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By Nicole Spain, Registered Dietitian
When you think of Halloween, the next word that comes to mind usually isn’t “healthy,” but it wasn’t always that way. Historically, Halloween involved bonfires and costumes to ward off evil spirits in Ireland. When first celebrated in the United States, it involved stories, song and dances about the harvest and fortunes to come. Trick or treating didn’t become popular until the 1950s. Since then, Halloween has become a celebration focused on gummy critters and candy corn, but you can switch out the sweets and emphasize healthy foods and physical activity with these special tricks!
For older children’s school parties try some of these spooky snacks and activities!
Veggie Skeleton – Create a fun Halloween skeleton using vegetables. Try cucumber sticks for arms, celery sticks for legs, broccoli for hands, sweet bell peppers for ribs, mushrooms for a face. Be creative and serve with your favorite veggie dip.
Fruity Spiders – Students can have fun creating these creepy crawlers. Use blueberries on toothpicks for legs and stick into a grape to represent the body.
Move that Bone – This is a great activity after kids learn about the bones in the body. Or you may want to put the names on a labeled skeleton chart. Similar to “Simon Says,” direct children to move certain bones. For example, “Skeleton says wiggle your tibia.” Have fun trying to move all the bones in the body!
Gourd Spoon Challenge – Similar to egg on a spoon race. Split students into equal groups (3-6). One at a time, each person on the team must balance small gourds on top of a wooden spoon as they walk around a mini-pumpkin and back. If a gourd is dropped, they must go back to the beginning and start over again. The first team to return wins!
For kids of all ages try to incorporate some fun at home:
Trick or Treats – Try to find a healthy option or non-food item to pass out instead of candy such as bubbles, Playdoh, bouncy balls, pencils, or glow sticks.
Spooky Pizza – Create a monster-themed pizza using a whole grain crust, pizza sauce, cheese for hair and various veggies for the face.
Roast Pumpkin Seeds – These are delicious and such a special treat after carving your pumpkin. Collect seeds, wash, and follow our basic pumpkin roasting recipe or experiment with different seasoning suggestions found below. These are delicious as a snack or you can serve them on top of chicken dishes, butternut squash, rice dishes or with yogurt and blueberries for a power breakfast.
Pumpkin Hunting – Kids love Easter egg hunts so why not give the game a twist by hosting a mini-pumpkin hunt. For older toddlers and preschoolers, it would be fun to decorate the pumpkins or gourds with paint or stickers once they’ve been found.
Halloween Charades – Fill orange balloons with Halloween themed physical activities: walk like Frankenstein’s monster, flap your arms like a bat, or pretend to walk through a sticky spider web. Pop balloons one at time and act out the activity on the paper for your team without using any words. Be creative!
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds: (Roughly 1-2 cups)
Basic: 2 Tbs Avocado Oil, ¼ tsp sea salt & ¼ tsp pepper
Italian: 2 Tbs Olive Oil, ¼ c Parmesan Cheese, ½ tsp Italian Seasoning
Sweet: 2 Tbs Butter, 1 Tbs brown sugar or honey, 1 tsp cinnamon
Savory: 2 Tbs Avocado Oil, 1 tsp seasoned salt & 1 tsp vinegar
Spicy: 2 Tbs olive oil, ½ tsp Cajun seasoning & ½ tsp lime zest
Garlic: 2 Tbs butter, 1 tsp garlic powder & 1 tsp onion powder
Zesty: 2 Tbs Olive Oil, 2 Tbs sugar, 1 tsp ground ginger & ½ tsp orange zest
Garden Herb: 2 Tbs Olive Oil, 1 tsp dried rosemary or thyme, ¼ tsp sea salt