Healthier Halloween Ideas

October 29, 2012

Harmons Station Park dietitian Jessica LaRoche on channel 2

All of the sugary Halloween festivities can be frightening for parents trying to teach their kids healthy habits.  But Halloween doesn’t have to be a dreaded time of year for health-conscious parents.

You can set a good example by choosing healthier trick-or-treat goodies to hand out for Halloween.  Try to include fruit, nuts, or whole grains in snacks to maximize nutrition, or choose non-food treats.

Healthier trick-or-treat ideas

Food ideas

  • Raisins (or other dried fruit)
  • Fruit leather (or any fruit snack with fruit or fruit puree as the first ingredient)
  • Small apple
  • Small orange
  • Apple sauce—Materne GoGo Squeeze (without added sugar)
  • Animal crackers (lower in sugar than candy)
  • Goldfish Baked Grahams (individual packets—first ingredient is whole wheat flour)
  • Granola bars—Quaker chewy (with whole grain as first ingredient)
  • Individual peanut butter
  • Nuts (keep in mind nut allergies and have a nut-free alternative)

Non-food

  • Wax lips
  • Glow sticks
  • Plastic rings
  • Sticky eyes
  • Pencils
  • Stickers

The kids are returning home with HUGE bags of candy—now what?!?!

Strategies to keep kids from eating all of their candy

  • Make sure your kids have a healthy, filling meal before they go out trick-or-treating.  Even consider organizing a neighborhood chili or soup feast.
  • Let your kids eat any candy they want the night of Halloween, then have them pick 5-10 treats that they will eat over the next week.
    • Always schedule when they will eat their candy (with lunch, between lunch and dinner, etc.  This will keep them grazing throughout the day).
    • “Buy Back” the rest of the candy.  After they choose 5-10 pieces of candy, “buy back” the rest and replace with a fun activity—night at the movies, sleep over with friends, a new book)
  • If your kids are younger, try having a “Candy Fairy.”  Have your child put their candy in a designated place before they go to sleep and replace it with a toy.

If you’re organizing a Halloween party, it doesn’t have to include only sugary snacks to be a success.

Healthier Party Ideas

  • Serve only one or two of your favorite sugary snacks, like cupcakes.
  • Include activities that take the focus off food:  costume parades, making paper plate masks, bobbing for apples.
  • Snack ideas:
    • Apple cider instead of soda
    • Chocolate covered almonds
    • Air-popped popcorn or kettle corn
    • Pumpkin seeds
    • “Ghost bananas”—1/4 banana with Cheerios for eyes and mouth
    • “Eerie eyeballs”—layer dried apple, dried apricot, and raisins
    • “Freaky finger”—1/2 string cheese, light cream cheese, green bell pepper
    • Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies (pumpkin is first ingredient—vitamin A)

Visit Jonnell’s blog from last year for more Healthy Halloween ideas -  Halloween Fun and Treats