Almost every year since we've been together, Steve and I have hosted a Halloween party at our house.
I love hostessing Halloween parties because it's so fun to decorate for, dress up for - and, of course - make TREATS for! It's also one of those really social holidays that, like the fourth of July or Labor Day, you want to invite friends, neighbors, coworkers, and all. A perfect occasion for a big shindig!
I'm especially excited because I am now done preparing for my bikini competition, and this means two awesome things: 1. I can eat/drink the party-fare. 2. I'll look better in my costume than I would have if I hadn't done the competition. Heck yeah! Party weekend, I am ready for you!
Still, what it does NOT mean is that I have been or will be going hog-wild on all the tasty treats I can lay my hands on! Nope. On the contrary, I haven't even eaten a single iota of candy! (Okay, with the exception of a few Atkins low-carb chocolate almonds and some fancy little protein bars from the Europa Expo... they sure taste like candy!)
Since last weekend I've been slowly incorporating foods back that I eliminated during the last few weeks of bikini prep. Fruits like berries are back, as well as small amounts of whole grains and sweet potatoes have all returned. They come in particularly handy surrounding workouts, when I feel they will be put to best use, especially important for a body that has had to get used to not having them for a while.
Speaking of workouts - I've taught 4 classes and done 3 of my own serious training sessions already! It feels super good to get back to the gym after a long weekend off, doesn't it?
I just knew if I didn't get right back on the saddle, laziness would become a great big scaly purple monster with fangs that destroyed everything - sorry... Halloween-themed images are on the brain - but, I mean, I couldn't let that happen, you know? So, not only did I get back to the gym, I hit a few new PRs! 10 pull-ups in a row, 37.5 lb free-weight chest presses, and 270 lb (6 plates!) on the decline leg press! Well... It's a proud moment for little me, kay? I still remember when 5 pound bicep curls felt heavy!
Anyway, Halloween is tomorrow, and I have my party the next night - sooo I have a great big workout planned for tomorrow morning - and then... cleaning and lots of baking to do!!
If you're like me, and you want to make up a bunch of stuff REALLY quick because, duh, you're a busy person, these recipes are for you! A few minutes of prep per recipe + they can each make a lot! Besides, they aren't just your typical cookies and cupcakes.
Now, please, go out and have yourself a monster mash!
Cherry Bomb Gummy Shots
These ridiculously easy sugar-free/ carb-free gummies are just like the original recipe I shared before, but with a twist! You can make party shots by replacing half the liquid with any alcohol. (I'd go with a flavored vodka, though!) You can also play with the recipe by subbing out different ingredients! (Margarita shots, anyone?)
4 packets cherry-flavored sugar-free gelatin
4 packets unflavored gelatin
1/2 c. cold water OR cold berry flavored, sugar-free electrolyte/vitamin-enhanced sports drink
1/2 c. cherry vodka (or plain vodka!)
Prepare gelatin in the same way as you normally would, reserving the vodka - add that after dissolving the gelatin. Then pop the whole thing back in the freezer for another 5-10 minutes, but just long enough to set. Store finished gummies in a container in the fridge.
No-Hangover Halloween Gummies
Non-alcoholic gummy shots with benefits! Electrolyte and vitamin-enhanced to spare you and your friends a little headache later. (Pssst - still gotta be responsible though!)
Just like all the other gummies I make, these are just ideas you can make your own - but let me tell you one thing: grape and orange flavor is not a yummy combination! (Yes, for the sake of Halloween colors, I tried it.) Instead, strawberry and orange are a rather delicious pair, and I simply add a little food coloring to make the strawberry half purple!
2 packets Orange flavored gelatin
2 packets Strawberry flavored sugar-free gelatin
4 packets unflavored gelatin, divided
3 drops blue food coloring
2 drops red food coloring
1/2 c. cold orange flavored, sugar-free electrolyte/vitamin-enhanced sports drink
1/2 c. cold berry flavored, sugar-free electrolyte/vitamin-enhanced sports drink
3 packets orange and strawberry flavored, sugar-free electrolyte/vitamin-enhanced powdered drink mix
Add the food coloring to the strawberry gelatin half of the recipe.
Prepare gelatin in the same way as you normally would, but be sure to let the first layer set completely before adding the next layer, or it will all mix together! The electrolyte packs should be added after melting the gelatin. Then pop the whole thing back in the freezer for another 5-10 minutes, but just long enough to set. Store finished gummies in a container in the fridge.
