Ask your kids what they love about Halloween and most, if not all, will shout “candy."
While this fun tradition may wreak havoc on your kids' teeth -- and bedtime routines -- there are many tricks to help keep some of the treats at bay.
For starters, determine a reasonable number of days your kids can enjoy the sweets and discuss this with them before they head out trick-or-treating. It's also best to let them know candy-eating rules ahead of time, such as, one piece of candy can be eaten only after a healthy meal.
You can also hand out healthy goodies rather than candy to kids in your neighborhood. Kara Smith, special project coordinator for the Loyola Center for Fitness in Chicago, suggests handing out these alternatives when the little ghosts knock on your door: Halloween pencils, stickers or temporary tattoos, boxes of raisins, sugarless gum, 100-calorie packs of snacks, or vampire teeth and other party favors.
Another trick is to feed your kids a healthy snack or dinner before they venture out. This may help them be less tempted to dig into their bag before they get home.
Maggie da Silva, of Carroll Gardens, Booklyn, a mother of three and author of "Real Family Halloween Fun" (RealFamilyTime.com, $3.99 for an e-book), makes it a point to give her kids dinner before they go trick-or-treating.
"With three kids, I don't want to end up with the scariest sugar low in history," said da Silva. "I've found the easiest way to sneak in healthy foods before the candy is to make something nutritious in a fun shape. Kids love anything in fun shapes! I plan to make Meatloaf Mummies (recipe below) ahead of time. Then, I'll pop them in the oven before we get into our costumes."
Try this recipe before trick-or-treating with your kids. "As a skeleton might say, 'Bone appetit!' " said da Silva. "My kids think that's funny!"
(Serves 4-8, depending on how big you make your mummies)
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup bread crumbs
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon, plus extra, ketchup
- 1 tube biscuit dough
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Prepare the meatloaf: Mix together the ground beef, egg, bread crumbs, soy sauce and 1 tablespoon ketchup.
3. Make meatloaf mummy shapes out of the meat mixture.
4. Open the biscuit dough and flatten pieces out with your fingers.
5. Wrap the meat people with ½-inch strips of flattened-out biscuit dough to look like bandages. Leave space for eyes.
6. Cook uncovered in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden brown.
7. Once you remove mummies from the oven, you can add some personality by using ketchup to create eyes.
8. Serve with extra ketchup and a side of veggies.