With Halloween just a couple days away, 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, and this is a perfect opportunity to talk to your kids about moderation and healthy eating.

Halloween, and all its fabulous chocolaty, gooey, rot-your-teeth 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.

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. Add a few chopped veggies and hide them as you “wrap up” your mummy pizzas with pieces of reduced-fat string cheese. 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 cheese, dip or salad dressing. Research shows that they will 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.

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.

Tracey Shaffer, RD, LD, is a Hy-Vee dietitian at the Blue Springs location. The information provided should not be construed as professional medical advice. Email her at tshaffer@hy-vee.com.


Create-Your-Own Candy Corn Parfaits

Serves 4.

All you need:

4 punch cups

1 (20 oz) can pineapple chunks in juice, drained, divided

2 (11 oz each) cans mandarin oranges in light syrup, drained, divided

2 cups light vanilla nonfat yogurt, divided

All you do:

Fill each punch cup with one-fourth of each ingredient – and enjoy! If you are not serving immediately, refrigerate.


Frozen Banana Ghosts

Serves 6

All you need:

3 ripe bananas

6 wooden Popsicle sticks

1 (16 oz.) container plain or vanilla Greek yogurt

12 mini chocolate chips

6 chocolate chips

All you do:

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

Peel bananas and cut in half. Gently push Popsicle sticks into thicker end of bananas, leaving 1 inch to use as a handle.

Gently spread yogurt onto bananas to cover completely; place on parchment paper.

Use mini chocolate chips for eye and the larger chocolate chips for the mouth of the ghosts.

Freeze until firm, about two hours. When serving, allow to thaw for about two minutes.


Yummy Mummy Pizzas

Serves 12

All you need:

6 whole wheat English muffins

1 (15 oz.) can pizza sauce

1 (2.25 oz.) can sliced black olives

6 string cheese

Additional pizza toppings optional

All you do:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

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

Place two black olive slices and lay across muffins to create mummy look; substitute shredded mozzarella cheese if desired.

Add additional pizza topping, if desired.

Bake for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.