Growing up, Halloween was always one of my favorite holidays. I loved everything about it: the costumes, the candy, the trick-or-treating, the parties, etc. I remember how my friends and I would all rummage through our ‘loot’ at the end of a big trick-or-treat run to see what we got. Each of us hoped for different goodies and had different favorites. Some of us downed the candy in one sitting and some of us would squirrel it away, wanting it to last as long as possible. If one of us ate a bit too much at the end of the evening, stomach aches would ensue and major sugar crashes would cause us to crawl into bed feeling exhausted, not to mention, a tad ill.
In today’s day in age, moms are often looking for healthier options for their kids and for their neighborhood trick-or-treaters. Healthier options don’t necessarily mean you have to abolish all of the worst offenders, but some treats do rate better than others in the healthy category. In essence, there are really two ways to approach making Halloween a bit healthier: 1) Quality control, providing healthier treats or 2) Quantity control, providing less-healthier treats in smaller servings. Here are some ideas for both approaches:
Dried Fruit / Raisins: Regular fruit seems like a great choice. For safety concerns, however, dried fruit is a better option because it often comes pre-packaged or wrapped. Dried fruit is naturally sweet, and provides fiber and other important nutrients. The sugar content in dried fruit tends to be high though, so if you can find packets of trail mix, which contain nuts and seeds with the dried fruit, that would be an even better option.
Clif-Bars: Clif-Bars makes healthy, nutrition bars for kids (Clif Kid ZBar). They even have a new flavor called ‘Spooky Smores’…just in time for Halloween. They are organic, made with whole oats and are low in fat. Lastly, they don’t contain any high fructose corn syrup.
Money: Granted, these are not ‘tasty’, but giving Silver Dollars or 50 Cent pieces can bring a smile to any child’s face.
Granola Bars: Not all granola bars are created equal. Some are higher in sugar and contain high fructose corn syrup. Kashi TLC bars is a healthy, lower-sugar option.
Sugar-Free Gum: Sugar-free gum containing Xylitol, a natural sweetener, is beneficial to children’s teeth by warding off tooth decay. Further, xylitol won’t create the crazy sugar highs of gums packed with sugar.
Mini-Bags of Microwavable Popcorn: Popcorn is a low-calorie, high-fiber snack that most kids enjoy. Aim to get unsweetened and non-buttered varieties to eliminate extra fat and sugar.
Quantity Control Options (E.g, Less Healthy Treats in Smaller Servings):
100 Calorie Packs: Nabisco has cornered the 100 Calorie Pack market, offering everything from Oreos to Teddy Grahms in small 100 calorie packages. Although the products are not the best for you, giving them in portion controlled packages helps to keep kids from going hog wild on eating more than they should.
Hot Chocolate: Hot chocolate is both seasonally appropriate and slightly labor intensive. If a child wants to enjoy some cocoa (in the traditional way of course), they will need to be patient while the water is boiled, the package is opened and the contents are poured and stirred.
Bite Size/Miniature Candies: If you are going for chocolate, always aim to get dark chocolate varieties (they have antioxidants and less fillers, as mentioned above). Hershey’s has their Special Dark brand, which appeals to both dark chocolate and milk chocolate lovers. Varieties to consider: Miniature Peppermint Paddies (which are low in fat), Special Dark Miniatures (which now come in their own bag of Special Dark Varieties) and Special Dark Chocolate Kisses.
Which option will you choose at Halloween? Do you have any favorite healthy treats you would like to share?