Not to spook you, but Halloween can be a diet and health disaster if you don’t keep your wits about you. The hallmark of the holiday is artificial dye- and sweetner-filled candy, and a lot of it. If you’d like to escape the season without a sugar high — and some extra pounds under your belt — stick to one or two fun-sized candies from the office bowl. Then, if you’re hosting a Halloween party or just want to have healthier treats around, consider these festive items:
- Air-popped or stovetop popcorn: It’s high in fiber and low in calories (especially if you stick with air-popped).
- Spiced pumpkin seeds: These little seeds are packed with nutrients. Scoop them out when carving your jack-o’-lantern or buy them (usually labeled pepitas) at a health food store.
- Carrot sticks and raisins: Halloween colors come in the healthiest of packages in this fruit and veggie combo.
- Black Bean Cumin Dip: You can serve this with orange bell pepper strips for a Halloween-themed pairing.
- Clementines: They’re orange, which gets you halfway to the Halloween theme. Use a black marker to make them look like jack-o’-lanterns, or use whole cloves to “draw” a face.
- Acid Jellies: Alton Brown’s homemade lemon/lime gelatin cubes get a healthy dose of vitamin C by using real lemon and lime juice.
- Hermits (pictured ab0ve): As far as cookies go, these are in the “better-for-you” category, since they’re loaded up with nuts, dried fruit and spices.
- Build Me Up, Peanut Butter Cup: Natural peanut butter and chocolate each have things to brag about (peanut butter is high in protein; chocolate has lots of antioxidants). Make these in mini muffin tins for better portion control.
- Clementine Cake: This orange-colored cake features three healthy ingredients — clementines, ground almonds (instead of flour) and eggs. It also has sugar, but it is a cake after all.
And here are a few main dishes that will get you in the Halloween spirit:
- Rachael Ray’s Ratatouille-Stuffed Jack-o’-Peppers
- Emeril’s Sea Creature Soup with Slime Aioli
- Michael Chiarello’s Poached Garlic Soup (to keep away vampires, of course)
- Rachael Ray’s Pumpkin, Penne and Cabbage
- Nigella Lawson’s Baby Spinach, Avocado and Pumpkin Seed Salad