Halloween is a holiday known for its chocolaty goodness and yummy sweet treats.
But with one in three children suffering from obesity, trading sugar-filled candy for more healthy alternatives might be a better idea.
“You can set a good example by choosing healthier trick-or-treat goodies to hand out for Halloween,” said Jessica LaRoche, registered dietitian for Harmons grocery stores. “Try to include fruit, nuts or whole grains in snacks to maximize nutrition, or choose nonfood treats.”
Raisins or other dried fruits are a good alternative, LaRoche said. So is fruit leather, applesauce without added sugar, and Goldfish Baked Grahams, which list whole-wheat flour as the first ingredient.
“Granola bars like Clif Kid ZBars list whole grain as the first ingredient,” she said, also suggesting individual peanut butter packets, Annie’s Halloween Bunny Grahams and Brother’s freeze-dried fruit.
iVillage.com also offers some alternatives. The classic Rice Krispie Treats have less sugar than one might suspect, according to Julie Negrin, a cooking instructor and contributor to the website. A healthier version, she said, would use brown rice puffs and brown rice syrup as a sweetener. Kid can decorate them with Sun Drops, a healthier alternative to M&Ms.
Honey popcorn balls are also a better option than candy, the website states. Make them with popcorn, honey, butter and salt. Honey is a good alternative to sugar, and popcorn provides healthy fiber. In addition, yogurt-covered raisins can substitute for candy corn; they are available in individual packets.
According to The American Express Retail Index, approximately 18 percent of adults give away noncandy treats each year at Halloween. LaRoche suggested glow fangs, glow sticks, plastic rings and stickers.
“Make sure your kids have a healthy, filling meal before they go out trick-or-treating,” she said. “Even consider organizing a neighborhood chili or soup feast.”
If you are going to hand out some candy, that’s fine, say the experts. Just choose the fun-size candy bars. Howstuffworks.com lists a full-size Snickers bar as having 266 calories. A fun-size bar has 70 calories.
Another idea, LaRoche said, is to let your kids eat any candy they want the night of Halloween. Then have them pick five to 10 treats they can eat over the next week. Buy back the rest of the candy and replace it with a fun activity like a night at the movies, a new book or a sleepover with friends.”
If your kids are having a Halloween party, include activities that will take their mind off of food, LaRoche said, such as making paper-plate masks or having a costume parade.
Serve apple cider instead of soda, chocolate-covered almonds, air-popped or kettle corn, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies or ghost bananas (a banana dipped in white chocolate with chocolate chips for eyes and a raisin for the mouth).