Happy (Healthy) Halloween!

October 30, 2008

by Jean Saunders, HSC School Wellness Director

Happy Halloween!

Ghosts, goblins, and all things scary have been on display in my neighborhood for a few weeks and the seasonal aisle in the local grocery store has been filled with Halloween treats.  This morning, my sleepy middle-schooler’s greeting to me was, “Can you help me with my costume later and how are we going to carve the pumpkin this year?”

So I, too, had better get into the Halloween spirit!

Last year, I wrote about the strides that had been made at my son’s elementary school to have a fun Halloween that wasn’t “all about the candy” and didn’t contradict the messages about wellness that we hope to pass along to our kids. 

Teachers, parents and staff at the elementary school worked hard to create celebrations that reflected the fun and excitement of Halloween but de-emphasized the sweet treats. I hear that the new, healthy tradition continues this year at the elementary school – good news!

But this is a different year, and my son has moved on to middle school. Apparently there are no classroom parties at my son’s middle school, though the kids in his class still plan on some trick-or-treating around the neighborhood.

How could I engage my son and his friends in Halloween fun that is less candy-intensive? (How ‘bout photos of scary vegetables?)  Or, maybe with some pumpkin muffins and hot cider when they return from their trick or treating. . .

Halloween Pumpkin Muffins
¼ cup canola oil
¼ cup apple sauce
¾ cup canned solid-pack pumpkin
¼ cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
¾ cup brown sugar
¾ cup raisins

Pre-heat oven to 400F. Spray muffin cups with cooking spray.

In a bowl, whisk together oil, apple sauce, pumpkin, buttermilk, eggs, honey, and vanilla. In a large bowl, sift together flours, baking soda, baking powder, spices, salt and brown sugar.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add pumpkin mixture, stirring just until combined. Stir in raisins and pour batter into muffin cups.

Bake muffins in middle of oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Cool muffins in cups for 5 minutes and turn out onto a rack to cool.

Enjoy, and serve with hot apple cider to your own trick-or-treaters, before or after their adventures.
Happy Halloween!