We seem to be adopting the US tradition of trick or treating for Halloween in a bigger and bigger way.
As a nanny in the US I used to love going round the neighbourhood with my young charges painted a lurid green. But for me it was always more about the theatre and less about the spoils. Now I am happy for kids to come knocking at the door (although only the very fit make it to the top of our hill) and I want to have something to share. Over the years I have developed a catalogue of non-lolly treats that play into the fun but cut down on the sugar, usually to the kid’s delight.
1. Mandarin pumpkins. These are super easy to make and perfect for kids to take home. Just use a marker pen to draw a face onto the outside of the skin. It can be as cute or as scary as you’d like. You can even personalise it by writing the visitor’s name on the back.
2. Fruit cups. Using the same concept but with the little clear plastic fruit tubs. Just draw on the face and hand out. Good to check the marker doesn’t smudge though.
3. Fruit Frankenstein. Green grapes are popular with most kids. Fill a small, clear plastic cup with grapes and then detail the outside to look like a Frankenstein head. You can always cover the top with cling-film and an elastic band so they can go in the collecting sack/tub.
4. Banana Mummies. Wrap a banana in white crepe paper or a cheap bandage and either glue on the “googly” eyes or draw some on with a pen.
5. Popcorn creepy hands. Everyone loves popcorn and it’s a great no sugar, cost effective way to provide treats. Even better if you can customise it for Halloween. A simple way to do this is to fill a clear plastic glove (the food serving type) with popcorn and tie at the top. It makes a magnificent creepy hand. Feel free to go the extra mile and add fingernails, spiders or scars.
6. Popcorn ghosts. Popcorn can also be great for ghosties. Fill a clear plastic bag with popcorn and either draw on or glue on eyes and a “scream” mouth.
7. Fruit ghosts. Use a tiny, white cup with pen detailed eyes and mouth on the outside to make the ghost. Stock the inside with black and orange dried fruit. If you want to “go big” add some hands.
8. Strawberry ghosts. If you want to get a bit more gourmet then dipping strawberries in white chocolate then adding dark choc chip eyes and mouth creates a fabulous ghost. You can always place them in little bags so they can travel safely to their destination. Most kids (and adults) would be delighted with this as a “treat”.
9. Gingerbread zombies/ghosts/Frankenstein’s. Gingerbread men are pretty hardy so should travel fairly well. Healthier versions are available too … You can exercise the creative gene (or get the kids to) and create the creepy, the scary and the cute.
10. Non-food options. There are some fun ideas that won’t break the bank but will put a smile on visitor’s faces. Halloween balloons (that you can buy or decorate yourself), stamps, stickers, stationery or fake eyeballs. Or home-made playdoh in a bag, green for Frankenstein or white for a ghost. I know my kids would have been rapt to receive something they could take into school to show off the next day.
Judith Yeabsley is a mum of two boys who is passionate about healthy food for kids. She runs a food art website, theartofnutrition.com, focusing on presenting fruit and veges creatively. She also works to change the food environment in schools, community groups and lunchboxes. For information on this and great recipes, see theartofnutrition.co.nz.