10 Healthy Halloween Treats
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September 20, 2010
By Louise Carr, Contributing Columnist


Happy Halloween! October 31st means trick or treat, ghoulish
costumes, scary movies - and mountains of candy. Chocolate
pumpkins, fizzy fangs, white mice and candy apples. Frosted
cupcakes, bat-shaped cookies, sherbet dips and candy corn. The
stores go crazy every year with unhealthy Halloween goodies
and fluorescent foods. Halloween is great fun but it can be a
health horror story for your kids. Ever stop to count the calories
your kids are collecting in their trick or treat bags? Are there any
healthy Halloween treats you can offer your kids instead?


Halloween is traditionally associated with sweet treats and high-
fat snacks. But with childhood health at the forefront of our
minds, what are the dangers of the traditional Halloween candy-
fest?

Forget ghosts and goblins, these child obesity statistics are
enough to scare the pants off any concerned parent. According
to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood
obesity has more than tripled in the last 30 years. Around 16.9
percent of children and adolescents aged two to 19 in the United
States are now classified as obese. The percentage of obese
children between the ages of six and 11 increased from 6.5
percent in 1980 to 19.6 percent in 2008.

And what about diabetes? Diabetes in childhood can result in
complications such as cardiovascular disease and kidney failure.
About 186,000 people below the age of 20 have diabetes. The
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that Type 2
diabetes, formerly known as adult-onset diabetes, is being
increasingly found in U.S. children and not just adults. As many
as one in three children born in 2000 could develop diabetes in
their lifetime.

That’s not all. According to the National Institute of Dental and
Craniofacial Research, the incidence of tooth decay in primary
teeth increased between the mid 1990s and 2004. 42 percent of
children aged two to 11 have had tooth decay in their primary
teeth and each child has an average of 1.6 decayed primary
teeth in their mouth.

Halloween fun and the associated sugar-shock can contribute to
these worrying trends. But can Halloween help scare away
health problems? Halloween treats don’t need to be nasty.
Halloween can be terrifyingly tasty without the calories. How can
you make Halloween healthy without spoiling your kids’ fun?
What tasty treats can you serve at your Halloween party that
won’t rot your kids’ teeth?

Here are 10 Healthy Halloween Treats:

























1.
Creepy Crudités and Green Goo

If you’re having a Halloween party, make a bright platter of
hauntingly healthy crudités the main attraction. Arrange strips of
carrot, cucumber batons, cauliflower florets, green beans,
broccoli, mushrooms and bell pepper strips into a witch’s face or
let your imagination run wild and create a colorful creepy house.
Raw vegetables will fill up kids’ stomachs while giving a vitamin
and mineral boost.

Carrots are great Halloween healthy treats. A two-ounce serving
of carrots provides 220 percent of your Vitamin A requirements.
Vitamin A not only helps your kids see in the dark when they’re
trick or treating, it also supports the immune system and helps
maintain healthy skin, bones and teeth.  

Be careful with store-bought dips to serve with your spooky
vegetables. Many are high in fat and lack nutrients. Make your
own bright green avocado dip with ripe avocados, fat-free sour
cream, lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Mash the ingredients
together and serve straight from the fridge.

2.
Toothsome Treats

Sometimes it’s difficult to get your kids to eat apples and
Halloween, with the added distraction of mountains of candy,
can be even trickier. Encourage healthy eating by creating bite-
sized apple ‘mouths’. Core an apple – the redder the better –
and cut into quarters. Cut a triangular wedge out of the skin side
of each quarter and fill the gap with slivers of nuts or cheese for
the ‘teeth’. Apples are a great tooth-treat and contain Vitamin C,
fiber, and potassium.

3.
Dastardly Dried Fruit

Skip the candy bowl and serve a selection of dried fruit to
visiting trick or treaters. Naturally nutritious and – best of all –
naturally sweet, kids with sugar cravings will wolf them down.
Mini boxes of raisins are good for goodie bags - one cup of the
seedless sweet treats contains 1,086mg of potassium. Add nuts
and seeds to boost kids’ health. A 1-ounce serving of trail mix
with sunflower seeds, raisins, peanuts, almonds and cashews
provides eight percent of your recommended intake of protein.
The nuts and seeds are high in essential omega-3 fatty acids and
other helpful nutrients.

