I love Halloween and all of the fun it brings!  When we bought our first home over 10 years ago we gutted it out and had a huge project on our hands.  I decided to have a fun Halloween party because 9/11 had just happened and everyone was so depressed and withdrawn, including myself.

That was a day that most of us will never forget the moment we found out.  It is a wound we carry and for some, it changed life as we know it.  After all these years, I am still encouraged by the stories of heroism and humanity.

It is kind of hard to transition this post from those memories and visions ingrained in my head from being glued to the television for weeks….. okay deep breath.  Here we go.  So we really went to town on making our soon to be home a real haunted house.

With a crew of friends painting eyes on the walls, cutting fabric for tattered curtains, hanging black lights and even a contractor friend made a wood casket and lined it with red velvet.  We had it all; bloody foot prints on the carpet, live mice, worms, dry ice in the pool, and smoke machines coming from a graveyard hole.

Of course, having children changes up Halloween a tad.  Now that Adriana is 9, I have pulled out all my old tricks of fun!  The yum part got tricky around 4 and 5 but we managed to keep true to our healthy ways with a few simple clever ideas that I share with you in this post below.

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The gruesome cheesy meat hand was an idea I found on “Not Martha” by creative blogger Megan! I have to say, I wish I was Martha and had her team because I wouldn’t have to get help from boxed desert mixes when time is not on my side!! At least we have some healthier choices like the ones I mention below. I didn’t use a hand mold like Megan did and used my own {egg free} recipe for meat loaf. I used garlic cloves for the wrist bones and my husband who had a spark of creativity added the bloody ketchup knife. Spider ice cubes and my favorite Ginny Bakes chocolate chip cookie mix allowed for some extra fun. For the cookies I melted Lily’s chocolate chips {stevia sweetened} and used a thin paint brush to make spider legs over the chips. The brownie cupcakes {I used Arrowhead organic GF mix}. I added vegan & gluten free marshmallows, after brownies were done, under a broiler for few minutes {the brand I used is low in sugar and GMO free- link below}. I did drizzle white melted chocolate too and painted little faces on them. I added the blog and product links at the end of post for you.

 

These little DIY mummy candle holders are easy and so cute! You will need gauze, googly eyes, liquid glue, paint brushes and glass jars. Paint the glue on the jar, wrap tightly the gauze, add the eyes and candle votive {battery operated are safest}. This Mummy is happy and so are her little fairies, pirates, cowgirls and my pretty ghosts well maybe not the Spiderman at that moment but isn't he so stink in cute!

These little DIY mummy candle holders are easy and so cute! You will need gauze, googly eyes, liquid glue, paint brushes and glass jars. Paint the glue on the jar, wrap the gauze tightly, add the eyes and candle votive {battery operated are safest}. This Mummy is happy and so are her little fairies, pirates, cowgirls and my pretty Colonial ghosts {their mom and dad dressed up as George and Martha Washington}. Spiderman doesn’t look so happy to have a fairy by his side but isn’t he so stinkin’ cute!

 

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We came up with a fun game where the kids are blind folded, turned around to the count of 10, then they are handed a pin and coached by the remaining kids to move forward 3 steps, left or right and pop a balloon with a small trinket inside. My daughter and I had fun drawing funny faces on the balloons.

How to Raise a Healthy Eater

When Adriana first went trick-or-treating in our neighborhood, we reminded her the candy she will receive is not real and has artificial colors and flavors and that we will exchange it for better choices. In fact, things that will last longer than the thrill of a sweet candy like a paint set, books, hair accessories, basically things we needed anyway.  We did trade out a few dark chocolate treats and lollipops colored with fruit/vegetables and real sugar in lower amounts.

Now, I agree this alone can be tricky to get your kids to give up the loot but with consistent explaining of the icky ingredients in {most} candy and what it does to the body, they eventually get it. The key for a child who is not addicted to sugar and foods void in any nutrition is EARLY on to train their young palates with real wholesome foods.  It is never to late to introduce real foods and move away from processed sugar laden foods.

Facts we shared with Adriana early on:

1.  People who eat sugar laden foods can get lots of cavities {to this day she has not had any cavities}.

2. Sugar can rob the body of vital nutrients to be strong {like a baseball player} or have beautiful skin {like a princess}.

3. Sugar can lower the immune system up to 5 hours after consuming it.

4.  Eating sugar can make us moody and not focus on the things we love to do. {I can testify to this, can you?}

5. The Doc suggest that 15 grams should be the max for sugar at one sitting {fruit sugar too}.  This is a great way to teach kids to read labels and look at grams of sugar on goodies. Serving size can be tricky.

6.  Eating large amounts of refined sugar and simple carbohydrates {sweet foods devoid of of nutrition) can cause a host of serious illnesses like diabetes and obesity which can lead to heart problems too {keep the info in simple terms for younger kids}.

