By Gena Kittner
Banana ghosts, cheesy spiders, mummy dogs, clementine pumpkins—having a preschooler means, finally, I have an excuse to play with my food. Though, the truth is, I’d make silly/spooky treats even if I didn’t have a kid. But since I do, and since I’m not wild about my 3-year-old consuming her body weight in sugar, Ellie and I have been on a quest for some healthy Halloween snacks.
For fresh ideas, I interviewed food blogger and kiddo chef Tara Verma of Yummy Sprout. I first met Tara while writing an article about decorating Christmas cookies with your kids and knew she’s always working to make food as tasty and healthy as possible. Halloween, in my mind, kicks off candy season. It’s a roller-coaster of sugar highs from here, with Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and finally Easter coming in quick succession. But Verma was a wealth of excellent healthy Halloween snacks, which supplemented my Pinterest-inspired ideas nicely.
Her witches brew made with carrot and apple juices and coconut water sounds delightful, even for adults, as do her monster pizzas, made by loading pita or nann bread with pesto and veggies. It’s Verma’s theory, and I agree, that filling your little Frozen Princess or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle with a healthy dinner before trick-or-treating should cut down on binge-eating candy that night. (And, fingers crossed, future nights).
Armed with these ideas, Ellie and I have had lots of fun experimenting with healthy treats. We tried Verma’s cheesy spiders, where you poke pretzels sticks into a mini-Babybel cheese and then draw on a funny face. Verma recommends making a black bean food paint, and I suggest taking the time to do it. I used black icing, which tasted a little funky with cheese (but the spiders, overall, were still a hit).
From my Pinterest finds, we experimented with mummy dogs, by wrapping turkey cheddar wursts with refrigerated dough. I used pizza dough, because it’s what I had, but I’ve also done it with crescent roll dough, which I think tastes a little better. Ellie had a blast wrapping the hot dogs—and playing with the dough in general. We also made banana ghosts for a play date. The ghosts were so easy and tasty I think Ellie’s going to demand all future bananas come with chocolate chips—and who can blame her?
1 package precooked, organic hotdogs or turkey dogs (like Applegate brand)
1 can of refrigerated dinner roll pizza or crescent roll dough
Directions: Open can of dough and roll it out in one piece onto a cutting board. Cut dough into 1-inch strips. Wrap dough around hotdogs and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Cook according to dough directions. Cool slightly and paint on eyes.
6 chocolate chips
Directions: Peel bananas and break in half width-wise. Press a chocolate chip point-side down into the banana for the mouth and use two drops of black icing for the eyes.
Next on my list of healthy Halloween snacks are clementine pumpkins, now that I’m finally seeing the tiny oranges in stores. Here you simply peel the orange and put a tiny piece of celery, or other green veggie, on the top for a stem.
These snacks take relatively little time to create and are healthy and fun. Plus, come Halloween, when your child catches you digging through her trick-or-treat bag looking for the good candy, you can feel a little less guilty sharing some with her knowing she had a healthy snack first.
Gena is a Midwest transplant living in Tucson, Arizona with her husband and 3-year-old daughter, Ellie. When not killing scorpions, Gena writes about food and family. Follow her on Twitter @genakittner, and check out her previous guest post on Mommy Sanest, How Minecraft Saved My Weekends.