A Horribly Healthy Halloween – Tips for Sugar Free Halloween

sugar free halloweenSince eliminating sugar from our diet holidays have taken on a very different look for our family (yet we still enjoyed pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving! -sugar free of course). There is so much sugar and sweets that come with each holiday that it can be challenging to get around. The key is to find alternatives that meet the child’s needs without making him feel different or like he is missing out.

Halloween is no exception, in fact I would venture to say that it is the worst holiday connected to candy and treats. I remember Matthew asking me shortly after we eliminated sugar if he would be able to go trick or treating for Halloween. Thinking ahead, I already had an answer for him and told him yes he would be able to and then I told him the plan.

These are the things that we will be doing this Halloween to ensure it is sugar free and still enjoyable.

 

Tips for a Sugar Free Halloween

Go to a Candy Buy Back (or do the Switch Witch)

sugar free halloweenMatthew will go trick or treating this year but he will take all of his candy to an event called the Candy Buy Back, put on by a local dentist here in Calgary. It is the day after Halloween and they give the kids $1 for each pound of candy that they bring in. They have all kinds of prizes and they wear their Halloween costumes again.

We have done this for the past couple of years and he uses the money he receives to buy a book. So he still gets to participate in the “main activity” of Halloween and get something that he wants and is able to have.

Now some people may be upset by this as they go out and spend money on candy to give to kids and then they go and sell it. I do see their point but it is a choice and once you give it away who knows what happens to it. You could buy something else that is non candy and give that out (and people are starting to do that), decide not to hand anything out, or be ok with it. If we as a society want things to change then it has to start somewhere and the method may not be preferred but at least it is a start.

Have a Healthy Fun Supper

sugar free halloweenThere are also other things that you can do to eliminate or reduce the amount of sugar your child ingests this Halloween. Nina Manolson of Healthy Yummy Kids, suggests that for supper that night you prepare a full healthy meal that the kids will enjoy with a nice healthy yummy sweet at the end (you can make the cookies, cakes and treats without the sugar- check out some of my sugar free recipes). I take it one step further and make it a fun Halloween themed supper. This is basically taking healthy foods and getting creative and making them spooky. In the past we have done Monster Face Pizzas, Monster Brains and Skeleton Veggie tray.

This will not only satisfy their craving for sweets but they will also feel full, and therefore when offered candy to eat, they won’t eat it because they are not hungry. (Nina also suggests this strategy for afterschool outings and birthday parties).

Attend a Halloween Community Event

sugar free halloweenIt is also important to remember that there is more to Halloween then just the candy; there are many events and activities around it. If you look at the history of Halloween it originally had nothing to do with candy -it is society that has added the “treats” over the years.

When attending an event, the kids still get to dress up, and there are usually games, crafts and other activities. There are many special events in the community (for instance in Calgary, we have the Boo-roofic Bash, Ghouls’ Night Out, Haunted Houses, etc). There are dances and classes that you can wear your costume to with other activities. Yes there are likely candy and sweets available but there are more to these events than the treats and it is easy enough to skip the treats if you choose to.

Decorate your Home for Halloween

There are loads of Halloween crafts that the kids can make and then use as decorations to put up. You can also add in things like Halloween soap dispensers and towels, spider webs on mirrors, a graveyard and skulls in your front yard. You can get really into this (just check out Pinterest for great easy ideas!) That is all part of the fun and demonstrates another fun aspect of the holiday that is not candy related. My son is already asking me if we can put out the Halloween decorations (and has been since September).

I feel that Matthew will have a very enjoyable and healthy Halloween this year and I don’t think that he will feel like he missed out at all. It really is easy to do and I encourage you all to give it a go yourselves. You will eliminate all those wired and moody kids the next morning!

As for the twins, we dressed them up last year, but did not go trick or treating. So they are familiar with the event and love to dress up! We might take them out this year to a few neighbors, and we’ll contribute their candy at the Candy Buy Back, because for them it is all about the costume!

The Art of Gratitude

Many of us spent this past weekend celebrating Thanksgiving. Spending time with family and friends sharing a savory meal of turkey, veggies and pie. It is a time when many of us recognize and acknowledge the blessings in our lives and give thanks.

It’s great. It gives me a warm fuzzy feeling just thinking about it. But it makes me wonder, if it feels so good and makes us happy, why do so many of us wait until the holidays to express our gratitude? Wonderful things happen everyday, in every moment that we should be grateful for.

Oprah Winfrey

Studies have shown that the more grateful you are for things in your life, the happier you are and the more good things will come to you. Leaders and prominent figures in the world are leading the way by talking about gratitude and it’s effects on their lives. Sixteen years ago, Oprah Winfrey started a gratitude journal, in which she writes down 5 things everyday that she is grateful for. She believes that this is one of the best things she has ever done in her life.

Being grateful is easy. If you appreciate and love what you have you will receive more. Even the simplest things, like someone holding the door open for you, or bringing you flowers, smiling. We often forget how some of the simplier things in life can bring us such joy and beauty. When we take note of them, they increase. We become more alive and receptive to the goodness that is in our lives and it keeps us living in the present moment.

