Tag Archives: holidays

Halloween Candy: Eat This, Not That!

If you’re like most parents, you can’t resist raiding your child’s trick-or-treat bag on Halloween night. Or maybe you’re not a parent but can’t fight the urge to eat those Fun-size candy bars you are giving out on Halloween.

Either way, all that Halloween candy can be really tempting. You can indulge and not completely derail your healthy eating habits by choosing your treats wisely and keeping portions to a minimum. In other words, don’t eat a whole bag of Fun-size Twix bars in one sitting! Leave most of the candy to the little ghosts and goblins after you satisfy your sweet tooth with one of these small treats.

Eat this: Fun-size Kit Kat bar
Not that: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup

While both candy bars are high in sugar and calories, that snack-size Kit Kat has 3 grams of fat and 7 grams of sugar compared to a Reese’s peanut butter cup that clocks in at 10.5 grams of fat and 6.5 grams of sugar. And who can eat just one?

Eat this: Dark Chocolate
Not that: Milk Chocolate

Dark chocolate contains antioxidants and has less sugar than regular milk chocolate candy bars. Keep portions small though and stick with fun-size options.

Eat this: Sweet Tarts
Not that: Skittles

If hard candy is your weakness, you’re better off choosing Sweet Tarts rather than Skittles candies. Sweet Tarts have 2.4 grams of sugar per min-bag while Skittles have a whopping 14.5 grams of sugar per mini-bag.

Eat this: Smarties
Not that: Fun-size chocolate bar

Smarties have only 5 grams of sugar and no fat, while most fun-size chocolate bars contain 7 grams of sugar or more, and 3 grams or more of fat per bar.

Eat this: Jelly Belly jelly beans
Not that: M&Ms

Jelly Bellies have only 35 calories per serving and no fat, but M&Ms (all varieties) are loaded with both fat and sugar.

What to Do With Leftover Pumpkin Guts?

It’s almost Halloween and chances are, you’re getting ready to carve a Jack O’lantern. If you’re planning on some pumpkin carving fun with your family, don’t just throw out those pumpkin insides. There are lots of easy recipes you can make that put those pumpkin parts to good use.

Plus, pumpkins are one of the most nutritious fruits around—they’re packed with antioxidants, fiber, potassium, and Vitamin C. And don’t forget about the seeds! Pumpkin seeds contain antioxidants, magnesium, zinc, and fatty acids and make a great fall snack.

Roast pumpkin seeds

Roasting pumpkin seeds is really easy and can be fun for kids too. You can eat them alone as a snack or mix them with other nuts and dried fruit for a healthy, seasonal trail mix. Just put them on a nonstick pan (in one layer), and sprinkle a little salt or other seasonings for taste,  and then roast them in the oven at 300 degrees for 45 minutes.

Make pumpkin soup

Pumpkin soup makes a great seasonal meal as the weather gets colder. Use those leftover pumpkin insides to make this creamy pumpkin soup recipe.

https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/9191/pumpkin-soup/

Bake a loaf of pumpkin bread or muffins

Separate the seeds from the pumpkin flesh, and use the flesh to make a puree for pumpkin bread or muffins. Follow this recipe to make delicious pumpkin bread or divide into a muffin pan to make pumpkin muffins.

https://eatingrichly.com/how-to-cook-a-whole-pumpkin-and-recipe-for-pumpkin-gut-bread/

Make pumpkin juice

As you are cleaning out your pumpkin to carve, place the stringy bits and seeds into a large bowl, and soak in hot water to help soften. Mash up these pieces, and then strain so you are left with a bright orange juice. Use the pumpkin juice in smoothies or sauces.

 

Diversity in the Workplace: Honoring Ramadan

This week marks the beginning of Ramadan, the holiest Muslim month. During the ninth month in the Muslim lunar calendar, observant Muslims all over the world commemorate the revelation of the Quran to Muhammed by both feasting as fasting. Islam is the world’s second-largest religion; what do HR departments and employees need to know about this important holiday?

Diversity in the Workplace - Ramadan

Even during the rest of the year, observant Muslims eat only foods that are halal. Like kosher foods, halal (lawful) rules of Islam prohibit pork, as well as “carnivorous animals, birds of prey, animals without external ears (some birds and reptiles), blood, alcohol, and foods contaminated with any of these.” According to Today’s Dietician, processed food containing ingredients like gelatin, emulsifiers, and enzymes may be unlawful for some Muslim consumers, so providing nutrition information is especially important.

The timing changes every year. Ramadan goes by a lunar calendar instead of the Gregorian calendar that is most widely used in secular society. The holiday starts the day after the new moon of the ninth month, and ends with the new moon of the tenth month. In 2018, Ramadan starts on May 15. In 2019, it will start on May 5. To be culturally sensitive to this changing holiday, it’s a good idea to keep track of when it will fall each year.

