Can there be any more of an oxymoron than no-junk Halloween? It seems that Halloween is just a sugar fuelled orgy these days. I say 'these days' like it was ever different, but I think that whilst sweeties have always figured pretty highly, it may be been in a more fudge and toffee-like way and less about gross, blue, brain-shaped sweets (real things, those). On the plus side, at least several of the truly terrifying food additives and colourants that gave use those unique manic highs as kids, are now on the banned substances list; but still, there is a ghastly array of crap on offer to kiddies at this time of year.
And it's all gone a bit super-sized hasn't it? I mean surely it used to be a few sweets shoved in pockets ... whereas now, there are buckets - actual buckets - that your kids are supposed to fill with sweets. I even saw one loot bag thingy that had a thermometer-type gauge on the side to show how full your bag was - or perhaps to indicate your likelihood of future diabetes, I didn't read it too carefully. Surely this is madness? *insert evil laugh here*.
But are you really - really, really - going to do away with anything junky altogether and go fully fruity virtuous? I'm not sure I am. Perhaps a little tempering is in order... So, here are some thoughts:
1: Is sugar evil? Should I be scared?
My first though/ excuse is this - is sugar really junk? Obviously there is approximately half a ton of it in any product, sweet or savoury, aimed at kids, but other than the tooth-rotting, calorie craziness of it - is is really toxic? And then these's the whole 'when is a sugar not a sugar' thing... seemingly healthy cakes that use half a ton on honey instead of sugar... Maybe the thing to do is go with the fact that Halloween will mean a day when your kids eat their entire weekly sugar ration in one day and keep it clean and healthy the rest of the week? How about this tasty little number I made last Halloween for example?
2: Is there any point in Halloween if it's not all about the sugar?
I'd go with a big, fat yes on this one. Should you care to have a browse of my awesome Pinterest board called 'Healthy Halloween', you'll see that there are a number of awesome thing things you can create, without buying psychedelic mouse sweets (they exist BTW).
3: Will people stop knocking if I don't hand out the Hariboes?
They might, but perhaps that's a good tactic anyway... hand out the junk you've been meaning to clear out of your cupboards to other people's children, then twenty minutes before The X Factor is due to begin, start giving out satsumas and it'll all tail off - everyone's a winner.
4. Am I a failure at all things No-junk-ified if I give in and let the kids go trick or treating where I have NO CONTROL over what they get given on the dark streets at night in a world full of chemicals and sugar at other people's houses who might be using Halloween as an excuse to clear out THEIR cupboards.... NO CONTROL...
It's okay, even if you do end up junking it up a bit on Halloween, you can still make your own gaff a haven of sensibleness for the rest of the season. And, anyway, if you're signed up to the Organix No Junk campaign you'll know it's more about enjoying real food and making a few sensible switches - it is not supposed to be a fun killer. You can still be a wonderful No Junker AND have a good Halloween.
5. Phew - so the plan is?
Keep the sweets to one day if it's going to happen. I let my kids trick or treat early last year, then consume some of the haul, then give the rest away to later trick treaters :) Don't let the sweet-eating spread the days or weeks around Halloween.
Get the kids to cook - keep them interested in the seasonal side of Halloween - just after harvest, tons of great veg around, especially pumpkins and squash - including cool interesting ones: