holidays

Healthy Treats for Classroom Halloween PartiesI’m a purist when it comes to trick-or-treating: I pass out chocolate and let my kids have free reign over their stashes (read: “How I Handle Halloween Candy Craziness“). But I think it makes sense to dial it back for classroom Halloween parties. Most kids already haul in loads of sugar from trick or treating. At my children’s school, many of the teachers actually request healthier party foods.

I’ve planned or pitched in food for many classroom bashes, and here’s what I’ve learned: The kids are pretty happy with whatever you give them, and the food is usually secondary to the fun anyway. Which is why I’m unwilling to pull an all-nighter prepping food for grade schoolers.

These are all foods I’ve made for parties (or am making this year). They’re all fun, healthy–and most importantly, totally doable.

Green Goblin Smoothies: Healthy Treats for Classroom Halloween PartiesI made these Green Goblin Smoothies for my son’s preschool class at Halloween. I brought my Vitamix blender to the classroom, and the kids took turns pressing the buttons (free entertainment!). Try this easy recipe: 2 bananas, 2 cups water, 1 cup pineapple (fresh, frozen, or canned in juice), and 2 large handfuls spinach or kale. Use permanent marker to decorate plastic cups with silly faces.

Ghostly Grape Jack-o-Lantern: Healthy Treats for Classroom Halloween PartiesI got this idea from Grapes From California, which happen to still be in season. This makes a fun centerpiece, and kids can nibble the jack-o-lantern’s hair (or brains!).

Eyeballs on a Stick: Healthy Treats for Classroom Halloween PartiesYou can also thread grapes onto skewers and serve them fresh or frozen, branded as “Eyeballs on a Stick” for maximum Halloween creepiness.

Boo-nana Ghosts: Healthy Treats for Classroom Halloween PartiesYou’ve probably seen these guys online. Sometimes they’re dipped in yogurt and rolled in coconut. I take the easy way out: Cut a banana in half, press in two mini chocolate chips for eyes, and insert a lollipop stick (get those at Target, a craft store, or Amazon).

Kiwi Pops: Healthy Treats for Classroom Halloween PartiesUse those same sticks for these easy Kiwi Pops. Just peel kiwis, cut into thick slices, insert a popsicle stick in one end, and freeze. You’ll get about 3-4 pops per kiwi.

Popcorn Hands: Healthy Treats for Classroom Halloween PartiesI’ll admit: These Popcorn Hands are slightly more labor intensive, but I couldn’t resist because they combine two of my favorites, popcorn and candy corn. Be sure to use foodservice-grade gloves (find them at a restaurant supply store or on Amazon). Drop a piece of candy corn into the tip of each finger, then fill with popcorn, and close with a twist-tie. (Get my no-fail recipe for stovetop popcorn.)

Apple Spirals: Healthy Treats for Classroom Halloween PartiesI nabbed this idea from a classmate’s mom, who brought her old-fashioned apple peelerand a bag of apples to a classroom party years ago. Each child took a turn peeling an apple. I thought that was brilliant! Since then, I’ve done this for a few parties, and I love seeing how much the kids enjoy eating their spirals (and peels).

Clementine Pumpkins: Healthy Treats for Classroom Halloween PartiesWhat’s not to love about easy-to-peel clementine cuties? You can draw the faces on the outside with a Sharpie or let kids decorate their own.

For more ideas, visit my “Healthy Halloween Snacks” Pinterest board.

Do you have any good ideas for healthy classroom party treats? I’d love to hear about them!

Disclosures: I’m happy to be working with Grapes From California this year as a Blogger Ambassador. I am compensated for my time. All opinions expressed are my own. This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase a product through this link, your cost will be the same, but I will receive a small commission to help with operating costs of this blog. Thanks for your support!

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How I Handle Halloween Candy Craziness

by Sally on October 15, 2014

How I Handle Halloween Candy Craziness by Real Mom NutritionMy name is Sally. I’m a dietitian. And I hand out candy to trick-or-treaters.

In the past, I’ve doled out bags of pretzels, small tubs of Play-Doh, and sheets of stickers too (and see nothing wrong with going that route). But mostly, we hand out candy. Usually chocolate.

If you’re a regular on this blog, you know I can get riled up about junk food. Especially when it’s on the sidelines of kids’ sports every weekend (read: Soccer Mom Soapbox). I’m that mom calling the summer camp director to ask about switching from Powerade to water. I’m the lady stopping at the front desk of the rec center to chat about the junk in the vending machine. I even advocate for healthier school Halloween parties.

