Healthy, Happy Halloween
Amy: Today, we’re talking “Healthy Happy Halloween.” Hello, I’m Amy Myers, and welcome to Farm & Family. Today, we’re speaking with Mary Yarber, Mississippi State University dietetic intern in Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion.
Can you tell us what exactly a healthy happy Halloween looks like?
Mary: I would be happy to. From a nutrition stand point it would include health conscious Halloween candy or treats containing whole grains, 100 percent fruit juice with vitamin c, plus added fiber.
Amy: Can you give us some examples of the best Halloween treats or candy to choose?
Mary: Absolutely, there is now a wide variety of snacks for children that contain these ingredients. Such as whole grain goldfish crackers, cereal bars made with real fruit, fruit snacks that contain 100 percent fruit juice as well as vitamin c, and sugar free gum.
Amy: So, why is vitamin c important?
Mary: Research shows how extra vitamin c in the diet may help to fight of certain illnesses that we most likely come in contact with in the fall and winter months.
Amy: There are so many snacks now that say organic on the label. Should we be purchasing organic snacks?
Mary: Organic is not always necessary. I would look more at the ingredient list and the food label. For instance, look at the first ingredient, if it’s a fruit snack or cereal bar, the first ingredient should say something like pureed fruit and not sugar. If the ingredient list is extremely long, I would try to choose another snack.
Amy: What ingredients should we be aware of?
Mary: I would take note of how much sugar and sodium is in the snack. Packaged foods usually contain high amounts of both and the lower the better.
Amy: What would you say to parents and children who have certain food allergies?
Mary: Of course, one the most common food allergies for children is peanuts. It can be difficult to avoid this altogether. However, as a person handing out candy you might try to choose a bag of candy that does not contain peanuts or peanut butter. As always though, inspect the candy when you get home and if you receive something with peanuts or peanut butter or anything you think might cause a reaction, always ask a parent or guardian.
Amy: What is your take on healthy homemade Halloween candy or treats?
Mary: Homemade anything is usually the best way to go, however, unless you know the individual that is making the candy then it might not be the safest option for trick or treating. I would recommend homemade treats at a Halloween party of someone you know. Parties are a great way to experiment with fun healthy recipes and everyone could bring something new to share.
Amy: Speaking of Halloween parties, any tips or recipes for healthy eating?
Mary: The best tip would be to not over indulge. Make sure to practice portion control especially if you are eating store bought Halloween candy. It is very easy to over eat this time of year and candy is definitely a “sometimes” treat. Also, when you are making a homemade treat, be sure to find healthier alternatives for baking/cooking. Many recipes call for sugar, butter, and cream cheese. Replace those ingredients with reduced fat, or fat free spray butter, fat free or reduced fat cream cheese, skim milk, fat free half and half, use sugar free syrup, and sugar alternatives like Truvia or Stevia.
Amy: What additional tips would you give for trick or treaters when they bring home candy?
Mary: Well first always make sure the candy is sealed and doesn’t look like it has been tampered with. Make sure the ingredients do not contain anything that could cause an allergic reaction or make you sick. Also, you want to always avoid any homemade candy or treats. It’s just not worth the risk.
Amy: Where can we go for more information about healthy eating?
Mary: Eatright.org is a wonderful resource for recipes of any kind. They currently have a recipe list for healthy Halloween themed snacks for adults and for children. And of course, you can always google healthy snacks for Halloween and be able to find something appropriate for a Halloween party or something to hand out to trick or treaters.
Amy: Today, we’ve been speaking with Mary Yarber, Mississippi State University Dietetic intern in Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion. I’m Amy Myers, and this has been Farm & Family. Have a great day!