Howling Good Healthy Halloween Treats

The efforts of those who are striving to reduce childhood obesity don’t need the addition of a calendar holiday whose treats are packed with High Fructose Corn Sugar, harmful dyes, and in general, really don’t pass the test for being wholesome food much less food at all.

Pure sugar and harmful dyes.


The amount of candy children reap on the Grim Reaper’s favorite night is staggering and unhealthy.  The article below has lots of helpful hints on ways to reduce the “night’s take” and alternative treats to hand out yourself.

To your health!


Healthy Halloween Treats

From Clemson Cooperative Extension

Feed your kids healthy treats this year.








Halloween is a festive day that kids enjoy, because they get dressed up and get treats.

Enjoy the holiday with your kids, but carefully plan what you will do at your house to assure that healthy eating habits are practiced. This can be challenging, since the goal of most children is to get as much Halloween candy as possible for their own private stash.

Help kids enjoy Halloween without overindulging. If you and your family eat sensibly all year, then kids know how to make wise decisions when they are tempted to overindulge with unhealthy foods.

Don’t send your children trick-or-treating on an empty stomach. Make sure they eat a good healthy meal beforehand to reduce the urge to snack.

Trick-or-treat bags that children carry should be appropriate to their size. Older kids can carry larger bags, but not as large as a shopping bag or plastic garbage bag.

Limit the houses your children can visit to a two or three block radius. That way the treats will most likely come from neighbors and friends, and the moderate amount of treats will be manageable.

Instruct children to wait until they get home to eat any of their goodies so that you can inspect them first. Let them keep only treats that are wrapped commercially. Inspect and throw away any commercially wrapped treats with signs of tampering- tears in wrappers, tiny pinholes, unusual appearance or discoloration.

You don’t have to pass out high calorie candy to trick-or-treaters at your house this year. Give them a variety of fun, non-candy alternatives to promote health rather than encourage unhealthy choices.

Healthy Trick-or-Treat Alternatives

Childhood obesity is increasing at an alarming rate, doubling over the past 30 years. Eating in moderation and becoming more physically active could reduce obesity rates in children.

When trick or treaters ring your doorbell, what will you give them? Try nutritious, tasty foods and non-food options, including items that get children up and moving to use the extra calories they consume.

Make Halloween a healthier and more inclusive holiday for children and adolescents with diabetes and other health-related dietary restrictions by offering non-sugar treats.

Healthy Food Treats: Think outside the box when choosing treats for trick-or-treaters or party-goers. The calories in all those bite-size Halloween treats add up quickly. Four “bite size” chocolate bars contain approximately 320 calories, 25 jelly beans have 140 calories, and 20 pieces of candy corn add up to 100 calories.

There are other treats that are lower in fat and sugar but may provide vitamins, minerals and fiber. The possibilities for healthy food treats are endless. Set a good example for your own children and the neighborhood kids by passing out healthy treats like these instead of giving them candy.

  • cereal bars
  • snack packets of dried fruit, baked pretzels, nut and seeds (e.g. peanuts*, unsalted almonds, sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds)
  • trail mix
  • packages of low-fat crackers with cheese or peanut* butter filling
  • animal crackers
  • gold fish crackers
  • graham crackers
  • Cracker jacks
  • 100 calorie packs of various products
  • beef or turkey jerky
  • single serve boxes of ready-to-eat cereal
  • raisins and chocolate covered raisins
  • fig cookies
  • sugar-free gum or hard candy
  • gummy candies made with real juice
  • mini boxes of raisins
  • individual juice drinks (100% juice)
  • snack pack pudding
  • Jello with fruit
  • applesauce
  • bean dip
  • single-serve packets of low-fat microwave popcorn
  • sugar-free hot chocolate or apple cider packets

*Be careful of peanut allergies.

Fresh fruits (e.g. apples, bananas and oranges) are very nutritious treats, but they are no longer safe options. Remember that individually wrapped items are best.

