By Jack Brady
Happy Halloween season! As the 31st approaches, it’s time to get into the Halloween spirit. As with other candy-heavy holidays like Valentine’s Day, it can be challenging to balance a child’s involvement in holiday activities with maintaining healthy food choices. Here are a few ways to have fun with your family this Halloween while reducing the intake of unnecessary fats and sugars.
- Donate excess candy
After trick’r’treating, what do you do with pounds of excess candy? Donate it! There are several organizations set up to benefit those who don’t have access to treats. Organizations like Operation Gratitude (https://opgrat.wordpress.com/2013/07/18/halloween-candy-for-the-troops/) and Operation Shoebox (http://www.operationshoebox.com/how-you-can-help/candy-donations/) send boxes of candy and other goods to American military personnel abroad as well as military families. Ronald McDonald House Charities also frequently accepts candy donations after Halloween for families staying at their housing locations (http://www.rmhc.org/). Some religious organizations and food banks also accept; check to see what your city has to offer. In Chicago, some locations will weigh your candy donations and give your child $1 per pound, or even have raffles or competitions for heaviest donation. Check out Redtri for some locations and other suggestions on places to donate (http://redtri.com/chicago/where-to-sell-your-sweets-halloween-candy-buy-backs/). In order to avoid unnecessary drama, it’s a good idea to talk with your kids about your donation prior to trick’r’treating, and describe how their excess candy can put a smile on someone else’s face!
- Exchange candy for other types of fun
Another fun option is to have your kid exchange candy for other types of rewards or gifts. Maybe by giving up a portion of their candy, your child can choose a favorite meal for the following week! Other exchange options could be healthier treats, not having to do a particular chore, picking out a movie for movie night, or going to the library to choose new books.
- Make your own healthy treats
By making your own healthy treats, you can make delicious snacks with just as much flavor and much less sugar and fat. Additionally, this can be a great way to spend more family time together (or it can be a potential candy exchange option).
Everyday Health has some great options on their website for tasty treats, such as ants (or spiders) on a log!
Super easy to make, and kids love to assemble them! Spiders on a log is a twist on the classic ants on a log made of celery sticks, peanut butter, and raisins. By using natural peanut butter you greatly cut down on the amount of sugar that brands such as JIF contain, while retaining the great peanut taste. Simple to assemble, this is a great option for families with young kids! You can also mix it up by using dried cranberries or currants for new flavors. By making the food a little goofier, kids will enjoy making this creepy snack. (http://www.everydayhealth.com/healthy-halloween-treats-for-kids.aspx#06)
Another option that kids enjoy making is dark-chocolate-dipped apples!
Dark chocolate is generally considered to be a healthier option compared to milk chocolate due to its lower sugar content. Though it does contain more fat, the dark chocolate and apple combination contains high levels of flavonoids that may help increase cardiovascular health. This doesn’t mean, unfortunately, that we can eat all the chocolate we want! The Cleveland Clinic has additional information about what benefits dark chocolate may have, but also cautions that additional research needs to be done to prove its positive effects. It’s still a treat! In addition, only certain chocolates contain these potential positive cardiovascular effects, so check out the link for more information! (http://my.clevelandclinic.org/services/heart/prevention/nutrition/food-choices/benefits-of-chocolate)
Kids will love spending time preparing the apples, and they can easily be halved or quartered before dipping for a more portion-healthy treat.
Thanks for reading; we hope you have a healthy and spooky Halloween!