So for those of you also living in an area with power and passable streets in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy…here are some ideas if you and yours celebrate Halloween with any Trick-or-Treat activities.
(Image ©2012 courtesy of Joan H. used with permission showing celebration of Halloween set up for tourists in the “Haute-Terre” area of Quebec City which we both visited in Oct 2012).
Encourage children to attend community center type Halloween parties and celebrations, where there can be less emphasis on concentrated sweets and more emphasis on activity to celebrate the occasion. Children can still enjoy dressing up in costumes and playing games and having fun with their peer group and still compete for costume prizes.
Be aware that if candy is given out in any neighborhood, sometimes there might be a dentist registered with the Halloween Candy Buyback Program where dentists et al “buyback” pounds of Halloween candy from the children. The candy is collected and then given to Operation Gratitude or a comparable program, which then encloses same in any Holiday Care Packages for the military. Operation Gratitude expects to send out 60,000 Holiday Care Packages (including their Milestone Packages in December), figuring soldiers might find a use for the sweets. BTW, Operation Gratitude also sends out toothbrush&toothpaste sets along with the candy;)
If children come around trick-or-treating in your neighborhood and if you hand out anything, make sure the piece size is appropriate for the general age of the child receiving same to avoid choking hazards.
For the younger children, you could give out non-candy items such as glow type bracelets, glow sticks that bend, stickers, mini rubber duckies, mini slinkys, mini cans of “Play Doh” or mini packs of crayons, etc., and for the little bit older children you could give out colorful pencils and erasers, small puzzles, rubber stamps, Mardi Gras beads, etc. (Be sure not to give out actual “Play-Doh” cans to any younger child who you know is gluten-sensitive).
Try to limit the amount of concentrated sweets children collect by offering appropriate size smaller wrapped candy pieces instead of larger candy bars. Hopefully children will have to do more walking around to obtain them.
If a lot of children come around, consider handing out smaller size candy items such as various wrapped miniatures of plain or dark chocolate with rice or nut pieces in them (as opposed to anything with caramel, etc., that is more likely to stick to teeth longer).
You could also consider handing out shelf stable mini-boxes of raisins or other dried fruit pieces. (We avoid giving out bags of perishable items such as petite baby carrots or apple slices, etc., because of potential food safety/spoilage issues).
If only a limited number of children come around, consider handing out intact clementines (mandarin oranges), sold in many “club” type warehouse stores that so many consumers shop in today, such as BJs Wholesale Club, Costco, Sam’s Club, etc. A dietetic colleague has fun putting stickers on them to create faces so that they look like Jack-O’-Lanterns.
Possibly you could give out mini bags of specialty prezels (without the added salt pieces on them) available shaped like bats or Jack-O’-Lanterns or other Halloween theme shapes possibly available in your area through a warehouse club such as Costco.
If you know the children and there are only a limited number and they are not the younger age ones (so not prone to choking), you could don food preparation gloves and make up homemade treats from simple popped popcorn that is the hot air type and placed in baggies. If you know there are no allergy issues, you can make up simple trail mix or granola mix treat baggies.
You could also consider giving out other types of little treat bags that you make up yourself. You might purchase options such as mini-size animal and mini-size graham crackers, or you might bake something yourself to fill such treat bags.
If you know the children who are trick-or-treating and there are a limited number, you can make simple lower fat and lower sugar unfrosted mini carrot cupcakes, or mini sweet potato cupcakes, or mini spice or gingerbread cupcakes, or even mini wacky cocoa flavor cupcakes (based on a milk-free and egg-free wacky cake recipe). You could also consider giving out mini cookies along the same flavor themes. We’ve made a modified version of a carrot cake recipe from Evelyn Tribole available via the Frontier™ Natural Products Co-op store site and found on the www for years now–a “lite” modified carrot cake recipe–we often even skip the nuts, skip the frosting, and skip the pineapple–the recipe is still both delicious & fairly nutritious.
For even more ideas, you can check out blog posts of other dietetic professional colleagues who try to promote sensible eating messages through sites such as AroundthePlate.org, DietitiansOnline.com, or NutritionBlogNetwork.com
For a “How to Have a Healthy Halloween” theme, one of those networked blog sites, AroundthePlate.org, is featuring some additional specific blogs from Run Eat Play, Oatmeal With a Fork, Good Food Tastes Good, and Nutrition4Life.
Stay safe everyone!