LAMAR, Mo. – The doorbell rings. Ghosties and ghoulies shout “Trick or treat!” as you open the door. They reach toward you with bags and containers, waiting for the bounty you are about to bestow. Though candy is the typical Halloween fare, you can hand out a healthier ransom.

“Some of the things you might want to think about handing out rather than candy are apples, small boxes of raisins, stickers or pencils,” said Tammy Roberts, nutrition specialist for University of Missouri Extension.

What about your own trick-or-treaters? Roberts recommends feeding them a good meal before they head out so they don’t overdose on sweets on their nighttime haunts.

Because they may be too excited to sit down and eat, Roberts suggests that you make the meal festive. For example, have your children build faces on cheese sandwiches using black olives and their favorite vegetables. Heat sandwiches under the broiler until the cheese melts. Alternatively, hollow out small pumpkins and use them as a bowl for serving soup or stew.

What happens when the children return home with sacks full of candy? This is a perfect time to teach about moderation. “If you can teach them to choose just a few pieces of candy on Halloween night, and then a few pieces each day after that, then they’re practicing moderation,” she said.

Proper dental care is another valuable lesson for this sugary holiday. “Brushing teeth is especially important when children are eating candy,” she said.


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