If you choose candy for treats, look for those that are lower in fat and sugar. Choose bite-size candy bars based on the least amount of fat and calories per serving. Better choices are: 3 Musketeers; 100 Grand Bar; Butterfinger; Milky Way; Raisinets; Starburst and York Peppermint Patties. In addition, consider healthier dark chocolate versions.

Non-food Treats: Children also will enjoy non-food treats** like the items typically given in birthday goodie bags.

  • small toys and pocket-sized games
  • glow sticks
  • costume jewelry (plastic rings, necklaces and bracelets)
  • funny Halloween glasses
  • false teeth
  • miniature magnifying glasses
  • tiny decks of cards
  • small stuffed animals
  • pencils
  • pencil toppers and fancy erasers
  • markers
  • stickers, including reflective safety stickers
  • rub-on or stick-on temporary tattoos
  • bookmarks
  • crayons
  • coloring tablets
  • paint brushes
  • pages from coloring books
  • children’s magazines or comic books
  • bottles of bubbles
  • coins (pennies, nickels, dimes)
  • fake money
  • whistles
  • toothbrushes
  • used books
  • coupons from a yogurt store or juice bar

**Some treats fit all ages, but small items should be limited to kids over age three.

Treats to Promote Activity: Encourage kids to be more physically active by giving small, inexpensive toys to get them up and moving.

  • a bouncy ball
  • a jump rope
  • sidewalk chalk for drawing a hopscotch or foursquare game
  • a beanbag for hacky sack
  • a plastic or foam flier

What to do With Treats Brought Home

Parents or a supervising adult should inspect all Halloween treats before children eat them. When in doubt, throw it out!

Halloween is the perfect time to teach children moderation in eating. Help kids include their treats in a healthy eating plan, set limits on when and how much candy they can have, and stick to those limits.

Inventory your children’s candy, and don’t let them eat too many treats at once. Let kids choose a few pieces of candy to eat on Halloween night and then eat a few pieces each day after that. Forbidding or restricting candy may cause them to develop patterns of hoarding and obsession with candy.

Teach kids that sweets can fit into their diet in limited amounts, maybe as part of a certain meal, as a snack with a fruit, etc. Combine a treat, such as a miniature candy bar, with a healthy snack like an apple. Make sure the child eats the apple first so they are less hungry for the treat. This provides them with the health benefits of the apple while teaching them healthier eating habits.

Most candy has a long shelf-life. Put the “treat stash” out of children’s reach and limit them to eating about two pieces of candy a day. Larger treats, such as chocolate candy bars, can be cut into smaller pieces and frozen. Pull them out weeks or months later for some bite-sized treats.

If your child comes home with too much candy and sweet treats, arrange a buyout. Pay a nickel or dime for each sweet treat they “sell” you, and let them “earn” money for a toy or game they want to buy.

Kids with diabetes can have a few sweet treats, too. The rule is moderation with foods high in carbohydrate, including sweets and starches. Suggest that the child choose a few favorite treats and trade in the rest for money or a present.

Remember that sugary Halloween candy contributes to tooth decay. Candies do far more damage to teeth than to wrecking diet or behavior. Tooth brushing and flossing are extremely important after eating sweets or any foods that stick to the teeth.

Familiar Foods With a Halloween Theme

If you have the time, host a Halloween dinner with spooky background music. Here are some ideas for putting a special Halloween face on familiar foods that you frequently serve.

Jack-O-Lantern Pizzas: Make mini-pizzas from your favorite recipe. Top with shredded cheese and let children make jack-o-lantern faces with bits of cut-up black or green olives. Bake as usual.

Or, pat purchased refrigerator biscuits into 4-inch circles and top with pizza sauce, shredded cheese and olive eyes, etc. as described above. Bake on a greased baking sheet in an oven that’s been preheated to 350º F. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until crust is lightly browned.

Ghosts: Serve a mound of mashed potatoes on each child’s plate with two slices of black olives positioned near the top for eyes. Prepare mashed potatoes with low-fat or fat-free milk and soft or liquid margarine to reduce the fat and calories. If served the traditional way with milk and butter, they will have about 200 calories per ½ cup serving.