I know there are many challenges in life and there are days when you wonder how you can be grateful for anything. On those days especially it is important to identify things that you are grateful for. If the kids have been screaming and you have been going crazy, then all of a sudden you have 5 minutes of silence and the kids playing happily, be grateful! Say thank you – you’ll get more!

Being grateful changes your state of being, brings a sense of peace, contentment and more overall happiness in your life. If you practice being grateful everyday, then everyday will be beautiful and wonderful, no matter if it seems like the world is falling down around you.

The key thing is to write down the things you are grateful for. Writing them down creates more power in your words; and your hands are a direct connection to your heart, so writing them down strengthens this connection. Creates more love and genuine appreciation.

I know you may be sitting there grumbling that this is all mumbo jumbo, so if you don’t believe it do an experiment. Start a gratitude journal and write down 3-5 things every day that you are grateful for. Do this for a week and notice what happens, notice how you feel, notice what has come to you. Then do it for another week and notice again. You may find that things not only are improving in your life but that your overall sense of well being has improved.

And it is easy to teach this to your kids. Most families are very diligent about teaching our children to say please and thank you, but if we can teach them to do a bit more then this will open them up to such beauty in their lives.

Yesterday when Luke and Chloe came home they noticed the snowsuit and snowpants that I had brought up. They had not seen these before so to them they were new. As soon as they saw them they were both saying, “Oh! thank you Mommy!” like they were the best things in the world. They immediately were trying them on, oohing and awing. It was a totally simple thing but they were showing gratitude. No one prompted them, no said they had too. They just did. I feel that if we can all nuture this in each of our children we will create a very different world.

With young children you can ask them at the end of each day before they go to bed what they are grateful for. With older children you can have them tell you but also write them down in their own journal. I believe that if we share what we are grateful for it increases, spreads out like the ripple effect. And doing it before bed is a wonderful time to do so because ending your day with things you are grateful for and make you feel good, happy; you are more likely to wake up in the morning feeling the same way. And isn’t that a great way to start your days? for you and the kids?

Gratitude is not a new thing and there are many ways to express it. But it is important that we do, everyday, not just on holidays or special occasions. It’s all part of creating what we want in our lives, focus on what is good and you will create more good. And I am guessing that we would all like more of the good things in our lives.

Thanksgiving Crafts for Kids – aka Turkeys, turkeys and more turkeys

Pine cone turkey

What holiday would be complete without crafts made by the kids to decorate? And believe me there is no shortage of craft ideas out there for any holiday, especially Thanksgiving. Turkey crafts alone number in the 20’s, with many variations that kids can do. From turkey handprints to pine cone turkeys there is something out there for every age and every possible craft supply you may have.

This is the first year that Luke and Chloe were old enough to do crafts so we tried a (surprise!) turkey craft. The Thanksgiving Handprint Craft is easy and fun, it also creates a bit of a momento if you decide to keep it; as you trace their hand and footprints to make it.

Our nanny, Elaine came up with the craft, which she found on the all kids network. It is an easy craft that can be done with all ages.

Thanksgiving Handprint Craft

Luke and Chloe's Handprint Turkeys

You will need brown, red, yellow, and orange construction paper, googley eyes, glue stick, scissors, pencil.

Trace your child’s foot on the brown construction paper. Depending on your child’s age you may need to assist or cut it out for them.

Trace your child’s hand on the red, yellow and orange construction paper and cut out. Cut a small triangle out of the orange for the turkey’s beak. Also cut little feet out of the orange.

Using glue stick, glue handprints to back of the foot. Glue eyes and beak on the front, with the little feet at the bottom. Use the wider part of the foot for the top of the turkey.

Another version of the handprint turkey is to have the kids write things that they are grateful for on each finger of their turkey, which I think is kind of unique and appropriate, considering the holiday. I also believe that it is important for us to teach our children to be grateful and this is a fun way to do it.

Garland of Leaves and Thankful Sunflower

I discovered 2 other versions of thankful crafts; the Garland of Leaves and Thankful Sunflower.

Garland of Leaves

For the Garland of Leaves you will need red, yellow and orange construction paper, a black marker, mini clothespins and some string or yarn. Kids cut leaves out of the different colors of construction paper and then write things that they are grateful for on each leaf. They also invite guests who come for dinner on Thanksgiving to write what they are thankful for on a leaf. Hang all the leaves on the string using mini clothespins and hang up on the wall to decorate. Then you are surrounded by gratefulness at dinner.

The Thankful Sunflower is a similar concept except it is in the shape of a sunflower and kids write what they are grateful for on the petals of the flower.

Lacing Crafts

Lacing crafts are great for kids 2 years and up, as it helps them with their fine motor skills. All you need is card stock, a hole punch, yarn or ribbon, and a pencil. For Thanksgiving you can find templates for turkey drumsticks, cornucopia, pumpkins, or you can make your own.

