Attention Alabama Halloween Candy Lovers: Make this holiday a little healthier with a little planning

Tis the season for spooky ghosts, pumpkins, and maybe even a few delicious treats. Children and adults alike look forward to costumes and candy. However, fruits and vegetables can be part of the holiday fun.

Katie Funderburk, Alabama Cooperative Extension System Specialist and Registered Dietitian, said Halloween is a great time to introduce kids to healthy foods through cooking crafts and themed snacks.

“Letting children play with food or participate in cooking or preparation can really help picky eaters to try new fruits and vegetables,” she said.

Halloween Sugar Overload: A Lesson Learned

Parents should decide what to do with the stash of Halloween candy their kids bring home, Funderburk said. But whatever the approach, balancing it with healthy foods and exercise is key.

“Different approaches work for different families. Some like to enjoy candy without inhibitions on the holiday to keep the traditions they experienced as children. Eating a variety of foods and living an active lifestyle is a year-round practice that won’t be derailed by holiday indulgence.”

Having an abundance of candy available can be an opportunity to teach children about the importance of oral hygiene. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers oral hygiene tips for children, including brushing twice a day and drinking tap water that contains fluoride important for strong teeth.

Funderburk said sugar intake can be monitored in other ways, such as offering water or milk instead of sugar-sweetened beverages and moving sugary snacks to a higher shelf in the pantry or somewhere out of sight.

For families looking to cut down on candy around Halloween, Funderburk has a few more tips:

“Serve a few pieces of candy for dessert alongside a healthy meal, or include them on a platter with nutrient-dense cheese and crackers or veggies and dip,” she said. “Mix candies into homemade mix, granola, or plain popcorn to serve alongside high-fiber foods.”

Funderburk advises against using candy as a reward—or withholding it as a punishment—because research shows it can backfire and make the candy more desirable in the long run.

Cooking and crafting together in the kitchen and dancing to silly Halloween songs are great ways to make healthy food and physical activity fun for the whole family.

Check out the following fun and healthy Halloween-themed snacks from the Live Well kitchen.

banana ghosts, tangerine pumpkinsBanana ghosts and tangerine pumpkins

Ingredients

  • bananas
  • Tangerines
  • Raisins
  • celery stalks

There’s nothing like simple but effective when making spooky treats. Let’s start with a simple treat that will help even smaller children to create. Banana ghosts and tangerine pumpkins are Halloween favorites.

For the ghosts, peel a banana, cut it in half, and use raisins for the eyes and mouth. Nut butter or toothpicks can be used to hold in place if needed.

For the pumpkins, peel the tangerine, cut the celery stalks into thirds and place the stem in the top of the tangerine. The result is a beautiful little pumpkin full of nutrients that children need, such as potassium, fiber and vitamin C.

Frozen yogurt ghostsPopsicle ghosts

Ingredients

  • greek yogurt
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Raisins

Greek yogurt, raisins, and popsicle sticks are the only ingredients for these terrifying frozen visitors.

First, take out a cookie sheet and line it with a few popsicle sticks. Take a sandwich bag and cut a small hole in the corner. Put yogurt in a sandwich bag and write on a stick in the shape of a ghost. Use raisins as eyes and mouth. Put them in the freezer for about 30 minutes. So enjoy it!

white brooms, brown boardBrooms for pretzels

Ingredients

  • Pretzel sticks
  • Cheese sticks

Who doesn’t love a delicious snack with a bit of magic to clean up after? Well, it probably won’t do any cleaning, but it certainly won’t last long.

To make the pretzel brooms:

  1. Peel the mozzarella stick (or any cheese stick) and cut it into thirds.
  2. Cut the bottom of each cheese stick into strips diagonally to look like a broom.
  3. Take a pretzel stick and place it on top of the cheese to create tiny broomsticks.

Now you’re ready to grab a snack, sweep the counter, or maybe go for a drive around the neighborhood.

Grape spidersSpider fruit/pretzel

Ingredients

  • Plum
  • Pretzel sticks
  • Dark grapes

These spooky little creepers will add a touch of nutrition and flavor to any Halloween snack this year.

The body of the spider is a plum and the legs are grapes. Start by taking thin pretzel sticks and running a few through the grapes and into the side of the plum. In the last cluster of the leg, take another pretzel and place it on the bottom, adding more grapes until the bottom of the leg hits the surface.

Repeat this process to create eight legs for your spider.

Vegetable monsterVegetable monster

Ingredients

Be careful when creating this vegetable monster because it can come to life. In all seriousness, this creature has a lot of ingredients that were alive at some point. It’s best to follow these instructions and use a visual aid to help build the monster.

Starting from the head, start with a small bowl and use the lettuce leaves to create the monster’s hair. Then fill a small bowl with Live Well Alabama’s Creamy Cucumber Dill Dip. Take two black olives and place them on top of the dip as eyes.

Moving to the body, use celery stalks as shoulders, baby carrots as arms, and cauliflower florets as hands. Place several overlapping cucumber slices in a row to look like a backbone, and use pepper slices as ribs.

Use sliced ​​mushrooms for the sides, more stalks of celery for the top leg, cauliflower for the knee, peppers for the bottom leg, grape tomatoes for the legs, and broccoli florets for the toes.

When you put it all together, watch the monster come to life! Feel free to blend the vegetables to your liking.

This story originally appeared on the Alabama Cooperative Extension System website.

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