Facing the scariest part of  All Hallow’s Eve


Get ready to be inundated by a plethora of chocolate-covered products in the supermarket. No, Willy Wonka has not taken over the world and brainwashed your kids. It’s time for the annual celebration of tricking and treating–well, not so much tricking–that we call Halloween.

Now lasting all of October instead of the last week of the month, All Hallow’s Eve can be scarier for parents than The Blair Witch Project or a political commercial. The good news: There are some things you can do to abate the craving of SweetTarts by your children. Here are a few recommendations.

Work with the healthy sweets
Not all sugary treats are bad. For example, dark chocolate with over 70 percent cocoa is full of good fats and disease-preventing anti-oxidants. Sugarless gum in your kids’ treat bags is also good to work with, unless your children have braces. Like you do with your other foods, read the labels of all of the candy gathered. Those with the fewest ingredients can probably be eaten while those containing high fructose corn syrup or numerous dyes should be put aside.

Give good treats to receive good treats
Yes, trick-or-treating is a rite of initiation for a child; however, that doesn’t mean there aren’t alternatives to this practice. One choice is to have a Halloween party or some event where the kids go to select houses of known neighbors for healthier treats. A Halloween gathering could be a potluck of sorts, where friends and family bring their nutritious treats along to sit aside those provided by you. Make the event fun by setting up stations around the house and yard where the kids can pick up the goodies after performing an activity.

Set limits
To prevent your children from chowing down to their hearts’ content on Halloween evening, speak to them about stretching out their candy appreciation. Give them permission to select two to three pieces of candy the night of the holiday. Next, bribe them with a piece of candy in their lunch or after dinner in lieu of eating a certain amount of fruits and vegetables a day. Should they not be big produce eaters, give them an alternative of 30 to 60 minutes of exercise-based activity in order to receive their candy allotment. 

Recommend a buyback program
Local dentists take part in the Halloween Buyback Program http://www.halloweencandybuyback.com/. Places like Fort Collins’ ToothZone take uneaten candy in exchange for coupons used for restaurants, attractions and other services. The more you bring in the better the incentives. Don’t worry, the dentists and their staff don’t eat the candy. Instead it’s packaged up and sent to Operation Gratitude or other groups that support U.S. military troops deployed in harm’s way. In the end, your children help themselves as well as overseas soldiers who are grateful for a little bit of home.Nutrition column insert

Places to find alternative Halloween treats
So you’ve convinced your children to have a Halloween party in lieu of going around the neighborhood for gooey and chewy products made by Hershey, M&M/Mars and their ilk. Now you need to figure out what to make for your party that will be sweet as well as nutritious. Here are a few places to go to find the recipes you’ll need.

Clemson University
In addition to offering ideas such as Halloween Pasta and Jack O’ Lantern Pizzas, the site for the Clemson Cooperative Extension provides suggestions on healthy treats to give to kids as well as some non-food items to add to their goody bags.

Live Well Colorado 
Head to the Pinterest board of Live Well Colorado and you’ll find a large number of healthy treats to serve during your Halloween party. For example, a layered dip in yellows and oranges, fruit treat kabobs with monster faces and sweet potato skeleton fingers.

Cooking Light
Come to this site to fine recipes for chocolate spiderweb cookies, spiced pumpkin biscuits, candy apple punch and Jackson Pollock candied apples. All recipes at the Cooking Light website strive to utilize healthy alternative ingredients.