Trick-or-Treating: Healthy Snacks & Helpful Gear

October 16, 2009, 12:18 pm

Even though I’m a full-fledged adult (chronologically), Halloween still ranks number one on my list of top holidays. Its appeal remains strong for the same reasons that it did when I was a kid; when else do you get to go out after dark on a school night, dress up however you want and be rewarded for your creativity with treats?
True, I no longer enjoy the benefits of being on the receiving of trick-or-treating (I would go if I could get away with it); however I still look forward to October 31 and live vicariously through the kids who visit my neighborhood, eagerly going door-to-door with smiles as wide as the long streets they patrol. In the 20 plus years since I went trick-or-treating, some things haven’t changed—kids still aren’t necessarily getting the healthiest of snacks—but they are getting out of the house, away from the internet, video games, television and all of the other distractions that keep them at home. In an age where “go outside and play” is no longer the norm, perhaps we can use Halloween as an opportunity to combat the wave of obesity that has hit our nation. To be fair, it’ll be a challenge—kids like candy. So do adults—my father has been known to trade the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (he doesn’t like PB… I know crazy) my mother buys for his favorite Nestle Crunch bars at very, very preferential rates.
Below, I’ve outlined some healthy snacks that make great substitutes for the standard fare and as well as few things that will encourage you and your kids to be safer and stay outside, even as the days get shorter. Remember it’s better to treat than to trick, so stock up on these great snacks and both you and your guests will have a lot to smile about.
Sun Chips Multigrain – for kids (and adults) who prefer savory to sweet, SunChips Multigrain flavor are heavy on delicious and light on salt. SunChips multigrain contains 30% less fat than regular potato chips, are made with whole grains to support heart health (there are only seven ingredients—Whole Corn, Sunflower Oil, Whole Wheat, Rice Flour, Whole Oat Flour, Sugar, and Salt). SunChips are not only better for you, they are also better for the environment—33% of every 10 1/2 oz. size SunChips bag is made with renewable, plant-based materials. Starting in 2010, SunChips will  introduce the first fully compostable chip bag of its kind, which fully decompose in about 14 weeks when placed in active compost bins. Check it out!
Nature Valley Granola Bars –
from the original to their newest flavor, Chewy Dark Chocolate & Nut, Nature Valley bars are 100% natural and completely delicious. The latter combines rolled oats and crisp rice with favorite trail mix ingredients – dark chocolate, raisins and nuts.
Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Squares – Decadent. I know. And a little costly, but your neighbors will thank you. Dark chocolate is packed with healthy anti-oxidants and bioflavonoid and generally has considerably less sugar than milk chocolate (and heaps less than gummy treats). More importantly, your kids may not have developed the taste for dark chocolate and will be far more likely to share this bounty with you.
Apples — we used to bob for them, though, you’ll want to think twice about that given the concern about the spreading of germs. You’ll probably want to reserve these for kids in your neighborhood. Their added weight in their bags will help tots burn more calories.
Long Underwear — I envy today’s kids. When I grew up, even when I was dressed up as a ghost, I looked more like the Staypuff marshmallow man because I had to wear several layers of clothes to stay warm. Today’s kids can count on a wide variety of high performance fabrics made in kids sizes. We love SmartWool’s Kids Midweight Zip T. This next to skin is made of 100% merino wool and is super soft. It’s a perfect base layer for a chilly Halloween night and you’ll get repeat use out of it throughout the winter season.
Glove Liners — If you kids’ costumes don’t include a pair of gloves, think about getting a pair of REI Performance Glove Liners. They’ll not only keep your loved one’s hands warmer, they’ll also be helpful in stopping the spread of H1N1 and other viruses (we’re just being cautious).
Flashlight Belt — Safety will no doubt be top of mind this Halloween. Since the holiday falls on a Saturday, you can bet that there will be a lot of adults celebrating too. Make sure that your kids are seen by equipping them with a bright flashlight. We love the GoMotion LED Running Belt that you’ll find a lot of use for after the holiday is over. The belt, designed for walkers and recreational runners, is equipped with a 1-Watt Luxeon LED and two flashing LED taillights, so your kid will be seen whether they are coming or going.
Candy Bag — Equally important, the waist belt design will allow your favorite ghost or goblin to keep both hands free to hold his or her candy bag. (We like the Chico Bag Vita, which can repurposed for your regular shopping duties).