Tricks & Treats


As a nutritionist, Halloween is a challenging holiday for me. Did you know that almost $2 billion worth of candy is sold each Halloween? That’s roughly 1,280 billion calories! I used to be a candy junky and I can’t even wrap my head around those numbers.

 When approaching Halloween, remember, “Halloween is a holiday, not a season.” Establish limits and try to keep candy, pastries and chocolate consumption to a minimum. This can get especially tricky (pun intended) when dealing with children.

A Few Tricks to Enjoy The Treats:

  • Try new recipes! “Black Bean Brownies” may not sound appealing, but they are delicious! I recommend keeping the main ingredient a secret until they have been wolfed (I’m on a Halloween roll) down. I promise no one will ever know. They are that good! Each brownie has 85 calories, 2 grams of protein and 1.5 grams of fiber. They are also, ahem, gluten free. Recipe (see below) is revised from Chocolate Covered Katie.
  • Out of sight, out of mouth. Don’t leave candy, chocolate or pastries in plain sight. I recommend putting them in a cupboard or drawer. Save your cravings for the big night! 
  • How much is enough? Establish how many pieces you (and, if applicable, your children) are allowed per day and be specific. After all, 4 bite-sized candies can add up to ~320 calories! 
  • Eat mindfully. Place candy / chocolate wrappers in view so you can keep track. If you get rid of the evidence, you are more likely to overindulge.
  • Remember there are consequences. Sugary candy leads to tooth decay, which leads to expensive dentist visits. Additionally, think about the amount of exercise you will have to do to burn off all that candy. One little fun size Snickers bar takes 7-minutes of swimming to burn off. One peanut butter cup is equivalent to 16-minutes of cycling. One mini kit-kat bar is only burned off after a 12-minute walk. Ten tiny candy corns will cost you 9-minutes of jogging!   
  • Donate extra candy, bring it to the office or host a post-Halloween party. I am not a fan of wasting food. Better to share than throw away!

Special Tricks for Treating Children and Yourself!

  • When trick-or-treating, provide a smaller bag to limit the amount of candy.
  • Do not go out on an empty stomach. Everyone makes better choices when they’ve had a balanced meal. The more satisfied you are, the more likely you are to follow your allotted daily portions.
  • Provide healthier treats. I won’t tell you to cut out sweets entirely because that could lead to some really upset (but hilarious) children and even adults (see video). I suggest replacing standard sweets with roasted pumpkin seeds, sugar free gum, animal-shaped crackers, granola bars and dark chocolate. Fruit bars, raisin boxes, pretzels, homemade trail-mix, and even fruit are some more great choices. (I know, I know, I just recommended fruit to replace candy). 
  • No need to hand out toothbrushes or floss strips if you want to be extra health-conscious. Consider giving out fun items like eye-ball bouncy balls, temporary tattoos, plastic spider rings, bubbles, glow sticks and fake teeth / fangs!
  • Treat yourself by shaping up. Put on some Halloween tunes and try out some fun activities like pumpkin carving, limbo, charades or dancing! Here are a few songs to get you motivated: Black Cat by Janet Jackson, Thriller by Michael Jackson, Spookshow Baby by Rob Zombie, Scary Monsters by David Bowie and Ghostbusters by Raw Parker Jr.

Most importantly, have a fun Halloween! Enjoy yourself but be careful with overindulging. No one outgrows the inevitable sugar crash and tummy ache!

Black Bean Brownie Recipe

Servings: 15 portion-controlled brownies

  • 15 oz can of low sodium, black beans. Drain and rinse thoroughly.
  • 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (heat up in the microwave for 20-30 seconds, just before using)
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup or agave
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • 2 tbsp of coconut or vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine all “wet” ingredients first: sweetener, beans and vanilla. Then slowly add all other ingredients into mix. Blend until completely smooth. Pour into a greased 8×8 pan. Optional: sprinkle extra coconut or chocolate chips over the top. Cook for 25-30 minutes. Let cool at least 10 minutes before cutting.

What is your favorite Halloween treat?

Written and photographed by Alanna Cabrero, MS, RD 

Originally posted on NYHRC Tumblr 


Tricks for enjoying Halloween treats in a healthy way.  

Choose this, not that, for Halloween treats. 9 News.

Tricks and Treats: Halloween the Healthy Way Presentation. Sports, Cardiovascular, and Wellness Nutritionists. Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics.

Edited by TCabrarr