Yet when it comes to trick-or-treating, I’m cool with candy. Why? Because I think it’s okay to celebrate some occasions with food. (If goodies aren’t handed out every day for made-up special occasions like t-ball practice, it’s easier to do this.)

But I also know that trick-or-treating can spiral into candy craziness, so here’s how I make it work in our house:

1.  I wait until the very last minute to buy candy. Ideally, I’m at the store at 3pm on the day of trick-or-treating. Once upon a time, I made the tragic error of buying Halloween candy in advance, which of course meant we ate it, bought more, ate that, and bought more.

2. I give my kids free reign. We eat dinner before trick-or-treating, then all bets are off. They can eat as much as they want, which often comes with its own handy life lesson: If you eat too many sweets, sometimes your belly hurts and you feel gross.

3. I play the Switch Witch. After my kids return home to dump and sort their stash, they reserve a pile of their favorites. The rest (the stuff they don’t like or don’t like very much) goes into a bowl on the dining room table. While they’re sleeping, the Switch Witch arrives to take the candy and replace it with a toy or game. This is optional at my house. My kids aren’t forced to turn over their candy, and last year they kept a pretty sizeable amount. I know not everyone is a fan of the Switch Witch (read Red, Round or Green’s take in this post, “Switching Off“). But I like that this fun tradition teaches them to value what they like best–but not waste time on the stuff they don’t, simply because it’s there. In our culture of omni-present junk, that’s a useful skill.

4. I put them in charge of their stash. In our house, we have a one-treat-a-day policy which works most of the time. You can have your treat whenever you want: in your lunchbox, after school, after dinner, even WITH dinner. My two boys’ Halloween candy is kept in separate bags in a cupboard they can access. We decide together what a reasonable portion is (usually a fun-size bar or two small pieces of candy) and they serve themselves. They don’t obsess. There’s no sneaking of candy.  (Well, sometimes I sneak a piece and get caught when one of them finds the wrapper in my office garbage can.)

So that’s how it’s done in our house because this seems to work well (for now at least!). You may do things differently, and that’s okay. You may toss out everything with artificial colors, only buy GMO-free goodies, or hand out temporary tattoos. Or maybe you’re that fabled house with the full size candy bars. By all means, do your own thing.

But if you sneak your kids’ candy, do a better job than me of hiding the evidence.

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A Call for Candy-Free Valentines

February 4, 2014

Remember Valentine’s Day as a kid? If your school was anything like mine, you found an old shoebox, cut a slot in the top, and decorated it with paper doilies and puffy heart stickers. You stationed it on your desk at school and made the rounds in the classroom, giggling and dropping valentines in your […]

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5 Last-Minute Holiday Food Gifts

December 15, 2013

I get a little frazzled around the holidays. That means I don’t always plan ahead (read: I never plan ahead) and gather little gifts for friends and party hosts. Since I love to cook and bake, food gifts are a natural choice. So when I need something fast, I turn to things I already have on […]

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I Have No Love for Candy Valentines

February 15, 2013

I organized the Valentine’s Day party in my son’s classroom this year. We have a lot of food allergies among the third graders–and I’m always looking for ways to reduce junk anyway–so we planned a buffet of red fruits and vegetables: red pepper strips, dried cherries, red raspberries, pomegranate seeds, strawberries, and all-fruit smoothies. My […]

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Halloween Snack Solutions for Classroom Parties

October 1, 2012

I like candy corn and pumpkin-shaped sugar cookies as much as the next person. But our little trick-or-treaters are about to be bombarded with sweets. So if your child’s class is celebrating Halloween with a party, why not go easy on the treats? Many schools are now requesting healthier party snacks anyway. Here are three ideas: […]

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Join the Project 40 Fitness Challenge!

November 29, 2011

I’m one-third of the way through Project 40, and one thing is crystal clear: I’m failing miserably at my exercise goals. I’ve all but stopped eating at the computer, and evening snacks barely tempt me anymore. But the exercise. Oh, the exercise. I’m not sure what my problem is. I’m busy, but I’ve been busy before. I’m tired, […]

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A Radical Suggestion for Holiday Eating

November 23, 2011

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving–and the official start of the holiday party circuit. Worried about overeating your way into 2012? You should be.  A lot of us treat the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve as one big excuse to eat reindeer-shaped frosted sugar cookies for breakfast. Worried about your kids? You don’t have to be. […]

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