By Gabriela Espinoza, Keene State Dietetic Intern
Halloween can be a scary time for parents for reasons other than spooky ghosts and vampires roaming the streets. It can be a nightmare as you watch your kids fill their Halloween bags with endless amounts of candy.
While you can’t always control what goes into your kids’ Halloween bags you can make a difference by handing out healthy treats to the trick-or-treaters that show up on your doorstep.
Here are ten healthy alternatives to candy that you can hand out this Halloween.
Not only is popcorn a favorite for kids it is filled with whole grain goodness! Whole grains are high in fiber and contain B vitamins, some protein, minerals, and healthy fats. Skip the butter and salt and it is one of the healthiest snacks that you can give out!
2. String cheese
String cheese is a fun snack for kids that they will enjoy. It is rich in protein, which is important as kids grow and build new muscle. Be sure to choose the nonfat or low-fat varieties for a healthy snack lower in saturated fat.
3. Pumpkins seeds
Pumpkin seeds are rich in a wide variety of nutrients such as zinc, iron, magnesium, manganese and copper. Not only are they rich in nutrients, but they are also a great festive treat to go along with the Halloween celebration.
4. Dark chocolate covered raisins
Dark chocolate is rich antioxidants and flavonoids that protect the cells from free radical damage and also provide anti-inflammatory benefits. Raisins are rich in iron, B vitamins, potassium, and the carbohydrates are a good source of energy for trick-or-treaters on the go. You can also skip the dark chocolate and hand out plain raisins, which are sweet and nutritious.
5. Mini water bottles
While kids may not be thrilled to receive water as a treat, they will be thankful midway through the evening. With all that candy and walking around, trick-or-treaters need to stay hydrated. Dress these up with fun Halloween themed labels to make them more festive.
Whole grain crackers are another way to sneak in a healthy whole grain snack for trick-or-treaters. You can find individual packs of crackers like Honey Maid Fresh Stack Grahams.
7. Trail Mix
You can buy small packets of trail mix with nuts, dried fruit and dark chocolate chips. Nuts are a great source of protein and healthy fats that are important for growth and brain development. Raisins and dried fruit will add a hint of sweetness, and the chocolate chips will add a candy kick to the mix.
8. Granola bars
A whole grain granola bars low in sugar and high in fiber can be a healthy snack to sneak into Halloween bags. You can choose the ones with fruit or dark chocolate chips to add some sweetness.
9. Fruit cups
Individual fruit cups are an easy and healthy snack to pass out to trick-or-treaters. To make them more festive, choose orange fruit such as mandarin oranges or peaches and draw spooky jack-o-lantern faces on the containers. Be sure to choose fruit cups that are packed in 100 percent fruit juice and avoid the ones in syrup or with added sugar.
10. Squeezable fruit
You can find squeezable fruit in a variety of flavors, and they are fun to eat so kids love them. Be sure to read the ingredients label and avoid those with added sugar or fruit juice concentrate. Just like the bottles of water and fruit cups, you can dress these up to look jack-o-lanterns, Frankenstein or a ghost.
Hope your Halloween is fun and healthy!