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Prairie Fare: Trick or Treat Season Calls for Moderation

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Consider sweet treats as occasional foods. (Photo courtesy of snowbear, morgueFile) Consider sweet treats as occasional foods. (Photo courtesy of snowbear, morgueFile)
Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU Extension food and nutrition specialist (NDSU photo) Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU Extension food and nutrition specialist (NDSU photo)
Candy and other sweetened treats usually provide calories without significant amounts of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.

By Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist

NDSU Extension Service

“Mom, they’re not noticing me!” my 12-year-old daughter said with a loud sigh as she looked into her nearly empty pumpkin pail.

We were watching a parade, and some of the people on the parade floats were tossing out items such as footballs, stickers and candy.

“Let’s straighten your bison hat. Be sure to smile, hold out your pumpkin and move around a little bit. Separate yourself from the other kids so you don’t get lost in the crowd,” I coached.

What am I doing? I thought to myself. I’m a nutrition specialist teaching my kid all the tricks to get more candy. I got caught up in the moment and then I felt a little guilty.

My strategies worked, though. She left with her pumpkin bucket holding a lot of candy and other items, including a small football. I reminded her that she should limit herself to a couple of pieces of candy per day and then brush her teeth thoroughly.

Being our little “rule follower,” our daughter did not gorge on candy. She was more excited about collecting the treats than eating them. In fact, two weeks later, the bucket is still half full. I think she ate the candy bars and left all the less desirable items.

Now she is planning for trick or treating with her friends. She knows all the hot spots in the neighborhood.

Thinking back, trick or treating was one of my favorite childhood memories. Dressing up and going door to door was great fun. In a small town, people made homemade treats such as caramel popcorn, caramel apples and popcorn balls. After roaming the town, we would “sort” our candy into piles based on our preferences.

Is candy healthful food? Yes, dark chocolate contains antioxidants that may have health benefits, but we still need to limit the treats because of the extra calories they provide. The recommendation to limit sweet treats is not a new concept. Candy and other sweetened treats usually provide calories without significant amounts of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.

Small amounts of sweet treats can fit in a healthful diet, but they need to be considered as occasional foods. Focus on consuming the recommended amounts of fruits, vegetables, protein, dairy and grains first.

Do you always need to provide candy for trick or treaters? Consider some more healthful food options and nonfood items to add variety to the treat containers of your visiting goblins. These options include pencils with novelty erasers, temporary tattoos, sugar-free gum, stickers, cereal bars, 100 percent juice boxes, dried fruit, single-serving cereal boxes and small bottles of water.

If the kids have a good candy-hunting season, consider freezing the candy bars to enjoy later. Take out small amounts at a time.

If you have a “sweet tooth,” try a few strategies to keep the amount of sweets consumed in check. If you like to bake, freeze most of the batch or share it with others. Try cookie, bread or bar recipes that include healthful ingredients such as dried fruit, whole-grain oatmeal and/or nuts.

Try limiting the different types of sweets you keep on hand. Having too many tempting items available is like going to a potluck or banquet. You want to try everything, right?

If you like a pick-me-up, opt for the 100-calorie portion-control packs. Don’t go back for seconds, though.

Consider modifying your recipes based on the recommendations in our “Now Serving: Recipe Makeovers” publication (available at http://tinyurl.com/recipemakeovers).

Here is a recipe from our NDSU Extension Service publication “Food Mixes in a Jar,” which is available on our website (https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/food). This cookie recipe with whole-grain oats and dried cranberries was a big hit with our staff. These are tempting, so you may want to freeze most of them.

Cranberry-Oatmeal Cookie Mix

1 c. plus 2 Tbsp. flour

1 c. rolled oats

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 c. brown sugar

1/4 c. white sugar

1/2 c. dried cranberries

1/2 c. white chocolate chips

Layer the ingredients in a clean, quart-sized jar. Cover the jar tightly with a lid, decorate it with fabric and ribbon if desired, and attach a copy of the recipe card (see the following recipe).

Cranberry-Oatmeal Cookies Recipe

1 recipe of Cranberry-Oatmeal Cookie Mix

1/2 c. butter (1 stick)

1 tsp. vanilla

1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix butter, vanilla and egg together until smooth.

Add cookie mix and mix well. Place by spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet and bake for eight to 10 minutes until golden brown. For best flavor, use this mix within nine months.

Makes 28 cookies. Each serving has 100 calories, 4.5 grams (g) fat, 13 g carbohydrate and 70 milligrams sodium.

(Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., is a North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist and professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences.)


NDSU Agriculture Communication - Oct. 22, 2015

Source:Julie Garden-Robinson, (701) 231-7187, julie.garden-robinson@ndsu.edu
Editor:Ellen Crawford, (701) 231-5391, ellen.crawford@ndsu.edu
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