For those of us families who are health conscious, Halloween can be a nightmare. How can you prevent your children from indulging in candy bar after candy bar, inevitably getting a sugar high and running around the place until they crash and collapse from exhaustion? How can you give them something fun and scary without all the sugar and calories? How can you make healthy treats able to compete with candy corn and chocolate bars?
Luckily, with a little creativity and ingenuity you can make some simple treats that will appeal to your children- even the very picky ones. I asked several of the families that I babysit for on a regular basis what they do, and here is a list of their ideas and suggestions.
1.) The mom of a three year old little boy suggests parents take nuts, which are high in protein, and dip them in organic dark chocolate, which is high in antioxidants. While nuts are high in calories, these are “healthy” calories, and when eaten in moderation are nutritious. This gives the children the feeling of eating candy without so much sugar, dyes and corn syrup. You can buy these pre-made in most grocery stores, however the mom says nothing is better than spending a half an hour making them with your little one.
2.) One mom says to not forget the long-standing tradition of making popcorn balls. My family used to make them as children, and they are significantly healthier than eating a candy bar. I like to use organic popcorn and Agave nectar instead of honey. Also, to cut down on butter you can substitute half of the amount the recipe calls for with coconut milk.
3.) Another healthy, long-used option is candy apples. The mom of a five year of girl I sit for says to limit the caramel to a thin layer and don’t role them in candy pieces like many places seem to be doing now.
4.) If you and the kids carve pumpkins as a tradition, be sure to save the seeds and roast them. My mom used to sprinkle cinnamon on them, which gives the seeds a different, but delicious, taste.
Before you and the kids head out to go trick-or-treating, be sure to fill them up on a healthy, high protein dinner. This will keep them fuller longer, limiting the amount of candy they will be able to eat when they get back. Then, set a limit on how much can be eaten each day, and when it can be eaten (such as only after dinner). I would place anything that can be frozen in the freezer, keeping it out of the reach (and sight) of little ones and making it last longer.