Now that I’ve pondered my own indulgent eating I’m taking a 180 degree turn and focusing attention on the Halloween holiday and tots 1+. What is out there for trick-or-treaters that are either “slightly healthier” or at least “less artificial” or “food allergy friendly” and also the non-food category for the tiny kiddos? At our home we hand out non-food toys and fruit-juiced sweetened lollipops. In addition, we host a yearly toddler Halloween party and local seasonal beer tasting for the parents. I do this so there is a 100% safe place for Miles to play with his friends while also being a relaxing environment for Charles & I to hang out with our friends. I will spend this post highlighting some of our ideas- MOST of these ideas can work for any special-event occasion; birthday parties, holidays, playdates, ect.
We knew Miles has some food issues in his first year of his life, at the time just dairy, so it was the first year we gave our non-food treats and they were a hit. I have learned that although a bit more expensive, the kids appreciate a treat that will last a little longer than a candy bar because well, its novel. I got many “thank yous” “cool!” last year. They might get a chocolate bar every time they go to the movies but a pair of Dracula fangs or tattoos or an eyeball bouncy ball- may only happens a couple of times a year, not daily/weekly/monthly.
Conventional Grocery Vs. Target: Now, if you shop for your Halloween trick-o-treats at one of the many conventional grocery stores, you’ll find 80% candy and chocolate. The only thing that excites me is the little bags of pretzels. Besides that, I head to Target for our goodie bags and treats. They always have bags of various little toys. Make sure you don’t go to their front-of-the-store “dollar section” where they have items in sets of 6 or 9 but you go to the actual holiday section- where they have bags of 20: tattoos, bouncy balls, bubbles, fangs, googily eyes, pencils, stickers and stretch animals like frogs. I didn’t buy stickers this year, but will in the future. We’ve started a sticker book for Miles for his “successful” inhaler and nebulizer treatments, so stickers will be a hit!
That said, I found a great treat in a random aisle of Hannaford last week. These farm animal grow sponges. $1.99 for 12- score! I remember these from when I was a kid. Each capsule is a different sponge cut into a farm animal-that once in water grows! What toddler wouldn’t love that? These would be great for any swag bag. The kiddos that come to the party will get one in their bag, with notification to the parents since the capsule itself could be a choking hazard. Miles will open his capsule in his Sunday night bath…what fun.
Like the pretzel, you can also offer teeny tiny boxes of raisins to your party guests or trick-or-treaters. They are little bombs of sugar, so they fit the bill of a treat. Every conventional grocery store has a brand of organic and conventional raisins in mini boxes.
Miles doesn’t drink juice. Let me explain. He has more of a salty/umami than a sugary palette so he never liked the stuff- unless he’s getting it as a “special treat”, like at his weekly toddler play group. They he loves it. He can drink something that all the other kids are drinking too! He usually can’t have what they’re eating, and I think he’s caught on, so he gets very excited for the apple juice. For this reason, I keep mini-toddler-sized organic apple juice boxes, Apple & Eve brand, around for a very special treat time; like a party. I buy them by the 36-per-case at Toys-R-Us for $11.99. (Do I care that they have Sesame Street characters on the box? Yes I have an opinion. I wish food manufactures couldn’t “partner” with kids shows to promote (sell) their goods.)
I was on my bi-monthly hunt for new kitchen gear at the local Home Goods sometime during the summer when I found these beauties. Yummy Earth’s organic, gluten, soy, dairy, tree nut and peanut-free lollipops. They have no artificial anything and are fruit-juice sweetened. Cool! 60 for $4.99. I had never heard of this brand but I saw the price and the possibilities for various parties and Halloween and I bought every bag they had (six in total) and stored them in the garage. I gave one to Miles, again, he doesn’t like sweet that much but he seemed to enjoy 1/2 of a mango tango lolli. I’ll be handing these out for years. They also have additional candies, such as gummi bears. From their website:
“About us: We’re the two daddies that invented YummyEarth organic lollipops, candy drops and the
world’s first ever and only USDA organic gummy bears. As big-time lollipop fans and new dads, who
met through our college roommate wives, we wanted to share treats with our children with no
chemical colors, artificial flavors, corn syrup or anything we wouldn’t be proud to cook with at home for
our families, including GMO’s. We proudly handcraft 21 delicious flavors with real fruit extracts and
are just as proud of what is in YummyEarth as what is not; in fact, we even use organic black carrots
and organic pumpkin for fabulous color! Everything YummyEarth makes is USDA and EU certified
organic, gluten-free, peanut-free and tree nut-free, and has no type of corn syrup, just fabulous award
winning taste! YummyEarth organic lollipops and drops are kosher parve as well. YummyEarth was
even recognized by Harvard Medical School for our organic mission.”
Fruit & Veggies. At every party, I serve a veggie plate. Not only a veggie plate, but one that is ordered from and made-by a conventional grocery store. They give me hummuus instead of the ranch/french dip. A big hit with the tots; cherry tomatoes, steamed peas, celery and carrots. I usually buy extra of this stuff, besides the veggie plate. Especially the peas, they are like little green bombs of sugar. Dairy & nut-free dips like hummus, white bean, salsa or olive tapanade are winners with both adults and tots. Apple, pear, kiwi, banana and orange slices figure highly in my weekly shopping. Kale chips, apple chips and fruit leathers round-out the category.
I do make deserts for Miles and his friends. To make the serving size appropriate, I always make muffins or cupcakes in mini muffin tins. For cookies, I always scoop just under 1 Tb to make sure the actual cookie will be on the small size.
Lastly, above is a picture of random store-bought “snack food” that have been a success both on a weekly basis and during a special occasion event. There are Organ’s dairy, nut, gluten, soy and egg-free animal crackers from Australia. Plain rice cakes that you can add Sunbutter (like peanut butter but made with sunflower seeds) or the dips from above are a hit. So are Enjoy Life’s snack bars in very berry and caramel apple (free of all 8 of the major allergens and gluten-free. We also buy their chocolate chips for baking). They are not in the picture but many “veggie” chips and corn chips are mostly allergy -free, check the label and call the manufacture. Finally, seaweed sheets from SeaSnax lightly toasted and cut into chip-sized bites are salty and umami and yummy. We also love Maine Coast Sea Vegetables’s line of products, including their sesame seaweed crunch bar. Miles shoves them in his mouth daily. I totally mean shove… (Please note; manufactures change their ingredients all the time, PLEASE consult the package’s ingredients lists AND call the manufacture to find out processing information.)
I would love your input. If you have additional tips, tricks and specialty items- please share! I can’t stress that enough, please share. We can grow the “safe” and “sort-a healthy” list together!