Observant Muslims fast during the day during the whole month of Ramadan. Before dawn, Muslims eat a meal called suhoor, and they break their fast after dusk with a meal called iftar. Be aware, if any colleagues or employees are observing Ramadan, that it would be insensitive to offer them lunch or snacks during the day.

Iftar is often a social meal. While specific food customs differ around the globe, iftar often involves a gathering in the home or a location central to the community. Want to try some Ramadan treats? The Kitchn suggests the following tasty treats from around the world:

  • Dahi vadey: Lentil dumplings that are soaked in a spicy yogurt sauce (India)
  • Haleem: A slow-cooked stew of meat, bulgur wheat, and lentils (Middle East, India, Pakistan, and Central Asia)
  • Chicken 65: Spicy, bite-sized pieces of chicken that are marinated and deep-fried (India)
  • Ramazan Kebabi: A dish made with lamb, onions, yogurt, and pita bread (Turkey)
  • Ful medammes: Fava beans cooked with garlic and spread on bread (North Africa)
  • Paomo: A bread and mutton soup (China)
  • Chapatis: Unleavened flatbread that is rolled up with vegetables and meats (India and Pakistan)
  • Fattoush: A salad made of vegetables and pita bread (Lebanon and Arab countries)
  • Konafah: A pastry made with phyllo dough and cheese (Middle East)
  • Kolak: A fruit dessert made with palm sugar, coconut milk, and pandanus leaf. Fruits, such as jackfruit or banana, or mung beans are added (Indonesia).

In our increasingly globalized world, it’s more important than ever to be respectful of all traditions, and USConnect is glad to help.

Are You Ready for a Holiday Fitness Challenge?

Commit to a short daily fitness routine to help you stay healthier this holiday season.

Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, an endless succession of family dinners, office parties, and edible gifts can derail even the healthiest eaters. Combined with the colder weather, ‘tis the season to pack on the pounds like a Christmas goose.

Holiday Fitness Challenge

To counteract the seasonal splurges, why not try an office exercise challenge? For yourself or for a group of colleagues, these workplace exercises can be a fun way to keep fit.

Day One: Stairs

Once an hour, run up and down a flight of stairs at least once. Advanced/ambitious team members can do several flights each hour.

Day Two: Desk Pushups

Every two hours, stand up and place hands on desk, about shoulder-distance apart. With your arms straight, walk your feet backwards until your body is at a 45-degree angle to the floor. Keeping your body straight, do 10 pushups.

Day Three: Superman/Banana

For core strength, you have to hit the floor, so you may want to bring a towel. First, lie face-down on the floor, with your arms above your head, pointing straight in front of you. Then lift your arms and legs a few inches off the floor; you’re Superman! Hold for 30 seconds, then rest. Flip onto your back, with your arms extended over your head. Carefully, making sure your lower back doesn’t arch; lift your arms and legs so that your body forms a wide V. You’re a banana! Hold for 30 seconds, then rest. Do three times during the day, and try to lengthen the time you hold each pose.

Day Four: Walking Challenge

This one works best if you’re doing a fitness challenge with a group. Once an hour, write a note—an encouraging quote, or a joke, or a bit of good-natured gossip—to a colleague. Walk to that person’s office in the most roundabout way possible.

Day Five: Wall Sits

Standing around waiting for the coffee to brew? Sit instead… against the wall. Wall sits work your legs and core, and they’re harder than they look. Stand straight, with your back against the wall. Slowly slide your back down the wall, bending your knees until they are at a 90-degree angle. Now hold it for as long as you can. For fun, get other colleagues to join you, and see who can hold it the longest. Get someone to take a picture; there’s your company photo! The company that stays fit together stays together!

What Are the Best and Worst Holiday Drinks?

The holidays are here, and with them the usual raft of parties and get-togethers, along with a slew of holiday-themed hot and cold drinks. From your morning coffee to your evening cocktail, here’s how the most common holiday drinks stack up.

Coffee Drinks

The Worst: When you want to really indulge, try Caribou Coffee’s Campfire Mocha, with a Best and Worst Holiday Drinkswhopping 640 calories, 34 grams of fat, 21 grams of saturated fat, and 67grams of sugar (about 17 teaspoons). That exceeds the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for both fat and sugar in just one morning drink!

Better: Craving that sweet combination of milk, sugar, coffee, and seasonal flavors? Try Starbucks’ Gingerbread Latte with Nonfat Milk (Grande). By downgrading from 2% milk to skim, this treat clocks in at 270 calories, seven grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, and 37 grams of sugar. And that even includes whipped cream!

Best: Save some money and be healthier by making your own fancy coffee drinks. Start with delicious Route 66 coffees and add flavored syrups and skim milk; your wallet and waistline will both thank you!

Cocktails

The Worst: Nothing says “Christmas Party” quite like eggnog. And no cocktail is as laden with fat as this scrumptious dessert-like drink, which is made with egg, sugar, and cream.

