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Learn how quick, easy, and budget friendly it can be to create your very own DIY Healthy Halloween Popcorn Bar to ensure your holiday is just as fun as it is delicious.
As Seen on Good Day Rochester
DIY Healthy Halloween Popcorn Bar
My son who is now four, loves candy. If I let him, he would eat as much as he could until he got sick. Literally, it’s happened before.
As a dietitian, and most importantly as a mom, I want my him to be able to enjoy the holiday and not be worried about ANYTHING. I try really hard to make candy a food that is just like any other, but I also get concerned with the amount of sugar he will no doubly eat in the coming days.
Sure, a little sugar overload won’t kill him for just one day, but do you let them keep all of their candy after Halloween? Do you ration it out or make them give some up?
After 4 Easter Holidays with Ransom, I think I’ve finally got it figured out. Check out my 5 Things to Do with Leftover Candy.
Alternative Halloween Candy Options
Growing up as a child, my little sister had Type 1 Diabetes which means that holidays like this were really difficult for my mom.
How do you allow your child to enjoy the normal everyday joys and activities that shape their childhood while also worrying about their health?
That thought was my inspiration behind this Healthy Halloween Popcorn Bar, and it really ties into my overall food philosophy.
Candy and special treats should be just as easily accessible and enjoyable as other food we would traditionally consider to be ‘healthy’.
That is why on my Halloween Popcorn bar you WILL find candy.
The point of this is not to take all candy away from children and pretend it is just as fun, the whole point is to offer just as many delicious, nutrient dense options so the child can pick what they want for themselves.
And you know what?
When you make all foods accessible, in my own experience with Ransom, all foods then become special. He was just as excited to get the dried cranberries into his bucket as he was to get the candy corn into his bucket, and for me, that’s a win-win.
Healthy Popcorn Bar Toppings & Decorations
It is my hope that my Healthy Halloween Popcorn bar serves as inspiration for your own, but that doesn’t mean that you have to follow the exact ingredients that I use.
Don’t like candy corn? No problem, choose a candy that you and your child love! Allergic to nuts? No problem, just skip them and choose something else.
The point of this is to use foods that you and your child already know, like, and love and perhaps already have in your pantry.
As for the decorations, I got all of the decorations seen here from the Dollar Tree and spent a whopping $17 on set up. Little kids don’t know or care about how much money you spend, they care about the time you spend with them.
Dried cranberries, make an excellent addition to this popcorn trail mix, but truly any dried fruit will do.
Sweet and slightly chewy, these little bundles of dried fruit give the same texture of traditional chewy candies with no added sugar. The benefit is that a single serving of dried cranberries can provide is equivalent to a 1/2 cup serving of fresh fruit. They also contain no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives but do provide 3 grams of dietary fiber per serving.
Alternate dried fruit options include: dried blueberries, cherries, cranberries, figs, apricots, dates, pineapple, or apricots.
Almonds or Mixed Nuts
Almonds or other nuts add a satisfying crunch and density to this popcorn trail mix.
Whether you enjoy them raw, roasted, salted or flavored, they contain a lot of health benefits in a small amount. Almonds are high in monounsaturated fatty acids, known as MUFAs, which is the good kind of fat that can help protect your heart health.
Almonds are also high in fiber which helps to keep you fuller, longer. For this Halloween Popcorn Bar, I used slivered almonds because they are easier for little teeth to chew.
Fun Fact – did you know that an almond is really the seed from the fruit of an almond tree?
Dried Banana Chips
Dried banana chips are a fun addition to any popcorn bar. Their distinctive sweetness and hard, crunchy texture blend perfectly into this trail mix addition.
While a fresh banana provides more nutrients, these are an all natural way to add a touch of sweetness, while also providing dietary fiber and potassium. I prefer to purchase banana chips that are made with just coconut oil.
Roasted peanuts are usually on the top of everyone’s favorite snack list. Just remember, dry roasted is best to avoid too much salt, and in this version, I used dry roasted honey roasted for a sweet flavor.
Peanuts are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids and many studies have shown that they contain many heart-healthy benefits. Peanuts are rich in protein and antioxidants, and they also contain important elements such as copper, manganese, and B vitamins.
As a Peanut Ambassador, I encourage you visit the National Peanut Board to learn more about the powerful peanut.
Granola is a great addition, but sometimes store-bought versions contain a lot of sugar. Try one of these dietitian-approved recipes for a healthier homemade version instead.
- Pumpkin Spice Granola from Kroll’s Korner
- Homemade Crockpot Granola from Snacking in Sneakers
- Homemade Granola from Hasla Nutrition
- Maple Cinnamon Granola from Bite of Health Nutrition
- Coconut Maple Cinnamon Granola from Bucket List Tummy
- 6 Ingredient Quinoa Granola from Lively Table
Or, if you’re looking for an excellent store bought option, I recommend The Perfect Granola.
Pumpkin seeds are rich in vitamin E a powerful antioxidant that is beneficial to the body. Even better is the fact that they provide vitamin E in a variety of different forms, which are most beneficial to our health.
Additionally, they are an excellent source of the minerals manganese, phosphorous, magnesium and copper. Pumpkin seeds are also high in iron, which is a mineral that is lacking in the diets of many women. Iron deficiency anemia is the #1 nutrient deficiency among women in developed countries.
If you’re pumpkin carving with the kids this holiday season, saving your pumpkin seeds and baking them is a great way to reduce food waste and do something fun together.
Chopped dates are a fun addition to any popcorn bar because of their super sweet taste.
Although dates are packed full of naturally occurring sugars, they also provide essential minerals such as calcium, iron, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, magnesium and zinc. They also contain vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, vitamin A and vitamin K.
Unsweetened Coconut Flakes
Unsweetened coconut flakes are one of my personal favorite additions because I love the taste and flavor of coconut anything.
While coconut flakes are calorically dense, you only need a small sprinkle to get the great taste of this tropical fruit/nut.
Dark Chocolate Chips
Someone once said that dark chocolate is healthy and the rest of the world will stick with that statement for the rest of time.
While chocolate is still chocolate, the darker the chocolate you choose, the more nutritional benefits you will see.
Here I used 70% dark cacao chips which means that there are more antioxidants and healthful compounds like flavonols to help lower blood pressure and improve blood flow.
Your Candy of Choice
My personal favorite is candy corn, which is 100% not healthy, but it’s Halloween after all 😉 You choose your favorite!
- 8 cups air popped popcorn,, use organic corn
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries,, or dried fruit of choice
- 1/4 cup slivered almonds,, or nut of choice
- 1/4 cup dried banana chips
- 1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts
- 1/4 cup granola of choice
- 1/4 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
- 1/4 cup chopped dates
- 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup candy corn
- Pop the popcorn according to package directions.
- Set each individual ingredient out in it's own container.
- Get one big bucket for each child to make their own popcorn mix. Allow them to choose freely which delicious additions they would like to include.
- Have fun and be present in the moment!
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 270 Total Fat: 13g Saturated Fat: 4g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 7g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 54mg Carbohydrates: 37g Fiber: 5g Sugar: 20g Protein: 6g
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