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Halloween is here and tonight the sidewalks will be filled with little ghouls and goblins marching from one house to the next in search of treats. All Hallows’ Eve can be scary, especially when it comes to the amount of calories, sugar and high-fructose corn syrup children consume this time of year. Here are seven sneaky steps parents can take to make Halloween a bit healthier for their little monsters.
Halloween kicks off a string of holidays where overeating and overindulgence is common. How do you keep your Halloween healthy and still let your family have some fun? Here are seven sneaky steps:
1. Hand out healthier treats
Instead of handing out candy, try healthier treats that kids will still eat such as organic fruit snacks, organic safety lollipops, or even loose change. Kids love getting a few cents in their bags.
2. Don’t trick-or-treat on an empty stomach
Make sure your monsters eat an early dinner before they head out. A full belly will make them less likely to gorge on candy bars and other treats as they make their way around the neighborhood. Bring a water bottle for the kids to drink while you’re out — this will also curb their appetite for snacking.
3. Dress for the weather
In some places, the weather in late October can be hit-or-miss. Make sure your demons dress appropriately for the weather. If it’s too cold or rainy to go out, see if there are any treat-or-trunk events or indoor activities in your area.
4. Move it!
Instead of driving the kids around the neighborhood, take the opportunity to walk with them. Suggest they make a game out of it by using pedometers or activity monitors to track their movement and compete with their friends or siblings to see who took the most steps.
5. Pile it up
After trick-or-treating, kids love to dump their candy out to see how much they collected. Encourage them to make two piles — one for the candy they like and another for the candy they don’t. Take the pile they don’t want and donate it — many doctors and dentists set up donation centers to collect excess candy. Getting unwanted sweets out of the house gives the whole family a better chance at maintaining a healthy diet.
6. Make sure it’s sealed
Don’t let your kids eat candy that isn’t sealed or looks like it’s been tampered with. All fruit should be inspected, washed and cut before eating. If you’re in doubt, just throw it out. It’s better to be safe than take any chances.
7. More than just candy
Help your kids to learn that Halloween is more than just candy. Focus on crafts and activities like making homemade decorations; use cotton to make spider webs and pipe cleaners to make spiders. Carve pumpkins and bake the seeds for a healthy snack — they’re a good source of fiber, magnesium, phytosterols, zinc, tocopherol (vitamin E), vitamin B and protein.
Recipe for pumpkin seeds
Here’s a simple recipe for roasting pumpkin seeds. It’s linearly scaleable to however many cups of seeds you have (more seeds need more ingredients, cooking time, etc.). The key is to cook them slowly at low heat, mix every ~15 minutes, and check to see when all of them are dry.
- 1.5 tablespoon margarine, melted
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon garlic salt
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 cups raw whole pumpkin seeds
- While carving your pumpkin(s), scoop the seeds out into a bowl, separating as much of the pumpkin gunk from the seeds as possible.
- Rinse the seeds and pat them down with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel.
- Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F (135 degrees C).
- Combine all ingredients, mix thoroughly and place in a shallow baking dish.
- Bake for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
- Let cool and enjoy!