pumpkins 2As Halloween approaches this Saturday, we are faced with a bit of a challenge!  The kids are out of school, so they are home all day waiting to go trick or treating.   Or maybe you are thinking of hosting a party to entertain young kids and the young at heart.  If you’re not careful, it could be a day of unhealthy eating because so much is promoted to us to eat ghostly treats.     

 By focusing on the FUN of the holiday and not just the food, we CAN serve healthy treats that won’t create the sugar over load, and kids will not even know what they are missing.

Start with fun, healthy meals

As always, start your day with a hearty breakfast.    

  • Try pancakes  or waffles topped with seasonal  fruits  such as  apples or pears: simply sauté the sliced  fruit  in  light vegetable  oil  (only 2 tablespoons needed)  until soft  and  flavor with cinnamon or nutmeg .  No sugar needed.   
  • Pancakes with pumpkin are also another seasonal treat.   Most recipes call for ¼ cup of plain canned pumpkin added to your recipe.     
  • You can also try Gobbling good rice pudding http://www.whymilk.com/recipe/gobblin_good_rice_pudding

During the day, serve sandwiches cut into fun shapes. Use cookie cutters for bats on dark pumpernickel bread or make great pumpkins cut out of whole wheat bread.  I use tuna mixed with plain yogurt, but you can also try turkey or low fat cheese for the filling. And don’t forget the veggies!  Mummy fingers made of   baked sweet potato fries adds to the scary meal. Eye balls made of low fat string or mozzarella balls topped with a slice of black olive or carrots slices with green olives look like bugs.  Or try this recipe for spooky slaw. http://www.365halloween.com/spooky-slaw-recipe

One of our Facebook contest winners, Dave, suggested having low-fat brownies made with canned pumpkin. For this simple recipe, take one box of chocolate cake mix and add one can of plain pumpkin. Mix together with no other added ingredients.  Pour into brownie pan or 2a 4-muffin tin and bake as directed.  Each muffin or small brownie is about 100 calories with small amount of fat and 2 grams of fiber.    

Throughout the day, don’t forget to hydrate children well with water as first choice. However, if kids want extra, try vampire punch or witches’ brew. Mix 4 ounces of 100% grape or cranberry /raspberry juice with 6 ounces of club soda or flavored seltzer. No sugar added, but tons of FUN!  And make sure to stay away from the soda!

Add a dose of fun activity

Be sure to plan activities throughout the day, for just as much fun as trick or treating. Another Facebook winner, Emily, suggested planning an outdoor scavenger hunt. Place clues throughout the space so that kids are moving.  Add in that they can hop or skip between clues. This gives kids physical activity and FUN. The prize can be a chest of healthy non candy treats. See below for alternatives to candy treats.

Pumpkin carving is another fun activity that our final Facebook winner, Tania, suggested.  Make sure to include roasting the pumpkin seeds into this activity. Here’s a simple recipe.  http://www.fitsugar.com/5772766     

Thanks to our winners for these healthy Halloween suggestions.

trick or treatAnd finally, on to trick-or-treating

Finally the time to trick or treat is here.    As  parents, we don’t have to hand out candy bars – instead  pass  out  small, pre-packaged bags of pretzels , animal crackers or  granola bars and feel good about giving kids a nutritional treat.    Yes, I know we don’t want to be the house that doesn’t give a good treat but consider this.  When kids get too much candy, most parents say “enough candy” and toss it out after a few days.    You may be offering kids something different that could be added to a lunch bag or offered as a snack.

Play dough and other non food items that kids like to play with beyond d the holiday are other options. 

So I encourage parents to opt out of the candy treats and take charge of Halloween FUN by creating memories that are centered on the joy of the holiday not how much candy they receive.  

Last tip:  Click on the link for Healthy Halloween Treats to see additional ideas for trick-or-treaters.

Healthy Halloween Treats