Halloween scares a friend of mine. She works at an elementary school with 4th grade kids. It's not the tricks played out by the ghosts and goblins that give her the creeps, it's the treats.
"For a week or two after halloween, the kids are bouncing off the walls at school," she tells me. "All that candy leaves them buzzing like crazy."
On halloween night, costumed kids go from house to house for the opportunity to dip into bowls of mini-candy bars and other goodies. With so many concerns about health and diet these days, we need to find alternatives for treat night. With a little creativity, we can insure that the trick-or-treaters get something on the healthier side, and not treats that scare parents and teachers with "sugar highs" for weeks to come.
If we're talking healthy, aren't we talking homemade? And don't homemade Halloween treats automatically bring up old fears of razor blades hidden in popcorn balls and caramel apples? Well, there are several ways of getting around that, beginning with replacing fear with healthy attitudes and alternative treats. Here are a few ideas to help get you started:
- Give out homemade treats with your name and phone number attached. If the receiving parent is concerned, they can give you a ring. Maybe they want the recipe.
- Give out healthier, but still store-bought treats. Check out the bulk food bins for trail mixes, yogurt or carob-covered raisins and peanuts. Other alternatives include Japanese rice crackers, boxes of raisins or Craisins (dried cranberries), black licorice, granola bars, fruit roll-ups, boxes of juice, yogurt-covered raisins, snack bags of nuts or popcorn, single-serving packets of cocoa or cider mix, hardshell nuts, snack-sized yogurt cups, peanut butter filled cheese crackers, gum, and breakfast bars. Even a small bag of pretzels beats a Milky Way.
- Still uncomfortable? Organize a neighborhood Halloween potluck-party and invite parents to bring homemade goodies. For the right refreshment, stir up a batch of Wicked Witch's Brew, complete with a "bloody hand":
WICKED WITCHES BREW
Combine 1 liter ginger ale, 1 liter Sprite or 7-Up, and 16 ounces orange juice (prepared concentrate) in a large bowl.
For the "bloody hand" pour cranberry juice (or any red beverage) into a plastic glove and seal tighly with a rubber band or string. Freeze until the juice is solid, at least overnight. Before serving, run hot water over the glove just long enough to unstick it from the frozen juice, then carefully peel the glove off the "bloody hand" and set it in the punch.
- How about non-food items? Look around and tap into your imagination. Puzzles, stickers, packets of seeds, bookmarks, bead necklaces and bracelets, frisbee, colorful bandanas, small toys, pencils, coloring books, coupons, comic books, markers, certificate for a video, and a box of crayons all make great sugar substitutes. I know someone that gives away silver dollars on that scary night.
Are Snickers bad for you?
While candy bars are delicious, they're nutritional nightmares. For example, one Reeses Peanut Butter Cup has 250 calories and a whopping 14 grams of fat. It's hard to keep children away from refined sugar. Breakfast cereals, juice drinks, even catsup contains sugar. Sugar is everywhere! One of the reason the processed food industry thrives today is because they know a touch of sugar increases our desire for anything it's put on. Sugar makes junk food taste good, bribing the body by saying, "Look, this tastes good!" The body goes along for the ride without a second thought.
The average North American eats 133 pounds of sugar each year. The problems with sugar are well-documented, and doctors are finally waking up to the fact that sugar excess is one of the major causes for the high levels of adult-onset diabetes, immune dysfunction and even premature aging. Sugar is not a pick-me-up, it's a drag-you-down.
What IS Halloween?
Halloween began with Samhain, the ancient Celtic harvest festival that honored the lord of the dead on the first day of witner. According to Celtic legend, the spirits of ll the people who had died in the previous year gathered together, and at the end of the festival, people wore masks and costumes to escort them out of town.
In the 19th century, the Catholic Church made November 1 a day for remembering all the saints — All Saints' or Hallows' Day (from hallow, to sanctify). Thus October 31 became Hallow's Eve or Halloween.
Where do Jack-o'-lanterns come from?
Leave it to the Irish. (In Ireland, by the way, Halloween is a national holiday). According to Irish belief, it all began with a fellow named Jack. Apparently, Jack was too greedy to get into heaven and because he'd tricked the devil, he couldn't get into hell either. As a consolation, though, the devil tossed Jack a lighted coal from hell, and Jack stuck it into the turnip he was eating. He continues to use it to light his path as he searches for a final resting place.
"Over the Hedge":
"Beware of sweet dainties; they are a deceitful food."—Proverbs 23:3