Wednesday, September 4

Attack of the Sugar Candy: Aiming for a Healthier Halloween

It's not the creepy crawlers nor ghosts and goblins that frighten parents and dentists the most at Halloween each year. Rather, it's the thought of all of that sugary candy waiting to attack the teeth of youngsters like yours. According to Statistic Brain, American consumers spent over $21 billion last year on candy to hand out to trick or treaters. That's a whole lot of sticky, cavity-creating treats.

Of course, like most parents, you hate to play the role of a Debbie Downer, who refuses to let their child trick or treat with their friends. But you also don't want to be the parent of the child who has a smile that resembles a Jack O' Lantern. Fortunately, there are ways for you to let your child go trick-or-treating, that also minimize the potential damage that can be done to their teeth.


Give Up the Candy for a Good Cause

For many children, the act of running up and down the streets in costume, ringing doorbells and shouting "Trick or Treat!" is the part they love most about Halloween. The candy is just an added bonus. So try having a talk with your children before they go out and let them know that you are planning to donate a good portion of the candy they receive to a charity. Most children will be delighted to help the needy (as long as they get to keep some of the candy).

One of the places you can take your Halloween candy to is Kool Smiles, a leading dental health provider catered to making kids' dental experiences memorable (in a good way). In the past, Kool Smiles has worked with Operation Troop Treats to share excess Halloween candy with members of our nation's troops stationed overseas. It is an excellent win-win program for everyone involved, including your child, who will receive a toy from the company to reward them for their generosity.

Healthy Treat Alternatives

Nowhere does it say that Halloween has to be only about sweet treats. Instead of buying a generic bag of candy, whip up something healthy and easy for your children. Following, are two fun and easy alternatives to sugary snacks that your children can also delight in helping you make.

Cook Up Pumpkin Seeds

You know all the goopy innards stuff that you scoop out of your pumpkin when carving it? Many people throw it out, but all those little seeds inside can make a tasty, healthy treat.
  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
  2. While the oven is heating, clean the seeds from your pumpkin by placing them in a colander and rinsing them under water until you have separated them from the stringy material they were entangled in.
  3. Melt a little butter and then drizzle over the seeds and season with salt or garlic salt to taste. Next, toss the mixture so that everything is evenly coated.
  4. Place on a baking sheet in a single layer and then bake in the oven for 45 minutes or until the seeds are toasted nicely. Check occasionally to make sure that they are not burning.
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Photo: Brian Jackson via Flickr.

Make Granola Snack Baggies

Many grocery stores today sell the ingredients for granola or trail mix in separate bins, which means you can create your own version of this healthy snack. Start by purchasing a selection of raisins and peanuts or other nuts and various seeds. You might want to buy some candy-covered chocolates or chocolate chips to add a little sweetness to the mixture.

When you are ready to create your specialty trail mix, separate the items you bought into individual bowls and then let your child help you create bags of granola by simply scooping each ingredient into a small baggie and then shaking to mix. You can tie off your granola baggies with black and orange ribbons or decorate each with cute Halloween-themed stickers for added holiday flair.

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