By, Sammy Caiola
Native Foods Cafe
Halloween has always been my all-time favorite holiday. I’ve got so many fond memories of sewing handmade costumes with my mom, carving jack-o-lanterns with my dad and running around the neighborhood with my friends in a desperate search for candy.
The only downside is that it isn’t exactly the healthiest holiday. The average American consumes 1.9 POUNDS of chocolate on Halloween, which is a huge chunk of the 10-12 pounds of chocolate that the average American eats in a given year. Now that’s scary. And if you thought the fast pace of trick-or-treating might balance out the extravagant eating, you’re living in a fantasy. about 5 miles of walking over the course of two hours would burn a little over 400 calories- that’s the equivalent of about 5 ½ fun size bars. Your child will need a lot more physical activity than a brisk evening stroll to attempt to undo Halloween’s damage.
Native Foods Cafe uses this image courtesy of livestrong.com
The other option is to do less damage in the first place. While you don’t want to prevent your child from enjoying Halloween like everyone else (I know if I was the only kid not allowed to have candy I’d be furious), you can talk to him or her about healthy moderation. Explain to your child the sugar and fat content of processed candy and what those things can do to his or her body. Feed your child a full, nutritious, Halloween-themed meal before the trick-or-treating adventure so they aren’t itching to guzzle down the sweets before they even hit the collection bag.
Also urge to your child that just because he or she collected the candy, it does not all have to be eaten. Leftover Halloween candy can be donated to the troops or to local nursing home or food bank. You can put out a bowl in the office or encourage your child to save it for the pinata at his or her next birthday party. You can incorporate it into gifts for friends or teachers, or use it as decoration in a pretty bowl. Also, there are tons of adorable crafts you can make with leftover candy, like gumdrop wreaths or lollipop bouquets.
Native Foods Cafe uses this image courtesy of Jenni Swenson.
If you’re heading a family of vegans, you’ll inevitably need to have some cruelty-free candy around the house for your child and their friends. You could even buy the vegan candy in bulk and hand it out to trick-or-treaters! Vegnews has a very comprehensive list of vegan candy, but my favorite vegan candy companies are Sweet & Sara and Allison’s Gourmet. Also there are some commercial, non-organic candies that are actually vegan too!
-Airheads (select flavors)
-Jolly Ranchers hard candy
-Newman’s Own Licorice Twists
-Skittles (select flavors)
Native Foods uses this image courtesy of staples.com.
Or, if you want to avoid the candy situation entirely (probably a smart move), there are some healthy alternatives to give to trick-or-treaters. You and your child can shop for and prepare these together while learning how dessert can actually be healthy and still taste great. You may want to stay away from fresh fruit and produce or homemade treats, as many parents will throw them out. But here’s a short list of pre-packaged healthy snacks that kids will enjoy:
-single serving pretzels,popcorn or crackers
-dried fruit (mango, banana chips, candied strawberries)
-sugar free gum
-pumpkin or sunflower seeds
-dark chocolate bites
-juice boxes (look for low sugar, high Vitamin C)
On another note, I also found lots of ideas for non-candy Halloween giveaways:
-pencils and other school supplies
-fake fangs or bug rings
-marbles or bouncy balls