The kids look adorable in their costumes and are counting down the days until Oct. 31! Are you ready for the sugar rush? With a little creativity, you can find fun ways to include some healthy options in the mix, whether you’re having a party with friends or trick-or-treating in the neighborhood.
Try these tips to make your trunk-or-treat or Halloween festivities a little healthier for your family, party guests and trick-or-treaters.
For the Trick-or-Treater
Fill up first. What kid doesn’t want to eat their favorite candy right when it goes into their trick-or-treat bag? Having a healthy meal BEFORE your kids go trick-or-treating can reduce their temptation to snack while walking or to overindulge, because their tummies will be full.
Bag the monster bag. Choose or make a smaller collection container for your child and steer clear of the pillowcase method. If you encourage kids to only take one piece of candy from each house, they’ll be able to visit more houses in the neighborhood.
Get moving. Get some exercise by making Halloween a fun family activity. Walk instead of driving kids house to house. Set a goal of how many houses or streets you’ll visit, or compete in teams to do as many as you can. Bring a bottle of water and a flashlight, and wear comfortable shoes for walking.
Look before you eat. Check expiration dates and inspect all edibles before allowing children to eat them. Don’t let children eat anything with questionable or unknown ingredients, especially if they have food allergies.
Have a plan. Halloween, and Eat Smart Month in November, can be a great time to talk with kids about moderation and making smart eating choices. Plan in advance how much candy they’ll be allowed to take at each house, keep, and eat. If they’re old enough, let them help decide what to do with excess candy. See our suggestions later on in this article.
For the Stay-At-Home Crew
No self-service. Hand out treats to each trick-or-treater – one per child – instead of letting them decide how much to take. If you have more than one item, ask them to choose which they prefer. This can help you get control of your Halloween budget, too!
Avoid the whole mess. Want to avoid candy altogether, not to mention masses of kids at your door? Dress your family up in costumes and go see a movie or deliver healthy Halloween treats to your local police or fire station, nursing home, or children’s hospital.
Be that house. You don’t have to pass out candy on Halloween. Start a new tradition and give out healthier treats or non-edible items. Don’t worry, we’re not talking about toothbrushes! Get creative, and keep it colorful and kid-friendly. Here are some ideas.
- Clementines, blood oranges, or oranges decorated like Jack-O-Lanterns (with non-toxic ink)
- 100% juice boxes or pouches
- Snack-sized packages of pretzels, popcorn, graham crackers, dried fruit or vegetables, trail mix, nuts, or pumpkin seeds
- 100% real fruit strips, ropes or leathers
- Squeezable yogurt tubes or pouches
- Single-serving containers of mandarin oranges
- Sugar-free gum
- Glow sticks or small glow-in-the-dark toys
- Bouncy balls
- Mini plush toys and wind-up toys
- Crayons and coloring books (or intricate coloring pages for older kids)
- Stickers or stamps
- Temporary tattoos
- Bubble makers
- Spider rings or vampire teeth
- Slime, putty or squishy toys
- Friendship bracelets
- Be careful to avoid giving very small items that could be a choking hazard to little ones.
What to Do with Excess Candy
Afraid you’ll be dealing with an excess of Halloween treats until long after Valentine’s Day? Here are some ideas for enjoying the evening’s haul responsibly and getting rid of leftover candy:
- Let each child keep enough candy to have one or two pieces a day for one or two weeks (long enough for the excitement to wane). Throw away, donate or re-purpose the rest.
- When your child asks for a piece of candy, pair it with a healthy snack: an apple, a banana, some nuts, or celery with peanut butter.
- “Buy back” candy from your child with money or tokens they can trade in for a fun activity: a day at the zoo, an afternoon playing at the park, going ice skating, or a day at the pool.
- Some dentists’ offices have buy-back or trade-in programs, too.
- Save it for holiday baking.
- Save it to fill the piñata at the next birthday celebration or give out with Valentine cards.
- Use it in an arts and crafts project or to decorate a holiday gingerbread house.
- Donate excess candy to a homeless shelter, children’s hospital, or care package program for troops overseas. A familiar sweet treat from home can be comforting at the holidays.
Spooky-Cute Monster Teeth Recipe
- 4 medium-sized granny smith apples, cut into 8 sections each
- 1 cup natural creamy organic peanut butter
- 1 cup yogurt covered goji berries
- 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
Section each apple and then sprinkle with lemon juice to prevent browning. Spread about 1 tsp. of peanut butter on each slice. Stick 4-6 yogurt-covered berries on an angle in the peanut butter, then place a second peanut butter-covered apple slice on top. (You may need to secure with a toothpick or extra peanut butter.)
Cool for 1 hour in the refrigerator before serving.
Cracker Spiders By THE DECORATED COOKIE
- Rround crackers
- Cream cheese (or favorite spread)
- Pretzel sticks
Make a cracker sandwich with cream cheese or any other favorite spread and use pretzel stick pieces for spider legs.
No-Bake Monster Pita Pizza Eating Well Recipe
- ¾ cup guacamole
- 4 6-inch whole-wheat pitas
- 16 slices cucumber, 1/4 inch thick
- 4 (1 ounce) sticks mozzarella string cheese, each cut into 12 rounds
- 1 tablespoon cooked or canned black beans, halved
Spread 3 tablespoons guacamole over each pita. Top each with 4 cucumber slices, 12 cheese slices and 12 bean halves, creating eyeballs by placing half a bean on each cheese slice; place some of these on cucumber slices. Cut the pizzas into wedges or serve whole.