Some people have labeled me a Halloween scrooge. I promise, I’m not. 

I do, however, take a strong stance when it comes to sugary Halloween treats: We don’t have to give kids candy to be festive. And if we want to make healthier choices, we shouldn’t feel guilty about it. 

 Trust me, plenty of folks up and down the block will be doling out the candy corn, Lemonheads and Snickers. Kids won’t be deprived because you and I opt to hand out other fun treats. 

Same goes for the Halloween-themed desserts we make for friends and family. 

Is an occasional piece of candy so bad, you might ask? Maybe not, but consider this: Studies have linked a high-sugar diet to obesity, insulin resistance, elevated cholesterol and triglycerides, high blood pressure (even in teens) and risk factors for heart attack and stroke.

Halloween will be sugar-filled, so rather than add to the pile, be creative.

Here’s a rundown of Halloween toys and takeaways that won’t leave trick-or-treaters in sugar overload, plus three recipes for festive fall and Halloween-esque food and drink that are fun, delicious, insanely easy to make and nutritious. 

No matter how you celebrate Halloween, these treats are a hit. Added bonus: Unlike candy, these small gifts provide more than a fleeting moment of fun for kids of all ages. I found a great selection at Target, but Walmart and local shops have a good selection as well. 

· Halloween tattoos and stickers

· Glow-in-the-dark vampire teeth

· Glow necklaces and bracelets

Pumpkin spice whole-grain pancakes, shaped like pumpkins
Makes 2 servings.

1 tablespoon natural plant-based sweetener 

Add ingredients to bowl and mix until smooth. Preheat large skillet and coat with butter or nonstick spray. Spoon or pour pancake batter into hot pan fitted with a heatproof pumpkin-shaped cookie cutter or mold. 

Cook and flip pancake until golden brown on both sides. Serve with fresh berries, if desired.

Per serving: 130 calories, 3 grams fat, 0 saturated fat, 230 milligrams sodium, 25 grams carbohydrate (18 grams net carbs), 4 grams dietary fiber, 2 grams sugar, 7 grams protein 

This content was originally published here.