I hesitate to admit, but Halloween is my favorite ‘holiday’ of all. I am not above sending cards and messages to family and friends telling them to have a Happy ‘Boo’ Day. Or a ‘Fang’tastic Afternoon. Or a “Spook’tacluar Evening. Once I even wore a T-shirt emblazoned with: “Ding Dong, the witch isn’t dead.” (And, alas, nobody begged to differ.) I have been known to serve cocktails with a peeled grape at the bottom of the glass. (Eyeballs, see?) And display whole a cauliflower as a centerpiece. (A brain, understand?)
My kids loved it, too. After all, it’s the one night of the year when we let our children ring door bells and accept candy from total strangers –albeit friendly neighborhood ones. (Ah, such illicit liberation.) My babies are all grown up now. So that leaves my husband and me to carry on the tradition. While he doesn’t actually trick or treat — I mean, he’s a lawyer –and even they have certain standards — he likes it for a different reason. I let him buy candy. That being said, he also never fails to fool me. We start off on a positive note. He is very concerned about what he will be handing out to the wee ones. So he methodically sorts through the bags of goodies at our local chain pharmacy
“Not this,” he says, throwing back the fun-sized Butterfingers. “Too many calories! Not these either,” he sneers, turning his attention to the Star Burst Fruit Chews. “Sugar and fat!” The Reese’s Peanut Butter Pumpkins also didn’t make the cut. Neither did the Laffy Taffy, Mounds, Baby Ruth’s, or Tootsie Pops. “That’s just begging to go to the dentist.”
Finally, he reaches the Snickers Minis. “These,” he announces, with a satisfied smile. “These are good!! A nice balance of carbohydrates with the protein of peanuts.”
Well, suffice it to say, his largesse in suddenly caring for the well-being of the little tykes in our building always seems disingenuous. The reason? Snickers Minis (preferably frozen) are the only candy he eats. So I suspect that half of them won’t make it into their plastic pumpkins. Yet I fall for it every time.
And I am always right. Not only does he insist on giving out the, er, ‘boo’-ty all by himself, but when I check the freezer before I go to bed, guess what I find hiding behind the frozen spinach? Yep, the Snickers Minis. His sneaky little plan is to eat them himself, as snacks, during the week.
With that in mind, focusing on the adults for a moment, I asked Julie Erickson, nutrition expert and owner of Endurance Pilates & Yoga, to share a few simple suggestions we should keep in mind when choosing our treats. And if we do indulge, how to deal with the extra calories:
1. Look at the ingredients: Some of the tastiest candies have some of the scariest chemicals. Choose ones that have shorter ingredient lists and contain less chemicals and processed compounds. For example, if you are deciding between sweet and fruity candies, Swedish Fish have 9 ingredients, the first being real sugar. Strawberry Twizzlers have 20, including corn syrup (the first listed) and a chemical preservative.
2. Be honest: If you cannot control your sweet tooth, don’t purchase the candies that you like to give away to the kids. Instead, buy yourself a single serving of your favorite treat and get giant bags of the snacks that won’t tempt you as much.
3. Check out serving sizes, calories and nutrients: One serving of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (2 cups) contains 13 grams of fat- 20% of the recommended daily value. One Hershey’s Bar provides 40% of the recommended daily value of saturated fat. If you want to indulge, be sure to limit consumption during your regular meals throughout the day.
Exercise-wise, to work off the extra candy-induced (would-be) poundage, Julie recommends the Halloween HIIT (High-intensity Interval Training) 30 minute Calorie Scorcher below. (Note: This is an advanced level workout that assumes a high level of fitness going in. It is designed to burn off as many calories as possible in a half hour. The number of repetitions or duration of each group, however, can be reduced for those who are newer to exercise. But whatever your fitness level, the effort on the work phases should be all out and the rests should be a complete stop.
1. Warm-up: Run for one mile run at VO2 Max (as fast as you can).. Rest 30 seconds.
2. Jump Rope: For 4 Minutes. Rest 30 seconds.
3. Tabata Pushup Sequence: Push-ups for 20 seconds. Rest 10 seconds. Repeat 8x. (Tabata is another form of HIT).
4. Pilates Rollups/Neck Pulls: Lie on the floor, arms and legs extended. Roll upper body away from floor, stretching arms and chest up and over legs and reaching past toes. Repeat 10x. Try rolling up from the floor with hands behind the head. Repeat 10x.
5. Tabata Cone Hop Sequence: Jump side to side over a small cone for 20 seconds. Rest 10 seconds. Repeat 8x.
6. Plank/Teaser holds: Alternate these two power stretches: Facing the mat, press forearms into the floor and extend legs out like the ‘up’ part of a pushup so that thighs are off the ground and toes are curled under. Hold Plank for 30 seconds. Rest 10 seconds. This is the Forearm Plank stretch. For the Teaser stretch, sit up for 30 seconds on the mat with your pelvis tilted, legs extended to 45 degrees and your arms parallel to your legs. Switch back and forth until you have done both stretches 4x.
7. Burpees: From standing, leap into the air with the arms stretching overhead as high as possible. Then fall into a squat position with your hands and feet on the mat and jump your feet back to the ‘up’ part of a pushup position. Immediately do one full pushup, then quickly jump your feet forward toward your hands again and start leap from this crouch position. Repeat 10x.
Armed with the above info, go ahead and eat your Snickers Minis. But as Julie suggested, try to show some restraint. (Even The Lawyer keeps it to one a day until his cache runs out.) Just know that I scare because I care. I ‘witch’ you all a happy and healthy Halloween. (Sorry, couldn’t resist!)