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Attention, Alabama Halloween candy lovers: Make this holiday a little healthier, with a little planning

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It’s the season for spooky ghosts, pumpkins and, maybe, a few delicious treats. Children and adults are looking forward to costumes and candy. But fruits and vegetables can be part of the holiday fun, too.

Katie Funderburk, an Alabama Cooperative Extension System specialist and registered dietitian, said Halloween is a great time to introduce healthy foods to children through kitchen crafts and themed snacks.

“Letting kids play with food or participate in cooking or preparation can actually help picky eaters try new fruits and vegetables,” she said.

Halloween sugar overload: a teaching moment

Parents should decide how to handle the stash of Halloween candy their children bring home, Funderburk said. But whatever the approach, balancing it with healthy foods and exercise is key.

“Different approaches work for different families. Some like to enjoy candy without restraint around the holiday as a way of keeping with the traditions they experienced as a kid. Eating a variety of foods and living an active lifestyle is a year-round practice that won’t be derailed by holiday indulgence.”

Having excess candy available can be an opportunity to teach children about the importance of oral hygiene. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers tips for oral hygiene for children, including brushing teeth twice a day and drinking tap water, which contains fluoride important for strong teeth.

Funderburk said sugar intake can be monitored in other ways, such as offering water or milk instead of sugar-sweetened beverages and moving sweet snacks to a higher shelf in the pantry or somewhere out of sight.

For families who wish to limit candy consumption around Halloween, Funderburk has some additional tips:

“Serve a few pieces of candy as dessert alongside a healthy meal or include it on a snack tray with nutrient-rich cheese and crackers or veggies and dip,” she said. “Mix candy into homemade trail mix, granola or plain popcorn so it is served along with high-fiber foods.”

Funderburk advises against using candy as a reward – or withholding it as a punishment – ​​as research shows this can backfire and make candy more desirable over the long term.

Cooking and crafting together in the kitchen and dancing to silly Halloween songs are great ways to make healthy food and physical activity fun for the whole family.

Check out the following fun and healthy Halloween-themed snacks from the Live Well Kitchen.

banana ghosts, tangerine pumpkinsBanana Ghosts and Tangerine Pumpkins


  • Bananas
  • Tangerines
  • Grapes
  • Celery stalks

There’s nothing like going simple but effective when making spooky treats. Let’s start with a simple treat easy for smaller children to help create. Banana ghosts and tangerine pumpkins are a Halloween favorite.

For the ghosts, peel a banana, cut it in half and use raisins for the eyes and mouth. Nut butter or toothpicks can be used to hold the eyes in place if needed.

For the pumpkins, peel a tangerine, cut a celery stalk into thirds and place the stem in the top of the tangerine. The result is a beautiful little pumpkin that is full of nutrients kids need, like potassium, fiber and vitamin C.

Frozen yogurt ghostsGhost Popsicles


  • Greek yogurt
  • popsicle sticks
  • Grapes

Greek yogurt, raisins and popsicle sticks are the only ingredients for these eerie frozen visitors.

First, get out a cookie sheet and line a few popsicle sticks out. Take a sandwich bag and cut out a small hole in the corner. Put the yogurt in the sandwich bag and pipe onto the stick in the shape of a ghost. Use the grapes as eyes and the mouth. Put them into the freezer for about 30 minutes. Then enjoy!

white brooms, brown cutting boardPretzel Brooms


  • pretzel sticks
  • cheese sticks

Who doesn’t like a delicious snack with a bit of magic that may clean up after itself? Well, it probably won’t do any cleaning, but it definitely doesn’t take long to make.

To make the pretzel brooms:

  1. Peel a mozzarella cheese stick (or any flavor of cheese stick) and cut it into thirds.
  2. Cut the bottom of each cheese stick piece into strips diagonally to make it look like a broom.
  3. Take a pretzel stick and place it inside the top of the cheese to make tiny brooms.

Now, you’re ready for a snack, sweeping the counter or possibly a ride around the neighborhood.

Grape SpidersFruit/Pretzel Spiders


  • Plum
  • pretzel sticks
  • dark grapes

These creepy little crawlers will add a touch of nutrition and flavor to any Halloween snack this year.

The body of the spider is a plum, and the legs are grapes. Start by taking thin pretzel sticks and running a couple through the grapes and into the side of the plum. In the last grape of the leg, take another pretzel stick and put it into the bottom, adding more grapes until the bottom part of the leg hits the surface.

Repeat that process to make eight legs for your spider.

Vegetable MonsterVegetable Monster


Be careful when creating this vegetable monster because it may come alive. In all seriousness, this creation does have plenty of ingredients that were living at some point. It’s best to follow these directions and use the visual aid to help construct the monster.

Starting with the head, start with a small bowl and use lettuce leaves to form the monster’s hair. Then, fill the small bowl with Live Well Alabama’s Creamy Cucumber Dill Dip. Take two black olives and place them on top of the dip as eyes.

Moving to the body, use celery stalks as the shoulders, baby carrots as the arms and cauliflower florets as hands. Place several cucumber slices overlapping each other in a row to look like a spine and use bell pepper slices as the ribs.

Use sliced ​​mushroom as the hips, more celery stalks as the upper leg, cauliflower as a knee, bell peppers as the lower leg, grape tomatoes as the feet and broccoli florets as the toes.

As you put it all together, watch the monster come alive! Feel free to mix up the veggies as desired.

This story originally appeared on the Alabama Cooperative Extension System website.