Shotgun Wedding Caramel Apples
This recipe's dramatic name comes from the fact that the caramel and the apple get together in just seconds, look great as a couple for a moment, and then it's over. (ie., they get eaten.)
Plus, the whole glamorous caramel-apple affair is made super low-commitment in this case - for the chef as well as the eater! So not a candy-thermometer or whole-apple affair.
2 cups full of caramel squares (about 52 squares - I use extra, expecting some of this to be stuck to things other than the apples by the end!)
1 T. lemon juice
4 extra-large Granny-Smith apples (to make about 16 slices each)
Sprinkles to match the occasion
Kabob skewers (optional)
Slice the apples into 1/4" slices - not too big, but not so thin that they will break if you skewer one!
Line a large baking sheet with wax paper and shake a good amount of sprinkles onto it.
In a medium double-boiler (metal bowl over about an inch of simmering water in a pot), melt the caramel with the lemon juice, stirring slowly to melt evenly.
Turn the heat under the pot of water down to low and leave the caramel in the bowl on top.
For the apple-kabobs, put 4-5 slices of apples, turned different directions, on the end.
Use a knife or spoon to drizzle the apples with warm caramel. Immediately roll the kabobs lightly on the sprinkles. You can also shake more onto the kabobs by hand. As you finish each kabob, place on the wax paper to cool.
I like to use the remaining caramel, when there is only enough to scoop but not really enough to drizzle, to make a few single caramel apple slices. Take the caramel off the heat and just scoop a little onto one slice. Use your fingers to wrap the caramel around the apple, and gently press some sprinkles into the sides. Allow these to cool on the wax paper.
These can be made ahead and put under plastic wrap in the fridge a day ahead - this kind of apple doesn't brown quickly! Just don't let them stick together!
Makes about 64 apple slices or 12 skewers
Nutrition per skewer: 141 calories; 1.6 g fat (0.8 g saturated); 30 g carbs; 1 g protein (Bonus: 8% DV calcium)
I made this granola to share with a couple of the classes I teach (Bodyworks and Cycling at LA Fitness) this week, and divided each batch into about 25 single-serving bags. I thought this would be a more healthy + delicious way to treat my fitness-minded students! I mean, who would like me if I gave them candy, and right after a fitness class?
5 c. rolled oats (gluten-free certified if necessary)
1/4 c. flaxseed meal
2 T. chia seeds (ground or whole)
1/2 c. raw small pumpkin seeds - like the little green kind you can find at the grocery store!
1/2 c. pumpkin puree
1/4 c. maple syrup
1/4 c. reduced-sugar agave or maple syrup
3 T. canola oil
4 T. cinnamon
1 T. allspice
1 T. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg (or about 1/8 tsp. freshly grated)
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place a rack in the middle of the oven.
Lightly spray two large baking sheets with oil.
Mix all dry ingredients together, then add in remaining ingredients. Mix all the ingredients well until thoroughly combined - I like to use my stand mixer, but a rubber spatula will do the trick with a little elbow grease!
Evenly spread the mixture across the two pans and press down to flatten with a wide pancake-flipper type spatula. This will help form the granola clusters we want!
Bake about 10 minutes on the center rack. Remove from the oven, use the flipper to toss the granola (to keep one side from getting too dark) and pack it all down again.
Bake another 10 minutes or so, until the granola is brown and just starting to get crispy (but not overly dark!)
Place on a wire rack away from the heat to cool - WITHOUT tossing this time. The granola needs to cool completely before you turn it into clusters or it will look more like cookie crumbs than granola.
After it is completely cool to the touch, break up the granola gently with a spatula and transfer into containers. If the granola still seems a little warm at all, leave the containers open or let the crumbled granola cool more on the pan. The heat will cause moisture to collect in a closed container... And nobody wants un-crunchy granola!
My favorite way to eat this is served at room temperature on top of parfaits (try Greek yogurt mixed with protein powder, like Optimum Nutrition's seasonal Pumpkin Whey Protein!) or as a topping for an apple crumble or other dessert!
Makes 25 servings (about 1/3 c. each)
Nutrition per serving: 113 calories; 4.5 g fat (1 g saturated); 14.5 g carbs; 2.5 g. fiber (for 12 g net carbs); 3.7 g protein (Bonus: 7% DV iron)