An apple a day might keep the doctor away but Halloween apples are a different story altogether. Those festive, caramel-wrapped delights used to be favourites of health-conscious treat givers everywhere, but dentists and society in general have since made them mostly a thing of the past.
But sugar content and tooth decay aren’t the only concerns about Halloween candy these days. If you aren’t paying attention, you’re probably just buying whatever comes in the highest volume for the lowest price. That means artificial colours, corn syrup, cellulose and chemical preservatives, not to mention wheat, milk, eggs and nuts to upset any sensitive system.
So what options do people have if they don’t want to hand out bags of unhealthy treats on Monday if they don’t want to?
Local health experts say there are still many options for the treat bowl, and they don’t involve cheap plastic toys or novelty erasers.
The new grocery in town – Amaranth Whole Foods Market in the Enjoy Centre – even has a display table set up to highlight just these options. Granted, it’s only one little table with less than 10 different items but it’s still a start. Even Kettle Brand potato chips makes smaller bags just for the occasion.
The store’s nutritional advisor says that the world is still changing and people need to think about nutritional aspects of junk food given to trick-or-treaters.
“Most items that we have that are gluten-free will be indicated, usually on the labels,” stated Nadine Nellissen, pointing out products like EnviroKidz organic crispy rice chocolate bars.
Just because you’re buying healthy doesn’t necessarily mean that you are sacrificing that critical aspect of taste. These treats are a little bit better, she says, as are many of the others.
“For the lollipops, you’re not getting the synthetic colours in there, which is good,” she continued, referring to Yummy Earth’s lines of organic regular or vitamin C candies.
The table also showed off items including boxes of raisins, pretzels, oatmeal and cinnamon cookies, plus other chocolate treats from Green & Blacks, Camino, and Denman Island Chocolates out of British Columbia.
“Those guys have less sugar, but it’s also a really good chocolate as well. Oftentimes they use fair trade chocolate, too.”
Whatever you give out to the kids on the street or your own children, do so in moderation, stated local ayurvedic nutritionist Becca Pati of Divine Health Studio in Riel Park. The ancient traditional health system from India is about understanding the individual and finding the right lifestyle and behaviours to sustain good health.
“Ayurveda is about balance and moderating the amount of candy at one given time, which would be very beneficial for maintaining proper sugar levels in a child’s body.”
For the adults, there’s always the great autumn dessert of pumpkin pie. Amaranth has cans of Farmer’s Market canned organic pumpkin for just that occasion. Nellissen suggested that people could think of that squash as good for many diets as they’re low on the glycemic index. Just be careful if you make your own pumpkin pies from scratch instead of from a can.
“Pumpkins actually are on the low list in terms of things that are sprayed with pesticides. I don’t think that I’d use something that was carved because you’re risking mould contamination.”