Halloween ranks up there as one of the most anticipated holiday for kids and families, probably just behind Christmas and birthdays. One of the most exciting parts of Halloween for kids, aside from the super cool costumes, is the candy. Let’s face it, most kids love candy and they can’t wait to get their hands on it this Halloween, but that doesn’t mean you have to be the one to give it to them.
We all know that candy is not the best thing for kids but, as a dietitian, I personally don’t mind that kids indulge on special occasions. Even so, it makes sense to be the parent to offer novel non-candy treat solutions. The other parents will love you for it, and hey, it just may catch on.
Like the idea, but need some inspiration?
There are 3 categories of Halloween treats that I will discuss today:
1. Non-candy Halloween treats that can be given to trick or treaters
Keeping in mind that trick or treaters can only be given pre-wrapped, store-bought treats due to safety issues, take a look at the following suggestions:
Rice Krispies Mini Halloween Bars: Rice Krispies may not be the most healthy snack option on any other day of the year, but on Halloween these appropriately themed miniature squares are a great candy-replacement.
Mr. Christies Star Wars Snack Packs: Year after year Star Wars costumes are among the most popular with children that I see on my street, and it makes perfect sense to leverage this into a non-candy Halloween treat. They may not be the healthiest everyday option, but the chocolate cookie version of Darth Vader is pretty awesome and sure to be a hit with kids and adults alike
Mini Goldfish Packs: Pepperidge Farm Goldfish are extremely popular with children and are also released in special Halloween editions, making them a perfect treat for this category.
2. Non-candy Halloween treats that can be made for parties, events or school functions
This is the real fun and creative stuff that brings out your true Halloween spirit.
Monster Cereal ( ie: General Mills Count Chocula): Once a permanent fixture on store shelves, these General Mills classics are now usually only available leading up to Halloween. I know what you’re thinking, and your right, these cereals are among the least healthy cereals on the market, but they are still a much more nutritious option than candy or chocolate bars. They contain a small amount of fibre and are a source of numerous vitamins and minerals, not to mention that they are very spooky and ideal for Halloween.
Witches Broom(Bread) Sticks: On any other day of the year, breadsticks are breadsticks, but not on Halloween. Serve breadsticks in a witch themed mug or plate and offer the dip in a “witches cauldron” to really get spooky this Halloween.
Spooky Rice Cakes: A rice cake is a blank canvas for a child or parent on Halloween. Coat it with a base of peanut butter or orange marmalade (pumpkin themed) and the sky is the limit with the kind of spooky creations you can come up with. Looking for some ideas? Check these designs out.
Carved Oranges: There are some very creative people online that have done great things with carved oranges. Take advantage of the fact that an orange is, more or less, a miniature version of a pumpkin. Of course, you can’t carve the orange until the delicious and nutritious inside is consumed first. Alternatively, you can use a marker to draw in pumpkin faces on tangerines or clementines.
Spooky Muffins: Muffins made with whole grain flour, eggs and milk are a nutritious alternative to candy. They can be decorated in a variety of ways to fit into a Halloween theme, check out this sample recipe from Kraft.
Pumpkin Popcorn: Good old fashioned air popped popcorn is probably one of the healthiest foods you can serve on Halloween. You can use red and yellow food colouring to make the popcorn orange or you can try using a combination of red, blue and green to give it a spooky black appearance.
Banana Ghosts: Kudos to the inventor of the banana ghost, a healthy creation that kids might actually go for this Halloween. Wondering how to make a banana look like a ghost? It’s quite simple, just peel a banana and cut it in half, using chocolate chips for the eyes. You will be surprised how much this straightforward creation really does resemble a ghost.
Strawberry Ghosts: If you like the banana ghost idea but want to take it to the next level of creativity and complexity, I suggest checking out the strawberry ghost. This very creative creation requires more preparation and the final product probably isn’t quite as healthy as the banana ghost, but it is impressive none the less.
3. Non-candy non-food Halloween treats that can be given to trick or treaters
For those who want to give something out to trick or treaters that is not consumable, consider some of the following options:
Halloween-themed pencils and stationary
Spooky books and/or bookmarks
Halloween-themed temporary tattoos or jewellery
Mini Slinkies or Yo-Yos
Halloween-themed colouring books
I hope some of these ideas have helped prove to you that candy and chocolate bars aren’t the only ways to get kids into the Halloween spirit. What I have provided here today is only a sample of the different ways you incorporate healthy or relatively healthy foods in a fun way this Halloween. Get your kids involved and use your imaginations, the sky really is the limit with this stuff!
Wishing you all a spooky, safe and (relatively) healthy Halloween!
Andy De Santis RD MPH
Andy is a Toronto-based registered dietitian and nutrition writer who holds a master’s degree in public health nutrition. You can learn more about Andy and his services at AndyTheRD.com.