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Is Halloween making my kids fat?

Is halloween making my kids fat?Should trick or treating be banned? Or is one night – OK maybe one month – of having a sugar high really all that bad for the kids?

Whether you love the costumes or think this is a ploy for candy companies to cash in, Halloween is probably one of the most debated holidays in North America – well at least it is for dietitians… especially us Muslim ones (since we have a philosophical disagreement with the concept of it – but that’s a whole ‘nother ball game isn’t it)!

So if you’re that parent, aunt, uncle, neighbour (or fill in the blank) whose sitting on the fence spinning the roulette wheel and waiting to see which side to join this year, I hope this will help you make a more informed decision… on the CANDY part of things anyways…

To treat or not to treat

If we look at the simplest version of the facts, then it is safe to assume that:

more candy = more calories
and more calories = more fat

and if a=b and b=c then a=c

which means theoretically

more candy = more fat …

unless of course we look at calories in vs. calories out, in which case:

more candy + more running around from a sugar high may not necessarily = more fat, right?

OK – on a more serious note, I think it is safe to say that we all know that OD’ing on candy really isn’t such a hot idea. At the same time, if you live in any neighbourhood in the US or Canada at least than you are sure to be faced with a battle between the kids – who just want to dress up and come home with loot – and your common sense.

So is Halloween really responsible for making our kids fat?

What if I told you that Halloween may just be more of an opportunity than you think…

Here’s the thing, when all is said and done, CANDY IS SIMPLY CANDY at the end of the day – and it only has as much power over you and your kids as you allow it to. At the same time showing your kids how to manage treats is one of the most important skills you can teach them in this easy access, processed food world that we live in.

So if you ask me, Halloween, like everything else, should really be less about candy and more about finding balance. Whether you decide that means you’ll be the house on the street that gives out tooth brushes or not, if when all is said and done you know you’re kids know that candy is not part of the food guide then I wouldn’t sweat it all that much.

Halloween Yin & Yang

Here are 3 tips I think  will help you find your Halloween Zen:

  • Make Halloween more about socializing and less about candy – go trick or treating with friends/neighbours or have a little party with some pals
  • Set Limits – Make sure your child knows that they have a quota of candy they can have for the day and that there is a difference between full-size and mini candy bars
  • Feast before you treat – It’s always a good idea to remind kids that candy can be had after meals just like dessert and make sure your kids are full with a healthy wholesome dinner before they go trick-or-treating

If you want to find more ways to make Halloween a little bit healthier, you can check out these great ideas from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:

Enjoy a Healthy and Happy Halloween

Tips for a Healthy Halloween Party

and don’t forget to check out our Pinterest Celebrate Board

Hope you all have a Happy Halloween!

Ring in October with EASY Homemade Pumpkin Pie Filling

Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Ah October, while for us Dubaiyans who have just lived through the sweltering heat of summer, we are now excited about a little cooler version of summer, for those of you living in cooler areas this month means falling leaves, crisp air and everything that symbolizes the heart of autumn. October is also Breast Cancer awareness month, Canadian Thanksgiving and of course Halloween. Luckily for me I have PUMPKIN on my mind – the perfect gourd to represent all of these things!

I bet not a lot of you knew that gourds, including the pumpkin, are not only good for the prostrate (pumpkin seeds have been found to be helpful in treating Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia or BPH) but also for staving off cancers including breast cancer – you can read more on this topic on Food for Breast Cancer. In fact, this year you can even support breast cancer research when you pick up the new variety of porcelain doll pumpkins, which have been bred to be pink in color courtesy of the Pink Pumpkin Patch (they aren’t GMO – they are a hybrid much like seedless grapes or watermelon – and they are still orange on the inside) from your local farmer/store. And how could we possibly leave out pumpkin when it comes to Halloween or Thanksgiving?

So of course I had to go out and get myself some pumpkin – not an easy feet in Dubai mind you. In fact all I was able to find was 2 tiny little butternut squashes from France (that cost 10 AED a piece!)

But I am determined to share a wonderfully simply way of making pumpkin (ok butternut squash) pie filling with you, which you can than use to make a dessert that’s quite guilt free:

 

Easy Pumpkin Pie Filling From Scratch

Ingredients

1 large (or several small) pumpkin(s)/squash
1 tsp. cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, mace, clove or pumpkin spice
1 tbsp. natural maple syrup or to taste

Directions

Cut the top off your pumpkin and scoop out the seeds (you can roast these by simply rinsing them in a strainer, spreading them on a baking sheet, seasoning and roasting in the oven @ 325 for about 25 min, make sure to stir them after 10 min – but I digress :) ).

Using an ice cream scoop, scoop out the pulp – since I had a small butternut squash I used a teaspoon and a knife – and place in a microwave safe bowl with your preferred seasoning. I only had cinnamon at home so that’s what I used.

Microwave covered on high for about 8-10 min (about 2 min per 1/2 cup of pulp) or until it’s soft enough to mash with a fork. Add maple syrup and mash with a masher  – or in my case I used a fork for the 1/2 cup of pulp I had.

Viola you have homemade pumpkin pie filling! If you want to make this into a pie all you need to do is add 2 eggs and 1 (12 oz) can of low fat evaporated milk to 2 cups of the pulp and bake in a pie crust in a preheated oven @ 400 for about 40 min. But since this is Dubai and it’s so hot here, I decided to enjoy mine with some walnuts and a scoop of natural vanilla ice cream instead :)

 

And don’t forget to use the pumpkin shell to make a jack-o-lantern!

Easy Rice Crispy Treats for Halloween

Here’s a quick and simple favorite that both kids and adults will love. No one will ever suspect that these guys are made with wholesome brown rice since they taste so good! You can get the kids involved with whipping this 15 min microwave recipe up; and cutting out Halloween Rice Crispy Treats to decorate is an entertaining party idea. Don’t forget to take a batch into work, your co-workers will love you for it – guaranteed!

What you’ll need:

3 tbsp olive oil

6 cups Nature’s Path Rice Puffs or Enviro Kidz Koala Crisp cereal

10.5 oz bag (300g) mini marshmallows (about 6 cups)

1 cup chopped dried fruit (like cranberries, apricot, pineapple, mango, prunes, dates or raisins), milk or dark chocolate chips

What to do:

In a large microwave safe bowl, add marshmallows to melted butter or olive oil and toss to coat. Microwave the marshmallow mixture for 1-1/2 min. or until your marshmallows are completely melted and the mixture is well blended, stirring after 45 sec. Add your cereal and mix well with an olive oil coated spatula. Add your dried fruit or chocolate chips and stir until they are evenly distributed. Press the mixture onto the bottom of your lightly oiled 10″x13″ pan using your spatula or wet hands and then let them cool completely (takes about 30 min). Once they are cooled, use mini Halloween cookie cutters to cut out halloween shaped treats and Walah! This recipe makes about 40 small ~ 80 kcal treats depending on how closely you cut your shapes.

NOTE: Kids can add eyes and smiles with ready made icing and Halloween candy – so fun! I used chocolate chips and Weetos stuck on with peanut butter for my ghosts. If you have a nut allergy, honey works just as well too.