The American Confectioners Association really doesn’t want Halloween to be canceled, even though the CDC says that traditional trick or treating or Halloween parties are potentially dangerous during the coronavirus pandemic.
"COVID has thrown a curve ball into the holiday, but this presents an opportunity to create new and better traditions," Austinite Nina Miller wrote in a recent blog post.
Through her Good Food Fighter website, the certified health and wellness coach works with families and groups to improve healthy eating habits at home.
"What if we could retain the things we love about the holiday — family and friends and sweet and scary stuff — and shed the more commercial trappings that reduce the holiday to stockpiling and gorging industrial candy?" she writes.
She suggests asking kids what they like most about Halloween and finding ways to provide alternatives. "Necessity is the mother of invention. Also, mother is the invention of necessity."
She offered half a dozen ideas to make this year’s holiday memorable, even without traditional costume parties and trick or treating. "Kids are remarkably resilient and adaptable. Present the new plan with joy and gusto. If you show enthusiasm, they’ll get excited, too."
• Make your own candy. She points out that some commercial food colorings and preservatives have been linked to ADHD, allergic reactions, asthma and heart disease. "Most kids have never made candy — or even thought about it — and the possibilities are endless," she writes. "Choosing a recipe and buying ingredients will create anticipation for the candy-making."
• Find recipes that incorporate scarily healthy ingredients, such as avocado chocolate mousse or black bean brownies, that can give it a Halloween twist.
• Eat well throughout the day. Eating candy and sweets all day long will lead to a sugar crash and mood swings, but if you eat good quality fats and proteins during the day, and drink lots of water, your body is better prepared to enjoy a little extra sugar.
• Once you’ve made your candy, Miller suggests a drive-by candy exchange with a pod of other friends. Ask about food allergies ahead of time, and plan accordingly. Set out a cooler on your front door or a Halloween pumpkin so that your friends know where to drop off the candy.
• Dress up when you make the deliveries and show off the costumes when you arrive, if your friends are home. You can stay socially distanced and say hello in the front yard.
• If you’re staying home altogether on Halloween, pick out age appropriate movies ("Hocus Pocus," "Beetlejuice" and "Nightmare Before Christmas" are all PG) or set up a scavenger hunt.
• She also suggests learning about the history of Halloween and even turning it into a game by taking the real history and underlining the descriptive words, picking out the noun, adjectives and verbs, and playing a family Mad Libs game. "One person solicits new words from the others, writes them in and then reads back the fictitious piece, followed by the real one," she says.
• Carve a face into something besides a pumpkin, such as a cantaloupe, a winter squash or even a sweet potato or an eggplant. You could use a marker or paint to decorate vegetables that are too hard to carve or if you don’t want to mess with a knife.