Trick or Treat? Give me something good to eat

Published 7:01 am Sunday, October 23, 2016

Halloween is just around the corner and soon the goblins will be knocking at the door.

With the chance to dress up in costumes and stock up on sweets, Halloween is the highlight of the year for many kids — from toddlers to teens.

But the high season for candy can also be a frustrating time for parents who encourage kids to eat nutritious foods and make sweets a limited part of a balanced diet. The balance between allowing kids to indulge and enjoy the holiday and undermining the hard work done the rest of the year can be tough to maintain.

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Halloween is a perfect opportunity to talk to your kids about moderation and healthy eating. Halloween, and all its fabulous chocolaty, gooey, rot-your-teeth sweetness, is a once-a-year occasion.

The problem is when there is so much candy lying around that it lasts for months. Use this opportunity to talk to kids and explain to them that candy, like many of our other favorite treats, is a “sometimes” food. “Sometimes” foods aren’t foods we eat at every meal because they don’t give our bodies the nutrients we need to grow and stay healthy.

We enjoy “sometimes” foods on occasion, and because we enjoy them only once in a while, it makes them that much more special.

Make Halloween about more than the candy. Be sure to eat supper before trick-or-treating to help reduce all the quick grabs into the candy bag on the route around the neighborhood. Try Yummy Mummy Pizzas on whole-grain English muffins and explain to your kids that whole grains help fill their bellies and provide the energy they need to play.  Add a few chopped veggies and wrap up your mummy pizzas with pieces of string cheese.

Fill half their plates with fruits and vegetables dunked in a dip such as hummus, guacamole or salsa. According to a recent study, kids eat more vegetables and will consume a greater quantity when served with a dip.

Not all Halloween “treats” need to be candy. Look for non-food Halloween items like pencils, tattoos, glow sticks or small bottles of water like Nestle Share a Scare Halloween water bottles. After all, little goblins will need to stay hydrated on their trek through the neighborhood.

Not all children have the luxury of participating in all of goodies Halloween can provide.  Several children have food allergies or celiac disease making it difficult to navigate their bag of sweet treats.  Hy-Vee has partnered with The Teal Pumpkin Project, a worldwide movement helping give kids with food allergies or other known diet restrictions have a safe and happy Halloween.

Participating is quite easy.  Simply provide non-food treats for trick or treaters and place a teal pumpkin near your front door or where treats are distributed. For more information about The Teal Pumpkin Project, contact your Hy-Vee dietitian today.

Use the excitement of the holiday to create memorable experiences. Carving pumpkins and roasting the seeds for a fun and nutritious snack are a great way to engage children while filling their hearts and minds with memories.

Tropical Popcorn Balls

Tropical Popcorn Balls

Tropical Popcorn Balls

Serves 12 (1 ball each)

All you need

•6 heaping cups popped corn

•1/4 cup agave nectar (see Note) or honey

•1/4 cup creamy natural peanut butter or almond butter, at room temperature

•1/4 cup finely chopped Hy-Vee macadamia nuts

•1/4 cup Hy-Vee coconut, preferably unsweetened

All you do

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper. Prepare a medium bowl of ice water. Put popcorn in a large bowl.

2. Combine agave (or honey) and peanut butter (or almond butter) in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring gently but constantly.

3. As soon as the mixture starts to lightly bubble, cook, stirring constantly, for 15 seconds more.

4. Immediately pour the mixture evenly over the popcorn; gently mix with a wooden spoon or spatula until well coated. Gently stir in macadamia nuts.

5. Dip both hands in the ice water. Working quickly, press small handfuls (heaping 1/4 cup each) of the popcorn mixture firmly into 2-inch balls. (Make sure each ball gets a little bit of the macadamia nuts.) Place the balls on the prepared baking sheet. If they seem too fragile, rinse hands with cold water and press and squeeze each ball again to help keep it together. 6. Roll each ball in coconut or sprinkle with coconut while still a little damp and sticky.

Let cool completely before storing. To store, individually wrap in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container.

Make Ahead Tip: Wrap airtight for up to 2 days, but best the day they are made.

Note: Agave syrup or nectar is the naturally sweet juice extracted from the agave plant. It has a lower glycemic index and is lower in calories than table sugar, but is even sweeter. Use it in moderation when substituting for table sugar.

Source: adapted from EatingWell Inc.

The information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.