It’s that time of year again; goblins, ghosts, princesses, and fairies will be showing up at doorsteps all over the neighborhood. Parents will be dragging home sugar-crazed children with pillow sacks and plastic pumpkins full of candy and other tooth-rotting sweets. While Halloween may only be one night of the year, the amount of candy we bring home can make it feel like a year-round event. Trick-or-treating is a fun activity for kiddos, there’s no argument there, but gorging ourselves on candy and sweets can quickly turn this holiday into a nightmare. Especially when the average American already consumes a shocking 21 teaspoons of sugar each day, an amount 3x the daily recommendation. Now, that’s an amount to scare even the boogeyman away! Consumption of added sugars from these sweet candy treats and treats alike, such as cookies, sweetened beverages, and ice cream, is linked to the ever-climbing rates of obesity and heart disease across the county. But don’t let this statistic spook you completely, there are ways to keep Halloween a treat without going overboard on the sugar. We can start by taking matters into our own hands and distribute healthy snacks to all trick-or-treaters alike. So, this year we’re rising up from our grave to help you brainstorm nutritious treat ideas that meet both food safety regulations and withhold the stamp of approval from nutrition experts. The following list of snacks is more nutritious than candy and could make you everyone’s favorite neighborhood party monster.
- Applesauce cups or squeezable fruit.
- Small bags of pretzels.
- Small bags of popcorn. These are gluten-free, whole grain, and allergy friendly! Look for plain popcorn without added butter and salt so parents can flavor them at home.
- Individual nuts or trail mix. Still sweet and salty but with healthy fats and fiber!
- Dark chocolate covered nuts. A taste of candy with added nutrients.
- Small bottles of water. Helps hydrate without all the extra sugar.
- Fruit cups. Find varieties in water or 100% fruit juice.
- Raisins. Yep, I went there. Kids actually like these!
- Whole grain Goldfish.
- Teddy Grahams. Still not ideal, but better than guzzling candy in our opinion.
- Chex Mix. Not an everyday food, but not laden with sugar either.
- Cheese sticks. Can easily go 1-2 hours without being refrigerated. Just keep on ice until they go home with the children. Can also be eaten right away to curb hunger and prevent a candy gorge.
- Small toys, such as playdough, small dolls, or coloring books with crayons, because who ever said you had to hand out food?
Understanding health claims and nutrition labels can be haunting when roaming through the aisles of Price Cutter, don’t get caught in the junk food web. To help you steer clear of these traps, we’ve created a list of items that are both a trick and a treat.
- Fruit snacks. Don’t let their shapes or all natural labels fool you, these are just candy gummies shaped like fruit.
- Juice boxes. While ½ cup of 100% juice is okay, some juice boxes have as much sugar as soda without the fiber from fruit.
- Granola bars. Most bars are really glorified candy bars.
- Muffins. Especially those prepackaged, are essentially cupcakes without the frosting.
- Soda and chips. Obvious junk food, but commonly seen as candy replacements during the trick-or-treat excursion.
by Jackie Kemnic and Kelli Steffensmeier, MSU Dietetic Interns
Prep time: 20 minutes
- 5 string cheese
- 15 small pretzel sticks
Start by cutting each of your cheese sticks into 3 even pieces. Then peel each of the pieces apart or cut with a knife near the bottom of the piece to look like the bottom of the broom. Gently press one pretzel stick into the top (uncut) portion of the cheese. Finish the project by tying a small chive around the top of the cheese. Serve and enjoy!
Recipe from: One Little Project at a Time…
Yield: 2 mummies per apple
Prep time: 10 minutes
- Apples, variety of choosing
- Chocolate chips
Start by washing the apples. Next, peel uneven strips of the skin off of the apple to make a mummy wrapping texture over the apple. Cut each apple in half and cut the seedy section out of the apple halves. If preparing mummies for later use, soak the apples in water with lemon juice for 30 minutes or choose an apple that stays fresh longer such as pink lady or honeycrisp. Finally add eyes to the mummies by pressing two chocolate chips pointy side down into each apple half. Serve and enjoy!
Recipe from: Two Healthy Kitchens