Halloween, I will admit, is up there as my favourite holiday.
I love the planning without the pressure of other holidays, I love the costumes (homemade all the way!), the way the neighbourhood streets are alive at night with lights and shadows, shouts of children and parents, the decorated homes, the creativity and feeling of community, the element of surprise … and when I was younger I loved the sugar.
The average child consumes 3 cups of sugar or more on Halloween day.
From 3500 to 7000 calories is common. Almost all from sugar.
Now I am a nutritionist and can go years without without missing it. But, I used to keep a ledger book with all my candy accounted for. Before the advent of computer spreadsheets, that is, when I was 10, before I knew what I was doing, I had a candy inventory.
I would track when my sister took my candy. I would see how many Skittles I got versus how many Coffee Crisps. I loved chocolate and was a sugar addict.
But … Halloween candy and chocolate is the worst stuff to eat.
Artificial food dyes and food additives can contribute to and exacerbate mental health problems, and excess simple carbs like sugar, glucose-fructose and white flour can cause nutritional deficiencies that further imbalance moods and brain chemistry.
Studies have shown that criminal inmates are often riding the blood sugar roller coaster, with low blood sugar causing intense cravings and consumption of sugar, refined carbohydrates and stimulants such as caffeine.
I can totally relate, as I remember eating the largest chocolate bar I could find as my lunch many times in high school, and I remember the contrarian behaviour and reactive hypoglycemia…the headaches and depression…which wanting to avoid helps me avoid it now!
Actually, now, I would probably feel worse if I ate that way now!
However good it tastes at the time, sugar causes inflammation throughout the body. Not only does your body feel tired and starved of nutrients, protein and fiber, over time, it will also age you. Sugar breaks down the collagen in your joints and skin.
This process is called glycation and it affects our blood vessels too. This can cause plaque formation and increase our risk of heart disease as well. In fact, sugar definitely makes aging, hormones and peri/menopause worse, and I want no part of it!
So here are some ways to deal with the challenge of the crappy treats out there.
For yourself, make a better peanut butter cup!
I have a low sugar version with maple syrup below, or make these zero carb zero sugar peanut butter cups https://www.ruled.me/keto-peanut-butter-cup-style-fudge/?mc_cid=ece32c0022&mc_eid=608fbfc7df
For the children of the future (not your kids but kids in general) try giving out sugar free xylitol gum, savoury treats like MSG free chips or lower sugar candy like smart sweets or more natural products like dark chocolate honey-sweetened squares.
I think this is for the benefit of society as a whole.
Back when I was in my twenties, the Journal of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine reported a double-blind, controlled experiment in a jail for chronic offenders aged between 13 and 17. Many of the boys there were deficient in nutrients like iron, magnesium, zinc and the B complex vitamins.
This story struck me very hard and inspired me to learn nutrition.
They gave nutritional counselling to all the prisoners in the trial, and taught them to improve their diets.
The number of violent incidents by inmates in the experimental group dropped by 80%.
Among the inmates in the placebo group who refused to improve their diets, there was no reduction.
So as we can see, we don’t want our kids to over-do sugar.
At home, we can have a good dinner before trick or treating, and focus on the walking to the best houses, even if they are far, focus on the dress up and getting together with friends. We can also introduce the Switch Witch.
MEET THE SWITCH WITCH.
I share this every year, because it’s SO GOOD.
This is a win-win tradition where kids can still go trick-or-treating, but afterwards they’ll gladly give up their candy for a good cause!
Here’s how it works:
Just before the kids go to bed after going trick-or-treating, have them set their candy by the door. After they go to bed, parents swap it out for a toy (or basically any non-candy surprise their kids would like).
Not only do the kids get to go trick-or-treating, but they also get a surprise gift when they wake up the next morning.
Meanwhile, the parents can donate the Halloween candy to a local Food Bank, homeless shelter, or other group.
Pretty awesome, right?
And if you feel a sense of loss without the candy, here is the recipe I mentioned before:
… Heres my Peanut Butter Cup recipe.
Reese cups are the hardest thing to not eat out of my sons trick-or-treat bag. I’m not alone…
Peanut butter cups are one of the most popular Halloween treats, according to industry experts.
But they’re loaded with not-so-healthy fats and sugar – a single serving contains 5½ teaspoons!!
This healthier no-cook ☆recipe☆ is easy and quick to make.
Healthier PB Cups
⅔ cup creamy natural nut butter, divided (almond, peanut, walnut – your choice)
4 tbsp melted coconut oil, divided
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 tbsp raw cocoa powder
2 tbsp maple syrup or honey
Himalayan sea salt, to taste
Line a 12-muffin tin with muffin liners (you can use a regular or mini muffin tin for this, but the regular tins will be ready sooner!). Set aside.
In a medium bowl, make the bottom layer by combining ⅓ cup of nut butter, 2 tbsp coconut oil, 1 tsp vanilla, and cocoa powder. Set aside.
In a separate bowl make the top layer by stirring together ⅓ cup peanut butter, 2 tbsp coconut oil, 1 tsp vanilla, and 2 tbsp maple syrup or honey. Taste and adjust seasoning.
To assemble the cups, place about ½ tbsp of the chocolate (bottom) layer into each muffin cup. Shake the muffin tin until the layer is evenly set.
Repeat with the top (peanut butter) layer. Move the tin around till the topping is level.
Sprinkle salt on top of each peanut butter cup. Put the muffin tin in the freezer until the candy is firm, around 30-45 minutes. Remove from the freezer and muffin tin, and place the candy pieces in a covered container. Store in the freezer.
I hope this helps you have a great halloween whatever you decide to do!!!