Halloween can be a nightmare for the health-conscious parent. Traci Paige Johnson, creator of Blue's Clues, offers suggestions for a fun and healthy Halloween. And if you’re wondering what the voice of Blue is up to now, she’s pioneering Yummiloo, an interactive musical food adventure series (currently an app, soon to be a show) designed to teach kids about healthy eating.
Before you equate Yummiloo’s mission with “ruining Halloween,” keep in mind Johnson advocates candy in moderation. In fact, she says making sweets totally off limits will only result in an eventual binge.
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“If you make candy an absolute no, then it becomes more enticing,” Johnson says. “It’s all about balance, all about enjoying the holiday and not being too taboo or negative about the candy. Embrace it, and use it as a teaching moment for kids.”
Johnson indicates that teaching healthy habits and positioning food as fuel is anything but difficult with little kids. “If you say, ‘eat a carrot you’ll have supersonic eyesight,’ they’ll totally jump on board,” she says. “It’s all about modeling how you are in front of your kids, and reaching for healthy snacks.”
When it comes to healthy eating and rationing candy, make sure that kids are part of the process.
“You can sit down together and figure out how much candy is good for a day,”Johnson says. “Maybe it’s one little candy bar and two Smarties. Also, if they have a piece of candy, it’s good to serve it with a glass of milk or a little cut-up fruit to fill them up.” she says.
Inevitably, you’re going to have more candy than you can even think about eating. Johnson recommends cutting some up, freezing it, and using it to cook with later on. “Use it again when you’re making oatmeal cookies or just sprinkle some on your oatmeal,” she suggests.
Alternatively, Halloween candy can become a young artist’s new medium of choice. “Get a big piece of poster board and make a candy mosaic,” Johnson says. “You can have little Hershey’s Kisses be the clouds, or make a house out of Tootsie Rolls. Or you can do a three-dimensional house, like a gingerbread house. Stick all your candy on a milk carton with frosting. Sure, you’re maybe snacking a little bit as you’re going, but it’s a nice centerpiece you can have.”
If you’re looking for some candy-free Halloween activities, Johnson serves up the idea of pumpkin volleyball. “Take orange balloons and have your kids draw on Jack-o’-lantern faces with black Sharpie, and sort of play volleyball,” she says. Arts and crafts are a given, too. “Collect leaves and acorns or anything from nature, and glue it on gourds or pumpkins to make creatures,” she says.
Johnson encourages parents to cultivate healthy eating habits in kids, but ultimately just enjoy Halloween. “The trick is to balance and have things in moderation,” she says. The trick is to allow treats.