Halloween Tips & Tricks

I usually don’t cross-post, but I think this will be of interest to many of you!

Think outside the candy dish….

When I first told my husband we weren’t giving out candy for Halloween, he looked at me like I had lost my mind. I certainly didn’t want our house to be one of those places that kids complain about, but I figured a few yo-yos or rubber duckies might be a nice change from 101 Tootsie rolls. Besides, I knew too well that having all the candy around was a temptation that I just didn’t need. I was a little nervous about my decision, until my first trick-or-treater ran back to his dad and said, “Cool! A slinky!” Last year, a group of girls even told my husband that she looked forward to the “rubber duckie house” every year.  Somehow, I resisted the opportunity to say I told you so.

Oriental Trading Company www.orientaltrading.com sells inexpensive toys, stickers, rubber duckies, mini games and even temporary tattoos (for children you know well). Another non-food option is mini cans of Play-Doh (but if you are gluten-free remember that Play Doh has gluten, so if you play, wash your hands very thoroughly!) Some are more expensive than candy, but it depends on how you look at it. When you average in the bag of candy you bought on sale in September (and ate), the one in mid-October (which vanished as well) and the one you had to run out at the last minute and buy, it evens out in the end.

Of course I have great memories eating excessive quantities of candy on Halloween as a little kid, but we forget that treats don’t have to be food!  There are many ways to have fun with non-food treats, too, and have a little more balance. And there are also healthier/gluten-free/allergen free treats, like the  mini Larabars, all fruit leathers and a variety of allergen friendly treats including ones from Enjoy LifeYummy Earth gummy bears, Envirokidz mini-bars etc., too.

Of course, for the more traditional route, 2012 Halloween Candy lists are HERE

Tips for Enjoying Halloween with Food Restrictions

  • Talk to teachers and friends about focusing parties around activities (like pumpkin carving, apple bobbing, costume contest) rather than just trick or treating.
  • Get prepared! Figure out what candies are safe for your child.  2012 Halloween Candy lists are HERE There are also many products through   Enjoy Life Foods www.enjoylifenb.com that cater to a variety of allergies and intolerances.
  • Pre-stock your Halloween bag with foods that are ‘legal’ for your child (and/or you) so that you can safely snack along the way.
  • Stash safe bags of candy at friend’s houses for your child.
  • Have a trade in. Your child can trade the “problem” candies and treats for “safe” treats, or games, prizes, special outings, etc. You can either stash the “problem” candy somewhere out of reach, or donate it to the foodbank.
  • Plan ahead!  When possible, look online for favorite candies and snacks and see if they are gluten-free.  Some treats that are normally gluten-free or allergen free have different ingredients in the special holiday versions, so always double check.
  • Gina Clowes of Allergy Moms has a great list and tips, too.
  • Kids with Food Allergies has a great resource for safe Halloween activities, games, tips, etc.  Although it’s not directed at people avoiding gluten, a lot of the strategies are the same.

How does YOUR family handle Halloween? Feel free to share tips in the comments section!

Start planning ahead for the holidays:

I know it’s only October, but it’s a good time to start thinking about the holidays.  You can make life easier by just making sure you/your hostess gets a gluten-free brand of turkey or etc. FINALLY, almost all un-stuffed plain turkeys are gluten-free nowadays! Here is the Turkey List for 2011

News and Events:

  • PLEASE consider signing a petition for gluten-free labeling. If the White House does not receive the necessary 25,000 signatures, they won’t read it.
  • Kale! I was quoted in the Washington Post on my very favorite veggie, and why it’s one of the very best veggies to eat.  The picture s of the babies in my garden right now.
  • DC Metro Area Celiac Association Meeting Topic: “Adolescents and Young Adults with Celiac Disease & Gluten Free Travel”
  •  Meeting Date: Saturday, November 17, 2012, 2:00–4:00 pm
  • Speaker: Aaron Rakow, PhD (Clinical Psychologist), a team member of the Celiac Disease Program at Children’s National Medical Center, will discuss Children’s National’s new program, “Celiac Disease Group Therapy for Kids,” and how it is geared to help adolescents and young adults with their psychological needs. tinyurl.com/96jst37.
  • Location: Tenley-Friendship Public Library
  • 4450 Wisconsin Ave. N.W., Washington, DC 20016
  • www.dclibrary.org/tenley

Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD is a Registered Dietitian, Nutritionist and Certified Wellness Coach in Fairfax & Alexandria, VA. Cheryl works with people to feel and look their best with a range of specialties, including Celiac Disease, food allergies, pregnancy, breastfeeding, vegetarian and vegan diets, preventing diseases and “whole foods” eating. Let’s get you on your way to achieving your goals.  Email her or call 571-271-8742. 

About Cheryl Harris

Life played a funny trick on me. I've studied nutrition for years, and much to my surprise, found out that I could manage many of my health issues via diet. I've been GF for years, and I've got a bunch of allergies and sensitivities. But it definitely doesn't keep me from cooking, baking and enjoying my food. Thanks for stopping by.
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4 Responses to Halloween Tips & Tricks

  1. Al M says:

    This is a very helpful article, as we are always challenged as to how to please our kids, but ensure they don’t get all junked up on sugar and candy. Also, I learned that Play-Doh has gluten – UGH. My daughter loves Play-Doh so we will have to look for a healthy alternative. Thank You!

  2. Glad you liked it! Aroma dough is one gf “play doh” option, and there are many MYO options.

  3. What a great comprehensive post, Cheryl!! FYI, you don’t have a date or link that shows the date and time for the DC Celiacs meeting with Dr. Rakow and Children’s National Medical Center. I look forward to him speaking to my group and community in the near future!

    It is so easy to MYO gluten-free play dough as you indicated. That activity can be part of the fun of Halloween beforehand for sure. I love this post that has a recipe for making and dying play dough with teas: http://www.thenourishinggourmet.com/2012/09/gluten-free-playdough.html


  4. TY, Shirley! It’s there now.

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