It’s almost that wonderful time of year: when families decorate their homes for the season; when kids are excited to share their holiday memories with friends; when the anticipation of all the treats and sweets accumulates for days ahead.
No, not Christmas – Halloween!
Exercising that sweet tooth on Halloween
The Children’s Exercise and Nutrition Centre (CENC) at McMaster Children’s Hospital understands how sweet this special holiday can be and encourages families celebrate with all the traditions of Halloween – including the candy. The sweets, treats and other celebratory foods that come along with holidays can be included as part of a balanced diet.
Families can also incorporate some nutritious Halloween snacks at this time of year. That’s why the CENC has put together a recipe and video for a monstrously delicious and nutritious snack. “We chose this apple monster recipe because it was fun and easy to make so that kids of all ages could be involved,” says Sarah Tiessen, dietetic intern at the CENC. “Finding nutritious snack options can be a challenge for families. This recipe has protein, fibre and healthy fats, which all help with feelings of fullness and is a good example of a balanced snack choice.”
If your child has an allergy to apples, or prefers toppings other than what’s included here, there are plenty of alternatives at any grocery store. “Apple can be swapped out for a pear or any other crunchy fruit,” says Farrah Wan, dietetic intern at the CENC. “The rest of the toppings like nut or seed butter can be easily swapped. For example, the seeds for the teeth can be swapped with halved grapes.”
For children with nut allergies, this is still a snack they can enjoy. “Those who cannot have nut butter in this recipe could switch this ingredient out for a seed butter like sunflower seed butter or soy butter,” says Tiessen.
Building up skills and confidence
While children should still enjoy the tasty treats that come with celebrating Halloween, making apple monsters can become part of a family tradition. “It keeps their mind engaged and can improve critical thinking skills,” says Mark Chan, dietetic intern at the CENC. “And over time, it can help build their confidence in enjoying their experiences involving food,” adds Wan.
Watch the video for Apple Monsters – courtesy of Meant2Prevent (M2P), a type 2 diabetes prevention initiative for children and youth.
Apple Monsters (makes 4)
- 1 green apple, cut into quarters
- 1 strawberry, sliced into four
- 2 tsp. nut butter (or alternative if allergic to nuts)
- 2 Tbsp. white chocolate, melted
- Sunflower seeds
- Mini chocolate chips
- Cut the apple into 4 wedges. Cut the core off of each wedge.
- Cut the middle out of each apple wedge on the skin side to make a mouth.
- Spread some of the nut or seed butter inside the opening of each apple wedge.
- Place a slice of strawberry on the bottom for the tongue, and carefully press the sunflower seeds into the top of the opening to make teeth.
- To make the googly eyes, dip the cheerios in the white chocolate. Place a chocolate chip in the middle. Let the chocolate set before attaching to the top of each apple above the mouth with a bit of nut or seed butter to help it stick.