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Healthy Halloween?

This time of year nothing is more frightening to the health conscious parent than sacks full of brightly colored candy in irresistible crinkly wrappers. Letting your child enjoy a treasured and fun tradition while staying committed to keeping them healthy can be a difficult juggle.

For families with food allergies or other health issues, finding this balance is even more important. I’ve heard (and tried) numerous approaches on how to avoid turning children into orange-mouthed sugar zombies — from the “Great Pumpkin” who replaces bags of candy with a desired toy to the “eat-all-you-like-tonight, but-tomorrow-it’s-business-as-usual” approach. Some even see a pile of sweets as a teaching opportunity: “Look for the word ‘hydrogenated’ and let’s put all those in the ‘no’ pile.”

As a mom who is devoted to celebrating real food, my approach to keeping Halloween (somewhat) healthy reflects this focus on eating well. While my strategy on how to minimize the candy consumption has varied over the years, a joyous Halloween feast filling their bellies with wholesome nutrition prior to trick or treating has become an annual mainstay. Before the children are unleashed upon the neighborhood, I have them sit down for a dinner of some of their favorite nourishing foods. If other friends, ghouls and goblins are invited to join us for the feast as well, the more festive it becomes. This is the perfect time to set the table with decorative pumpkins, autumn crafts and that orange table cloth that doesn’t seem quite right any other time of year.

Hearty, warming comfort foods that make good use of the season’s bounty are some of my favorite ones to feature. Try creamy Butternut Squash Soup, hearty Winter Vegetable Soup, or the crowd-pleasing Bison Chili. And to drink? Get in the spirit of things with some green smoothies — or as you may like to call that night: “Scary Smoothies.” Are you brave enough to try some? Check out the Double Green Smoothie and Get your Greens Smoothie.

One component of the feast that you might not have to worry about — desserts. But if you want to offer some healthy treats, the surprisingly healthy Chocolate Mousse, the seasonally appropriate Pumpkin Pecan Cookies, and the perennial favorite Fresh Take on Apple Pie are all sure fire hits. How do you put a healthy spin on your Halloween?