Bake up some healthy Halloween fun

With Halloween just around the corner, now is the perfect time to get the kids together for some spooky, fright-filled baking and cooking. Of course, Halloween is known to be a sugar-laden candy fest, making this is a perfect opportunity to talk to your kids about moderation and healthy eating. Halloween, and all its fabulous chocolaty, gooey, sweetness is a once-a-year occasion. Use this opportunity to talk to your kids and explain to them that candy, like many of our other favorite treats, is a “sometimes” food. “Sometimes” foods aren’t foods we eat every day because they don’t give our bodies the nutrients we need to grow and stay healthy. We enjoy “sometimes foods” on occasion, and because we enjoy them only once in a while, it makes them that much more special.

Now, nobody wants to rain on any kid’s candy parade but not all Halloween treats have to be extremely sugar-laden. To keep things kid-friendly and ward off any candy battles, if you are going to offer healthier treats, make up for the lost sugar by upping the fun factor! Here are a few suggestions for a frightfully delicious (and nutritious) Halloween-themed meal that kids and adults can agree upon.

Make Yummy Mummy Pizzas on whole grain English muffins and explain to your kids that whole grains help fill their bellies and provide the energy they need to play. To get a little more calcium, make Candy Corn Parfaits and mention the importance of dairy and other calcium-rich foods. Dairy and calcium help keep bones strong so they are resistant to falls and injuries.

To help the kids fill half their plate with fruits and vegetables, let them dunk a few fresh vegetables in Critter Crostini; research shows that when kids are offered vegetables with an accompaniment (like cheese, dip or salad dressing), they enjoy the vegetables more and will consume a greater quantity and variety of vegetables. Go ahead and give in to their sweet tooth by making Frozen Banana Ghosts. Fruit makes a great side dish, dessert or snack, as the natural sweetness can satisfy sweet cravings while also providing important nutrients, like potassium, vitamin C and fiber. These are a favorite at our house and work great if you have a little one getting new teeth in.

With such a healthy menu, there certainly is room to round out the meal with dessert. This is the perfect opportunity to explain that when the majority of our food choices are healthy, there is room in a balanced and healthy diet for a yummy chocolate treat, like spooky Halloween cupcakes!

Don’t be afraid this Halloween season to let the kids “be kids” and enjoy the sweet holiday. Teach them a few things about moderation and a balanced diet and get them involved in Halloween treat-making. Research shows that kids are more likely to try foods they helped to make, so get their hands involved in something Halloween-themed and fun, but also something nutritious and delicious! For the full version of the recipes mentioned above, please go to

Yummy Mummy Pizzas

Serves 12.

All you need:

6 Hy-Vee whole wheat English muffins

1 (15 oz) can Hy-Vee pizza sauce

1 (2.25 oz) can Hy-Vee sliced black olives

6 string cheese

All you do:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Separate English muffins and spread 1 to 2 tablespoons of pizza sauce on each muffin half.

3. Place 2 black olive slices on each muffin for mummy eyes.

4. Peel string cheese into slices and lay across muffins to create mummy look.

5. Bake for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Katie Wilhelmi, RD, LD is a registered dietitian at the New Ulm Hy-Vee.

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