Don't be scared of a healthy Halloween

Trick and treat yourself at home during Covid

Don't be scared of a healthy Halloween

Kids won't be going house to house this Halloween

TWO student dieticians based in the Midlands have come up with excellent advice for all the family this Halloween.

UCD dietetic students Jorin Shanahan and Edel Nyland, who are on placement with the Midlands Community Nutrition & Dietetic Service, have come up with recipes, games and health guidance in the time of Covid-19.

For starters, they simply say - don't throw the pumpkin guts away.

"Once the pumpkin is carved, get busy in the kitchen with the kids to create delicious and nutritious snacks for lunch and home. Pumpkin is a great source of many vitamins and minerals. One 80g portion of pumpkin provides one of your ‘5 a day’ and 80% of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin A!" said the students.

"Pumpkin contains antioxidants, those compounds that protect your body’s cells; is 94% water and so is low in calories too!

"So... pump up your family’s snacks with these fun recipes!"

1. Pumpkin Hummus

  • Cut the flesh/inside of 1 small pumpkin (500g) into pieces, sprinkle it with olive oil and roast it with 2 cloves of garlic, in the oven for 45 minutes at 180 degrees (until very tender)
  • Leave to cool
  • Blend the roasted pumpkin mix with the juice of half a lemon, 2 tablespoons tahini (or other nut/seed butter), 1 can of chickpeas (drained and rinsed) until smooth
  • Add pinch salt to taste
  • Pumpkin hummus makes a great lunchbox addition served with apple slices, carrot or celery sticks, or bell pepper pieces

2. Pumpkin Oat Bars

  • Roast 250g of pumpkin pieces at 180 degrees for 30 minutes/until very tender 
  • Blend the pumpkin with 100g dates, 130g natural peanut butter (100% nuts), 2 teaspoons cinnamon and 1 tablespoon ginger
  • Mix 180g oats, 110g walnuts or dark chocolate chips and 67g raisins in a bowl
  • Add the pumpkin puree, mix well, pour into a baking tray and bake at 180 degrees for 20-25 minutes 
  • Leave to cool and cut into small squares or bars for the whole family to enjoy

Jorin and Edel have also suggested some games for the whole family.

First up is 'Bobbing for Apples' - the traditional Halloween game we can all remember playing. Fill a shallow bucket with water, add some apples, and let the fun begin.  Remember, no hands, whoever gets the most apples using only their teeth wins!

Then there is 'Mystery Food' - brains, eyeballs, and guts! This is the classic guessing game that will have everyone laughing! Fill separate bowls with jelly, peeled grapes, cooked spaghetti, or rice pudding, and anything else that feels slimy. Put each bowl into a box with a small hole cut in the top, so nobody can peek inside. Have everyone place their hand inside the box and try to guess what they’re touching.

Thirdly, they recommend keeping active with 'Flashlight Tag'. Flashlight tag is great for all ages. It’s the same game as tag but played at night. Participants carry a flashlight or torch, so they can be seen and can see around them. Make it scarier by reducing the number of flashlights.

Finally, the students have some oral health tips to help mind the teeth while enjoying the Halloween treats - 

  1. Timing! Try limiting Halloween treats to mealtimes and avoid snacking with sweets throughout the day. During mealtimes saliva increases in the mouth, helping to rinse away the sugary food, and so reduce the risk of cavities.
  2. Drink water! Water will help dilute acid in the mouth caused by sugary treats, helping to reduce the risk of tooth decay.
  3. Keep up regular brushing and flossing! Wait around 30 minutes to brush after eating sugary sweets. Some acidic foods can soften the enamel on teeth, which can cause sensitivity.

Jorin Shanahan and Edel Nyland, Dietetic Students, UCD on placement with Midlands Community Nutrition & Dietetic Service , (044) 9395518 or email

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