Trick or treat - goulish food for Halloween

The tradition of ’trick or treating’ originates in the UK and Ireland, from the practice of going door-to-door asking for donations to celebrate All Saints day. The wearing of costumes is also an ancient practice; villagers would dress as ghosts, to escort the spirits of the dead to the outskirts of the town at the end of the night’s celebration.

Now, Halloween is one of the most magical times of the year for children. The opportunities for the creative enterprises of dressing up, drawing pictures, making crafts and telling stories are endless. Whether through their school or at home, it’s also a time for fun, frolics and food at childrens’ parties. If you are trying hard to make sure your child eats a healthy diet, this can be a difficult time to lay down rules.

The best approach is to get into the spirit of things (excuse the pun). There is an abundance of sweets (usually of the sticky, chewy heavily coloured variety) to compete with, so you need to ensure that what you make for the children is just as attractive.

A traditional Halloween food is colcannon. This is simply mashed potato fried with finely chopped onion and cabbage. Now this may not sound all that attractive to a child, however, it’s also a tradition to wrap coins in tin foil and hide them in the mixture just before you serve. Make it a game by asking the children to watch each other while they eat. Anyone who digs through to find the coins has to give it to the person who catches them.

These gory recipes for Pus Pockets and Worms au Gratin are also bound to be winners.

Pus Pockets

4 mini-pitta breads
2 tablespoons grated mozzarella cheese
1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning or Oregano
Tomato sauce (like Ragu)

Stir seasoning into cheese and fill each pitta with a a tablespoon of cheese. Place on a baking tray and bake at 180 degrees for 15 minutes or until the pittas are browned. Remove from oven and cut a hole in the top of the pitta until the cheese oozes out. Dab tomato sauce around cheese and eat at your peril.

Worms au Gratin

Cook 6oz of egg noodles and 8oz spaghetti and toss with 3oz of grated cheddar cheese. Place in greased casserole dish. To make the ‘dirt’ toasted 2 slices of wholewheat bread and crumble into tiny crumbs. Mix with 1 dessertspoon of melted butter or margarine and sprinkle the dirt over the worms. Place under grill for 5 minutes.

Luckily, it’s traditional to play games like ‘bobbing apple’ or ‘apple on a string’ at Hallowe’en parties. Try to encourage the kids to finish eating the apples when they manage to get a bite. Nuts are also a healthy food for children with plenty of protein and monounsaturated fats.

Teaching them what each nut is called and allowing them to try to use the nutcracker to crack the shells may be a good way of getting them interested in eating them. Be careful to ask the parents of the children attending your party if their child has a nut allergy since reactions can sometimes be extremely severe.

What to drink?

Perhaps just as important as what your kids eat at halloween is what they drink since too many sweet or fizzy drinks can harm their teeth. Dentists recommend that children take sugary foods and drinks no more than four times a day and this is best kept to meal times.

For your Halloween party, how about making Slime Shakes by simply adding a tiny drop of green food colouring to vanilla milk shakes (made from a scoop of ice cream and semi skimmed milk) or try making this recipe for Blood Red Ice.

Blood Red Ice

For deep red ice, try any kind of red berry juice like cranberry. If you want to be really adventurous you can freeze this inside disposable plastic gloves to make goulish red hands.

The other important part of keeping kids healthy at Halloween is making sure they are physically active. While it’s tempting just to rent a horror movie, there are plenty of hallowe’en games to keep them active.

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