Halloween Can Be Healthy <i>and</i> Fun!

Happy Halloween with a healthy twist! Gooey, sticky treats -- chocolaty, chocolate bars loaded with caramel and nuts -- candied apples! How do you go healthy on Halloween? Jyl Steinback, "America's Healthiest Mom" and author of the Fat-Free Living Cookbook, says that you can keep all the fun in Halloween and take out a lot of the fat. Here are a few simple tricks for some healthy treats!

Focus On The Fun!
Start the holiday with a gathering of friends and family. Create a festive atmosphere where the focus is on fun, not food! Gather friends together for a Halloween party before you "trick or treat." Serve some healthy treats that look anything but healthy -- your guests will be pleasantly surprised!

  • Have the children create their own Monster Pizzas with fat-free pita pockets or fat-free tortillas. Serve with fat-free pizza sauce, fat-free finely shredded cheese, chopped tomatoes, chopped black olives, green onions, green chilies, zucchini rounds, etc.

  • Cut out fat-free bread with a Halloween cookie cutter; serve with trays of sliced turkey, fat-free cheese, pickles, lettuce, tomatoes, and condiments.

  • Set out bowls of chili-spice popcorn, fat-free pretzels or fat-free Munchy Mix. Toss a few tablespoons of mini M&M's and candy corn into the mix for an extra special treat. You'll add a few extra calories and keep the mix under 1 gram of fat per serving. (Watch those serving sizes!)

  • Serve healthy pumpkin bars; use several drops of orange food coloring to create colorful icing (combine powdered sugar with a little skim milk and mix until blended). Top each bar with one candy pumpkin or several pieces of candy corn.

  • Apple dip: Serve whole apples on a stick or apple slices with fat-free caramel sauce instead of candied apples.

  • Play Halloween Bingo using jelly beans for markers -- the winner gets to eat his/her row of winning beans.

Healthier Choices...Mixed with a Little Indulgence

This Halloween, let the children learn about making healthier choices. Teach them to read and understand nutrition labels on their candy treats. Which would they rather have -- 4 small squares of Hershey bar (1.4 oz.) or 20-25 jelly beans? The chocolate bar is loaded with 220 calories and 13 grams of fat; all those jelly beans have 146 calories and 0 grams of fat!

Try not to forbid a little indulgence on Halloween; kids like to know they have a choice. When it's their choice to "have" or "have not," the temptations are usually not as great. Focus on portion control rather than forbidding a little splurge! The temptations may become stronger once the children start filling those bags with gooey, sticky treats. What do you do with all the leftovers? How do you keep a little control over how many treats your children have each day? Here are a few suggestions about what to do with the overflow in the weeks following Halloween:

  • On Halloween night, let each child choose five very special treats. Even if these are the worst possible choices, let them enjoy! Their eyes are usually much bigger than their stomachs.

  • Use your Halloween candy for lunch treats; let your child choose a treat each day for one week after Halloween.

  • Have some fun with your children baking fat-free cakes and cupcakes; use Halloween snacks to decorate.

  • Take advantage of your freezer; fill up mini freezer bags with treats for special days. Think of your family when selecting the treats you will pass out. Treats do not have to be sugar-laden and fat-filled to be fun.

  • Pass out totally healthy treats such as fun pencils, erasers, stickers, or food certificates.

  • If you can't resist the candy aisles, go for the best of the worst -- choose lollipops, gummy bears, licorice, jelly beans, or sugar-free bubble gum. The kids will love it!

You can create a fun-filled atmosphere -- a festive holiday with friends, family, and healthy-choice foods. Keep the fun and focus on Halloween festivities rather than candy treats. Enjoy and have fun; that is the secret of a great Halloween!

More Halloween hints and hoots:

Keeping Young Ghouls and Goblins Safe
This Halloween, more than ever, be sure to put safety first.

Crawl the Spookier Side of the Web
Check these links for costume ideas, party games, pumpkin patterns and lots more.

You Want to be What for Halloween?!
Sound familiar? Read about one mom's trials with an indecisive 8-year-old.