Sunday, October 30, 2011

Happy Halloween!


Peter Gibbons: So I was sitting in my cubicle today, and I realized, ever since I started working, every single day of my life has been worse than the day before it. So that means that every single day that you see me, that's on the worst day of my life.
Office Space
Didn't have too much time to plan a Halloween costume, between all the traveling of late. So instead, we fell back on one of our favorite movies for inspiration - the forever hilarious Office Space. My boyfriend donned a white collared dress shirt, suspenders, glasses, mug and folder of TPS reports to become "Bill Lumbergh," the sleazy boss, while I created a green and white striped polo shirt (green fabric paint is cheap!), found a waitress apron, suspenders and 15 pieces of flair to represent the role of Joanna, the Chotchkie's waitress/love interest. Don't want to spend much on a costume? Office Space is a great, crowd pleasing option. We wore them last night to some parties and will likely dust them off and wear them again tomorrow night.

Speaking of Halloween, if you're anything like me, you've been fighting the temptation of all those cheap bags of candy at the grocery store the past few weeks. Between the parties and baskets filled with high-calorie treats, this spooky holiday is less than kind to the waistline. So how do you prevent packing on the pounds while still participating in all the festivities? According to this article from the Calorie Control Council website, foods and beverages containing low-calorie sweeteners provide a simple way to enjoy your favorite treats without the additional calories. For example, choosing sugar-free chocolate will save 50 calories a day. Over the course of a year, that daily calorie savings could result in a five-pound weight loss. Drinking a diet soda can shave off 150 calories a day - or 15 pounds - by year's end.

Here are a few more tips to surviving Halloween without gaining weight, courtesy of CCC:

* If you are throwing a party, serve reduced-fat popcorn or fat-free pretzel twists or sticks. Toss in some chocolate candies, as an added treat, but watch portion sizes.
* Instead of caramel apples, try serving whole or sliced apples with fat-free caramel sauce.
* Cut out bread (try a reduced-fat or light version) with a Halloween cookie cutter. Serve with smoked turkey, reduced-fat cheese, tomato, lettuce and other sandwich "fixings."
* Use sugar substitutes and applesauce to replace oil and sugar when baking treats for Halloween.
* Choose candy that is sugar-free, reduced-fat or is made with a sugar substitute like sucralose.

And here is some Halloween trivia for all you ghosts and ghouls out there. Have a fabulous one!
  • Orange and black are Halloween colors because orange is associated with the Fall harvest and black is associated with darkness and death. 
  • Jack o’ Lanterns originated in Ireland where people placed candles in hollowed-out turnips to keep away spirits and ghosts on the Samhain holiday.
  • Halloween was brought to North America by immigrants from Europe who would celebrate the harvest around a bonfire, share ghost stories, sing, dance and tell fortunes.
  • Tootsie Rolls were the first wrapped penny candy in America.
  • The ancient Celts thought that spirits and ghosts roamed the countryside on Halloween night. They began wearing masks and costumes to avoid being recognized as human.
  • Halloween candy sales average about 2 billion dollars annually in the United States.
  • Halloween is the 2nd most commercially successful holiday, with Christmas being the first.
  • Bobbing for apples is thought to have originated from the roman harvest festival that honors Pamona, the goddess of fruit trees.
  • Black cats were once believed to be witch's familiars who protected their powers.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Wedding Daze

Last weekend, we flew to St. Louis for my boyfriend's cousin's wedding. Tomorrow, we're driving down to Florida for, get this, two weddings in one weekend! That's right, folks. Although we've averaged about six to eight weddings annually for the past few years, this will be a first: I've never experienced back-to-back weddings in one weekend. And while I'm excited to celebrate the nuptials of so many close friends, I'm not gonna lie...it's hard to fit into that little black dress when you're always on the road, attending weddings with high-calorie fare. Fortunately, I've learned that it is possible to  travel without derailing a healthy fitness regiment.
On the road or headed to a wedding soon? Here are a few of my tips to help you avoid coming home with unwanted extra baggage. 
  • Plan ahead. Before leaving town, find out what type of workout facilities your accommodations will have or if there is a nearby park of jogging track. Bring workout clothes to help ensure you'll get off the couch. If there's no workout facility in sight, bring an exercise DVD to play or do 20 minutes of yoga, abs or weights from the comfort of your hotel room.
  • Don't deprive yourself. You can enjoy some higher-calorie fare or wedding cake without going overboard. Ask the restaurants to prepare your favorite dishes with a few lower fat ingredients.
  • Prepare snacks. If your journey includes a lot of time in the car, be sure to pack some healthy snacks so you aren't forced to eat at all the fast food and convenience shops along the way. For example, I'm bringing sucralose-sweetened yogurt, diet soda, celery, carrots, hummus, grapes and apples to snack on during the trip.
  • Don't show up hungry. Try to eat a healthy, well-balanced meal - or even a light snack - before chowing down on higher-fat foods to help curb the appetite.
  • Drink in moderation. For every beer you have, drink a glass of water since alcohol tends to dehydrate you. Also, if you're truly worried about the carbs or calories in your cocktail, drink light beer or vodka with diet soda. On average, you'll save about 35 calories per beer bottle switching to the lighter version. 
  •  If the wedding reception features a buffet, try to put only two to three items on the plate at a time, rather than piling it on. Also, avoid the trimmings such as gravy, whipped cream, nuts, butter and cheese. Tasty as it is, it's high in calories. 
So wish me luck! Hopefully I can dance all the calories off. On a more entertaining note, here are few clips of some of my favorite wedding scenes from movies. Enjoy!







    Monday, October 10, 2011

    Food for Thought

    Like trends and statistics? Well, here's a few to chew on.
    • Americans are skipping fewer meals than ever before.
    • Sodium may be declining as a health concern, as the percentage of Americans consuming a "low or reduced-salt or sodium" product held steady for the fourth consecutive year at 34 percent. 
    • More U.S. consumers (approximately 54 percent) are taking vitamins, mineral supplements or dietary aids on a daily basis than ever before.
    • Pizza, breakfast sandwiches, salty snacks, ice tea and burritos topped the list of items people ate more of last year than ever before.
    • On the flip side, Americans also ate more fruit, hot cereal and yogurt than in previous years.

    These fun facts all come courtesy of the NPD Group's soon-to-be released 26th Annual Report on Eating Patterns in America. There's a lot of, pardon the pun, food for thought packed into that report, so I'm looking forward to reading the full version. Obviously, the current leaked stats appear to be a mixed bag, with Americans favoring high-fat fare, while also reaching for more fruit and yogurt. Just remember, there are light versions of all your full-calorie favorites. Next time you want a slice of pie, try one of Hungry Girl's recipe variations. Instead of sweet tea, which is hugely popular down in these parts, try this sucralose-sweetened Pomegranate Iced Tea courtesy of Splenda.com. With a few simple substitutions, you can enjoy all your favorite dishes without the calorie-related guilt. I'll be writing more about the report when it's released. Until then, enjoy a few more low-cal recipes.

    Greek Yogurt Cereal Parfait 
    Spiced Pear Oatmeal
    BLT B-fast Burrito