Halloween Tricks for Making Treats Healthy

Advice for a safe and happy Halloween

There are lots of ways to make sure the whole family has a fun and safe Halloween.

Boo!

Halloween can be scary good fun. Being outside in the dark, dressed up in a costume and getting candy, has to be one of the highlights of the kid calendar! Of course, many parents want to make sure their little trick-or-treaters enjoy the night, but avoid any real scares.

Here are some tips to make Halloween, safe and healthier, but still spooktacular!

Easy Halloween Costumes

Build the excitement for Halloween by starting to celebrate weeks before the big night with lots of fun activities that have nothing to do with candy.

Plan costumes, and maybe take a trip to the thrift store together to buy fun pieces and pull together the coolest costume. Or, head to the fabric store if you want to get really crafty. Getting kids involved in making their costumes is creative fun that helps build anticipation for the big night.  There are so many great websites devoted to easy and fun costumes, like this one.

Remember the kids are going to look cute no matter what, so their outfits do not need to be perfect. Sparking their imagination and creativity is the key!

Halloween Pumpkin Carving

Bring your kids with you to pick out the perfect pumpkin at a local pick your own farm, or the local supermarket This quest can culminate in carving up the pumpkin together, with your own unique designs.

Don’t forget to save those pumpkin seeds though; you can roast them for the perfect salty, crunchy snack.  October is a great month to explore pumpkin flavours, try pumpkin muffins, pumpkin soup or pumpkin smoothies. Canned pumpkin is plentiful in the supermarkets this month, and is so healthy, versatile and easy to work with.

Halloween Treats

The fun often starts at school with a costume party. If your child needs snacks for a Halloween party at school, consider sending popcorn as a fun and school-safe treat that is not full of sugar.

In fact, popcorn is a whole grain and has two grams of fibre in a three cup serving! Halloween night, you can prepare a spooky dinner like mummy meat or lentil loaves, ghost pizza bagels and spiderweb nachos. These are all fun dinner ideas that don’t take a lot of time, but add to the magic of the night and help take the focus off the candy.

Trick or Treat

Believe it or not, you can still have a treat-filled Halloween and avoid going ghoulishly overboard!  One of the most important ways to minimize the amount of candy is to limit the number of houses you go to.

Start the night by inviting some friends over to show off their costumes, or take a trip to the grandparents to take some adorable pictures and enjoy a homemade treat, like simple and tasty apple nachos? It’s a way to be festive without filling your candy bag.

When heading out to the streets to trick or treat, twenty minutes to half an hour is usually plenty of time for little ones to get lots of candy and enjoy the experience without getting too tired.

Keep in mind, now is not the time to food-shame children by talking about all the trans-fats, sugar and preservatives in their candy. In general, healthy eating is about being healthy most of the time, all year round, and one night of sugar-fueled fun is not going to hurt.

Make sure you have a chance to check the candy to make sure it is sealed and safe, or that any homemade treats have come from trusted friends and family.

What to do with leftover Halloween candy

There are different schools of thought on how to handle all of those leftover sweets. Some of the school-safe treats can be used as lunch snacks, alongside a healthy snack and lunch.

Rationing out the candy with one or two pieces per day over the two weeks after Halloween, can help teach kids about delaying gratification and eating in balance. Some of the candy can also be used as currency to trade for a coveted new toy or activity. After a week or so, the kids are often not too interested in their candy bags, as they have picked out all of their favourites already. By that time, they are more interested in planning for the upcoming holiday season.

Halloween can be a real highlight, and it is a holiday that kids love. Use these tips to make it fun, and an opportunity to learn and try new healthy treats. Now that is not scary at all!

Dr. Pamela Fergusson, RD

Pamela Fergusson is a Registered Dietician with a PhD in nutrition with a private practice in Toronto. She brings a love of nutrition, wellness and fitness to her blogging. She loves to cook and bake with her four children, teach them about food and nutrition through shopping for and preparing colourful, healthy family meals together. Pamela is also a runner and speed walker and has completed six half and full marathons.

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