Children of all ages love Hallowe’en because it is a good opportunity to dress up in fun costumes and tell ghost stories. Unfortunately Hallowe’en parties and trick-or-treating can lead to sugary horrors, but with a bit of creative thinking you can make sure healthy eating doesn’t get frightened into the background by including some ‘real’ food in disguise!
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Pineapple: trim off, but retain the green spikes, puree the flesh with some yoghurt and whole milk, and top with the green spikes – call it ‘Monster’s Brains’.
Kiwi fruit: scoop out the flesh of kiwi-fruit, mash it up and return it to the empty shells, top with two liquorice all-sorts as eyes and call them ‘Spooky Slime’.
Stewed fruit: stew rhubarb/ apples/ pears with some dried fruit, and call it ‘Pond-scum’.
Be creative with colour and texture – many vegetables, fruit, and seeds come naturally in the Hallowe’en colours for instance:
Black: poppy seeds, raisins, currants, black beans
Purple: blueberries, red cabbage, blackberries, aubergines, plums
Green: leafy greens, broccoli, kiwis, peas, green beans, avocados, celery, herbs, green apples, cucumber
Orange: pumpkins, oranges, carrots, orange peppers, sweet potatoes
Red: beetroot, strawberries, cherries, raspberries, red peppers, cranberries, tomatoes, pomegranates, red onions, red apples
Yellow: pineapples, bananas, corn, yellow peppers
White: coconuts, potatoes, peeled apples.
If you don’t want to be the only parent on the block giving out fruit to the ‘trick or treaters’ you could try non-food treats such as Hallowe’en pencils, pens, stickers, stick-on tattoos, and glow-in-the-dark skeletons or spider rings. If you can’t resist handing out chocolates and sweets, try fun-size chocolate bars with nuts for a little extra nutritional goodness.
It’s a scary time nutritionally, but at the very least get the kids to eat the healthy stuff first – by doing this it might fill them up - I did say might!
By Cara Gray, senior community dietician, HSE Dublin Mid-Leinster, Mullingar.