Food for Thought: Give trick-or-treaters slime instead of unhealthy treats

By Nancy Schuster, Frontier District Extension Agent

I’m not particularly fond of the good ole days – in many instances they weren’t all that great! Halloween is another good ole day. As kids, we rang the door bells of everyone in our small town, the more candy and sticky and gooey treats the better.
foodforthought

That was over 50 years ago! The world has changed, lifestyles have changed, and eating habits have changed – unfortunately not for the better. Now more than ever, child nutrition becomes important in the home and community. Halloween should not be one more opportunity to throw caution to the wind and promote sugary food products with high calories and no nutritional value. The kids who are not active will not burn those empty calories.

Although childhood obesity rates appear to have stabilized, rates have tripled since 1980. Prevention among children is the key.

“It is easier and more effective to prevent overweight and obesity in children, by helping every child maintain a healthy weight, than it is to reverse trends later. The biggest dividends are gained by starting in early childhood, promoting good nutrition and physical activity so children enter kindergarten at a healthy weight,” reports one of the major lessons from research done by the American Institute of Cancer Research.

More than one in 12 children are obese in early childhood (2- to 5-year-olds); by ages 12 to 19, 20.5 percent of children and adolescents are obese. Today, approximately 17 percent of US children – ages 2 to 19 – are obese. Overweight and obese children are more likely to become adults carrying too much body fat, which will mean they face increased cancer risk decades later. That puts millions of adults at increased risk for the most common cancers, including post-menopausal breast, colorectal and endometrial.  AICR estimates that if everyone living in the US were at a healthy weight, it would prevent an estimated 120,000 cases of cancer a year.

New state obesity maps, released by the Centers for Disease Control earlier this month, show that every state has at least two of 10 adults who are obese. Kansas and 18 other states have an adult obesity prevalence of 30 to 35 percent. Back in 1980, no state had an adult obesity rate higher than 15 percent; and in 1991, no state was over 20 percent.

Another lesson that has emerged, the American Institute of Cancer Research report concludes, is that healthy people need healthy communities. Reducing rates of obesity will require a greater focus on prevention from all of us.

While it is true that a few limited pieces of candy at Halloween will not make a child obese; it is also true that today’s children are not eating a healthy diet. This Halloween, decide that you are going to treat your trick-or-treaters to pencils, gum, small bags of pretzels, stickers, erasers, fun novelty teeth, rings, a bag of unpopped microwave popcorn low in salt and fat,  or any other healthy gifts or treats. Or give them a small bag of homemade slime! Neither of the slime recipes shared is for eating. Recipes follow:

Borax and Glue Slime
The measurements do not need to be exact; the proportions are more important.

  1. Empty the glue bottle into the mixing bowl.
  2. Fill the empty bottle with warm water and shake.
  3. Add water to mixing bowl.
  4. Add a few drops of food coloring.
  5. Measure ½ cup of warm water into a plastic cup and add a teaspoon of Borax powder.
  6. Stir the solution and don’t worry if all of the Borax dissolves.
  7. Start stirring the glue and water mixture in the bowl and slowly add a little of the Borax solution.

It’s time to abandon the spoon and use your hands to mix. Continue to add the Borax solution until the slime reaches the perfect consistency.

Edible Slime
Although the recipe says this is edible, children should really not eat it. Caution: Don’t add anything that isn’t food to this recipe if you plan on putting it in your mouth.

  1. Mix 1 tsp of Metamucil* with 1 cup of water in a microwavable bowl.
  2. Add a drop or two of food coloring or gelatin powder to change the color and flavor.
  3. Heat the bowl in the microwave for 4 to 5 minutes or until the slime starts to bubble over the sides of the bowl.
  4. Let it cool for a few minutes, and then heat again until it bubbles.
  5. You may need to repeat the heating and cooling a few times until the mixture becomes rubbery.
  6. Have an adult remove the bowl from the microwave and pour the very hot mixture onto a plate with a spoon.

Cool completely. The slime can be cut or torn into shapes. You can also use cookie cutters.

*No endorsement of name brands is intended.


schustersmNancy Schuster is a Frontier Extension District family and consumer science agent whose responsibilities include providing information about food safety, nutrition, food science and food preparation. She is based in the Garnett office of the Frontier Extension District and can be reached at 785-448-6826 or email [email protected].


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