Remember: adults can be just as vulnerable as kids!
After yesterday’s HEALTHY HALLOWEEN COUNTDOWN recommendations about distributing candy treats for your children in ways that will minimize the immediate nutritional wallop, today we will look at the situation as it applies to adults.
Nutritional peril is not limited exclusively to youngsters in the house; parents and adult caregivers should be every bit as vigilant about their own candy consumption as they are about their children’s intake. Says Karen Ansel, a New York nutrition expert, “Kids go to school all day, and parents are home with candy lying around.” She suggests restricting all of your own holiday treat purchases to small snack/fun-size bars and again cautions, as we had recommended in an earlier post, “If you’re buying Halloween candy to hand out to trick-or-treaters, choose your own least favorite brands so that you are less tempted to eat it yourself.” And do not succumb either to the temptation to stock up on close-out candy sold in the grocery store at discount prices on the day after Halloween, a sure path to diet disaster even if the purchase price has been reduced.
>>> Take any surplus supply of leftover treats that you bought but did not hand out as well as the left-behind yummies your children collected from the neighbors and stash them all deep inside your food freezer. This tactic will surely move the big risk out of your sight (and hopefully out of your mind as well). If you do not have enough freezer space, then instead store your leftover candy in the most inaccessible area of the food pantry at the very back of the highest shelf. If you need to refrigerate any items, be sure to use opaque containers and locate them in the vegetable drawer or in the butter storage compartment to minimize your exposure to visual cues that might prompt you gobble down more than you had intended.
>>> Some people have been successful at melting down uneaten candy and pouring the liquid chocolate into paper- or foil-lined muffin cups. After hardening in the refrigerator, the chocolate can later be frozen inside a plastic storage bag or freezer container to bring out again just in time to use as an ingredient for future Thanksgiving or Christmas baking recipes that will be given away as home-made holiday gifts.
>>> Re-purposing the candy as an ingredient within a “healthier recipe” may also be an option for you. In my household, for example, we sometimes combine 2 cups of milk (whole, 2% or skim — your choice, depending on fat/calorie concerns) with leftover Snickers bars (2 1/2 ounces by weight and chopped into small pieces) and puree them together in a blender until smooth. Then we add a pint of either vanilla ice milk or vanilla frozen yogurt and blend until smooth to make four servings of our favorite “somewhat healthy” milk shake beverage for a special treat.
>>> Occasionally my sisters and I also have been known add a handful of candy corn or else a combination of M&Ms and pretzel sticks to our family’s otherwise high-nutrition applesauce-oatmeal-raisin cookie recipe (you can even let the kitchen-helper kiddies design their own spotted/multi-legged cookie animals with this combo — think: spider, octopus, ladybug or porcupine to start; then let the little imaginations run wild).
>>> Other times we siblings have created a not-really-too-naughty snack mix by combining about 2 cups of broken pretzels with 1/3 cup of dry milk powder, 1/4 cup of brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of white (granulated) sugar. Then we added 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) of melted unsalted butter and stirred well, spread the mixture onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet and baked at 275 degrees for about 20 minutes. After cooling the baked mixture, we finally dumped it all into a big bowl and combined it with about 12 ounces of candy bars that had been chopped into 1/2-inch cubes. To improve the nutritional balance, from time to time we have also added air-popped popcorn, nuts, dried fruits or seeds (pumpkin, sunflower or pepita) to the mixture.
>>> Another good idea: immediately after Halloween take all those leftover candy treats along to your workplace and display them in a disposable bowl that you can place in the cafeteria, break room, reception lobby or other high-traffic area to be consumed by passersby. Or pack up the lingering goodies and give them all to your spouse or roommate to dispose of at that person’s place of employment. Whatever it takes, separate yourself from temptation as soon as possible.
Protect yourself by planning in advance … and then follow through on those plans. Do not allow yourself to go into the month of November with extra pounds or with regrets for impulsive behavior.
And come back to HEALTHY HALLOWEEN COUNTDOWN again tomorrow for strategies to clear those tempting treats entirely out of of the house. Prompt action can help you avoid remorse — and extra pounds — as you move into the month of November.