Healthy Halloween Treats

by Irena Kats

Eating healthy during the Halloween season is not easy. It may seem hard to offer healthy Halloween treats to those cute, enthusiastic trick-or-treaters that come to your door in costume each year, especially when that candy is so enticing. But, as long as alternative treats are offered in a fun and exciting manner, kids are willing to make the switch. Thank you Irena Kats for these great Halloween treat ideas.  Irena is a member of the class of 2014 at Brandeis University. Irena is part of an Experiential Learning practicum, specifically the Nutrition Group, which is working with Healthy Waltham this semester to help kids learn to eat healthier foods.

It’s that time of year—the leaves are changing colors, the cooler air has come, and, of course, Halloween is here. As trick-or-treaters prepare to knock on your door, this year, try considering some fun and healthy treat alternatives. Instead of giving out chocolate or sugary candy, try some healthier options like dried fruit, granola bars, or pretzels. You can also try giving out non-food items such as stickers, play dough, and temporary tattoos.

Let’s compare typical candy given out on Halloween to a healthier option. For example, we randomly selected three of the “fun size” candy bars typically given out on Halloween, which is the stated serving size on the package. They contained 220 calories, 10 grams of fat (6 grams of which were saturated fat, or 30% of the recommended daily value for an adult) and 28 grams of sugar. Meanwhile, one 5/8 ounce package of cheese popcorn has 100 calories, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, and 1gram of sugar. The mini bag of pretzels we looked at contained 110 calories, 1 gram of fat, and no saturated fat. These “frightful” numbers are enough to make any parent shudder at the “haunting” thought of their child gorging on candy bars.

At the recent Let’s Move Waltham event, “Waltham Walks at Stonehurst” on October 16, healthier Halloween options were given out and a survey of kids ages 4-10 was conducted on their favorite healthy choices. Popcorn was the clear winner in terms of food preference, with pretzels, Fig Newtons, animal crackers, and boxes of raisins coming in close thereafter. As for non food items, temporary Halloween themed tattoos proved the best of the bunch. Kids also really enjoyed whoopee cushions, vampire teeth, bubbles, and funny fake glasses. One of the most important trends we saw was that kids seemed excited by packages that they recognized. Their excitement also had a lot to do with how we promoted the treats. The more enthusiastic we were, the more enthusiastic they were. So, when giving out healthy treats, make sure to have lots of options, fun Halloween-themed presentation, and a smile on your face.

If you have kids and they bring home candy, it might be a good idea to set rules. For example, some parents choose to limit candy intake to only one per day. Another great idea is to donate the candy to organizations such as Operations Gratitude which sends care packages to troops overseas. Keep an eye out for other donation opportunities in your community.

Having a Halloween party is also a popular activity this time of year. Try serving healthier options such as baby carrots and cherry tomatoes. You can also try an alternative to a caramel apple by making a peanut butter dip for cut-up apple slices (see recipe that follows). Now all that’s left to do is picking out your own Halloween costume! Happy Halloween!

Fruity Peanut Butter Dip

1 medium apple, cored and quartered but not peeled

½ cup dried cranberries

1 cup all natural peanut butter

1/3 cup orange juice

½ teaspoon cinnamon

In a food processor, chop one apple and cranberries.  In a small bowl, combine peanut butter, orange juice and cinnamon.  Stir apple/cranberry mixture into peanut butter mixture until combined.  Cover and refrigerate. Enjoy by dipping in apple slices!

For more recipe ideas, see

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