When it comes to trick-or-treating, there's no avoiding the gobs of candy your kids will haul in.
But if you're throwing a Halloween party or just want more healthful treats around the house to balance out the sugar rush, there are plenty of options. And if you want your treats to stand a chance against the sugar onslaught, keep these pointers in mind.
First, have plenty of choices. Children like the power of choice and are more likely to pick something healthful if there's variety.
Fresh and dried fruits are naturally sweet and offer plenty of shapes, colors and tastes.
Consider a variety of texture and — remember, we're talking about children — noise. Nuts, whole grain crackers, popcorn and even fresh vegetables are crunchy, and children enjoy making noise when they eat.
Second, presentation is key to making it fun. For instance, you can take homemade popcorns balls, or even some whole apples, wrap them in orange cellophane and tie them up with a piece of thin black licorice.
And vegetables can be downright ghoulish when assembled the right way. Use cream cheese to "glue" a slivered almond to one end of a baby carrot, then drizzle it with ketchup to make "bloody fingers."
To make edible eyeballs, peel boiled new potatoes and make a hole on one side of each large enough to fill with a pimento-stuffed olive.
Make mini jack-o-lanterns by using the tip of a sharp knife to cut eyes, a nose and a mouth into an orange. Cut just deep enough to expose the white pith.
Kids love to play with their food, so make it as interactive as possible.
Use Halloween cookie cutters to make spooky shapes with whole grain bread, reduced fat cheese slices and sliced deli meats, then let the children assemble "sandwitches."
These Peanut Butter Boulders combine whole-grain oat cereal with dried cherries and sunflower seeds to make a wholesome treat with flavors children will love. They're sweetened with honey rather than refined sugar and best of all, they're no-bake.
If you like, wrap them in pieces of wax paper, twisting the ends, and they'll look just like a piece of candy.
PEANUT BUTTER BOULDERS
Start to finish: 45 minutes (30 minutes active)
Makes about 30 balls
1/2 cup reduced-fat peanut butter
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup instant nonfat powdered milk
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 1/2 cups oat ring breakfast cereal (such as Cheerios)
2/3 cup dried cherries
2/3 cup raw hulled sunflower seeds
In a large bowl, combine the peanut butter, honey, powdered milk and lemon juice. Mix well. Add the cereal, dried cherries and sunflowers seeds and stir well.
Have a small bowl of water on hand. Moistening your hands as needed, roll the cereal mixture into balls. Set on wax paper until the outsides feel dry to the touch, about 30 minutes. Store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 4 days.
Nutrition information per ball: 60 calories; 2 g fat (.4 g saturated); 0 mg cholesterol; 10 g carbohydrate; 2 g protein; 1 g fiber; 46 mg sodium.