Some would say that the words "healthy" and "Halloween" don't go together, but it's no trick: kids and adults alike can have fun celebrating this ghostly eve without gorging on treats. Try some of these ghoulishly great ideas-if you dare!
Host a Monster Bash
Host a healthy, early-evening meal for the neighborhood kids before they go trick-or-treating. They'll love to sink their fangs into these creepy-sounding concoctions (really just familiar dishes dressed up with gory names). Don't reveal the secret that they'll have less room to fill up on candy later! These fun foods will cause a cackle at "adults only" parties, too.
Before guests arrive, set out Halloween-themed bowls of these veggie appetizers-they'll disappear like magic!
Petrified Bones with Dripping Fang Sauce: Baby carrots with low-fat ranch dip.
Creepy-Crawly Bugs on a Log: Celery sticks spread with peanut butter or soy nut butter and sprinkled with raisins.
Guests will scream with delight for these totally-gross main dishes:
Monster Guts Stew: Make chili with lean ground beef and canned tomatoes and beans. Serve in a hollowed-out pumpkin with traditional fixins' like reduced-fat cheese, fat-free sour cream and sliced green onion.
Bloody Witches Fingers: Slice boneless, skinless chicken breasts into 2-inch wide tenders, making the slices slightly crooked. Dredge tenders in flour, then in beaten egg, then in coating made from crushed corn flakes mixed with a little Parmesan cheese and sprinkles of onion and garlic powder, salt and pepper. Place on a cookie sheet lightly coated with cooking spray. Add a sliced almond to the tip of each tender so it resembles a fingernail and bake at 425°F until golden brown, about 10-15 minutes. Serve with "blood" (ketchup) for dipping.
Creepy Eyeball Tacos: Stuff taco shells with shredded lettuce, low-fat cheese, and a spoonful of salsa. Lightly dip the top of two cooked mini-size turkey meatballs in fat-free sour cream to make the "whites" of each "eyeball" and place on top of taco filling. Complete each eyeball with an olive slice on top.
Spooky Mummy Pizzas: Spread whole-wheat English muffin or bagel halves with tomato sauce. Peel a piece of string cheese into thin strips and place them in criss-cross fashion on top of each half, so it resembles mummy bandage wrap. Leave some space so the tomato sauce shows for the mummy mouth and place halved pimento-stuffed green olives above the mouth for eyes. Use kitchen scissors to trim the cheese ends around the edges. Bake at 350°F for about 8-10 minutes, until cheese just melts (don't let the cheese brown).
Quench parched throats with these powerful potions:
Witch's Brew for kids: Mix a pitcher of fat-free milk with black or orange food coloring.
Horrifying Hand Punch for adults: Stir up a cauldron of your favorite punch (with spirits, if you prefer), brimming with floating ice "hands." To make ice hands, fill disposable latex gloves with water tinted with food coloring and freeze until solid. Cut off the gloves to reveal the horrifying hands.
Handling the Halloween Haul
No doubt, kids will cackle with delight over their bagful of candy. But you can prevent a frightening free-for-all-without spoiling their fun-when you try these tips.
Prepare a candy plan. Before the big eve, gather up your goblins to decide how much candy they can eat on Halloween night (maybe three to five small pieces)-their choice from their stash. Then, decide together how to handle the rest. For example, they might get one small treat in their lunchboxes every day for the next week, then just two or three times a week for another week or two. Some parents "trade" candy for a small toy or money, such as paying a penny for each piece.
Freeze or Stash It. Once the excitement of Halloween passes, kids usually lose interest in their candy stash. At that point, freeze the chocolate candy for future treats, save the hard candy to decorate holiday gingerbread houses, bring candy to the office or give it away.
Dare to be different. Offer candy-free treats. Kids will pick up plenty of candy, so why not offer fun candy-free treats? Some ideas are Halloween-themed packages of pretzels, popcorn and goldfish crackers, pencils, stickers, small plastic spiders or skeletons, plastic fake teeth or fangs, temporary tattoos, erasers, packs of sugar-free gum, or small super-balls. If you're too afraid to completely nix candy, mix some toys into your candy bowl and let trick-or-treaters choose.
Whatever your plan, remember that Halloween's glow is brief, so let kids enjoy their special treats–in moderation, of course.