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Halloween doesn't have to be all candy, all the time

I am a registered dietitian, certified kid's nutrition specialist, and master gardener in addition to being a farmer's market loving food nerd.

Try these 5 tips for a healthier Halloween for your kids

It's likely you’ve noticed the few extra aisles at the grocery store overflowing with candy for Halloween trick or treaters. As a health conscience parent, the idea of passing out gobs of candy to little ones is a bit unsettling. How can you treat without getting tricked? Here are some healthy Halloween treats, both edible and not, that are sure to make even the spookiest ghost or goblin smile.

1. Give out non-food treats

One easy way to avoid doling out unhealthy snacks is to avoid food-based treats. Kids love keepsakes and treasures, so think stocking stuffer size. Check out party supply stores to find inexpensive trinkets.
• bouncy balls
• themed erasers or pencils
• coloring books
• print a Halloween picture for kids to color when they get home
• pennies or nickels
• stickers
• polished rocks or seashells

2. Hand out health Halloween snacks

For safety's sake, any snacks you hand out to kids need to be sealed and tamper-proof, so all of the following suggestions are available in individual packaging.

• pre-packaged single-serving bags of pretzels, cereal, crackers or trail mix
• microwave popcorn
• granola bars
• mini juice boxes (100 percent juice, of course)
• organic fruit cups or pre-packaged applesauce
• a packet of hot chocolate or hot apple cider mix
• string cheese
• organic fruit leather
• honey sticks (not for children under 2)

Pace the candy consumption

Your little pumpkin still managed to bring home a bag full of candy, but that doesn’t mean he needs to eat it all at once. Have him pick out an item or two, then store the rest away and limit how much he can have each day.

Even better, find a place where you and your child can donate some of the candy. At Halloween Candy Buyback, enter your zip code to find a participating dentist who will buy back your child's Halloween candy at a dollar a pound, and then send the candy to troops overseas.

4. Inspect the treats

Look through all of the items your child brings home from Halloween festivities. Scan through each item to be sure it is food-allergy friendly and has not been opened or tampered with.

5. Think "green Halloween"

You usually think of orange — not green — at this time of year. But many parents are looking for ways to participate in holiday traditions that keep the health of the environment in mind. Going green is as much about what you don't buy as what you buy, so opt for old pillow cases for trick-or-treating, recyclable decor and set up a costume swap with fellow parents.

Here's to a healthy Halloween!

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