It’s time for a #FACTUAL FRIDAY everyone — and just in time for HALLOWEEN! So let’s get started with a FEW FUN FACTS about this holiday AND then move on to 5 TASTY TREATS TO INSURE HAPPY TRICK OR TREATERS AND A HEALTHY HALLOWEEN. And yes, that’s a mouth full!
For starters, Halloween can be traced back to the Druids, a Celtic culture in Ireland, Britain and Northern Europe. Indeed, Halloween was referred to as All Hallows Eve by the Druids and dates back to over 2000 year ago. And of course, Halloween always occurs on October 31, which was the last day of the Celtic calendar.
This last day of the calendar, however, also marked the “end of summer” for the Celts. And, the end of summer always symbolized the end of the growing season and the beginning of the annual harvest. Known as Samhain, the harvest was celebrated with huge bonfires and gifts that were left on village doorsteps to pacify any wandering spirits — and to ensure next year’s crops would be plentiful. Eventually, the villagers themselves began to dress as wandering spirits and began to help themselves to the gifts left on their neighbors’ doorsteps.
This custom, of course, was the beginning of our modern day “trick or treating.” The Celtic harvest also introduced the custom of bobbing for apples, preparing spiced cider and carving faces and designs in fruits and vegetables. Now, pumpkins were not available in Ireland or Northern Europe at that time, so the Celts used turnips or potatoes. But, when the Irish immigrated to North America and discovered the pumpkin — the modern day jack-o-lantern was born.
And, today Halloween is thriving! It’s actually the second biggest holiday celebration in this country after Christmas! And, everyone loves to dress up in costumes — children and adults alike — and join in the neighborhood festivities.
So, even though Halloween has become a holiday associated with candy and sweet treats — is there anything we can do to cut down on the amount of sugar in our treats to make Halloween a tad bit healthier?? And, at the same time keep our treats protected and safe?? There actually is! And, here are 5 Tasty Treats for a Healthy Halloween that you might want to try.
1) STRING CHEESE: Now, here’s a low calorie dairy treat that’s packed with calcium for building bones and strengthening teeth. It’s high in protein and low in fat — both of which slow down the metabolism of carbohydrates and sugars we find in starches and candy. So, this treat will help provide sustained energy and minimize the inevitable Halloween sugar high. Try the mozzarella or a mozzarella and cheddar blend. With 50 to 80 calories per stick, string cheese will still provide about 20% of the daily recommended serving of calcium. It can be found in any grocery store and comes individually factory pre-wrapped. So, you don’t have to worry about sanitation or contamination. Just keep it chilled until your Trick or Treaters are at the door.
2) CARROTS: OK, I know this might not be the most exciting treat on the block. But, it certainly will be one of the healthiest! Also, one of the easiest. Tiny two ounce factory wrapped bags of baby carrots are available in the produce department of your grocery store. And, this tiny treat will provide 8% of the fiber and 220% of our recommended daily serving of Vitamin A. Remember, this is the Vitamin that supports healthy mucous membranes and helps prevent viruses and diseases. Carrots are good for the eyes and digestion. And, they will make a welcome addition to a bag brimming with chocolate. At least for the parents!
3) TRAIL MIX: There are many different varieties of Trail Mix. But, the traditional mix is made with sunflower seeds, almonds, cashews, peanuts and raisins. This low carbohydrate treat is packed with essential minerals and omega-3 fatty acids. It’s also loaded with protein and fiber. And, if you add a few chocolate chips — just a few — a one ounce bag of trail mix will supply 10% of the magnesium, phosphorus and copper required in the average adult’s diet. This combination also provides us with manganese — a mineral that not only maintains strong bones but is a powerful antioxidant that fights free radicals and other cancer-causing agents. This treat too can usually be found in small one ounce factory wrapped packages in your local grocery store — or, perhaps in a nearby health food store.
4) PRETZELS: Here we have an all time favorite. I mean, after all, who doesn’t like pretzels?? Again, keep in mind there are many different kinds of pretzels — and many of them contain ingredients that really don’t have our health in their best interests. So, here we’re talking about a one ounce serving of whole wheat pretzels that are pre-packaged and found in the snack aisle of most grocery stores. This little bag of goodness is brimming with omega-3 fatty acids, 6% of the protein and 10% of the thiamin and niacin an adult needs every day. And, they come in low-sodium varieties as well!
5) PUMPKIN SEEDS: Well, we’ve discussed many times the health benefits of pumpkins and of pumpkin seeds. And, there’s no better time to partake of both than at Halloween! So, save the seeds from your jack-o-lanterns and roast them for yourselves. Then go to your favorite grocery store and purchase a bunch of pre-packaged one ounce bags for your Trick or Treaters. Pumpkin seeds are loaded with magnesium, which helps our bones, nerves, muscles and heart to function well. They nourish our brains with their abundance of zinc — and supply fiber for good digestion. They’re crunchy, flavorful and satisfying enough to keep hunger pangs at bay.
And, there we have it! Five easy, safe, healthy treats for your Trick or Treaters this Halloween. They’re nutritious and portable and a nice alternative to all the sugary sweets that will be abundant this holiday.
So, enjoy a SPECTACULARLY SPOOKY, HAPPY and HEALTHY HALLOWEEN everyone! Thanks for joining me and until next time,
TAKE THE COURSE AND TAKE CHARGE!!
Image courtesy of hin255 at FreeDigitalPhoto.net