Fun frights: There's more than one way to serve up Halloween

 

 

Halloween doesn't have to mean sugar overload. Here's an alternative: a jack-o'-lantern fruit tray made with cantaloupe, blackberries and kiwi. Pair it with a delicious dip.

Halloween doesn't have to mean sugar overload. Here's an alternative: a jack-o'-lantern fruit tray made with cantaloupe, blackberries and kiwi. Pair it with a delicious dip.
Photo by: [email protected]

 

A festive veggie skeleton goes well with this squash nacho dip. See the dip recipe in today's food pages.

A festive veggie skeleton goes well with this squash nacho dip. See the dip recipe in today's food pages.
Photo by: [email protected]

 

 

Jan Swoope

 

 

As we round the autumnal turn into the holiday season, it's hard to know exactly what Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas are going to look like. Even we eternal optimists know we need to make adjustments this year to protect family and community health.

 

First up: Halloween. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discourages traditional trick-or-treating and crowded indoor activities. But don't think that has to scare the fun out of All Hallows' Eve. In fact, it may even inspire creative twists you may decide to continue in pandemic-free years ahead.

 

 

 

Alternative fright nights

 

How about a family scavenger hunt, suggests Mary Michaela Parker of Mississippi State University's Extension Service. Come up with a list of fall items to look for while walking or driving -- spider webs, pumpkins, ghosts, the colors orange and black. Dress in costumes and take pictures to share.

 

An outdoor pumpkin decorating party with a limited, spaced group of neighbors or friends can be made even more fun with Halloween tunes playing, prizes and prepackaged goodie bags.

 

So much has gone virtual these days, why not a virtual costume contest? Enlist your circle of family and friends to participate. Offer an incentive -- maybe fun T-shirts and age-appropriate gadgets for the younger set; gift cards to locally-owned small businesses for adults.

 

Or, turn Halloween into movie night -- indoors with family, or transform your backyard into a viewing venue for a few socially-distanced neighbors.

 

 

Keep in mind

 

The CDC cautions that costume masks are not a substitute for a cloth mask when it comes to reducing risks of spreading COVID-19. And don't wear a costume mask over a protective cloth mask; it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it harder to breathe. Instead, consider wearing a cloth mask decorated for Halloween.

 

If you're taking part in anything that ups the likelihood of screaming, try to distance more than the standard 6 feet. The greater the distance, the lower the risk of spreading any respiratory virus.

 

If you do decide on limited trick-or-treating in your own neighborhood, establish ground rules like no touching communal surfaces, stay as far away from people outside your household as feasible, keep interactions brief. If you're giving out candy, maybe consider prepackaged goodie bags, to avoid kids rummaging around in candy bowls touching everything.

 

We've all seen on TV or online the PVC pipe candy-delivery systems creative households are coming up with; if you have a suitable porch railing, that could be a fun twist.

 

 

Not so sweet

 

Halloween and sugar overload generally seem to go hand-in-hand. Whether you're celebrating in-house or planning to give treats to your children's circle of friends, consider some better-for-you alternatives, like mini 100-percent juice boxes, low-fat pudding cups, graham crackers, mini bags of pretzels, mini boxes of raisins or chocolate-covered raisins, sugar-free gum or fruit snacks. Non-food options include crayons, glow sticks, comic books, jump ropes, sidewalk chalk, stickers or temporary tattoos.

 

Popcorn is a good low-calorie alternative to sugar-fueled foods. Make some "bony fingers" by pouring popcorn into large-size clear plastic gloves and tying the ends off with orange and black ribbons, suggests hgic.clemson.edu. Or make "witches' brew" by serving orange juice or apple juice topped with a small scoop of orange sherbet, vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt.

 

Cheeseburgers on the menu? Top the patties with cheese slices you've cut a jack-o'-lantern face in. Need an appetizer tray? Create a fruity jack o'lantern out of cantaloupe, kiwi and blackberries, or an edible skeleton out of veggies, recommends dinnertonight.tamu.edu.

 

Don't let being safe equate to boredom this Halloween. There are plenty of smart ways to make it special. After all, we could all use a bit of fun about now, couldn't we?

 

 

BUTTERNUT SQUASH NACHOS

 

Prep time: 35 minutes

 

Servings: 12 people

 

 

4 cups fresh squash or pumpkin cubed

 

2 tablespoons olive oil

 

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

 

1 13-ounce package blue corn tortilla chips baked

 

1 15-ounce can canned, low sodium black beans drained

 

2 cups low fat mozzarella cheese

 

Optional toppings:

 

Fresh cilantro, diced

 

Green onion, diced

 

Guacamole

 

Fresh lime juice

 

 

  • Preheat oven to 400 F.

     

  • Place cubed pumpkin on baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with pepper and coat evenly. Roast for 30 minutes, until pumpkin is tender.

     

  • Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

     

  • Use cooking spray to cover 9-by-13-inch baking pan.

     

  • Layer the chips, pumpkin, beans, salsa, and cheese in the pan. Repeat.

     

  • Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Add toppings of your choice and serve.

     

    (Source: [email protected])

     

     

  • Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.

     

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