Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Have a Healthy Halloween

PumpkinsNot to scare you…but Halloween is just around the corner and it’s just the tip of the iceberg of the holiday season. It seems to just ramp up from October all the way through to spring. Getting started on a healthy note can make staying on track through the end of the year and beyond just a little bit easier for the whole family.

When I was a kid I was a huge fan of the candy swap I always did with my brother after getting home from trick-or-treating. I would ALWAYS take the dark chocolate off his hands. My parents were very good about what we did with our candy after that. It went into the freezer in the basement. We could have one or two pieces after dinner but that was it. Being kids we remembered the candy for a few days then promptly forgot and moved on to other important kid things. I’m not sure, (mom post a comment if I’m off base here) but I think at some point after Christmas mom ditched the freezer burned candy as we were paying attention to our newly acquired Cabbage Patch Kids with Halloween a distant memory.

It’s a great strategy to limit the treats but not make them off limits. Plus, there are lots of other ways to enjoy a healthy Halloween and make your trick-or-treat night a bit better for you, your kids and the neighborhood kids too.

At home you can make all kinds of fun spooky treats that taste great, look super creepy and aren’t full of mystery ingredients. Pumpkin pie popcorn balls – canned pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice and some date paste combined and warmed, mix in popped popcorn then form into balls; apple spiders — sliced apples topped with peanut butter, add raisins for eyes and pretzel sticks for legs; black bean brownies cut in bat and witch hat shapes. There are lots of fun ways to cut down on sugar but still enjoy some unexpected and not so scary treats with friends.

If you want to avoid handing out candy altogether here are a few things you can pass out to the trick-or-treaters that they’ll like and you can feel good about giving.

  • Stickers
  • Temporary tattoos
  • Small bags of pretzels
  • Spider rings
  • Crayons
  • Pencils
  • Small boxes of raisins
  • 100% juice boxes
  • Bouncy balls
  • Silly post cards
  • Toothbrushes?!

In my neighborhood there was a dentist who would give away toothbrushes along with a friendly reminder to brush after eating and before bed. I was not such a fan in my youth, but man I totally get it now.

Don’t feel trapped by conventional options for any holiday. We have lots of tips, tricks and recipes to make all of your holidays healthier, we promise to keep the ideas coming. Start the holidays with a Healthy Halloween keep it rolling into the New Year

Do you hand out something other than candy for Halloween? Share with us in the comments below.


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Carrie Dale says …

Can you post the exact recipe for the pumpkin pie popcorn balls? My son will be trick-or-treating for the first time this year. He'll be trading his candy for a new toy of his choice, and he's very excited about it.

Boo says …

One time as a kid I received audio cassettes.

Calidaho says …

I have given out little pla-dough tubs. Always a hit.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@CARRIE - Your son is going to have so much fun! I was able to get the recipe from Jess. She took this base recipe and adapted it more to a HSH recipe using date paste instead of honey and rice syrup…and air pop popcorn. The base recipe can be found at http://www.thegraciouspantry.com/clean-eating-pumpkin-candied-popcorn/. Let us know how it turns out!

NIcole says …

This year I'm giving out glow sticks instead of candy

Sara says …

We do candy buy back and plan to do it again this year. We did the buy back by size. Our son was able to buy legos with the money he earned from the Great Halloween Buy Back.

Joanne says …

I've given out Halloween themed pencils, erasers and a healthier treat like granola bars or crackers. No trick or treater (and I've done this in different states) has complained at my lack of candy! The granola bars and crackers have been individual treat sized and in Halloween themed packaging which I think made it cute. I honestly think the kids like have a non-candy treat and I feel so good about not having candy!

Thao Bui-Nguyen says …

I like your note that your neighborhood dentist passed out toothbrush! Yes, one year, when I had planned ahead: I bought apple at a local farmer market & passed out in little Halloween bags. Kids love it! And since I am also a dentist, I also put orange & black Halloween toothbrushes in my hand-out tray & let them pick! There is also candies in the tray as well. Surprisingly, most kids pick the apple bag & even some kids took the toothbrush!

Mary E. Fehrman says …

When we were kids we learned which neighbors gave what. The printer gave us a pad of paper (super idea), the dentist gave us apples (saw those again in our school lunches). At the time we didn't appreciate the significance of those treats but now we admire the forethought. TY for your list of alternative treats. I am going to try some.

Barb Simmons says …

Very helpful and healthy advice. Pennies, silver dimes, and packs of sugar-free gum are a treat also! Small Packaging pumpkin seeds, nutritious crackers, dried fruits economically, would be great, but companies don't do this like the candy companies do. Thanks and a big "shout out" for Katie Simmons, Chef at the Wellness Center!