In a simple equation, Halloween = costumes + trick-or-treating + spooky stuff + candy. But if a mathematician took a harder look at this equation, it would look more like this: Halloween = costumes + trick-or-treating + spooky stuff + (candy x 10).
It’s estimated that children consume about 3 cups of sugar during Halloween, according to Children’s Healthcare Hospital in Atlanta, GA. That’s about 600 grams of sugar—which is 24 times the American Heart Association's recommended limit of 25 grams per day.
Sure, a short-term sugar feast may not cause a permanent ding on your kid’s health report card, but the problem is, the sugar overload doesn’t stop there. According to a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children consume a whopping 124 grams of sugar every. Single. Day. Over time, that can have a significant impact on their health. Check out these surprising foods that have more sugar than a glazed donut.
In the short-term, consuming too much added sugar can lead to weight gain and tooth decay. (Check out these particularly hard-on-your-teeth candies.) In the long-term, excess sugar intake may lead to an increased risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Kids eating candy on Halloween may be inevitable, but a sugar overload isn’t. To avoid your kid overdoing it on sweets this holiday, try adding these spooky, yet nutritious treats to the mix:
1. Apple + nut butter + marshmallow mouths.
Slice an apple from top to bottom into six to eight pieces. Grab two slices and spread a nut butter of your choice on one side of each slice. On one of the slices (with the nut butter-side up), add four to five marshmallows along the curve to look like teeth. Place the other apple slice (nut butter-side down) on top of the marshmallows at an angle to look like a mouth. Even more fun: Add a strawberry slice for a tongue!
2. Clementine + celery pumpkins.
This one’s more adorable than spooky (and easy peasy). Slice a piece of a celery stalk into 1-inch long and ¼-inch wide slices. Peel a clementine completely, then stick one of the celery pieces into the hole in the top of the clementine to look like a pumpkin stem.
3. Cracker + cheese or nut butter + pretzel spiders.
Get your favorite circular crackers and spread a soft cheese or nut butter on one side. Grab six to eight pretzels sticks and place three to four of them evenly on each of the sides of the cracker to look like legs. Add a bit more nut butter or cheese, then top with another cracker. Give your spider more of a personality by adding raisins for eyes (and securing them with cheese or nut butter)!
4. Carrot + hummus fingers.
Get carrot sticks and add a dab of hummus to one side of the tip. Stick an almond slice or a thinly cut vegetable on the hummus to look like a finger nail. Repeat for all ten fingers.
Peel a banana, cut in half, and make a face on the tapered end of each with chocolate chips or raisins. Optional: Roll the banana in coconut shavings first for a ghoulier look.
Get your favorite guacamole (or make your own guacamole) and spread it evenly on a plate or dish. Make a Frankenstein face with olives and pretzel sticks, and use blue corn chips for hair. If you’d rather make a witch, use shredded carrots for the hair and use the chips to make a hat!
7. Pretzel + cheddar broomsticks.
Thinly slice a piece of cheddar cheese (about 1 ½ inches high, and 3 to 4 inches long), and place it on a plate. With a butter knife, cut grooves along the length of the cheese about ⅛ inch wide and ½ to ¾ inches long (these are the broom’s bristles). Place the end of a pretzel stick on one side of the cheese, and roll until it looks like a broomstick.
8. Veggie skeleton.
You’ll need a large platter, an assortment of long, sliced vegetables (such as slices of red pepper, celery, and carrot), and circular vegetables (such as cucumbers and mushrooms).
For the head, you can use a bowl of dip or a cauliflower head and add olives for eyes. Make a spine with the circular veggies, then add red peppers on each side of it to make ribs. Using celery or carrots, make a set of arms. Then use more of the circular veggies to make a pelvis, then give your spooky skeleton some legs.
When your little superhero or Cinderella comes home from trick-or-treating with a pillowcase full of candy, it’s OK to let them indulge in a few sweets. Just remember to balance out the treats with these fun, healthier eats!