Halloween festivities have begun and thus the unofficial start to the “how the heck am I supposed to make healthy choices when I’m surrounded by all these sweets for three whole months” season. I must admit this is a challenging season for me as well. All of my favorite foods are sure to be in attendance: pumpkin pie, Christmas cookies, cranberry sauce, Brach’s Mellowcreme pumpkins, Peppermint Patties…I could go on but I think you get the idea.

Every year we are confronted with the challenge of how to enjoy our favorite holiday foods without turning into a pumpkin ourselves. Halloween is especially hard, what with all the little bite-sized candies floating around the office or your children’s trick-or-treat bag, not to mention how they seem to stock the shelves at every store you set foot in. And don’t even get me started on the day AFTER Halloween when that hoard of leftover candy goes on sale for the cheapest prices imaginable! Who can resist? Anyway, they’re so small and cute, how bad can they really be?

Sucrose (table sugar) requires the body to deplete its own stores of enzymes and minerals in order to be processed; instead of providing the body with nutrition, it creates a deficiency. Processed foods, essentially anything that comes in a wrapper or package, are the most common sources of sucrose. These foods are made up of short chains of carbohydrates, which are absorbed by the body almost immediately after being ingested, causing a sugar rush. The body sees this sudden surge in blood sugar as an emergency state so it works like mad to burn it up as quickly as possible, leading to a sugar crash. After we’ve experienced this sudden crash we decide that we need something to boost our energy back up again, so we reach for another piece of candy and the whole cycle begins again. This leads to an addictive relationship with sugar where we are constantly on the hunt for more because no matter how much we consume it just never seems to satisfy us.

Another great option is to enjoy homemade seasonal treats rather than processed chunks of sugar made in a factory. This is the perfect season for pumpkin-centered delicacies, which is great for us since pumpkins are packed with tons of health benefits. They contain beta-carotene, essential for eye health; provide 50% of our daily value of vitamin K (thought to reduce the risk of some cancers); and one cup of canned pumpkin has seven grams of fiber, three grams of protein, 80 calories and no fat. So instead of eating the same boring treats every year, lets move beyond the Snickers bars and indulge in something naturally sweet and delicious that was made with love! Try the recipe below for a taste of Fall that will make you forget all about that 2lb bag of candy corn at CVS for 99 cents.

Pumpkin Pie Parfait (courtesy of Greatist)

  • 1/4 cup plain pumpkin puree (fresh or canned)
  • 1/2 large frozen banana
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups almond milk (great for flavor and thickness!)
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Optional Toppings: Crumbled graham crackers, Peanut butter or sunflower seed butter,

 What to Do:

  • Mix all ingredients in a blender, adding the almond milk as you go until reaching the desired consistency.
  • Pour into glass and top with desired toppings!

Written by our own Ashleigh Gurtler