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Guide to a Healthier Halloween
Halloween is a great kid's holiday—good friends, creative costumes, event-filled parties. Oh yes, the treats. Use this guide and recipes to have a healthier Halloween.

Letting your kids enjoy Halloween doesn't mean they're required to go into a sugar coma.

If you decide to make your treats, wrap your homemade item up well, and add your name and phone number to the bag with the treat.”
With all the fun of this holiday come a parent's worst fear—too many sugary treats in your kid's possession and the arguments that ensue over this treasured trove. If you don't feel like contributing to the neighborhood children's tooth decay or weight gain, consider giving treats that are healthier.

Healthier Halloween Treats

* Cheese and cracker packages

* Sugar-free gum

* Small bags of pretzels or popcorn

* Small packages of nuts

* Peanuts in the shell

* Fruit-Roll Ups

* Fortune cookies

* Granola bars

Go Natural: If you are not opposed to sugar, but would prefer your treats to be natural or vegan, we suggest you visit your local natural food store or go online to shop. There are a variety of natural candy companies and many of them have developed Halloween packaging. The one drawback to natural candies is that you can expect to pay more for these items.

Tooth Fairy-Friendly: One product gaining popularity is xylitol products. Xylitol is a natural sweetener that can help reduce tooth decay. Dr. John's Candies is one source for Xylitol candy and with a Google search, you can find others.

Homemade Treats: Unless you are in a neighborhood with close friends, we don't suggest this approach. Most parents go through Halloween candy and throw out unopened, unwrapped or homemade treats. If you decide to make your treats, wrap your homemade item up well, and add your name and phone number to the bag with the treat. If the parent recognizes your name, it will make them feel the treat is safe.

Alternates to Food Treats: No one said Halloween treats have to be edible. An alternative to the junk food challenge is to offer a non-food treat. Today, many families are opting for this choice. With a little bit of thought and some clever shopping, you can find some great items for a few cents per item. Here are few ideas:

* Glow stick jewelry

* Fortune telling Fish

* Cool temporary tattoos

* Scary stickers

* Bouncy balls

* Crayons, pencils, colored chalk

* Fun erasers

* Mini containers of Play-Doh

* Rubber spiders, worms, or other creepy figures

* Spider, skull, or pumpkin plastic rings

Check your local dollar or craft stores for fun items or shop online to have items shipped directly to you.

Halloween Day Recipes

Enjoy a fa-boo-lous start to the day by serving up a warm bowl of delicious pumpkin oatmeal.

Pumpkin Oatmeal

1 cup of oatmeal
1/2 cup of pureed pumpkin
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tbsp brown sugar or maple syrup
Chopped walnuts or pecans, optional

Prepare oatmeal according to your package directions. When almost done add remaining ingredients. Top with walnuts or pecans for an extra hearty breakfast!

Makes four servings.

Halloween Dinner:
Before your children venture out to trick or treat, make sure they eat a meal. Try the Incredible White Bean Pizza recipe below. It is fast and simple. With full tummies, they won't be so tempted to dig into their bag of goodies before they get back home. Limit your kids to one piece of candy while they are out.

Incredible Bean Pizza

1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1/4 tsp each: Italian seasoning, salt and fresh ground pepper
1 pizza pre-cooked whole-grain crust
Shredded Mozzarella cheese
Chopped basil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Puree first three ingredients plus the spices in a blender. Spread the bean mixture over the pizza crust. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese and chopped basil. Bake in the oven until cheese is bubbly, about 10-12 minutes.

Halloween Candy Plan

After Trick or Treating:
When your children arrive back at home, don't let them take control over their bag or bucket of candy. Working with them, check the treats and keep only treats that are unopened. Be sure to inspect fruits and homemade goods for anything suspicious. While you are going through their candy, let them pick two or three treats that they can eat on this special night. Store the rest of the candy out of reach and out of sight.

Over the next few days or weeks, rationing the treats is the best approach. Allow your children to make their own selections, but tell them they can pick one large piece or two small pieces. If your children have trouble with this, do it for them (in advance). Just place small amounts of candy in bags, and let them select one of the bags.

Too Much Candy?
If there is just too much candy, consider donating some of it to a shelter, senior care center or charity that collects donations for our Troops overseas. Another option is to take your candy to a dentist that participates in a candy buyback program. You can learn more about this program at www.halloweencandybuyback.com.

Cheryl Tallman is the founder of Fresh Baby (www.FreshBaby.com). For more than 10 years, Fresh Baby helped has helped parents foster their children’s healthy eating habits and proactively respond to the childhood obesity epidemic that plagues our nation. Cheryl is the author and designer of the company’s award-winning cookbooks and nutrition education products that support many stages of family life including: pregnancy, breastfeeding, introducing solid foods, and feeding toddlers, preschoolers and school-aged children.

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