Healthy Halloween Food

Did you know that Halloween is by far the most sugar-laden of all American holidays? Candy makers report that it surpasses even Easter in sales.

Parents are under great pressure to allow their children the joy of the traditional trick-or-treat trek through the neighborhood, but what about the negative effects of all that sugar?

First, take comfort in the fact that Halloween candy isn”t likely to send your kids into a sugar-induced tailspin. Most of the hyperactivity that follows Halloween is simply due to excitement.

Second, you can limit your kids” sugar and fat intake by rationing the treats over the weeks following Halloween. Insist that your kids avoid diving into the goody bag until all treats have been inspected for safety. Then pour the booty into a large bowl out of their reach and dole out the treats as dessert after a well-balanced, healthy meal.

Halloween Treats that are Nutritious

If you”re hosting a party for the little goblins, you have numerous choices for serving healthy Halloween treats. Kids love to be involved in putting together the goriest, most disgusting confections. Start thinking like a kid and come up with food that resembles slime, goop, pus, bloody guts, dead skin, dirt or eyeballs!

Ironically, the most disgusting-looking food is also incredibly healthy: creamed spinach. Now see if you can challenge those little spooks to eat it!

Seriously, though, many nutritious foods can be reshaped and molded into delightful Halloween horrors:

  • Create a witches” brew to use as a party punch. Mix orange and grape Kool-Aid powder with water to create a black liquid. Add Splenda to sweeten and ice cubes to chill. Better yet, fill a latex glove with water and freeze. Peel off the glove, and you have a human hand for floating in the punch. Use candy corn to make fingernails.
  • Mix 2 cups grated cheddar, one cup of flour and half a cup of butter. Add a bit of salt and paprika and shape into a round “eyeball” around a pimento-stuffed olive. Bake 15 minutes in a 400 F. oven.
  • Add a few drops of red dye to a package of cream cheese and mold into a “brain.” Surround with whole-wheat tortilla chipsthey make great “dead skin” chips.
  • For dessert, floating eyeballs are easy to make. Puncture green grapes with the pointy end of chocolate chips and plop them into vanilla or butterscotch pudding.

You can also invite kids to create some ghoulish dishes. Assemble ingredients and have a contest.

  • Use individual pizzas, English muffins or tortillas as a base. Provide toppings such as cheese, low-fat pepperoni slices, green pepper bits, mushrooms and other vegetables. Kids can use them to make scary faces.
  • Scoops of frozen yogurt can be topped with an ice cream cone to create witches” heads (the cone is the hat). Use shredded wheat for hair and bits of black licorice or carob chips for eyes and teeth.
  • Black tapioca balls make great slimy treats. Add them to a slushy drink or the punch bowl.
  • Use Halloween cookie cutters to cut out shapes of cats, witches” hats or goblins from orange cheese slices.
  • Dried cranberries and cherries make great “scabs.”
  • Make wormy apples by preparing your favorite baked apple recipe and piercing the apple with a gummy work. Yuk!
  • For hearts and blood, serve strawberries with a thick red strawberry or raspberry sauce.
  • For skin, blood and guts, serve cooked spaghetti in hollowed-out potato skins. Tomato sauce serves as the blood.
  • Scoop out oranges and carve to make miniature jack-o”-lanterns. Fill with chocolate-flavored frozen yogurt.

Healthy Halloween Treats for Diabetics

Many sugar-free confections are available for kids (and adults) with diabetes, although even those should be limited. Provide plenty of high-protein snacks before letting kids indulge in sweet desserts.

Shape some lightly breaded and seasoned chicken cutlets into the shape of bats and serve “bat wings” with a light ranch dip. Devilled eggs made with a few drops of orange food coloring and chopped black olives are a tasty Halloween treat.

Layer a slice of low-carb bread, a slice of ham and a slice of white cheese. Shape with a “ghost” cookie cutter and melt a few seconds under the broiler until the cheese just begins to “ooze.” Use bits of black olives to make eyes for the ghost.

Healthy Treats for Trick-or-Treaters

Parents are very, very careful to sort kids” trick-or-treat loot, so getting creative with homemade treats won”t help. Handing out fruit or homemade cookies is futile: these just get thrown out.

You can, however, find some healthy treats or substitute non-food items.

Any food item that”s individually packaged is likely to find its way into kids” lunches the week following Halloween. Healthy treats include:

  • granola bars
  • fruit drinks or cups
  • sugar-free gum
  • packages of nuts or raisins
  • peanuts in the shell
  • cheese and cracker packages
  • fruit roll-ups or fruit leather
  • individually wrapped strips of beef jerky.

Don”t be surprised when kids look disappointed at the treats you give out. A box of raisins might look good to you, but kids are looking for gummy worms and chocolate bars.

Alternately, you can dole out small prizes that don”t break your budget any more than those individual tiny candy bars do. Check out the dollar stores or craft shops for more ideas. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Halloween pencils, pencil toppers, erasers or pencil sharpeners
  • novelties such as charms, whistles, rings, bracelets, pony tail holders or fake tattoos
  • a few coins or marbles bundled in orange cellophane, tied up with black ribbon
  • wax crayons and small “coloring books” made from photocopied drawings
  • a comb, bubble liquid with wand or shoelaces
  • stickers.

If you”re willing to shift the focus away from the treats you dole out, dress up in a scary costume and turn your front porch into a spectacle they”ll remember long after the treats are gone.

  • Build a cauldron and fill with water and dry ice to keep the pot bubbling.
  • Use eerie sound effects that can be heard as kids come up your front walk.
  • Carve numerous pumpkins into scary jack-o”-lanterns to line the front walk.
  • Make a scarecrow for your front lawn.
  • String pumpkin lights across your porch railing.
  • Hang cobwebs around your front door.

When the little goblins have come by and teenagers are ringing your doorbell, answer the door dressed in black. Then smile broadly with blackened teeth and vampire fangs!