As we ease into Autumn with the pleasant sound of crunchy leaves underfoot, our minds naturally turn to the festivals that will soon be upon us. Although we know that many people do not celebrate or participate in Halloween festivities, there’s no denying that there are phenomenal quantities of sweets and treats on the shelves in the shops to keep up with demand of the season. Whether you do anything to acknowledge Halloween or Samhain in your household or not, you might find yourself with a higher amount of sugar in your system as you are tempted by the eye-catching candy and suddenly cheap prices of sugary treats everywhere you go. We wanted to help parents this year to make better choices for their little monsters and to draw the attention of mummies to some alternatives that are available which may be better for healthy fangs.
- Bake with sweeteners. Baking is a common Halloween tradition for many families. It’s a good excuse to whip up some sugary, tasty treats in various novelty shapes but this year instead of measuring out the whole bag of sugar into the mix, you could substitute granulated sweeteners for all or a percentage of the sugar in the recipe. Many recipes already use sweeteners instead of sugar such as these peanut spider-shaped cookies, or these sugar free witch finger cookies which are totally spooktacular without the terrifying sugar content. This website helps you to figure out quantities of sugar substitutes for baking so you can make your favourite family recipes without the harmful sugar.
- Go savoury. Halloween doesn’t need to be all about the sweets although it may seem hard to convince small sugar fiends of that. Then again, these cheese and pretzel witch broomsticks might just tip the scales. Also, Cheese Strings (now named Strings and Things) do pretty great Halloween designs on their packets with fun ideas of how to turn your cheese into a ghost or ghoul shape. While it’s not exactly nice to play with one’s food, there are few things more precious to parents than the means to keep their kids busy, quiet, and out of trouble for five minutes while trying to tie their cheese in knots. For one night a year, I think we can allow playing with food, especially calcium-rich foods like cheese which are better for teeth and bone health than sugary sweets. Matilda Ramsay’s scary goblin head recipes use whole peppers, cheese and rice to create a spooky, savoury treat for the dinner table or the party platter. These are not only nutritious but delicious and fun for small fingers to make.
- Use the fruit. There are plenty of stunning, seasonal fruits available at this time of year, so it makes complete sense to us to utilise nature’s bounty for healthier spooky treats. These fearsome looking apple sun butter teeth bites are the best of both worlds. They look creepy enough for Halloween and take some creativity to make but they are made from fruit and sunflower seeds. What a clever way to encourage kids to eat more fruit at this time of year. If bananas are what your little ones like, try these banana ghost pops which use coconut, yogurt, and frozen bananas to make a tempting snack or pudding which is naturally sweet without adding sugar. Just be sure to check the yogurt you choose because many have absurd quantities of added sugar in them.
- Make your own candy apples. Making creepy jaws aren’t the only use of apples for Halloween. We can think of at least three more. Candy apples are a traditional Halloween treat but you can easily make your own at home which will be a fun (albeit messy) activity for little monsters to enjoy. When you make things at home, you know exactly what’s in it and can cut out a lot of the sugar that way. One option is to use yogurt for a coating and a few sprinkles to make it more exciting, then freeze it for a few minutes so the yogurt coating hardens. You could also use your pumpkin carving skills to make spooky faces in the apples or smother them in reduced sugar chocolate which you can find in most supermarkets. The manufacturers have already substituted some sugar in the recipe for you without compromising on taste. Also, it’s common knowledge that children are more likely to eat fruit and veggies if they’ve had a hand in preparing or making them themselves. Apple donuts are also a great treat at Halloween or whenever your tiny monsters are feeling under the weather. Simply slice apples thickly and core the middle to make a donut shape. Then top with natural or vanilla yogurt, fruit, and/or sprinkles to make it look like an iced donut. Freeze for 30 minutes and let your mini vampires sink their teeth into them.
- Go traditional. Not all Halloween activities need to revolve around sweets. Apple bobbing is seriously good fun to try with friends and families. Just don’t underestimate how messy it can get, and how difficult it is. Do assume you’ll need waterproof mascara, ladies, because you will. Also, pumpkin carving doesn’t involve any sugar. It’s a great traditional pastime and an opportunity for getting creative. Toasting pumpkin seeds in the oven with a little salt or cinnamon is also a very tasty option for an autumn snack. There are many recipes online which use pumpkin, so nothing goes to waste. Kids dig recycling now, so you shouldn’t have any trouble selling that to them. These gluten-free pumpkin pie snowball cookies, for example would make most kids light up like a jack-o’-lantern.
Whether you celebrate All Hallows Eve or not, you might find some of these autumn inspired recipes and ideas are fun to make and do together. We hope you find these ideas helpful in fighting off the scary sugar demon this October and we’d absolutely love you to send us pictures of your tasty creations or let us know how your wee ones liked them. Remember to keep up tooth brushing and enjoy all the season has to offer in moderation. Happy Halloween from our not-so-scary team at Kennett Road Dental Practice.