Whether you call it Halloween, Harvest Fest, Trunk or Treat, or something else, October 31 – this coming Wednesday – is one of those times of the year where kids (and, yes, plenty of adults, too) can load up on all the candy and other sweets they want without being subjected to the usual guilt trip. Keep in mind, though, that cramming all that sugar and those calories will not go unnoticed by your body, and gorging on sweets this one day/night can mean opening the door and lowering your resistance for a whole lot more food indulgence to come during the holidays. We don't want to put a damper into your holiday fun on October 31 – or the days surrounding – but it wouldn't hurt to come up with some healthier alternatives for you and the kids to enjoy without giving them a sense they are being deprived. OK, so you can't control what sort of sugary gunk others will stick in your child's trick-or-treat bag, but perhaps you can entice them with healthier treats that include some sweets without sending them into blood-sugar crisis mode.
Keeping Things Sweet but HealthierThere's no law preventing you from having your kids dump out the contents of their bags in front of you so you can help them sort through all the items and determined which can go in their mouths and which need to be banished to the trash. What you can also control are what's served at various Halloween/Harvest Fest parties, in addition to what you hand out at your front door when costumed kiddoes come a callin'. Granted, some of the healthier treats are costlier than the typical pieces of candy found in trick-or-treat bags, but consider that a small investment in your child's health. Here are some healthier suggestions for the holiday:
- Dark chocolate. Ok, there's no getting around having at least some candy bars as well as lots of chocolate. Dark chocolate is not only a safe bet, it's a healthy one. Most dark chocolate bars provide beneficial antioxidants, and they typically go easy on the calories and fat grams.
- Twizzlers. Per greatist.com, these are a low-fat treat skimping on calories and fat grams. By the way, beginning this list with two candy items is not license to pig out on them, as the idea here is to use discretion as well as restraint. Just don't abuse these or any other candies, and be sure to coach your kids on what's going on here, and why.
- Mini-Granola bars. Look for the ones that come individually wrapped and include dark chocolate among its main ingredients, such as those sold by KIND, per everydayhealth.com. These typically have a lower calorie count and an abundance of fiber to help fill those little tummies.
- Yogurt-covered raisins. Yogurt is good for you and so are raisins (they're a fruit, after all), so this sounds like a pretty healthy combination. They come in small boxes distributed by Sun-Maid.
- Fruit Chews. Annie's Fruit Snacks is what's recommended by huffpost.com, as they come in small packs, making them suitable for easy and safe distribution at the front door to your house.
- Cinnamon cookies. What kid (or adult) doesn't like great-tasting cookies, and cinnamon cookies sure make a nice treat, especially convenient for passing out at parties. Cinnamon is a sweet confection known for its health benefits, and if you really want to get kids' attention, make up a batch of these cookies shaped into whatever suits your party theme, whether it be scary figures or something less spooky like a pumpkin.
- Tasty creations. If you're into the scary stuff but want to avoid food choices or concoctions that are frighteningly unhealthy, be creative. Per activekids.com, one such suggestion is making monster teeth out of sliced granny smith apples (one slice atop the other forms the mouth), natural organic peanut butter (the gums ), yogurt-covered goji berries (the teeth), and lemon juice (to prevent browning). Another nifty creation, per popsugar.com, are pretzel brooms formed by affixing short strands of string cheese to one end of the pretzel stick. It's not particularly sweet, but its tasty and, well, cool, witch is nice.