Halloween is one of the most anticipated holidays of the year for many children and even some adults. Attending parties, collecting candy door to door, and indulging in sugary treats is all part of the fun. Boosting the nutritional content of Halloween treats can still make the occasion fun without the risk of cavities, obesity, and chronic conditions like diabetes. Re-think your Halloween menu for a unique way to celebrate.
Throwing a Halloween party is an ideal way to keep your children safe, get to know your kids’ friends, and control the amount of sugar that your little monsters consume. That’s not to say you can’t offer up a bowl of candy or frost some cupcakes. Serve these sweets in moderation, along side a cornucopia of healthy snacks, such as fruits, veggie trays, and air-popped popcorn. Other healthy homemade Halloween treats include:
- Peeled grape eyeballs: Kids will get a kick out of these squishy morsels
- Whole-grain spaghetti intestines: Put a spooky spin on an everyday meal. You can also cook your pasta to an extra sticky consistency and cut slices of spaghetti brain.
- Spider web pizza: Have your guests make their own with English muffins or whole wheat tortillas, tomato sauce, low-fat cheese and strips of red or green pepper.
- Apple jack o’ lanterns: Let tweens carve faces on the sides of whole apples. Younger children may require assistance with sharp knives.
- Mummy dogs: Wrap turkey hot dogs with canned bread dough and bake until golden brown.
- Pretzel ghosts: Dip the upper half of a thick pretzel rod into melted white chocolate and decorate with edible markers
- Witches’ brew: Combine 100 percent fruit juice with seltzer water. Serve with a gummy worm wrapped around the straw.
Trick or treaters arriving at your door have most likely been instructed to accept only pre-packaged treats. Although candy is standard fare for most neighborhoods, putting a healthier twist on Halloween doesn’t have to lead to the toilet papering of your house! Many healthy snacks, the same treats you might tuck into your child’s lunchbox, can do double duty on this special night. Individually wrapped packages of dried fruit, pretzels, sugar-free gum, cheese sticks, juice boxes, or snack crackers are low-fat, low-calorie, and lower-sugar alternatives to the typical treats your child hauls home by the bucket load each October. These snacks can provide pint-sized ghosts and goblins with a variety of nutrients, including fiber, protein, calcium, and vitamin C. Non-edible options to hand out to children can include stickers, fall-themed pencils, and temporary tattoos.
To reduce the temptation to snack on Halloween candy during trick or treating, the University of Illinois suggests offering your children a selection of healthy foods before they head out into the neighborhood. Children who are excited about the holiday may not have the patience to sit down for a full meal. Instead, substitute sliced fruit, low-fat cheese, lean lunchmeats, or fat-free yogurt–protein-rich snacks that will provide them with sustenance throughout the night. In the days after Halloween, set limits for your children regarding the amount of candy they can consume every day. Make sure they eat fruit, vegetables, and whole grains before the treats.