4 Tips for a Festive and Healthy Halloween
I love Halloween. However, I always feel a little queasy at the thought of purchasing plastic costumes that I hope will last the night and of my kids eating loads of sugar. I don’t want anyone to miss out on the fun but I also don’t want our immune systems to take the hit of all that sugar right as the seasons change- a hand delivered, candy-coated invitation to the flu. Here I’ve assembled 4 tips I’ve used for making this a fun and healthy holiday for my family without adding to an already busy schedule.
If your child is small enough you can create a planned route and ask your friends or family to hand out something healthy or even something that you’ve given them ahead of time. When my daughter was little she had a serious health condition and was on a super strict diet. She dressed up like a little black cat and we went to all of our friends houses within walking distance. There she received homemade popcorn, an apple, and fun things like pencils and erasers. She loved it and had no idea that her Halloween was any different from the neighbors.
If your kids are older talk to them. If they are old enough to understand explain how poisonous sugar is. I’ve been straight up with my kids about sugar since they were very small and even though they love the occasional treat, they do not binge when on their own or try to sneak it. Now if they don’t understand, or care (totally plausible, lol) bribe them. Yes, bribe them! They can Trick or Treat to their little heart’s content and then trade most of their candy to you for 25 cents a piece. That really adds up! Alternatively, our kids have traded in the goods for their favorite “healthy” indulgence, like a box of organic soy ice cream sandwiches. They don’t get to eat them all at once, of course, and I feel better about the ingredients. It’s a compromise.
Homemade costumes are the best! Get crafty with the kids. The joy of making your own costume is that you aren’t limited to what’s available in the store. When my daughter was in 5th grade she wanted to be a mosquito. She’s a quirky kid I admit. We made her costume together with clothes hangers and tea strainers among other available materials. Inventing, and then actually creating, a costume together is not only hilarious but it gives kids a feeling of accomplishment which they then get to parade around. There are many websites with directions for easy homemade costumes if you feel out of your comfort zone winging it.
Homemade candies and treats. Now these are not acceptable to hand out in most neighborhoods but a great alternative to give to your own family and friends. The first recipe is adapted from the 1970 classic Nature’s Children by herbalist Juliette de Bairacli Levy. This book is filled with wonderful stories and recipes for kids and was a true companion to me as I raised my babies in the Virginia woodlands. The second recipe comes from Spirit of the Harvest: North American Indian Cooking by Beverly Cox and Martin Jacobs. This has been another of my staples as a mom trying to create wholesome, seasonal treats.
Nut Butter Candy:
Ingredients: one cup favorite nut butter (I use peanut or almond, preferably chunky), one cup thick honey*, two cups powdered milk, dried coconut (optional).
To Make:Put the honey into a bowl and gradually stir the nut butter into this with a fork; finally mix in the dry milk. Combine together very well.
Now prepare a shallow tin covered with wax paper. Pour the candy on to this, press down firmly and then cut into squares, or make into circles by using a bottle top. Or the candy can be shaped into a roll of about one inch thickness and chilled hard. Then rolled in more powdered milk (or dried coconut) and cut crosswise into pieces. For handing out, individually wrap candies in small pieces of waxed paper, twisting the ends.
*Doctors recommend that children 12 months and under should not eat honey.
Algonquian Maple Popcorn Balls:
Ingredients: ¼ cup popping corn, ½ teaspoon salt (optional), 1 cup maple syrup, 1 ½ teaspoons butter.
To Make: Pop corn following package instructions. Season with salt, if desired. Heat syrup and butter in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until temperature reaches 250 degrees F, or until a few drops form soft balls when dropped in cold water. Remove pan from heat, and pour mixture over popcorn. When mixture is cool enough, toss popcorn with syrup and mold into balls, and cool on a buttered baking sheet. Store cooled popcorn balls in an airtight container.
Makes about 8
I hope you have a fun and magical Halloween!