By Vanessa Chamberlin, author of The Fire-Driven Life
Halloween is such a challenging time for health-conscious parents. Everywhere we turn, people are offering the least nutritious, most sugary food around: candy! From classroom parties to neighborhood and family gatherings, there’s no way to avoid it! But if you are prepared, and have some tasty, plant-based recipes in your toolbox, it will be a lot easier to partake in the festivities without overdosing on refined sugar. Plus, there are some easy tips (and tricks!) that can help you have a happier, healthier Halloween.
Always eat a healthy meal first! Whether it’s trick-or-treating or going to a party, make sure your kids go on a full stomach so they’ll be less likely to fill up on sugary snacks. On the day of school parties, make a filling, nutritious breakfast, and send them to school with extra special healthy lunches. Pull out your whole toolbox for this one! We’re talking cookie cutters for fun shapes, carving the fruit—everything. Your kids won’t want to miss out on this lunch, which will help them feel satisfied and loved all afternoon.
Send your own snacks. Whenever possible, send your own snacks. Even if you know that your children are going to be eating candy and cupcakes at their holiday parties, at least you can send them with some more balanced foods and encourage them to get their friends to try.
Enlist the help of some professionals. It never hurts to make sure a trip to the dentist falls before Halloween, and ask their help in making sure to explain to your kids why their dental health is so important, and how candy is bad for their teeth. It doesn’t have to be a big scary lecture, but just a simple reminder that a healthy smile starts with a healthy diet is a nice thing to reinforce.
Plan or attend a party that's more in line with your life style! Many of us have friends who understand why we’ve shaped our habits and lifestyles for healthy living, and they either do the same or are at least supportive and understanding. You don’t want your kids to feel left out, so if they’re not participating in other events, give them something else that’s fun. You might be able to get some of their close friends and families to join in, too. Not many parents like the idea of their kids getting a heavy dose of sugar either trick-or-treating or going to a party, so I’ve found it’s a welcome invitation when I invite people to celebrate holidays with us and have a nutritious night of festivities!
Finally, just talk about it beforehand. Let your kids know that you want them to have fun, but not eat lots of candy and junk that will make them not feel good. Ask if there is anything they would like to bring as a treat or eat before a party, and see if you can accommodate their requests. It’s so important for children to feel loved and respected as humans who have their own desires and opinions. Asking them to be involved in your holiday planning can go a long way!
For your healthy Halloween toolbox, here is a great recipe that kids love, and would easily fit into any festive party platter spread!
Gone in a Day Cookies!
3/4 cup chunky peanut butter
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 TBS maple syrup (add more for desired taste)
1 cup raisins
Combine peanut butter and coconut. In a separate bowl, combine cocoa, and maple syrup. Combine the two mixtures and add the raisins. Dough will be stiff. Roll into balls. Refrigerate 1-2 hours before serving.