Cheese and cracker packages

Naturally flavored and sweetened gum or sugar-free gum

Small bags of pretzels

Small packages of nuts or raisins

Peanuts in the shell

Fruit-Roll Ups

Granola bars

If you are not opposed to sugar, but would prefer your treats to be natural or vegan, we suggest you visit your local natural food store. There are many natural candy companies that offer a big variety of candies. The one drawback, expect to pay more for these items. Natural products come at a higher price tag.

You could make a homemade treat. Unless you are in a neighborhood with close friends, we don’t suggest this approach. Most parents are trained to go through the Halloween candy and throw out unopened, unwrapped or homemade treats. If you decide to make your treats, wrap your homemade item up well, and add your name and phone number to the bag with the treat. If the parent recognizes your name, it will make them feel the treat is safe.

Halloween Treats Do Not Have To Be Edible

An alternative to avoiding the junk food challenges is to hand out a non-food treat. Today, many families are opting for this choice. With a little bit of thought and some clever shopping, you can find some really nice items for a few cents per item. Here are few ideas:

Cool stickers or temporary tattoos

Halloween balloons, you can even rent a helium tanks and fill them on the spot

Crayons, pencils, colored chalk or fun-shaped erasers

Rubber spiders, worms, or other equally creepy figure

Spider, skull, or pumpkin plastic rings

Check your local dollar store for fun items. There is also plenty of time to shop online, and have items shipped to you. DollarDays.com and OrientalTradingCompany.com are just two sites that offer a good selection. A quick search on Google will give you plenty more online sopping choices.

Halloween Day:

Start the day off right, with a festive breakfast of bagels, pumpkin cream cheese (recipe follows) and fresh apples. This meal also works as a great treat for a morning Halloween party at your child’s school.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese

Beat in a bowl:

8 ounces softened cream cheese     

2 tablespoons brown sugar   

1/2 cup of canned pumpkin

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Serve with toasted bagels and fresh apple slices.

Before your children venture out in their costumes, make sure they eat a meal before going trick-or-treating. Try the Incredible White Bean Pizza recipe below. It is fast and simple. With full tummies, they won’t be so tempted to dig into their bag of goodies before they get back home. Ask your kids not to eat candy while they are out.

Incredible Bean Pizza

1 can white beans, drained and rinsed 
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons water
˝ teaspoon oregano 
1 pizza crust (like Boboli)
Shredded Mozzarella cheese
Fresh diced tomatoes
Chopped basil                 

Directions:

Puree first five ingredients in a blender and spread mixture over the pizza crust. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese, fresh, diced tomatoes and chopped basil. Bake in a 425 degree F oven until cheese is bubbly, about 10-12 minutes.

When your children arrive back at home, don’t let them take control over their bag or bucket of candy. Working with them, check the treats and keep only treats which are unopened. Be sure to inspect fruits and homemade goods for anything suspicious. While you are going through their candy, let them pick two or three treats that they can eat on this special night. Store the rest of the candy out of reach and out of sight.

Over the next few days or weeks, rationing the treats is the best approach. Allow your children to make their own selections, but tell them they can pick one large piece or two small pieces. If your children have trouble with this, do it for them (in advance). Just place small amounts of candy in bags, and let them select one of the bags. If there is just too much candy, consider donating some of it to a shelter. It will bring smiles to others.

About the authors: Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers are sisters, the mothers of five children and founders of Fresh Baby ( www.FreshBaby.com ). They are the creators of the award-winning So Easy Baby Food Kit and Good Clean Fun Placemats, available at many fine specialty stores and national chains including Target and Whole Foods Markets.