sea salt. Mix this all around in a bowl and then put on a cookie sheet in the oven at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes.
I got this recipe from my neighbor, but just switched the butter to make it less calories and less added fat. They tasted amazing, and because a little bit goes a long way, I still have a bunch left over for future snacks. So try not to dive into the holidays too soon. Keep a clear head through this candy-, goblin- and witch-infested holiday.
And try some healthy alternatives and portion control to keep yourself on track.