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The Beginning of Candy Season

Halloween is not far away. Have you decided on a costume yet? Well, you could dress up as candy.

I consider Halloween the beginning of candy season for the kids. Everywhere you turn, there is candy. Next comes Christmas, Valentine’s Day and finally, Easter, at which time the candy season winds down. What is a parent to do?

I have learned over the years that it is okay to toss some candy out. Last year was the first year I actually made my kids pick what to toss or donate. Sounds mean right? It actually went well. I had them trade for their favorites from each other first. Then they picked their favorite candy and finally they picked out the candy they disliked or were just willing to part with. I simply explained that candy tastes good, but too much at one time is not good and it will get stale if we keep it too long (this is a subtle attempt at the quality over quantity concept). Then I proceeded to send a piece or two in lunches for a while. In the end, I still had to discretely rid the house of some excess candy, which went unnoticed by all. There are many other ways to address holiday treats, of course, this just worked for me (last year anyway).

In addition to being the beginning of the “candy season,” October is also National Popcorn Month. We love popcorn at our house. Here are a few reasons you should, too.

• Popcorn is healthy! Of course, we can make it unhealthy by what we put on it or eat with it.

• Plain popcorn is a nutritious, low-calorie snack.

• Prepared via the air-pop method, a cup of plain popcorn contains fewer than 30 calories and is a good source of fiber (about 2 grams of fiber per cup).  

• Calories from microwave popcorn vary from 40 calories per cup for light varieties to 70 for regular versions. Sodium levels also range from 50 to 150 mg per cup.

• If you don’t have an air popper and want to avoid packaged microwave popcorn you can make your own microwave version using a brown paper bag method:
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/plain-brown-popper-recipe/index.html.

Halloween Popcorn Balls

I thought these popcorn balls were a nice seasonally appropriate treat. This is not the healthiest version of popcorn, but rather a “treat that includes a healthy ingredient.” It also helps you use up some of that Halloween candy you might have left over.

8-9 cups air popped or light microwave popcorn, about 1 2.6-ounce bag
2/3 cup candy corn pieces
1/4 cup butter
1 10.5-ounce bag marshmallows
Vegetable oil cooking spray
Halloween bags
Wooden Popsicle sticks, optional

Combine popcorn and candy pieces together.  Divide that mixture in half and place into 2 bowls (one bowl needs to be large enough to hold all the popcorn mixture).

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat; stir in marshmallows. Reduce heat to low; cook 7 minutes or until marshmallows melt and mixture is smooth, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool slightly, about 2 minutes. (This keeps the candy pieces from melting and protects small hands from being burned by melted marshmallows—especially if the kids are helping.) Once the mixture has cooled slightly, pour half of it over the popcorn in the largest bowl. Then dump the remaining popcorn and candy on top of the popcorn/marshmallow combination and pour the remaining marshmallow mixture on top. Stir well to coat. Lightly coat hands with cooking spray; shape popcorn mixture into 20 2-inch balls. Insert wooden sticks, if using, and place in bags. Store the treats in an airtight container up to 3 days and enjoy.

Yield: 20 servings; 1 popcorn ball per serving

Nutrient Breakdown:  Calories 100; Fat 3.5g (2g sat. fat); Cholesterol 5mg; Sodium 40mg; Carbohydrate 17g, Fiber 1g, Protein 1g

Exchanges:  1 carbohydrate and ½ fat

Kim Beavers is a registered dietitian and diabetes educator for University Health Care System. She lives in North Augusta with her husband and two children and she is the co-host of the culinary nutrition segment Eating Well With Kim, which airs at noon Monday, Wednesday and Friday on WRDW. To join the recipe club or view recipes, visit www.universityhealth.org/ewwk. You can also watch the segments at www.wrdw.com/ewwk.

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