5 tips to have a healthier Halloween.


Photo by: damianshaw.com

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Surviving Halloween

The cobwebs are starting to reappear; pumpkins are being carved and the spiders are being arranged……it is almost Halloween!

While Halloween has not been a holiday we have traditionally celebrated here in Australia, if you are a parent of small children you will have noticed that Halloween celebrations are becoming more and more common in residential communities.

So if you are trying to keep your kids sugar intake as low as possible, how can you tackle Halloween and the treats it brings in bucket loads?

1. Remember it is one night only

While dietary purism is coveted by many, the reality is that an occasional treat will cause no long term harm even for a small child and in many cases the excitement of Halloween will be of more interest to little ones, as will be collecting the treats, as opposed to eating them. If you are participating in Halloween (and no one has too) it is unreasonable to expect the kids to not want to enjoy the loot they have scored but imparting some limits can go a long way. 

2. Limits are the key

Like all behavioural management strategies, limits are the key to balance. As a parent if you impose overly restrictive food rules, especially for kids older than 8 – 10 years it is likely to back fire and rather ignite their interest in eating more of the banned foods.

Taking a more reasonable approach and agreeing to a certain number of treats that can be consumed the night of Halloween before putting them away for a later date allows for some enjoyment minus a complete sugar blow out. Distribute supplies throughout the evening so they do not get too attached to the total amount of candy and encourage them to share with friends and family. Then put what they have collected out of sight the night of Halloween and after a day or two many will even forget they had it at all. 

3. Keep portions small

The smaller the child, the smaller the treats should be – think individual lollies rather than packets; small lollipops that take longer to eat and mini chocolates. Linking the number of treats to age too can work well – ie 4 year old, 4 treats in total max and share the rest with others. 

4. Avoid the lollies

If we are getting technical about it, small chocolate bars are slightly better than lollies and can be slightly more difficult to overeat (maybe). 

5. Make some healthy options

Filling the kids up with a meal before they head out trick or treating will help to limit the amounts of sweet foods they can tolerate and having a few healthier fun foods on hand such as Mummy Pizzas, Banana Ghosts and Halloween Spiders (recipes below) are Halloween friendly options that do offer some nutrition.

Recipes

Mummy Pizzas

Makes 8 mini pizzas.

Photo by: damianshaw.comIngredients

Packet of 8 mini wholemeal pita pockets

140g tub of Leggo’s pizza sauce (1.5g sugar per tablespoon)

3 tomatoes, thinly sliced

8 button mushrooms, thinly sliced

16 thin slices of unprocessed ham

8 slices of light tasty cheese

1 jar of sliced kalamata olives

Method

1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.

2. Distribute the pita pockets on the baking trays. Top each with 1 tbsp of pizza sauce and smear out with the back of a spoon. Then top each pizza with 2-3 slices of tomato, sliced mushroom and 1-2 slices of ham so it covers the whole pizza.

3. Slice cheese slices long ways in half centimetre strips to make the Mummy bandages. Place the cheese strips along the pita pockets to look like wrapped bandages. Tuck two pieces of sliced olives into the cheese bandages as eyes.

4. Bake in the oven for around 10 minutes or until the cheese has begun to melt and the edges are beginning to brown and crisp.

Photo by: damianshaw.com

Banana Ghosts

Makes 12 ghosts

Ingredients

2 x 170g tubs of Greek or Coconut Yoghurt

24 dark chocolate bits

6 small bananas cut in halves

Method

1. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

2. Dip each banana in yoghurt and add 2 eyes and a mouth using dark chocolate bits.

3. Place in the freezer to set for around 1 hour.

Photo by: damianshaw.comScary Spiders

Makes 16 spiders

Ingredients

1 cup roasted almonds

1 cup macadamias

3/4 cup 100% nut spread (peanut butter or mixed nut spread as preferred)

1 cup chopped dates

2 tablespoons cacao

Coconut for coating

Method

1. In a food processor, place macadamias, almonds, nut spread and cacao powder and process. Add dates and process until the mixture comes together. If the mixture is too dry, you can add a few drops of water and process again.

2. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of cacao onto a plate. Roll the mixture into 16 balls, then roll into the cacao powder. Press 2 white chocolate buttons into the spiders as eyes. Use the dark chocolate icing pen to dot eyeballs in the middle of the white chocolate buttons.

3. Break pretzels to make curved spider legs. Press 3 pretzel legs into the side of every spider so they curve downwards.

4. Allow the spiders to set in the fridge for an hour.

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