4.
Bloodcurdling Banana Ghosts

Bananas are rich in potassium – a medium banana contains
467mg of potassium - Vitamin B6 and Vitamin C and their
creamy taste and texture can appeal to kids.

Give bananas a Halloween makeover by cutting them in half,
width-wise. Push a Popsicle stick into each half, cover it with
plastic wrap and freeze. Spread the frozen bananas with melted
white chocolate and add currant pieces for the eyes. The
addition of chocolate to these healthy bananas ups the fat
content of the snack but you can allow a little extra on
Halloween night. With the addition of a toothbrush to the party
bag you can send your young guests home with a tooth-healthy
message.

5.
Phantom Popcorn

Popcorn is a great snack for curbing kids’ appetites without
loading them with calories or sugar. You can make your own
popcorn from scratch in the pan, choose low-fat packages to
make in the microwave or buy ready-made popcorn balls. Your
children get eight percent of their recommended daily intake of
fiber from each ball. Watch what you pour over it though –
healthy popcorn with toffee sauce or masses of salt won’t do
your kids’ health any favors. Add spices, a pinch of sugar or a
hint of salt to brighten the taste.

6.
Pumpkin Power

Don’t throw away the seeds once you’ve scooped them from
your Jack-o-Lantern Halloween decorations. Pumpkin seeds
make a great healthy Halloween snack for children and adults.
Pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc, a nutrient that helps nourish the
brain, and magnesium. Magnesium promotes muscle, nerve and
bone function. Pumpkin seeds also help your body absorb more
energy from food. Roast pumpkin seeds in the oven with a small
amount of oil. If you’re short on time, you can buy pre-packed
bags of roasted pumpkin seeds.

7.
Pick Up The Peanuts

Serve tasty, nutritious peanuts in their shells or lightly roasted as
an additive-free alternative to the piles of candy that can
accumulate in kids’ bags. Peanuts contain high levels of omega-3
fatty acids, essential healthy fats that help lower blood pressure
and reduce the risk of heart disease. Peanuts are good sources
of Vitamin E, niacin, folate, protein and manganese. Manganese
helps the body develop and it maintains strong bones. Be careful
if you’re serving peanuts to a large group of kids – some of
them may suffer from a peanut allergy so check with parents if
you’re unsure.

8.
Alternative Sweet Treats

Cereal and granola bars are the perfect solution for stuffing in
trick or treat bags. Cereal bars provide all the sweet taste with
less of the problematic sugar that’s found in chocolate and
candy. There’s a huge variety of brands – go for the least
processed, organic brands which tend to contain less sugar and
are lower in high fructose corn syrup. Check the labels before
loading your cart to make sure your treats are the healthy ones
you have in mind.

9.
Pack In Some Pretzels

Give the little vampires something to get their teeth into with
some snack pretzels. As with many holiday snacks, there’s much
difference between the nutritional benefits of different brands of
pretzels. Choose carefully and steer clear of the soft, sugar-
coated varieties that will do nothing for a healthy Halloween, or
your kids’ teeth. Whole-wheat pretzels are a good choice and
provide 37 percent of the recommended daily amount of
manganese in a one-ounce serving, as well as niacin, thiamine
and protein. Whole-wheat pretzels also contain omega-3 fatty
acids.

10.
Fiendish Fresh Fruit

Steer the children away from candy-filled Jack-O-Lanterns by
making your own fresh fruit versions from navel oranges. Cut
the top off a navel orange and scoop out the orange flesh. Mix
the chopped orange segments – minus the white pith – with a
variety of other chopped fruits. Carve a simple Halloween face in
one side of the orange then fill the orange Jack-O-Lantern with
the fruit mixture and cap with the lid. As well as being packed
with Vitamin C, oranges are good for fiber, folate, potassium and
calcium.

If you pack your party food with healthy alternatives your kids
will have less room for candy. But if you can’t control what they
collect from the neighbors, set a limit for candy consumption
once they get it home. Keep it stored out of arms-reach and save
it for a treat once a day.




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