By Johanna Hicks, Extension Agent
Halloween is just around the corner, but that doesn’t mean you have to be spooked by the sweets your child will be consuming. With preparation and help from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension’s “Dinner Tonight,” you can ensure that your child makes smart, healthy choices this Halloween.
The holidays are a perfect time to have valuable teaching lessons with your child about the importance of eating in moderation and what can happen if you consume too many sweets. Explain to your child that the candy they receive while trick or treating does not have to be eaten all at once, but can be spread out over time. Rather than keeping all the candy, you can also have your child pick out their personal favorites and then donate the rest to put in a care package to be sent to those serving our country overseas.
Not all Halloween treats have to be candy, either. Instead offer something that provides health benefits and has nutritional value. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends mixing in healthy alternatives in your candy bowl that are full of whole grains, vitamins, 100 percent fruit juice and fiber. Below are some examples you can find at your local grocery store:
• Whole-grain cheddar flavored crackers
• Fruit snacks made with 100 percent fruit with added vitamin C
• Fruit leathers made with 100 percent fruit
• Sugar-free gum
• Animal crackers made without trans fat
• Mini rice cereal bars
• Cereal bars made with real fruit
• Individual fruit cups
• Mini 100 percent fruit juice boxes
• Low-fat pudding
• Mini bags of pretzels
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics also recommends avoiding snacks that contain nuts in case a child suffers from food allergies. In such circumstances, non-food treats such as pencils, erasers, stickers, or tattoos can act as a fun alternative.
For a fun family and friends gathering, get creative by making a jack-o-lantern out of cantaloupe, kiwi and blackberries, or a skeleton out of veggies and a low-fat dip. Try Dinner Tonight’s Butternut Squash Nachos.
- 4 cups butternut squash or pumpkin cubed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 13-ounce package blue corn tortilla chips baked
- 1 15-ounce can canned, low sodium black beans drained
- 2 cups low fat mozzarella cheese
- Preheat oven to 400ᵒ F.
- Place cubed squash or pumpkin on baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with pepper and coat evenly.
- Roast for 30 minutes, until pumpkin is tender.
- Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.
- Use cooking spray to cover 9 by 13 inch baking pan.
- Layer the chips, pumpkin, beans, salsa, and cheese in the pan. Repeat.
- Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
- Add toppings of your choice and serve.
Christmas Joys Holiday Program
This popular program will take place on Monday, Nov. 4, at the Southwest Dairy Museum, in Sulphur Springs. Two sessions are being held to accommodate everyone. The 1:30 p.m. session is full, but we have started a waiting list. As of this writing, 10 seats remain for the 5:30 p.m. session. We must have a name and phone number for each seat reserved. Cost is $5, payable at the door, which covers goody bags and a booklet of all recipes and instructions for ideas demonstrated. The Southwest Dairy Museum staff prepares a lovely array of cheeses, spreads, dips, chips, crackers, and fruit for refreshments. Please call the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Office to reserve seats – 903-885-3443.
If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss. – Bill Gates