Another edible ghost can be made with popcorn. Wrap a small popcorn ball in plastic wrap. Place wrapped ball in the middle of a large, sturdy white napkin. Tie the napkin together over the popcorn ball with white string, so the ends of the napkin hang out to form the body. Draw on a scary face with a black marker.

Jack-O-Lantern Burgers: Top hamburgers with a cheese slice into which you’ve cut out a jack-o-lantern face (eyes, nose and mouth).

Monsterwiches: Have available an assortment of bits and pieces of various vegetables, such as: carrot shavings (use a vegetable peeler to shave off thin strips of carrots); small slices of black and green olives; slices of red pepper (for lips); shredded lettuce, etc.

Let children spread a piece of bread with cheese spread or peanut butter and add these toppings to make a monsterwich.

Brains With Blood & Pus: Serve spaghetti and marinara sauce with shredded cheese, and call it “brains with blood and pus.” Kids will love eating “gross” food on Halloween, and you will know they are getting a healthful dinner.

Halloween Pasta: Check grocery stores, food specialty stores or craft stores for pasta that comes in Halloween shapes. Use in your favorite pasta recipe.

Witches’ Smiles: Core and cut a red-skinned apple (leave skin on) into long, vertical slices, about ½ ″ wide. Spread one side of apple with a small amount of peanut butter and place on top of a second slice so it looks like the two lips of a mouth. Stick raisins between the red “lips” for “decayed teeth.” If you make ahead of time, coat any exposed flesh of the apple with a little orange or pineapple juice to keep apple from turning brown.

Halloween Party Popcorn: Combine popcorn with your choice of the following ingredients. By mixing Halloween candy with popcorn, you cut back on the total amount of candy offered. Serve with a scoop from a large bowl. Or, fill a self-closing sandwich bag with popcorn mixture for each child.

  • raisins and other dried fruit
  • candy corn
  • nuts
  • gummy worms
  • orange/black candies such as “M & M’s” or jelly beans

Popcorn is a good choice for healthy eating. A cup of popcorn (popped) contains only 31 calories when popped without added fat. Popcorn provides fiber, or roughage, that the body needs in the daily diet.

Bony Fingers: Pour popcorn into clear plastic gloves (the type designed for wearing in the kitchen when preparing food). Tie the ends of gloves with orange and black ribbon.

Witches’ Brew: Serve orange juice or apple juice topped with a small scoop of orange sherbet, vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt. Or, add a few drops of green food coloring to milk, then top with a small scoop of lime sherbet, vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt, if desired.

Murky Blood: Combine nutrient-rich cranberry juice, apple cider and orange juice.

Halloween Cookies: Mix red and yellow food coloring until you have an orange color. Mix a few drops into your favorite sugar cookie dough. Cut dough into pumpkin shapes and bake as usual.

A second option is to let children help decorate sugar cookies with orange colored frosting. Make faces with chocolate hips, raisins or dried fruit bits.

Halloween Party Ideas

Select a harvest theme, focusing more on fun and less on food. Get children up and moving to use the calories they have consumed. Party activities could include: dunking for apples; walking through a haunted house; a hayride; a bonfire; decorating pumpkins; pinning a heart on a scarecrow; a costume contest; face painting and temporary tattoos. The children would love to paint you, too!

Offer kids fruits and vegetables of the season: pumpkin muffins; pumpkin pie; pumpkin cookies; hot apple cider; popcorn or baked apples. A plain apple is a very healthy, low-calorie food in the 60-100 calorie range. However, be aware that a large candy apple with caramel contains about 540 calories.


Show children how much you care about them. Give them treats that help them choose wisely today and begin a lifetime of healthy habits. Teach them the importance of making smart choices from each food group, selecting nutrient-dense foods, and getting plenty of physical activity to balance their food intake.


