By Marie A. Spano, MS, RD/LD, CSCS, CSSD

Ghosts, goblins, ghouls and… pillowcases full of treats! Halloween may be a scary time of year for kids but it shouldn’t be for parents who are trying to keep their little goblins’ eating habits on the right track. Follow these three simple tips for a healthier Halloween.
















1.  Stack Your Stash with Less Frightening Treats
Set a good example by handing out healthier snacks that children will love as well as non-food treats. The children who visit your doorstep will appreciate the novel toys they can use for months to come. Small kids in particular love toys and you can keep these in a separate basket so you don’t grab a small container of play-doh when an oversized 15 year-old knocks on your door. And, if you have leftovers, yo-yos and glow sticks certainly won’t derail your holiday eating plan. So stack up on these Halloween favorites:

Non-food Treats:
•    Play-doh
•    False teeth
•    Glow sticks
•    Funny Halloween glasses
•    Temporary tattoos – Halloween themed ones are a hit!
•    Stickers
•    Yo-yos
•    Glitter pens
•    Silly erasers
•    Puzzles
•    Bouncy balls
•    Sidewalk chalk

Healthier Food Options:
•    Individual packets of trail mix or nuts
•    Pretzels
•    100% fruit leather
•    Baked chips

2.  Eat Before You Trick or Treat
Running from house to house can leave a kid tired, hungry and tempted by a bag full of sugary candy. And parents accompanying their small children may also feel the desire to dig into their little one’s candy stash if their stomach is growling. Stave off hunger and cravings by feeding your family a good meal or healthy snack before they head out the door. Your children will have more energy so they can walk or sprint for a longer period of time without crashing. And, they won’t gorge on candy when they get back home. Your little ghost or goblin will love these Pumpkin Quesadillas, which are also easy to make:

Pumpkin Quesadillas

4 servings


Blend pumpkin with cumin and spread mix over 4 tortillas. Place a thin slice of Brie or a shredded cheese on top of pumpkin mixture and place remaining tortillas on top. Heat oil over low heat and add each quesadilla one at a time, turning over in 1-3 minutes after each side has browned. Repeat with remaining quesadillas, remove from heat and cut into wedges for a sweet, healthy, Halloween treat.

3.  Sort Before You Store
When your kids get back from trick or treating, sort through their candy before you put it away, behind closed cabinet doors. Throw out any questionable looking packages or candy they don’t like and then put it away. If it is out of sight it will also be out of mind (yours and theirs!). Soon the novelty will wear off and they will be focused on their Holiday wish list and not their bag of gooey, sugary candy leftover from October.