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Healthy Halloween! 5 Tips + 3 Recipes
If your kids are like mine, they’re nearly exploding with excitement by the time Halloween night arrives. The last thing they need at that point is a fistful (or three) of sugar!
Kids in America consume an average 60-100 grams of sugar a day, and our nation’s childhood diabetes and obesity rates are scarier than any ghoulish costume. Then Halloween brings the mother of all sugar highs — fueling a sudden burst of energy and then a crash, says Diane Barsky, M.D., an attending physician at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and a certified nutritionist. She says children should have no more than 30 grams of simple sugar a day.
But wait! Halloween is supposed to be fun!
Make this spooky holiday healthier for kids of all ages — and still have a monster of a good time. Try these healthier Halloween ideas from Gail Spiegel, a registered dietician with the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes in Denver:
Play ‘Let’s Make a Deal’. Ask kids to trade in their trick-or-treat candy for non-treat items like a toy, kids’ movie, money for the piggy bank, or some other coveted item.
Prolong the magic. Let your child pick out a handful of their favorite treats from their trick-or-treat bag, and allow only one piece a day.
Share the love. Give excess candy to a shelter or other organization where it can be shared among a large group of people.
- Hold the sucrose. Pass out candy alternatives to trick-or-treaters who come to your door: stickers, fun pencils or erasers, noisemakers or kazoos, creepy rubber worms and spiders (boys love them), or hair clips (for girls). Or opt for treats that contain some protein and/or fiber; try individually wrapped oatmeal raisin cookies, string cheese (refrigerate at home), Gogurts (hand them out frozen to keep them fresh), granola or cereal bars, single serving bags of microwaveable popcorn (low fat), or small bags or boxes of raisins, walnuts, almonds or cashews, pretzels or dried fruit.
Cook up some color. Fun, colorful Halloween treats don’t have to be a sugar overdose. Throw a Halloween party that’s not a total nutritional bust for your family and guests. Try these Halloween recipes that slash the sugar toll:
Zucchini-Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Glaze
Makes 16 cupcakes
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup grated carrots (scrub first but don't peel)
1 cup grated zucchini (scrub first but don't peel)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup Sweet Simplicity Sweetener™ (see note)
3 large eggs
8 ounces plain nonfat yogurt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 350° F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.
In a large mixing bowl, sift together the all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt, then stir in the whole wheat flour; toss grated carrots and zucchini with mixture and set aside. In a separate bowl, mix together the sugar, brown sugar, Sweet Simplicity Sweetener™, eggs and yogurt with a food processor or mixer, adding the oil at the end.
Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients just until they are combined and spoon into prepared cupcake pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
Note: Sweet Simplicity Sweetener™ is made from erythritol, a natural, virtually zero-calorie sugar alcohol used as a sugar substitute. Any brand of erythritol product can be used in these recipes. Baking with sugar substitutes can be tricky because eliminating sugar changes the leavening properties of baked goods. We’ve tested these recipes to ensure the amount of erythritol used works well, but when working with your own recipes, start by replacing smaller portions of the sugar (10%-25%) first and see what results you achieve.
Cream Cheese Glaze
4 ounces light cream cheese, softened at room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
Stir cream cheese and powdered sugar together until smooth. Place cooled cupcakes on a rack with a pan underneath to catch any drippings; drizzle glaze over cupcakes. Decorate cupcakes if desired.
Per Cupcake: 213 Calories; 9g Fat (39.0% calories from fat); 5g Protein; 28g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 44mg Cholesterol; 211mg Sodium
Bob and Dip Apples
Let the kids bob for the apples first then cut the apples up to dip in caramel cream cheese dip.
1/4 cup lemon juice
8 ounces light cream cheese, softened to room temperature
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Allow cream cheese to soften slightly at room temperature then mix with brown sugar. Slice apples and toss quickly with lemon juice to prevent browning, then serve with cream cheese dip. Store unused dip covered in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Per Serving (1 whole apple with dip): 131 Calories; 4g Fat (24.7% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 24g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 11mg Cholesterol; 107mg Sodium
A Better Oatmeal Cookie
Makes about 5 dozen cookies
6 cups whole oats, divided
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 cups light butter, softened
1-1/2 cups Sweet Simplicity Sweetener™
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup chocolate chips (bittersweet or semisweet, optional)
Preheat oven to 375°. Using a food processor, combine 2 cups oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Process until oats are turned to flour; set aside.
With mixer on low, combine butter, Sweet Simplicity Sweetener™, and brown sugar. Increase speed and beat until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating until incorporated. Reduce speed to low; add oat flour mixture, then remaining 4 cups oats and chocolate chips. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate batter for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.
Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 13 minutes. Let cookies cool on the baking sheet completely then remove with a thin metal spatula to a covered container. These cookies tend to crumble easily and store best in the freezer; lay cookies flat with a sheet of parchment paper between layers to prevent them from sticking to each other.
Per Cookie: 99 Calories; 5g Fat (42.3% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 13g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 18mg Cholesterol; 80mg Sodium