This information has been reviewed and adapted for use in South Carolina by Janis G. Hunter, HGIC Nutrition Specialist, and Katherine L. Cason, Professor, State Program Leader for Food Safety and Nutrition, Clemson University. (New 10/07.)




Add Nutritious Greens to Your Mashed Potatoes

For maximum nutritional benefits try this recipe for adding greens to your mashed potatoes.  It uses no oils or butters but still has a fantastic flavor.

Mashed Potatoes and Greens

Adding greens to mashed potatoes maximizes their nutritional value.









1 bunch of chard, green or red, roughly chopped
3-4 medium/large potatoes, cubed
6-8 oz. of non-fat or coconut yogurt
Soup stock or water


  1. Put potatoes in pan and cover with stock or water. Bring to a boil and turn down to simmer for 40 minutes or until potatoes are soft.
  2. Place chard on top of potatoes and simmer for 15 more minutes.
  3. Remove any remaining liquid and add 6-8 oz. of non-fat or coconut yogurt.
  4. Mash together. Add more yogurt or soup stock if the mixture is too dry.

Serving size: 4

Variations: The same recipe can be used with kale or collard greens. When using these greens, remove the central stems by stripping the leaves before shredding them.

Chris’ Note: After the potatoes are drained but before they are returned to the pot, use some stock or a tiny bit of oil or butter to sauté a minced clove or two of garlic then blend in with the potatoes and greens.


Boost Your Immune System with Fermented Foods

A healthy immune system creates a healthy, disease resistant body.  The Ebola virus is on a rampage in western Africa.  Seventy percent of those infected with it die, including two people so far in the United States.  Only an experimental drug has shown to be effective against it but it is not available in a sufficient enough quantity to manage an outbreak of any number.

Your best defense against this killer is a healthy immune system.

This is achieved by eating a diet of fresh, whole foods, which provide the nutrients, enzymes and healthy bacteria (flora)needed to strengthen and maintain a healthy immune system.  Taking a daily, high quality probiotic will help and incorporating fermented foods into your meals will speed up the process.

The article below explains why gut flora is so important to the immune system, the importance of ingesting fermented foods to help build the gut flora the intestines need to create a healthy immune system and some fermented foods that you can easily incorporate into your daily diet.

It takes time for the good bacteria to build up to sufficient quantities to be effective and the sooner you get started, the sooner you will become bullet proof to not only the colds and flus of this season but the potential contact with Ebola.


7 Things You Need To Know About Fermented Foods

by Dr. Frank Lipman

Fermented foods like sauerkraut help to boost your immune system.







Recently, fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchee have been making news, even though they are, in fact, anything but new — fermented foods have been around for thousands of years.

For people living without modern medicine and refrigeration, fermentation has always been not only a simple means of food preservation, but also a way to imbue foods with health-promoting properties, an essential tool for maintaining the gut health. Over the course of the last century, however, fermented foods fell off most dinner plates, their medicinal effects wiped out by pasteurization, resulting in a dead-on-arrival food supply, stripped of the live bacteria the gut needs to stay in balance.

Fortunately, though, there’s a deliciously easy fix for this modern problem: incorporate more probiotic, fermented foods into your diet and put those live, good-for-you organisms back where they belong — in your gut!

Here’s a food-for-thought introduction to the health-boosting power of the fermented foods and how to get more of them into your daily diet:

1. Fermented foods help fight off disease.

It’s estimated that roughly 70% — 80% of your immune system is in your gut. Feed it poorly and your gut will be left with few defenses, easily overwhelmed by bad bacteria, wide open to disease-triggering inflammation and plagued by gastrointestinal ills like IBS-type symptoms (i.e., gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, etc.). In your weakened state, you may also be more susceptible to colds and flu.

But, if you introduce good bacteria into the gastric mix via fermented foods, you’ll enable your gut to crush opportunistic invaders and disease-triggering inflammation, long before they can gain the upper hand. Simply put: A healthy, balanced gut can send illness packing.

