Kyla Cathey is a freelance writer, editor, and blogger based in California's Central Valley.
Leaves are turning colors and falling, and the air is getting crisp. Fall is here, and soon it will be Halloween with little ghosts, goblins, princesses, and superheroes running from house to house collecting holiday treats.
It can be hard to convince kids to eat healthy snacks when fun-size chocolate bars and candy corn beckon. It's easy to add a side of health to Halloween candy, though, so they get some vitamins and nutrients along with all that junk food.
Here are a few sweet, tasty treats that will satisfy your child's craving for sugar while adding some much-needed nutrition to the mix. Remember, moderation is the key when balancing sweet treats and kids' health.
1. Dark Chocolate Apples
This quintessential Halloween treat is usually made with sugary caramel, but swap that out for some dark chocolate for a treat that packs a few more antioxidants, a little less sugar, and a lot less mess (at least during the eating part, if not the making).
The apple, of course, is the nutritious core of this dessert. Apples are packed with fiber, potassium, and vitamin C. Roll on nutritious extras like cranberries and nuts for variety.
Let the kids help you for a fun-filled afternoon in the kitchen—maybe with a little mulled apple cider to sip while hard at work?
2. Bugs on a Log
If your children got those individual bags of M&Ms, it's the perfect chance to create a tasty variation of the peanut butter-celery combo. A holiday like Halloween is the perfect excuse to swap out raisins for chocolate candies. Sure, it's not as healthy as the original, but nut butter and celery add some nutrition, at least!
You can use it as a teaching moment, too: Decide which bug goes with each color of M&M. Are the red ones ladybugs? Maybe a line of green M&Ms can be a caterpillar. Which ones live near you?
If you'd rather stick with the original, black licorice can add spider legs to make those raisin-ants a little spookier. Celery brings in a little vitamin A and vitamin K, peanut butter offers some healthy fats, magnesium and vitamin B-6, and raisins have iron and potassium.
3. Popcorn Balls
You can make a lot of Halloween candies a little less bad for you by adding in some popcorn and other healthy ingredients, like dried fruit. The end result is a traditional treat that still satisfies the sweet tooth, but has some nutritional benefits as well. Try this recipe that uses dark chocolate, pretzels and dried cherries from Eating Well, or mix it up with your own favorite ingredients.
And of course, when scooping out your jack-o-lanterns, don't forget to set the seeds aside for homemade roasted pumpkin seeds. They're not as sweet as the other snacks on this list, but they are tasty—and full of nutrients like magnesium, copper, and zinc!