Four Ways to Have a Spookily Healthy Halloween

October 18, 2016
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Photographs from Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

By  Mary Kathryn Poole, MPH, Program Director, Let’s Move Pittsburgh

Halloween is always a fun holiday for families, from the costumes to the pumpkin carvings. Despite it being known for candy and trick-or-treating, Halloween can be a healthy family adventure. Here are some simple ways to put a healthy spin on Halloween:

5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables

Use your pumpkin carving tradition as an opportunity to talk about the nutritional benefits of pumpkin as a vegetable. Pumpkin is a rich source of fiber, which helps to aid in digestion and hunger regulation. It also contains vitamin B, a nutrient that supports eyesight and skin health. Pumpkin can be prepared in a variety of ways, so be sure to save your pumpkin scraps after carving! Here are some recipes to get you started:

  •    •  Roasted: Like all root vegetables, pumpkin tastes great when roasted in the oven. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Simply slice the pumpkin in half, remove the seeds, and cut the pumpkin into strips leaving the skin intact. Brush the pumpkin with your favorite olive oil, and place on a lined baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 40 minutes or until the pumpkin is tender. Let the pumpkin cool and carefully remove the skin. From here, you can prepare the pumpkin like you would any squash — mash it, mix it, or serve it as is. 
  •    •  Pumpkin Oatmeal: Pumpkin adds a nice boost of fiber and flavor to oatmeal. Prepare oatmeal as you normally would, either on the stove or in the microwave. Then, stir in two tablespoons of pumpkin (canned or pureed), and add a teaspoon of pumpkin spice mix. Top with skim or low-fat milk and some walnuts for a tasty fall treat. 
  •    •  Pumpkin Chili: Stay warm this fall with a hearty pumpkin chili. There are many recipes available online for pumpkin soup and chili, but click here for one of our favorites from Whole Foods Market.

2 hours or less of recreational screen time  

What do mason jars, milk cartons, and plastic lids have in common? They can all be repurposed for spooky Halloween decorations! Dedicate some time to making low-cost, recyclable crafts together as a family, in costume of course. Check out this website for some creative ideas, including making monsters from a mason jar. Simply paste tissue paper on an old jar and draw on a scary face. Place a tea light inside and you will have a spooky lantern for your doorstep!

1 hour or more of physical activity

Plan your trick-or-treating route in advance. Map out several miles that you and your family can walk together to incorporate exercise into your evening. Look for routes with sidewalks and street lights to ensure a safe walk. Aim for 10,000 total steps a day! Make your walk extra fun by using family-friendly, fitness, or adventure apps. We recommend Geocaching or Orienteering, both of which involve exploring the areas around you while being active. 

0 sugary drinks and more water

Even though the weather is cooling down, it’s still important to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Pack a few reusable water bottles to take trick-or-treating so you have them on hand when you are thirsty. Walking is a form of exercise, so even though you may not be sweating, your body needs water.

If you are looking for a healthy Halloween drink, try using fruit and vegetables to make some mysterious concoctions. We love this recipe for “Witches Brew” that mixes pureed kiwi and seltzer water for a green drink. Omit the sugar to make the healthiest version. Serve in a cauldron to make it extra spooky! 

Have a healthy Halloween! 

This article is an effort of Let’s Move Pittsburgh’s 5-2-1-0 initiative to help Pittsburgh’s youth practice 5-2-1-0 — 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables, 2 hours or less of recreational screen time, 1 hour or more of physical activity, and 0 sugary drinks and more water — every day! 

Learn more at Let’s Move Pittsburgh, a collaborative program of Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, provides Southwestern Pennsylvania’s children and their caregivers with the knowledge, tools, and support needed to make nutritious food choices and lead active lifestyles. Learn more at and on Facebook and Twitter

Article from Edible Allegheny at
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