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Tricks for healthier Halloween treats

Halloween is one of those rare occasions when indulging is expected. The whole premise of the holiday is to dress up and collect candy, but the night in question doesn’t have to be one big sugar high. We have some simple tricks for slowing candy consumption (it really is possible) and slipping some healthy treats into the mix.

Kids sorting candy on Halloween

Stock up on healthier treats

Not all Halloween treats are created equal. Instead of filling your cart with heaps of chocolate bars and gummy candies, think about buying treats that rank higher up on the health scale. Mini boxes of raisins, granola bars, nuts, fruit roll-ups and unflavored popcorn are all better options than much of what you’ll find in the candy aisle.

We’re also intrigued by UNREAL candies, which offer a healthier approach to sweet treats. Created by a candy-loving 15-year-old boy upset by his parents when he woke up to find they had confiscated half of his Halloween haul a couple of years ago, UNREAL delivers candy with less sugar, more protein and more fiber. Unlike typical candy bars, these treats are also free of corn syrup, hydrogenated oil, artificial flavors, GMOs and synthetic colors.

butternut squashStart with a healthy dinner

Let’s face it: It’ll be pretty tempting not to dip into that ever-growing stash of candy your kids are accumulating as they canvass the neighborhood for treats. Balance the impending sugar rush with a healthy meal before they head out the door. Lean protein, whole grains and lots of vegetables are essential for a well-balanced Halloween meal.

Try this: Roasted butternut or acorn squash over quinoa with grilled chicken, tofu or fish, and a side of sauteed kale or Swiss chard. Add a simple yogurt sauce (Greek yogurt, one clove of minced garlic, lemon juice, honey, and salt and pepper) to drizzle over the greens and quinoa.

Implement a post-Halloween treat strategy

Once all that candy makes its way back the house, you’re going to want a plan in place for making sure it doesn’t all disappear within the next several days (or fewer).

Step one: Let them dive in (within reason). They’re going to want to enjoy the spoils from their night out, so let them indulge in a few pieces so they don’t feel deprived.

Step two: Ration what’s left. Tell them they can have one piece of candy every day (two on weekends), but no more.

Step three: Introduce some healthier treats. Sure, they want to be scarfing every mini chocolate bar in sight, but you can ease their sugar withdrawal with items that pack more of a nutritional punch. Try real juice popsicles, mini chocolate zucchini muffins, yogurt and fruit “sundaes,” and other tasty but healthy snacks.

Change what defines a treat

The snacks you give out can also mean post-Halloween temptation (for you and your kids) when you find yourself with multiple leftover treats. Rather than face an extra-large box of candy, chips or chocolate bars, why not hand out something totally different? Hit the local dollar store and stock up on trinkets and toys you can hand out instead. Stickers, figurines, pencil crayons, key chains, colorful notebooks and other mini (non-edible) items are an easy way to offer something unique to trick-or-treaters and say no to extra sugar.

Get more active on the big night

If you’re going out trick-or-treating with your little witches, ghosts and goblins, why not start early and build in a longer neighborhood walk? Better yet, join up with a few other nearby families to check out the Halloween decorations in your area before hitting the trick-or-treating trail. The extra exercise will help counteract all those excess calories!

Fall fitness: Outdoor family activities >>

More healthy eating tips

Power foods to help guard your health
How to fall in love with healthy, delicious foods
Secrets of great parfaits

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