Educating our children as early as 2 years old about how food can HURT us or HEAL us is crucial as it will be all they know if that is what you teach them from the beginning.  We teach them that the stove is hot and do not touch. Why not teach them that the bright pink lollipop is not the best choice and we can buy the ones for special treats at the health markets?

We did allow Adriana at 5 years old to taste a Dum Dum watermelon lollipop someone gave her.  As I held my breath, she licked it a few times and said with a scowl on her face,  “Mommy it doesn’t taste like real watermelon” and gave it back to me {sigh of relief}.

Another key point is not to succumb to the TEMPTATION of giving your baby or toddler a lick of the cupcake with blue frosting or of the ice cream your having.  I had such a battle with my own mother early on wanting to give Adriana a sip of soda, juice or yes even a piece of cake.  Dentists around the world confer juice and sugary drinks should be avoided by toddlers. We can give them the whole or pureed fruit in the early stages of life.

Now this may sound cruel, but I promise you will reap the benefits of a child who will eat real foods and not be addicted to sugar and simple carbohydrates.  My mom would say things like “she is missing out” and “all the other kids are having it” and honestly I did feel the pressure often to give in but I am happy to say we have a healthy, happy eater today!

Other tricks I used were; “DIVERSION” early on; like at birthday parties we would exit the room after we sang happy birthday so that cutting the cake would not tempt or guilt us to give in. As she got older we brought our own treats to mock the cake or cupcakes handed out.  Yes, this takes some planning by getting in touch with the host and then making or buying something cleaner but it is so worth the efforts if you want to avoid the pitfalls of unhealthy eating habits.

I should address the “PICKY EATER” child because this can make it a challenge I know. We went through this from time to time.  She loved broccoli until one day it was her enemy, she detested tomato’s texture. Mashed potato’s heaviness made her weak in the knees, and avocado’s green color made her hide her face but we never gave up and they say it can take up to 20 times of introducing a food before a child will like it. We are still working on mashed potatoes {sigh}.

It became much easier not to hear the flack from others when lab tests revealed Adriana had a gluten sensitivity. People become more understanding when you say your child has an allergy rather than it is our preference not to eat refined sugars and foods void of nutrition. She had bumps across her torso and arms and a severe rash that was itchy and oozing aka eczema on the back of her legs.  We helped many families at the clinic with this and thankfully we knew what we needed to do.

Gluten sensitivities run in my husband’s side of the family so it was no surprise to us and fortunately today, we don’t have to deal with the constant tummy aches and rashes anymore.  Interestingly enough, a few months ago, a friend shared some muffins that she made and said they were gluten free.  After she rattled off the ingredients, Adriana asked if she could have one and I said yes.  Unfortunately, my listening ears heard “gluten free” but not that she used spelt flour {which  contains gluten}.  Well, the next day, bumps on her leg showed up and the dry itchy rash reared it’s ugly head, it took a good month to heal.

Adriana is cautious, asks to see labels and makes good decisions {until the mom goofed….after I kicked myself several times I forgave myself}.  She has rarely eaten off a kids menu unless they offer real wholesome food.  A true testament that your kid gets it is when they share their knowledge with friends in a loving manner.

Oh, but the best way you know your kid gets it….after trick-or-treating Adriana {5 years old} dumped all her candy out on the floor and exclaimed with such joy, “Mommy, Daddy look at all this yucky candy!”  You can have a healthy eater with a few tricks in your pocket and diligence in your heart.  It is the best gift you can give your kids for their future health and not to mention less stressful during meal times!   I know you can do it!

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I found out my daughter is right, I can be a really good witch {in the heat of her madness after a typical mommy moment of disciplining, she said I was the meanest sounding witch}. I pulled out my non-toxic makeup, wig, hat, cape and gave the kids a real spooky experience of “taste & touch” if you dare! So this bad/good witch had it going on! We had witches warts {chocolate chips}, ghost poop {marshmallows} and monster teeth {candy corns}. Of course, I found alternative candies without corn syrup, artificial colors and flavors at Wholefoods. Henry {the skeleton is from CVS} is so cool he has bendable joints and can cross his legs or wave hi. The ghost is one of my daughters life size dolls under a sheet with a pair of her shoes on.

With A Spoonful of Spooky Yum,

Dawn-Signature

 

 

 

 

P.S. These are the sites of some of my favorites used in this post!

http://www.notmartha.org/  This is where I found the bloody hand meatloaf recipe but my grain free version worked great.

http://www.ginnybakes.com/ My favorite “clean eating” cookies.

http://www.arrowheadmills.com/category/baking-and-dessert-mixes  Another great company that makes clean, organic mixes for baking, like the brownies I made.

http://chicagoveganfoods.com/products/dandies-vegan-marshmallows/   Air-puffed marshmallows  that are gluten and GMO free and not to mention low in sugar {only 4 grams in 2}.