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More Tricks than Treats: Healthy Halloween

Often a day of candy, treats, and sugar, a healthy Halloween might be an oxymoron. By focusing more on getting dressed up and the fun of playing games and tricks, you can focus less on food and celebrate the festivities with healthier options.


Giving Out (Tricks or) Treats

If you are planning to offer trick or treat at your door, consider these options:

    Non-food treats such as:

    • glow-in-the-dark sticks
    • themed pencils, straws, stickers, key chains, etc.
    • colored toothbrushes
    • themed costume items (fake teeth, eyeball)
    • plastic jewelry (rings, bracelets)
    • pennies or other coins
    • toys (whistles, jump rope)

    Healthier food treats such as:

    • Bite-sized candy bars (this is all about appropriate portion sizes)
    • Reduced-sugar granola bars (you can find these prepackaged)
    • Individually packaged foods (popped or unpopped popcorn, crackers, cookies)
    • Hot cocoa packets
    • Whole fruits (bananas, apples, oranges)

    Trick or treaters

    After (Trick or) Treating

    1. Parents and adults should sort through their child's bag(s) of treats.

    • Check for and discard: open or broken packages, expired items, foods with allergens (if your child is so afflicted), or anything you would prefer your child not to have. "When in doubt, throw it out" for any treats you are unsure of.

    2. Use the remaining candy and food treats as teachable moments about patience and portion control.

    • Let your kids pick what piece or pieces of candy they want to eat the night of Halloween and what they will save for later.
    • Spread candy picks out over weeks or months. (And, extra candy can always be thrown out!)
    • Break large candy bars into smaller pieces to give kids a more appropriate portion size.
    • Pair treats with a healthier option, such as a mini candy bar with apple slices.  (Remember, occasional sweets can fit into a healthy diet.)

    3. Make sure kids brush their teeth and floss!

    • Treats and candy stick to teeth and frequently lead to cavities. Limiting the amount and how frequently kids have Halloween treats can help, but make sure to take care of oral hygiene.

    Halloween-themed bag

    Celebrating and Partying

    Halloween parties or themed meals and snacks are a fun way to break out your artsy side. Kids will have fun with this, so let them help in the kitchen too.

    Meal Ideas

    • Pizzas with pumpkin faces (try English muffins or pizza dough, orange cheese, cut up olives for face shapes)
    • Scary brain pasta (try spaghetti and marinara sauce with shredded cheese) - just giving unexpected names to usual recipes can make a fun, themed meal!


    • Banana ghosts (press mini chocolate chips onto bananas to make fun or scary faces)
    • Clementine pumpkins (peel clementines but keep whole and stick in a small piece of celery like the stem or do not peel clementines and draw on pumpkin faces with a marker)

    Or search "Halloween food art" or "Halloween snack/meal ideas" on the web for additional ideas.

    Calorie Compare

    Looking to save calories this Halloween? Be careful what you pick!

    • Whole apple: 90 calories
    • Caramel apple: 240 calories
    • Air popped popcorn (3 cups): 80 calories
    • Popcorn ball (1 each): 150 calories (varies by recipe)
    • Hot chocolate (8 oz): 120 calories
    • Milk chocolate bar (1 mini): 190 calories
    • Apple cider (8 oz): 120 calories
    • Apple juice (8 oz): 120 calories
    • Peanut butter (2 Tbsp): 190 calories
    • Peanut butter cup (1.5 oz package): 230 calories

    Recipe Corner

    Pumpkin Peanut Butter Dip (Serves 40)

    3/4 cup peanut butter
    1-4 Tbsp brown sugar (to taste)
    1 tsp vanilla
    3/4 cup canned pumpkin

    1. Mix peanut butter and brown sugar. Add vanilla and stir.
    2. Add pumpkin and stir until well blended.  Refrigerator or until ready to eat.
    3. Serve with graham crackers, bread, apple slices, celery sticks, etc.

    Nutrition Facts using 4 Tbsp brown sugar (per 1 Tablespoon): 35 calories, 3g fat, 25mg sodium, 3g carbohydrates, 0g fiber, 1g protein

    Recipe courtesy of Illinois Nutrition Education Programs.

    Today's post was written by Caitlin Huth. Caitlin Huth, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian and Nutrition & Wellness Educator serving DeWitt, Macon, and Piatt Counties. She teaches nutrition- and food-based lessons around heart health, food safety, diabetes, and others. In all classes, she encourages trying new foods, gaining confidence in healthy eating, and getting back into our kitchens.