Written and researched by: Laura Maydak
Edited by: Heather Mangieri, RD
 

Halloween is quickly approaching,  a scary thought for some.  Candy and sweet treats are everywhere you turn, and soon they will be in your own home.  As Halloween draws near, it begins to feel like the candy is actually haunting you.

When did chocolate wrapped in colorful packaging become more frightening than ghosts and witches?  Haunted houses, ghost stories, and scary movies have been pushed to the wayside, and a new Halloween monster (a.k.a. Candy) has taken over the holiday.  It’s time to save Halloween by putting the focus back on the “spookiness” that comes only once a year.

This Halloween, start a new family tradition.  Cook a healthy Halloween-themed meal as a family, and enjoy it together before the trick-or-treating begins.  This presents a great way to get children of all ages involved in planning and preparing healthy meals, which will help to promote healthy eating habits.  As an added bonus, feeding your kids a filling, nutritious meal before they go out will make them less likely to over-indulge later that night.

Not sure how to make healthy food with a spooky twist?  Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Spooky Sushi– Get creative!  Mold the rice into circles and place strips of chicken, salmon or other protein into fingers, eyes, etc. Then,  decorate with a dab of green, red or brown sauces or veggies such as cut up tomatoes, red peppers, olives or others.
  • Monster Pizzas – Start with a whole-wheat crust that has been spread with a low-sodium tomato sauce and sprinkled with reduced-fat cheese.  Have an assortment of cut vegetables (such as peppers, olives, mushrooms, broccoli, etc.) and let your kids create monster faces using them.  Depending on the number of people being fed, make either one large pizza on store-bought crust or small individual ones on English muffin halves.
  • Jack-O-Lantern Stuffed Peppers – Prepare either a stuffed pepper filling with ingredients such as brown rice or quinoa, low-sodium beans, tomatoes, and other vegetables, or some whole-wheat pasta with tomato sauce (depending on your family’s liking).  Help your children to cut out a Jack-O-Lantern face on the side of a fresh, washed pepper, and pack it with the filling.
  • Ghost Mashed Potatoes – Cook up a healthy batch of mashed potatoes (try using cauliflower to replace some of the potatoes, and use low-fat or fat-free milk).  Shape them into a mound on the plate, and use small pieces of black olives for ghost eyes.
  • Hot Dog Fingers – Cook lean hot dogs and cut them in half.  Use ketchup to paint a “fingernail” on the top end of one side.
  • Ghost Bananas – Peel bananas and cut them in half.  Take each half and dip it into a low-fat or fat-free yogurt, roll in shredded coconut if desired.  Place two raisins near the tip for eyes, and then place a Popsicle stick at the bottom end.  Freeze them for a healthy snack that will be ready when the kids get home.
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