Friday, 1 November 2013

Happy Hallowe'en

Wow, it seems like forever since I posted on here.  So much for consistent journaling – which was my original goal for this blog.  But, sometimes life just gets in the way.  I’ve been busy taking a six-week (simply for interest) course sponsored by my local library called “The Philosophy of Horror Fiction”.  Between the readings for that and my real job there hasn’t been a lot of time for anything else.  I have also written a few things for my “other blog”.  I like to focus this one on weight loss and healthy lifestyle choices.  This “other” is more of a personal blog with personal ramblings.  Sometimes an idea just rattles around inside my head screaming to be put on paper … and, that’s where it ends up.  If for any reason someone is interested in checking it out, it can be found at  Sometimes there is a little crossover and I post things from here to there, but not usually the other way around.

We are also on the eve of the start of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).  In a nutshell; On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 p.m. on November 30. Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought fleetingly about writing a novel.  One can make it all official and such by registering on their website hence submitting the fruit of their labors. I would just do it for interest sake and to keep the brain working.  I think about participating every year and then my determination begins to lag and I don’t get words down on paper (or into the computer as the case may be).  I’m going to give it shot this year, but don’t expect anything to be posted here or anywhere else.  Like the horror fiction course I am taking it would be purely for interest sake.

But back to this post!

My BFF “M” is also a member of my TOPS group and, bless her heart, to take some of the pressure off me she offered to lead the meeting this past Monday night.  In light of some other things that went on this week I was more than grateful for her help.  The following is her “Halloween Tips” meeting.

Q: How can I have a healthy Halloween with all of the treats around? Any tips? 

A: Halloween is one of the most exciting days of the year for kids and candy lovers alike. It’s so easy to overdo it with piles of candy in the house though, even before the big day arrives.
Understand the impact 
Those cute, snack size candy bars and bags of chips may seem harmless, but they pack monster amounts of calories, fat, sugar and salt.
It is estimated that the average child collects between 3,500 and 7,000 calories worth of Halloween candy in one trick-or-treat session. That’s the equivalent of one to two pounds of fat! For a 100-pound child to burn those calories, it would take 44 hours of walking or 14.5 hours of full court basketball.
Out of sight, out of mind 
To avoid eating all of your goodies before trick-or-treaters arrive, buy candy just before the 31st, or keep it somewhere inconvenient so you’re not tempted to dig in each time you pass the candy bowl. And buy treats you don’t like! If you’re a sweet tooth, buy salty treats. If you like chips, buy sweets. Once candy is in the house, put it out in smaller amounts or put it away so you and your child don’t have free access.

Moderation is key – set limits! 
You don’t need to lock your kids in the house on Halloween or confiscate their candy bags. Halloween can be an opportunity to teach moderation and  eating sweets as treats. When your kids get home from trick-or-treating, have them make two piles of their loot: a favourites pile and a pile they won’t eat. Encourage them to share or give away their unwanted pile. Explain that candy is a treat on Halloween for them to enjoy in moderation on regular days. Work out a reasonable treat allowance and explain that eating less per day will make their Halloween stash last longer. 1-3 pieces per day (100-300 calories) is a reasonable amount for most active children over a short period of time. Have them enjoy their candy alongside a healthy snack or a glass of water. Make sure you’re also eating candy in moderation to set a good example. 82% of parents set candy limits, so don’t let puppy-dog-eyes change your mind!

Healthy habits all year long 
Remember that Halloween is just one day of the year. Indulging on holidays can be completely acceptable if we do our best to eat healthy every day

Handy tip: Try refrigerating or freezing candy to reduce overindulging. When it’s not soft and chewy it isn’t as appealing and by the time it has thawed you or your child may lose interest. 

Okay … it’s me again.  Although my kids are grown and in charge of their own candy consumption these days there was a lot of great information to hear.  Those cute little packages are so deceptive too.  Don’t look anything like a full sized chocolate bar of bag of chips, but calorie wise they still pack a heck of punch.  Check it out …

One of things that I do miss about having little ones around on Halloween is carving the pumpkin and roasting the pumpkin seeds.  I guess I could still carve a pumpkin to set out on the front porch, but let’s face it, as much fun as we had carving those jack-o-lanterns they could never be called works of art.  Lopsided smiling/grimacing faces was the best we could come up with.  I’ve since taken the lazy way out and put a little battery operated tea light inside of a smiling ceramic pumpkin and call it good!

I do miss the pumpkin seeds though.  And who knew they could be so good for you?  From an article on here are the 9 Top Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds.

1.  They contain heart healthy magnesium.  One-quarter cup of pumpkin seeds contains nearly half of the recommended daily amount of magnesium.  These help with important bodily functions such as the pumping of your heart, proper bone and tooth formation, relaxation of your blood vessels and proper bowel function.

2.  Zinc for immune support.  Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of zinc with one ounce containing more than 2 mg of this beneficial mineral.  Zinc is important to you body in many ways, including immunity, cell growth and division, sleep, mood, your senses of taste and smell, eye and skin health, insulin regulation and male sexual function.

3.  Plant base Omega-3 Fats.  Nuts and seeds, including pumpkin seeds are one of the best sources of plant-based omega-3s.

4.  Prostate health.  Pumpkin seeds have long been valued as an important natural food for men’s health.

5.  Benefits for post-menopausal women.  Pumpkin seed oil is rich in natural phytoestrogens and studies suggest it may lead to a significant increase in good HDL along with a decrease in blood pressure, hot flashes, headaches, joint pains and other menopausal symptoms.

6.  Anti-diabetic effects.  Animal studies suggest that pumpkin seeds may help improve insulin regulation and help prevent diabetic complications by decreasing oxidative stress.

7.  Heart and liver health.  Pumpkin seeds are a rich in healthy fats, antioxidants and fibers, which may provide benefits for heart and liver health, particularly when mixed with flax seeds.

8.  Restful sleep.  Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of tryptophan, an amino acid that your body converts into serotonin, which in turn is converted into melatonin, the “sleep hormone”.  Eating pumpkin seeds before bed, along with a carbohydrate like a small piece of fruit, may be especially beneficial for providing your body the trypotphan needed for your melatonin and serotonin production to help promote a restful nights sleep.

9.  Anti-inflammatory benefits.  Pumpkin seed oil has been found to exhibity anti-inflammatory effect.  One animal study even found it worked as well as the anti-inflammatory drug indomethacin in treating arthritic, but without the side effects.

And what’s the best way to eat these little powerhouse seeds?  In order to prevent the healthy fats present in the seeds, pumpkin seeds should be eaten raw.  If you choose to purchase seeds from a bulk bin, make sure they smell fresh – not musty, spoiled or stale, which could indicate rancidity or the presence of fungal mycotoxins.

If you prefer to eat the seeds roasted, do so yourself so you can control the roasting temperature and time.  Raw pumpkin seeds can be roasted on a low heat setting in your oven (no more than 170 degrees Fahrenheit or 75 degrees Celsius), sprinkled with natural salt, for about 15 to 20 minutes.  And make sure you eat the white outside part of the seed … that’s where the fiber and all the health benefits are.


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