Pumpkin Finger Paint

I always like to include at least one craft that includes painting as kids love it! Whether it be with brushes or fingers kids become very focused and attentive to their creations. This craft is very easy to do. You will need orange finger paint, card stock, green construction paper and yarn (if you wish to hang it).

Cut pumpkin out of cardstock and let the kids to paint it orange! Let them enjoy the paint squished between their fingers as they move and create. Let paint dry. Once it is dry cut out green stem out of construction paper, glue it on. Punch hole in top of stem and string through yarn to hang.

Thanksgiving Crown

What a great way to make Thanksgiving dinner more festive for the kids with their own Thanksgiving Crown. A simple construction paper hat, you will need

  • brown, orange, yellow or red construction paper,
  • 2 pipe cleaners
  • pencil
  • scissors
  • tape
  • printer
  • paper
  • tissue paper (orange, yellow and red — but you can use any combination of autumn colors you like)
  • brown thread
  • optional:  stickers, markers, glitter or gel pens to decorate
This craft is very well explained on the dltk website I found it on so simply click the link to take you there for instructions on how to complete it.
With any craft adult/ parent supervision is advised. Let the kids do as much of the craft themselves, but depending on their age may require more assistance with things like cutting. The important thing is to let the kids take their time and feel proud of what they made. It is a great learning for them as it develops their imaginations, creativity and motor skills.
Regardless of what crafts you choose this Thanksgiving, enjoy them and decorate your home with them, proudly displaying what your children can do. Count your many blessings this weekend as  you celebrate with family and friends enjoying the holiday and all the delectable delights that come with it. Happy Thanksgiving!
Tomorrow, guest blogger Nina Manolson talks about how to get your kids to eat healthy without the fight! Be sure to check out tomorrow’s post.

 

Sugar Free Thanksgiving Recipes

Thanksgiving Turkey

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I am not sure if it is because the meal contains so many foods that I love, such as turkey, stuffing and gravy, or my favorite pumpkin pie! (Actually I love anything pumpkin – pumpkin muffins, pumpkin spice lattes)! Or if it is because of the warm, comforting feeling that surrounds the holiday. The fall season, that makes me think of burning candles and cozying up by the fire.

Pumpkin muffins

Either way I thoroughly enjoy it, and it is something that I look forward to. Last year, when we went sugar free at our house, I was a bit concerned, in fact I was very concerned about how to make my pumpkin pie. This was not something that I wanted to give up. Was it possible to find or create a recipe that would be just as good? I hoped there was, so I started looking and within a short time discovered a recipe that met my requirements and was just as easy to make. I found the recipe at Honey Bunny, the same company that makes the Bodacious Tomato Ketchup and BBQ sauce that we now buy. The Honey Bunny recipe called for evaporated milk and since we are also a dairy free household made a simple adjustment and used coconut milk instead. It turned out beautifully! and was just as delicious if not more, than what we were used to. In fact I think we all had 2 pieces!

The other thing that I adjusted last year was our cranberry sauce, as store bought brands contain a lot of sugar. I have never been a fan of cranberry sauce, but others in the family enjoy it. So I decided to make my own. I got the original recipe off the bag of Ocean Spray® cranberries and simply substituted agave nectar for the sugar. Again I had great success! and even I enjoyed some cranberry sauce last year.

I find that the highest amounts of sugar that we consume are around the holidays, and Thanksgiving marks the beginning of a lot of feasting and delectable delights. I know many people who feel like they have overindulged during the holidays and put themselves on a strict diet after Christmas. But if we had treats that were good for us and did not contain the sugar than we could enjoy the holiday feasting and not feel guilty or like we have overdone it. Eating healthy and well can be done, regardless of what is going on.

There are many alternatives out there and ways to still enjoy the foods you love without the sugar or worry. You will also feel so much better and so will your family! Perhaps this Thanksgiving is a great time to start. Try these recipes below and add them to your dinner feast. You’ll be amazed how good they are and if you don’t tell anyone else at the table, I bet they won’t even notice.

Honey Pumpkin Pie

1-398 ml can pumpkin puree
2 eggs
1/2 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1-398 ml can coconut milk

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Combine all ingredients together. Pour into 9 inch pie crust.
Bake at 425 F for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 F and cook for 35 minutes. Test with cake tester, if it comes out clean pie is done, and centre will move only slightly when gently shaken.

Cranberry Sauce

1 -12 oz. pack fresh or frozen cranberries, rinsed and drained

2/3 cup agave nectar

1/2 cup water

If you prefer your cranberries to be crushed within your sauce, crush in a bowl or puree in blender. Combine water and agave nectar in a medium saucepan. Bring to boil; add cranberries, return to boil. Reduce heat and boil gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cover and cool completely at room temperature. Refrigerate until serving time.

Makes 2 1/4 cups

Happy Feasting!


Don’t forget, guest blogger Nina Manolson this week with more great tips and tricks on eating healthy!