2. Fill ‘er up, twice a day.

To fortify your gut, start incorporating small servings of fermented foods once or twice a day. Toss fermented veggies like beets or sauerkraut into salads; enjoy them on their own; as a side dish or, if you’re feeling adventurous, consider adding a spoonful or two to your morning smoothie. I like adding a few fermented beet slices and a splash of beet juice to my berry smoothies, particularly on those days when I feel like my gut needs a boost.

3. Fermented foods can save you cash.

Foods you ferment yourself can last for months, so there’s less waste, which helps save money in the long run. If you’re not the DIY type, commercially produced or store-bought fermented foods will also have a long, preservative-free shelf life, so they’re a pretty good deal too, even with the higher price. And did we mention that fermented foods also add great taste, nutrition and healthy bulk to every meal — so there’s less need to buy or eat insulin-spiking, low-nutrient filler foods like pasta, bread or potatoes.

4. They’re alive — and they’re busy.

Fermented foods don’t just lounge around your belly doing nothing — they’re active! After you eat them, those bacterial armies get to work, helping to balance your gut bacteria and stomach acids; releasing enzymes to help ease and improve digestion, thereby making it easier for your body to extract and absorb more nutrients from the foods you eat. Another pleasant side effect of all that activity? Less constipation and easier elimination, drug and stimulant-free.

5. Go ferment yourself!

While you can buy fermented products at most natural food stores and some supermarkets, fermenting is easy and inexpensive to do at home. You can ferment most edibles in the fruit and vegetable universe, but some come out better than others, so before you start, take a look some of the numerous blogs and books dedicated to the practice. Donna Schwenk’s book Cultured Food for Life: How to Make and Serve Delicious Probiotic Foods for Better Health and Wellness, is a great resource, as is Fermented Foods for Health: Use the Power of Probiotic Foods to Improve Your Digestion, Strengthen Your Immunity, and Prevent Illness, by Dierdre Rawlings, Ph.D., N.D.

6. Be a smart shopper — in five steps.

If you’re not planning to “grow your own,” then here are a few pointers on what to look for when buying fermented foods. Your mission: to get the most active cultures for your buck. To do that, be on the lookout for:

  1. KEEP COOL: Fermented foods are full of live organisms that must be kept cool to survive, so buy only fermented items in the refrigerated section of the store
  2. IT IS WHAT IT IS: Fermented foods will, not surprisingly, have the phrase “fermented” printed somewhere on the label, so make sure it says so.
  3. PUT IT OUT TO PASTURE: Be sure the label does not say “pasteurized” — because the pasteurization process wipes out the cultures you need to help fortify your gut.
  4. FERMENTED AND PICKLED ARE TWO DIFFERENT THINGS: … So don’t confuse the two — they’re not interchangeable. Pickled foods are exactly that — they’re pickled in liquids like vinegar or brine, but not fermented (unless it says otherwise on the label).
  5. BUY ORGANIC: Look for fermented foods that are made from the best raw materials possible, namely those made from organic, non-GM or locally farmed produce.

7. Get to know the classics.

So what to buy or make yourself? Try a variety of fermented organic veggies and fruits — the possibilities are endless. Among the more popular ones to work into your daily diet:

  • Fermented beets, radishes, tomatoes, onions, garlic, kimchee, green beans and sauerkraut.
  • Condiments that have been fermented (either at home or commercially), such as ketchup, relish, salsa, chutney and hot sauce make great mealtime add-ons.
  • For dairy-eaters, fermented yogurts, kefir, cultured buttermilk and some cheeses are good options. Nondairy eaters can try fermented yogurt made with coconut milk as a tasty alternative.
  • And while natto, miso, tempeh, tofu and soy sauce are popular fermented foods, generally I advise my patients to avoid them as they tend to be heavily processed and are usually made with genetically modified soy.



Chris’ note:  Changing lifelong dietary habits takes time and can be difficult for some people.  A coach can help make the journey easy.  Contact me for a free, 15 minute consultation to see if we are a good fit for you to achieve your wellness goals.

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