Q: What can I buy for my kids instead of unhealthy candy?

Masha Fox Rabinovich

Masha Fox Rabinovich

A: Masha Fox-Rabinovich, MA, RD, LDN, CDE, outpatient dietitian at Washington Adventist Hospital answers:

While grocery store aisles bombard us with far too many unhealthy options this time of year, it can become increasingly difficult to resist candy cravings for parents and kids alike. The good news is there are plenty of alternatives to buying candy that can still be fun and festive!

  1. Kids collect plenty of candy on Halloween night, so discovering non-edible treats is a fun surprise. Add some variety with items such as:
    • Jump ropes – to encourage physical activity!
    • Sidewalk chalk, play-doh, water colors or paints and other items that inspire art and creativity
    • Games and toys such as puzzles, finger puppets and other items you may find at a party supply store
    • Stickers, rubber stamps and tattoos
    • Pencils, erasers, notepads
    • Glowsticks, glow necklaces and bracelets
    • Bubbles
  2. Non-candy snack foods that will make parents happy:
    • Single-serving bags of whole grain snacks such as pretzels, crackers and popcorn
    • Granola bars or snack bars made from nuts and dates
    • Individual serving boxes of whole grain cereals that do not contain added sugars
    • Mini boxes of raisins
    • Prepackaged servings of nuts or dried fruits
    • Fruit leathers
  3. If you can’t resist giving out candy, opt for the best of the worst. Avoid candies made entirely of sugar, or ones that have unhealthy highly processed ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils. Try these options instead:
    • Mini-sized candy bars (the ones even smaller than the snack-sized)
    • Mini dark chocolates
    • Chocolates with nuts or coconut pieces

Cinnamon Roasted Pumpkin Seeds Recipe

Looking for a healthy and festive fall snack? Try out the recipe below, which provides a good source of protein, iron and phosphorous, along with Vitamins A and E.

  1. Cut a circle around the stem of the pumpkin and pull off the top.
  2. Scoop out the insides of the pumpkin (seeds, strings, pulp). Place the seeds in a colander and rinse with water. (It’s okay if there are some strings and pulp mixed in with the seeds, but remove any large pieces.) Spread the seeds out to dry overnight, but this is not necessary.
  3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  4. Coat a roasting pan or cookie sheet with a small amount of olive oil or grapeseed oil.
  5. Spread the pumpkin seeds on the roasting pan or cookie sheet evenly in a single layer.
  6. Optional: Sprinkle with 1-3 tsp of cinnamon and/or nutmeg, depending on the amount of seeds and your love of cinnamon and nutmeg.
  7. Place into the preheated oven. Every 10-15 minutes, remove from the oven and mix.
  8. The pumpkin seeds are done when they are golden brown (typically 30-45 minutes, depending on the size of the seeds). Remove from the oven and let them cool completely before eating.
  9. Crack the shell to remove the tasty inner seed, or eat whole for added fiber!

View More Healthy Pumpkin Recipes
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