By Corey Lewis, CPT, CSCS
Halloween is just around the corner. If you’re anything like me, you like to prepare in advance for parties and gatherings, especially if they involve food! At this time of year, it seems like fun-size chocolate bars and sugary candy are at your fingertips everywhere. They make it difficult to stick to your everyday healthy eating plan. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a few special treats. Still, you certainly don’t want to make a habit of eating empty calories instead of nutritious foods. Thankfully, there’s something you can do. Prepare your own delicious and healthy Halloween snacks to share at parties and other get-togethers. Here are a few favorite recipes I plan to share with friends this Halloween season. I’ve also included some fun (and healthy!) ideas for the Trick-or-Treaters who show up at your doorstep.
If you’re at a special gathering with friends, it’s so easy to become distracted by the company and conversation. Before you know it, you’ll eat a mountain of chips and dip and candy corn. Again, while it’s fine to enjoy typical party fare and seasonal goodies in moderation, don’t overdo it. You’ll feel sluggish and kick yourself on November 1st if you overindulge in foods that aren’t great for you. Here are a few of my favorite healthy Halloween recipes that you and your party guests will love.
If super-simple, nutritious, and delicious is what you’re after, check out this amazing nut-butter protein bar recipe. There’s no baking required, and you can prepare it in under an hour if you’re in a hurry. It’s also easy to make several batches using different nut butters and toppings. Mix it up to suit a variety of tastes and dietary needs. At only 210 calories and 10 grams of fat per serving, these delicious snacks are much friendlier to a healthy diet than most traditional Halloween treats. Plus, the 14 grams of protein will help you and your guests feel fuller longer, too. (And if quick and easy cooking is what you’re after in your daily life, check our five more of our favorite simple healthy recipes.)
If you’ve got just a little more time to prepare Halloween party snacks, check out these delicious spiced pumpkin cookies. After all, this is the season of pumpkin-spiced everything. These cookies pack some serious pumpkin punch without any butter or other dairy products. At just 72 calories and 2 grams of fat per cookie, they’re a great dessert choice for party guests who are following low-carb, low-fat, or low-sodium diets. Don’t be surprised if your friends ask you for the recipe!
If you’d like to serve something savory—and continue to keep it simple—check out this cute and healthy ghost pizza recipe. This one will be a hit with kids and grown-ups alike. It’s made with a whole wheat crust and low-fat mozzarella cheese (an excellent source of calcium). Plus, it’s packed with nutritious and delicious veggies and flavorful basil. If you’re anticipating a crowd, it’s easy to do the prep work in advance and slide several pizzas in and out of the oven quickly. No one will be “booing” these ghosts!
Here is another seasonal conundrum. On the one hand, you want to hand out something reasonably nutritious to the cute kids who ring your doorbell. It’s not as though they won’t amass a ton of candy elsewhere, and you don’t want a ton of sugary snacks in your home tempting you. But on the other hand, you don’t want the reputation in your neighborhood for being that house. You know, the one where the treats are no fun and the trees are just begging for a good old-fashioned toilet papering. Here are a few healthy ideas that are all Treat and no Trick.
Nowadays, conventional parenting wisdom dictates that the only Halloween-night treats that are completely safe for kids to eat are the pre-packaged kind. In other words, homemade cookies and other goodies are a nice thought, but not viable. Chances are slim that the little ghosts and goblins who visit your home will be allowed to eat them (unless, of course, the family knows you well). These days, it’s wisest to hand out store-bought loot. That doesn’t mean you have to shovel handfuls of high-calorie miniature candy bars into those open pillowcases.
If you’d like to offer healthier pre-packaged snacks that are sure to please, you might consider snack-size bags of pretzels, popcorn, or baked crackers (animal shapes are always a hit with kids). These are lower in sugar and fat than chocolate bars and travel well to school in a lunch bag the next day. For sweeter treats, organic fruit leather and low-sugar granola bars are two great choices. Also, there’s a hidden benefit. If you’re able to offer several of these options to the eager Trick-or-Treaters who show up at your home, you’ll be helping to make the holiday a little less challenging and disappointing for a child with a common food allergy, like tree nuts–which are in so many traditional Halloween treats.
Trolling the neighborhood after dark for all that loot is great exercise. This means the kids who show up at your front door most likely will be thirsty. They’re sure to be grateful for chilled miniature bottles of water or low-sugar organic juice boxes. These come in a variety of fun flavors to quench their thirst along the way. You can keep them on ice in a cooler in your front hallway for easy access. Don’t be surprised if some of the younger Trick-or-Treaters’ parents gratefully accept cold drinks, too!
Look, it definitely is not easy to stick to your regular healthy eating plan when the holidays come around. This is especially true when it seems like everyone around you is indulging. Thankfully, with just a little inspiration and advance preparation, you can minimize the temptation to splurge. You’ll avoid tons of high-calorie, high-fat party food and bite-size candy bars intended for Halloween night visitors. Instead, you’ll eat some healthier and more filling goodies along the way. With these delicious recipes and snack ideas, you may find that you don’t even miss the less-healthy fare. Enjoy the season and be well!