Halloween is Not Scary

Let’s face it, Halloween is fun.  You get to dress-up and be your hero, you get to stay up late and explore the dark with a flashlight, and you get to eat naughty foods.  In our house, we embrace the spirit of the holiday and seek out as many opportunities to exploit the annual costumed activities as much as we’re able.  Halloween is nearly a whole month worth of festivities for all of us to enjoy as a family.

As parents living a Paleo lifestyle, you don’t need to fear the dreaded candy-a-thon.  There are plenty of fall festivity related activities for your family or children that encourage participation.  The key is to figure out what they are and make your own traditions.  Here are some ideas to get you started:

1. Visit local you-pick farms (visit pickyourown.org to find one near you) and let the children pick as many apples and pumpkins as they can carry.  The produce couldn’t be fresher and many you-pick farms are pesticide free.  Apples and pumpkins are plentiful in the fall and most kids love the sweet taste of both. If you’re wondering what you’re going to do with all that pumpkin, don’t get caught thinking pumpkins are only good for making jack-o-lanterns!

See the bottom of this post for other ideas of what to do with this wonderful winter squash.  We had a wonderful time this weekend hanging out with Gigi (Stacy’s mom), carving pumpkins, drinking cider and making roasted pumpkin and pumpkin seeds – yum and fun!

2. Find community festivals and parades. Our neighborhood has a Halloween parade and festival that our kids adore.  Sure, there’s a cake walk that the kids might ask to participate in, but we simply say “those cupcakes have wheat and dairy in them, how about you guys get a special treat at home instead?” Then we’re able to skip it and focus on all the other fun stuff, like slippery slides, moon bounces and rock walls.  Use our Healthy Halloween Round-Up for ideas on alternative treats to offer your cuties!

3. Attend big sponsored events. We’re lucky enough to live in the Metro DC area, where the National Space Museum puts on an “Air & Scare” event.  The local Star Wars, robot builders, Ghostbusters and other interesting guilds show up to be oogled.  Our museum does give away candy, but we’re able to redirect the kids to face painting, crafts and balloon racing easily.  See if you have a planetarium, museum or nearby mall that sponsors a fun, family event.

4. If all else fails, let your kids Trick-or-Treat. What did she say? Oh no! Listen, the world’s not going to end. This year Cole’s excited to dress up and hand out small containers of play-doh we purchased instead of candy; you could also choose boxes of raisins, tattoos, stickers or dollar store goodies for your give-away basket. If your kids want to participate, handing out goodies is a great way to be involved.  And if after you offer that idea they still want to go runing the gamut with a pillow case, let them.

It’s a terrible tradition, but one that will make them feel included and “normal.” We (gasp) let our boys go door-to-door as far as they’re able to walk.  It’s fun for them, and they love visiting people’s houses, seeing decorations and costumes then staying up past their normal bed time sorting their booty.

Our rule is to pick out 2 or 3 gluten-free treats (depending on size), then they happily “donate” the rest to my office kitchen.  I’ve heard of The Switch Witch and paying them for each piece, but our approach is always straight forward with the kids so that’s not something we do.  We just explain that it’s not healthy and they’re happy to get the 2 pieces we offer. Make note of the candy as a super special treat; make it clear it’s not something to normally eat, why it’s not good for them and then expect them to be a little wound-up after. Life goes on!

5. Make your own fall treats. After you roast your pumpkin and carve out the flesh, you can make some awesome recipes using pureed pumpkin and the seeds! Here are our favorite pumpkin recipes:

For all those pumpkin recipes you’re going to have to cook up a few pumpkins. Don’t let all those seeds go to waste, we LOVE to roast the seeds and keep them in an airtight container in our pantry for as long as they’ll last.  A great snack on movie night or even for the glove box.  We’ve tried a bunch of ways, and this is by far the best.  The blanching gets all those lingering pumpkin strings off the seeds and helps them crisp up nicely!

Perfect Pumpkin Seeds

  1. Rinse 2 cups pumpkin seeds
  2. Blanch in 6-8 cups boiling water for 5 minutes
  3. Pat seeds dry, set-aside
  4. Grease a baking sheet with 1-2 tablespoons coconut oil
  5. Lay pumpkin seeds out on greased cookie sheet, slightly tossing to moisten seeds with with oil
  6. Sprinkle with 1/2 tablespoon salt (or the seasoning of your choice)
  7. Roast at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes, flip seeds by shaking and then return to the oven to cook another 5-10 minutes.

We also like to make apple cider by simply adding mulling spices to apple juice and letting it simmer in a crock-pot or on the stove top. A super quick yet exciting treat for the kids – even Finian can make it himself by pouring apple juice (get the cloudy kind!), water (we like a 1:1 ratio) and mulling spices in a crock-pot. Push a button before you carve your pumpkins and you’ve got cider when you’re done!

There are just so many ways to enjoy the flavors of fall that candy need not apply. Keep it out of your own house and you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.

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