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Will Halloween during COVID-19 be a Trick or Treat?

October 22, 2020

Author: Lynn Roblin, MSc., RD, Senior Policy Consultant at Nutrition Connections and Marissa Lustri, MPH , RD, Program Assistant at Nutrition Connections

Earlier this week we heard Ontario health officials recommend that Ontarians living in hot spot regions, Toronto, Ottawa, Peel and York, refrain from the traditional Halloween door-to-door trick or treating. Well, even though Halloween may not be carrying on as usual in your neighbourhood, we are here to provide you with some recommendations on safe and fun activities you can take part in with your household. Who knows maybe one of these activities will become a new family tradition! 

Though modifying Halloween may seem like a completely new concept, it is not the first time these discussions have occurred. Back in 1984 the former North York city council was contemplating cancelling door to door trick or treating due of concerns about children’s safety due to tampered treats. To address the concern, a group of public health nutritionists in North York took on the challenge of coming up with some alternatives and put out a newsletter called “Ghost-Boosters”. “Ghost-Booster” was a great resource for parents as it was filled of great ideas on how to create a memorable experience for their kids, and our team felt there was no better time than this Halloween to pull it back out! While a travelling house party, recommended in the newsletter, isn’t possible during COVID-19, you can enjoy own Ghost-Booster house party with the members of your family.

Here are some fun food and activity suggestions to make your Halloween a memorable night:

  1. Host a “Ghost-Boosters” Halloween party with members of your household. Encourage everyone to put on a costume and join in on the fun! 
  1. Plan your meal to involve kids in the making of food for your celebration.  Here’s a sample menu plan:  Ghostly Vegetables & Dip, Pizza Faces or Pizza Pockets, and Baked Apples. Or pick choose a couple fun recipes from “Ghost-Boosters”. All recipes can be found below. 
  1. Decorate a room in the house to celebrate Halloween – the kitchen or family room, or set up a haunted basement with different stations. You can blind-fold participants and then ask them to touch and guess different items:  brains (cold spaghetti or pumpkin guts), eyeballs (skinned grapes), etc.  
  1. Watch a scary movie – e.g. Ghostbusters – the original film from 1984, which inspired “Ghost Boosters”. 

For those of you reading this not in a hot spot region and for those that are, nothing is more symbolic of Halloween than sticky-sweet treats. Though many see Halloween as a night to indulge in their favourite snacks, less we not forget about a few key rules identified by the North York team. 

Nutrition Connections wishes you all a Spooktacular Halloween, however you celebrate!  

Sample Menu Recipes from Suppertime Survival by Lynn Roblin and Bev Callaghan 

Ghostly Veggies & Dip  

½ cup (125 ml)        plain yogurt  

½ cup (125 ml)        cottage cheese 

1 tbsp  (15 ml)          mustard 

½ tsp (2 ml)              tarragon, paprika or oregano 

Serve with bite-sized morsels of cauliflower, turnip, broccoli, sweet peppers, carrots, celery, cucumbers. 

Perfect Pizza Dough* 

Make up a batch or two of Perfect Pizza Dough ahead of time and keep it handy in the fridge or freezer.  One batch will make two 12-inch (30 cm) pizza rounds or 8 mini-pizzas or pizza pockets. If you don’t have whole wheat flour use all-purpose flour.  

2 cups (500 ml) all-purpose flour 

1/2 cup (125 ml)whole wheat flour  

1 tbsp(15 ml) quick-rising instant yeast 

1 tsp (5 ml)granulated sugar 

1/2 tsp (2 ml)salt 

1 cup (250 ml) warm water  

1 tbsp (15 ml) olive oil 

1. In large bowl, combine flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Stir in water and oil until blended. 

2. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; knead for 8 to 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic, adding more flour as required to prevent dough from sticking. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. 

3. Divide dough into 2 balls; flatten into 2 disks. 

Pizza dough can be refrigerated, wrapped in oiled plastic wrap, for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 4 months.  

Mini Pizza or Pizza Pockets* 

Once the dough is made, kids can make their own individual mini pizza or pizza pocket with a little help.  

1 tbsp (15 ml)cornmeal 

2 cups (500 ml)part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded  

1 cup (250 ml)pizza sauce 

1 cup (250 ml)vegetables – mushrooms, onions, peppers, olives, tomatoes  

1 cup (250 ml) sliced pepperoni, ham, bacon (for meat lovers) 

1. Preheat oven to 450°F (230°C). Lightly grease cookie sheet or spray with nonstick cooking spray; dust with cornmeal. 

2. Divide Perfect Pizza Dough into 8 equal balls; flatten each into 6- to 8-inch (15 to 20 cm) round disk. Top each with sauce mixture. 

3.  Spread sauce on each pizza round.  Top with ingredients as desired or make pizza faces with ingredients (olive eyes, red pepper, mouth, mushroom nose, etc.).  

4.  To make pizza pockets, fold in half over filling and seal edges by pressing together well with back of fork. Place on prepared cookie sheet. 

5. Bake in bottom half of oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. 

Baked Apples  

Makes 6 servings  

6medium McIntosh apples (unpeeled) 

1/3  cup (75 ml) packed brown sugar 

1/2 tsp(2 ml) cinnamon 

1 tbsp (15 ml)soft margarine 

1. Lightly grease 10-inch (25 cm) glass pie plate or spray with nonstick cooking spray. 

2. Core apples; score around middle with sharp knife. Place in pie plate. 

3. In small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon; spoon into centre of each apple. Top each apple with 1/2 tsp (2 mL) margarine. Add 1/4 cup (50 mL) of water to pie plate. 

4. Bake, uncovered, at 350°F (180°C) for 45 to 55 minutes or until apples are tender. 

Ghost-Booster” Blast from the Past Recipes: 


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