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Halloween is a fun day full of costumes, imagination and, of course, tons of candy. The COVID-19 pandemic may mean Halloween looks different this year. However, there are some low-risk ways you can still participate, such as having a Halloween party with the members of your household. Here are some tips to make your at-home party fun and healthy.

Remember Balance

Keep in mind, Halloween is just one day a year, and it’s what kids eat every day that has the most impact on their nutrition and health. Instead of making candy and sweet treats off-limits, serve healthy snacks first, and bring out the sweet treats later when the kids have already filled up on more nutritious foods. One idea is to choose orange foods for the healthy options, such as carrots or baked sweet potato fries. Try adding green guacamole “slime” for a dose of heart-healthy unsaturated fat.

For a heartier choice, try black and orange tortilla roll-ups made by layering lean roast beef and low-fat provolone or mozzarella cheese on a sun-dried tomato tortilla. (For a veggie option, use refried black beans instead of roast beef.)

Practice Portion Control

For those special sweet treats that you do allow, provide small portions. Choose fun-size — instead of full-size — candies, miniature cupcakes or muffins, and smaller cookies and brownies (think 2 inches). Serve each child rather than leaving treats out on a table in order to regulate how many servings each child consumes.

Make Your Own Healthier Treats

Make your own treats that have some nutritional value by including a source of fruits, vegetables nuts or whole grains. Try popcorn tossed with cinnamon and sugar or chocolate-covered fresh fruit as healthier alternatives to candy.  Go for pumpkin treats, such as fiber-packed cinnamon-roasted pumpkin seeds or vitamin A-rich pumpkin chocolate chip mini muffins.

Consider these other healthy, Halloween-themed snack ideas:

  • Warm apple cider with cinnamon sticks
  • Smoothies made with low-fat vanilla yogurt and canned pumpkin
  • Apple slices with a fruit dip made with yogurt mixed with canned pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice
  • Date and pumpkin energy balls
  • Pumpkin pie dip made with low-fat cream cheese, Greek yogurt, roasted pumpkin and spices
  • Baked apples or pears with cinnamon, nuts and honey
  • Chocolate chip pumpkin bars made with half whole-wheat flour

Get Everyone Up and Moving

Make sure that the party isn’t all about the food. Plan fun activities and games to get the kids moving, such as a costume parade or relay race. Try “Monster Tag” — one child is the monster and whomever he or she tags turns into a zombie.

Limit Leftover Candy

When the fun of Halloween is over and kids are left with lots of candy, encourage mindful enjoyment of the treats without restrictive deprivation. Try putting the candy away in a place that is out of sight and you may find that the kids forget about it after a few days. You also can mix leftover candy with whole-grain cereal, nuts and a few pretzels to make a homemade trail mix for snacks.

Make this Halloween an opportunity to teach your child to enjoy special treats,  in moderation, as part of an overall healthy diet.

Source: Esther Ellis, RDN, Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics

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