Everybody loves the spooky, scary fun of Halloween, but once you add up the saturated fat, sugar, and sodium in the holiday's most popular treats, you might get the fright of your life. A few simple changes this October 31st can make a real difference in the nutrition impact of your All Hallows' Eve. (Plus, you can have a little wiggle room left over for a snack size candy bar or two.) Here are some great trade-ups that make Halloween traditions a little healthier, without impacting the fun.
Old treat: Chips and dip
New treat: Hummus and veggies
Why: Crunchy chips and creamy dip are a natural pairing, but overindulging can quickly clock up saturated fat and sodium without filling you up. Substitute some whole wheat crackers for potato chips and hummus for dip. Add some cut veggies and you'll have an equally tasty treat with lots of protein to sate your appetite.
Old treat: Soda
New treat: Vegetable juice
Why: Halloween isn't exactly known as a time when kids get their vegetables, but you can sneak in a little bit of nourishment (and help them avoid sugary soda) by giving them a cup of vegetable juice. Just tell them it's "vampire blood," and they'll be eager to gulp it down.
Old treat: Pizza delivery
New treat: Baked penne pasta (whole wheat and low fat cheese)
Why: Pizza delivery can be quick and easy, but depending on the type it can contain loads of saturated fat and sodium. In the same amount of time, boil up some whole wheat pasta, open a jar of no sugar added tomato sauce, and combine with a can of salt-free tomatoes. Top with a handful of low fat mozzarella cheese and keep warm in the oven until you're ready to serve. This dish will keep you warm and full for cold night of trick or treating ahead.
Old treat: Fried jalapeno poppers or mozzarella sticks
New treat: Hard boiled egg 'eyeballs'
Why: Crafty types relish making decorative foods with spooky Halloween themes, but when you add fried foods on top of candy, it can make for a lot of solid fats and sugar. Hard boiled eggs are full of protein, so one or two will help keep you full. To make: cut a hard boiled egg in half and scoop out the yolk. Combine the yolk with some frozen chopped spinach and bit of dijon mustard and fill back in the whites. Top with a slice of black olive for a fun and freaky treat.
Old treat: Salted mixed nuts
New treat: Pumpkin seeds
Why: Pumpkin seeds, also known by their Spanish name, pepitas, are not only in keeping with the holiday spirit– they come for free inside your jack o'lantern! (Not a pumpkin-carver? You can buy pre-roasted ones at the store.) They pack all the protein of nuts, with much less saturated fat and salt.
Old and new treat: Caramel apples
Why: They're not exactly health food, but when it comes to satisfying a sweet tooth, caramel apples are one of the best ways to go. After all, the bulk of this treat is still a good old-fashioned apple, with plenty of nutrients and fiber. If you have to roll the apple in something, go for chopped almonds instead of candy or sprinkles; they don't add any extra sugar, and provide plenty of protein and healthy fats.
ShopWell's Halloween party page has all the ingredients you need to make these and other Halloween treats. Stop by and see how each of these foods scores for you!