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Published on October 18, 2016

Trick-or-Treats and Teal Pumpkins

What kid doesn’t love that one chance each year to dress up as a favorite superhero, princess or mythological creature and collect candy from the neighbors? It’s Halloween! And the last thing children and parents alike want is to dig through the loot and have to toss most of it out due to a food allergy.

This Halloween, for the benefit of all the little spooks who might be allergic to things like gluten or nuts, make your house allergy friendly — the mission of The Teal Pumpkin Project.

Placing a teal-painted pumpkin in front of your house informs parents and trick-or-treaters that allergy-friendly treats are just a doorbell away.

If you want to join The Teal Pumpkin Project, it starts in the Halloween candy aisle at your local grocery store. Carefully read the ingredient list on the back of the package. “In general, you may want to stay away from chocolate-based treats that contain nuts, milk and eggs,” advised Amanda Curley, Avera dietitian.

However, sometimes it’s difficult to forego those all-time favorites of Snickers, Milky Way, M&M’s and the like. In that case, consider Curley’s personal strategy: two Halloween bowls.

“One bowl holds candy and the other holds non-food knickknacks you find at a dollar store,” explained Curley. “It’s filled with stickers, bouncy balls, vampire fangs, bubbles and glow sticks.”

Healthy food alternatives are boxed raisins or fruit snacks. Skittles, gummy candy and Starbursts are typically safe for most children with allergies — unless they are allergic to certain dyes.

“In fact, you may even consider avoiding candy that says it was prepared or packaged in a factory that makes other food which contains nuts, milk, eggs, etc.” said Curley. “The more thoughtful and proactive you are, the more confident you’ll be in handing out treats that will be safe for most anyone.”

The Teal Pumpkin Project was created by the Food Allergy Research & Education organization in 2014 to “raise awareness of food allergies and promoting inclusion of all trick-or-treaters throughout the Halloween season.” Its website boasts a number of non-food items to include in your Halloween bowl, including pencils, noisemakers, spider rings, mini notepads, bookmarks and more.

There’s more information about this effort online.

Live Better. Live Balanced. Avera.

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