Instead of Sweets, Try…

Hello Readers!  I am eager to touch on this topic, especially as the holidays are nearly upon us and we are likely going to receive boxes of chocolates, tins of popcorn, and baskets of cookies very soon.  This is the time of year that many people begin to battle with the bulge and break those summertime resolutions to stay in shape.  But, there are options out there to help curb the sweets!

So to get started, let’s think about how we influence one another to gain excess weight or to eat unhealthy through the holidays.  Let’s face it: many of us are guilty of buying chocolates, popcorn tins, and cookie tins or baskets for friends and coworkers.  Often we pick these novelty baskets of treats off the shelves and never give it a second thought except to check off a name from our list of gift recipients.  And often, we receive these same gifts from coworkers and friends.  While most of us may enjoy these items, most often they just take up space in our already cluttered and crowded house, especially during the holidays.

Instead, send a different kind of message by gifting something healthier or much more appreciated that will still cost the same.  I highly recommend picking up some seasonal fruit or nuts for gifts.  A bag of oranges, on sale due to seasonal availability, can cost as little as a dollar a pound, and even less in some instances.  And during the holidays, a bag of mixed nuts in the shell can cost about $1.50.  If you save those baskets from all the novelty gifts you receive, you can simply line the bottom with newspaper, arrange the oranges in the basket, and sprinkle the nuts to cover the rest.  Add a cellophane bag and ribbon, which can be purchased at the dollar store, and you have a fantastic and healthy gift for less than ten dollars for almost anyone.  And, best of all, it’ll be so unique from the basket of factory-packed novelty sets that your recipients will appreciate the time you took to put the basket together for them.  You can also use apples, pears, or pomegranates, although apples and pears are likely to reach the end of their season in mid November and may not be as fresh around the holidays.  However, they are likely to be appreciated nonetheless.

As for receiving these items yourself, there are a few things you can do with them rather than eating unnecessary calories and junk food.  To start with, let’s talk about some of the candy novelty sets.  Often, you will see s’mores kits with Hershey’s bars and a small bag of marshmallows and graham crackers.  Instead of eating any of the items or making s’mores with them, separate the items and keep them with your baking supplies.  The marshmallows can be used in a sweet potato casserole or in other similar holiday recipes; the grahams can be broken down for a graham crust for pies; the chocolate can be used to sub for chips in cookies or for other chocolate needs.  My only warning is this: the chocolate doesn’t contain paraffin like chocolate chips and is less likely to hold its shape during the baking process.  Just be sure to break it down with a sharp chef’s knife to ensure proper cooking and less mess if you bake it.  Or you can shave the chocolate for the top of a tiramisu cake.  Or you can use the squares in your gingerbread houses.

With other candies, such as the life savers rolls or jolly ranchers, these can also be used in your baking with stained glass cookies.  Cocoa mixes can sometimes be used in baking recipes, although I would check the recipe carefully to ensure that it uses “hot chocolate/hot cocoa mix” and not just cocoa as cocoa tends to be unsweetened.  And these treats made using novelty gifts can be taken to work to be enjoyed by your coworkers and colleagues rather than enticing your own family to partake in the excess calories.

Now let’s talk about the cookie tins.  I love those little Dutch shortbread cookies that you can always find in tins around Christmastime.  I used to see them at my grandparent’s home every Christmas, but sadly I have never received one myself.  With these, I highly recommend taking the cookies out and storing them in the freezer in bags as soon as you get the tin.  Then, throughout the year, just pull out a cookie or two per family member to enjoy every once in awhile versus eating the entire tin at once.  If you store them in sets based on the number of family members (such as four per bag for a family of four, three per bag for a family of three, etc.), then you can easily just grab one bag and open it up rather than pulling the entire bag out.  And save the bags together (I recommend storing the used bags in the freezer with the rest of the cookies) for the next year’s batch of cookies.

If you don’t want to clog up your freezer with the cookies, you can always use them to make a shortbread cookie crust for a pie much like you would use grahams for a pie.  Or you can choose to take them to work to share with colleagues and coworkers.  In any of these instances, there is always a way to prevent your family from eating too many sweets on their own.

Lastly, I want to talk about the popcorn tins.  You know these.  You probably dread them coming into your household.  But you don’t have to!  These are actually perfect for decorating your tree.  Instead of buying a garland or popping any bags of popcorn to make a popcorn garland, use the popcorn in these tins.  You can even alternate the colors with the different kinds of popcorn.  Just remember that children need to be supervised when doing this since you will most likely need to use a wool sewing needle, and keep in mind that the caramel popcorn will require a little extra pressure due to the coating.  But, best of all, you can toss the rest of the popcorn if you like or you can eat it.  And, at the end of the holiday season, just toss the popcorn garland or hang it outside for the birds to eat.  Your family will avoid eating the extra calories and fat from the popcorn by doing this.

But the most important tip I can offer is to keep fresh fruit, unsalted nuts or ones still in the shell, and healthy trail mix close at hand for your family.  And, when your kids ask for a treat, reach for the healthy snacks first.  Offer them a deal to finish the healthy snack first and then they can have some of the unhealthy ones.  This will help prevent them from filling up on sweets and treats during the holidays.  Just remember to keep those sweets out of reach.  And be sure to let them enjoy the sweets, even if just a little.  Maybe you can each have a chocolate or caramel or cookie after dinner as a special treat during the holidays.

So Readers, I hope that this will help you find new ways to find places for those unwanted sweets that seem to always be within reach during the holidays.

Until next time,

-BBM

P.S.> I wanted to spend just a quick moment covering some news for my blog again.  I have already scheduled out my posts for the coming year of 2017, and I will be making changes to my schedule starting on Monday, January 2, 2017.  The changes are as follows:

Mondays: Parenting (This will stay the same and will focus on topics pertaining to parenting such as family-related activity ideas, parenting issues, and the like).
Tuesdays: Money Matters (This will stay the same and will focus on expenses, finances, and budgeting)
Wednesdays: Self Health (This will be a merging of “Self Awareness” which currently is posted on Wednesdays and “Health & Wellness” which is currently posted on Thursdays; this will focus on self awareness, mental health, physical health, and the like)Thursdays: Household  (This is currently the topic for Fridays and will move to Thursdays; this will still focus on topics pertaining to household decor and management)
Fridays: In this House… (This is a new area that will focus on my own home’s weekly events and happenings.  Each Friday, I will reflect and review over our week, detailing what has happened within my own home and family).

I am hoping that this new schedule will be just as effective as the currently system has been.  I just felt that I was somewhat disconnected from the material and I thought adding in a weekly post about my own family and home will bring me closer to the readers.  And I have felt that my Self Awareness and Health & Wellness topics were getting redundant.  I think combining them and expanding to include all self health topics and issues will bridge that gap.  And I have found a more cohesive schedule and plan for my future topics that I will reveal at a later date.  For now, please continue to read and enjoy my posts and let me know what you think of this change.

-BBM

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