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!

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Why you should stop convincing your kids to eat healthy food (and what you should do instead) by Nina Manolson

Nina in her family kitchen

Have you ever had these thoughts?

“I made a really healthy meal, but I couldn’t convince my kids to even try it!”

“I’ve basically given up going to the effort of making a nice nutritious family meal because my kids just complain and want chicken nuggets anyway.”

“I’m just done with battling with my kids about veggies, it’s easier to just give them what I know they like.”

I totally get it!

As a Health Coach and Family Wellness Expert I hear those sentiments all the time.

And really, who wants food wars? Everybody loses in those situations, right? Your kids get grumpy, you get cranky, and they don’t eat any healthier. What could have been a time of connecting over a nice meal, ends up as a stress-fest!

The bottom line is that you can’t force your kids to eat healthy food.

So, what do you do when you want the best for your kids and you know that means healthy food choices.

Well first things first:

Stop the battle.

Yup, just stop fighting about it right away. Seriously it doesn’t help. I’m not saying give up your ideals of making healthy food happen in your family, I’m just saying stop arguing about it.

I have a better strategy for you.

Let’s change the food culture in your family.

Instead of being in a “healthy-food is serious business” mode, use my B.E.E. method to switch it up and make your family food culture fun and interesting (and delicious of course!)

Let’s “BEE” advocates for healthy change with a positive attitude and lots of kid involvement.



Billions of dollars every year are being spent to market junk food to our kids, we need to create our own buzz for healthy food.

For example:  Instead of offering your kids a smoothie with the news that it’s nutritious, bring some ‘buzz’ – tell the kids that it’s delicious, with a secret hidden ingredient or fruit to discover. The same excitement can be generated at dinner. If you’re making sautéed spinach, say ‘I have a magic trick. Do you think I can make this huge pile of greens fit into this tiny bowl?’

E= Empower

I know that taking your kids food shopping is not always easy, but inviting them to choose some of the fruits and veggies that get purchased helps them get involved.  This way, you’re empowering them to be an active participant in eating healthy, and they become part of the hunting and gathering process.  Just be sure everyone eats before shopping, so there is less temptation in the cookie aisle.

The other part of empowerment is to get them in the kitchen. Giving kids the tools and skills they need to make delicious food is very empowering.

E – Educate

Talk to your kids about how food affects their bodies. We raise kids to know math and how to read and write, but we also need to create food-literate children.

By teaching your kids things like:

  • how to read labels,
  • how sugar affects their body,
  • what food actually grows from the ground and what’s made in a factory
  • and more…

You’re creating an educated consumer who can then make healthy choices on their own.

Also, be sure to educate yourself. You may not have grown up in a family that made healthy choices, or you may have fallen into some unhealthy habits. Get support for yourself. Learn from someone who can guide you in making healthy food happen for you and your family.

For more free tips on how to easily add healthy, delicious foods into your kids diet without a fight go to http://www.1shoppingcart.com/app/?Clk=4846976

If you’re ready to make a healthy change for your family now, join me for the “Make Healthy Happen In Your Family; 5 weeks to feeding your kids well in a world that doesn’t” With fun and ease, I’ll walk you meal by meal into healthier habits http://www.1shoppingcart.com/app/?Clk=4846972

Nina Manolson is the founder of SmokinHotMom.com and HealthyYummyKids.com.  She helps busy moms look and feel their best and teaches them how to make healthy habits come alive in their family. She’s the author of the practical book “Feed Your Kids Well In A World That Doesn’t.  For more information go to: http://www.smokinhotmom.com

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.


Vanilla Bean Cake- a.k.a.Guilt Free Cake

Vanilla Bean Cake

When I tell people that we have completely eliminated sugar at our house I get a variety of responses – from “Good for you!” to shock and amazement “How did you do that?” I even have some people who swear they can’t live without their sugar fix, which I think is cute actually.

We originally made this choice due to Matthew’s needs but I feel that it has benefited us all. In fact, through my sugar free journey I have slowly been able to ‘convert’ some of my other family members. Not that I am on a mission to convert anyone, it is all personal choice and it is not for me or anyone else to get preachy and tell people what to do. But I do like talking about it and sharing what I have learned with others, and if it benefits them, then I am happy to have helped.

My family became interested in what I was doing as they were watching the changes I was making and how I was doing it. They became curious, so some of them decided to try it themselves, choosing to do so for different reasons. My mother has done quite a bit without sugar, now making bread, cookies, cakes, etc. She is also very accommodating when we come to visit and makes sure that she has food and meals for us that meet the no sugar requirement. Bless her!

I also have influenced my aunt and one of my sisters, so much so that they are coming to me for recipes and tips. They are learning themselves too how to adjust a recipe that they already have to meet their needs.

Once Upon a Time

My sister Cathy, currently of Vancouver, BC and part of the costume team for Once Upon a Time (I love that show!) came to me looking for a recipe for vanilla bean cake. I had come across this when working with Nina Manolson of Healthy Yummy Kids and Smokin’ Hot Mom. Cathy had tried a vanilla bean cake before without much success so was looking for a new recipe.

She tried the recipe I gave her as is but found that for her personal tastes it was a bit dry and needed a little something to spruce it up. So she adjusted and revised the recipe and now makes this moist delicious cake! Which I can vouch is true, as I got to have a piece this summer. She usually tops it with vanilla bean ice cream, but it is very good without.

It was so good that I asked her to send me her revised recipe to post on my blog and share with you folks. So here it is, enjoy! And it is a very healthy cake, dairy free, sugar free, gluten free and full of fibre, so go ahead have 2 pieces!

Vanilla Bean Cake

2 cups cooked white beans

Coconut Oil

6 eggs

3/4 tsp. liquid stevia

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1/3 c. honey

1/4 c. coconut oil, liquified

1/3 c. coconut flour, sifted

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. baking soda

1.5 tsp. baking powder

1 fresh lemon

In a blender or food processor add white beans, rinsed and at room temperature (this is so they don’t cook the eggs or congeal the coconut oil), eggs, stevia, vanilla and honey. Puree well.

Then add to blender coconut oil, coconut flour, sea salt, baking powder and baking soda and puree well.

Transfer mixture from blender to a bowl. Add the zest of one lemon.  Fold in by hand.

Squeeze all the juice of the lemon into a cup and add 1 pkg.  (1 g) of stevia sweetner.  Stir and set aside until after the cake is out of the oven.

Pour mixture into a spring form pan, or a well greased 9” cake pan. Sprinkle fresh or frozen blueberries on the top.

Bake at 325 F for 55 minutes.  Check if it’s done by inserting a knife in the centre, if it comes out clean, it’s done.  Otherwise bake for  5-10 additional minutes, checking often so it doesn’t over bake.

Once cake is removed from the oven, let stand for 10 minutes.  Then, while still warm, pour lemon juice mixture over top of cake.

It is delicious warm and plain, or add a scoop of frozen dessert such as Organic Rice Dream Frozen Dessert.

Vanilla Bean Cake topped with yummy ice cream

Next week I will have my first guest blogger, Nina Manolson of Healthy Yummy Kids. She is a certified holistic health coach who believes and educates women and families how to live and eat well in a world that doesn’t. She has many tips and recipes on how to eat and live sugar free as well, so if you wish to continue your sugar free learning don’t miss her post next week!