Better: Shape Magazine offers this recipe as a way to enjoy the taste of eggnog for just 194 calories and 11.5 grams of sugar:

Ingredients:

1 oz. bourbon
1oz. spiced rum
1 tbsp. maple syrup
2 oz. whole milk
4 oz. eggnog seltzer
1 tbsp. ground nutmeg for garnish

Directions:

Combine all ingredients, except the seltzer, in a blender and process until foamy and aerated (you can always froth by hand in cocktail shaker with vigorous shaking). Add crushed ice and swirl to chill. Strain into a large wine goblet and top with seltzer. Garnish with a grating of nutmeg.

Best: Try a holidaytini, a martini-style drink that combines vodka, cranberry juice, grenadine, orange juice, and lemon or lime juice. Or to take off the chill, add a splash of rum to your hot brewed tea with lemon to enjoy a hot toddy.

3 Healthy Holiday Gift Ideas for the Office

Holiday office gifts—whether a novelty mug of candy for a cubicle-mate or a lavish corporate gift basket—tend to rely heavily on unhealthy holiday treats. Chocolate kisses, homemade baked goods, smoked sausage: these delicious gifts can derail even the most determined healthy eater.

Healthy holiday gift ideas for the office

While most people enjoy a gourmet goodie once in a while, the holiday season tends to see an excess of unhealthy food. When giving office gifts this year, why not help colleagues stay healthy with these gift ideas?

  1. DIY Healthy Treats: Why fill that “I Hate Mondays” coffee mug with chocolate candies when you can create your own healthy trail mix? Mix nuts, legumes, seeds, dried fruit, and even a few treats like chocolate chips to create a high-energy, low- sugar snack.
  1. Healthy Baked Goods: You don’t have to give up baking for your friends and colleagues just to help them stay healthy. Healthy recipes abound—filled with suggestions to reduce fat and sugar and increase fiber and protein in baked goods. Check out these websites to get you started:

The Food Network’s Healthy Holiday Desserts: http://www.foodnetwork.com/healthy/photos/healthy-holiday-baking.html

Greatist’s 47 Healthy(ish) Holiday Cookie Recipes You’ll Want to Hide From Santa: http://greatist.com/health/healthier-holiday-cookies

Cookie and Kate’s Baked Goods Recipes: http://cookieandkate.com/category/food-recipes/baked-goods/

Amy’s Healthy Baking: http://amyshealthybaking.com/

  1. Healthy Gift Baskets: For clients and other corporate associates, edible holiday gift baskets are almost expected. But why not break the mold this year with a healthier gift basket? If you have the time and manpower, you can create your own baskets using healthy goods like gourmet cooking oils, nuts, grains, and even some dark chocolate. There are also many companies that specialize in healthy gift baskets. Here are just a few:

It’s Only Natural Gifts: http://www.itsonlynaturalgifts.com/

The Healthy Basket: http://www.thehealthybasket.com/corporate.shtml

Olive and Cocoa: https://www.oliveandcocoa.com/category/healthful-food-gifts

 

 

 

Holiday Leftovers: a Recipe Roundup

By the third day after Thanksgiving, everyone is sick of turkey sandwiches. With more holidays in front of us, we need some fresh ideas on what to do with our leftover holiday food. We’ve scoured the latest recipes to bring you this roundup of the most delicious things to do with that turkey and fixings.

Need some inspiration for those holiday leftovers?

  1. Lighten Up: A twist on traditional tacos, this healthy recipe for turkey tacos uses iceberg lettuce leaves instead of tortillas as a wrap for turkey, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and a savory black bean salsa. Finish with red onion and cilantro for brightness, and you’ve got the perfect recipe to eat turkey without the food coma.
  2. Take Stock: Do not throw out that turkey carcass! Throw it into a pot with some carrots, celery, and onion. Pour water and/or chicken broth over the bones and vegetables and let simmer for at least four hours (eight is preferable). Strain the bones from the top, and you’ve got a rich, healthy stock that you can use for soups and sauces or freeze for future use.
  3. Greek System: You know that turkey stock you just made? Use it to make this delicious Avgolemono: a creamy Greek soup with turkey, lemon, and rice. It’s light, too; the creaminess comes from eggs, not cream. It’s easy to make, and much more elegant than regular turkey noodle soup.
  4. Spice It Up: You can use that same rich turkey stock to make another light and flavorful soup: Turkey Caldo Tlalpeño, named for the area near Mexico City. This recipe includes healthy chickpeas and uses chipotle chiles in adobo sauce to get its unique flavor.
  5. Stellar Stuffing: We’ve given you four healthy recipes; now here’s a decadent one. Turn your leftover stuffing into fried stuffing bites, and use your leftover cranberry sauce as a dip. Stuffing is formed into cubes, dredged in egg and breadcrumbs, and fried on the stove: not healthy, but delicious!