Parental Vs Halloween Lessons

By Lisa Van Meeteren

Halloween and I have a somewhat rocky relationship. While there are things I like about it (Halloween candy, bit of a love/hate there really, coming up with Halloween costume ideas for my kids, and putting up Halloween decorations) there are parts of it that I find downright confusing.  You see I’m confused because while Halloween is a holiday for children, some of the messages it sends to kids (especially toddlers) are crazy messed up in my opinion and pretty much negate all the parental lessons I’ve tried to instill. Read on to see if you agree….

Photo via: SheKnows


Parental Lesson #1: Candy is bad for you so you shouldn’t eat too much at one time.

Halloween Lesson: Fill up a bag with enough junk food to feed a third world country and then spend the rest of the year begging your parents to eat it.

When my kids were toddlers they thought raisins were candy. That is one “trick” that was blasted by Halloween.  For the entire month following Halloween they are so hyped up on chocolate that I could probably plug them in and run all of our electronics.


Parental Lesson #2: Don’t take candy from strangers.

Halloween Lesson: Go out in the dark and knock on as many strangers’ doors as you can.

Do I have to say anything else here? Whatever happened to stranger danger? I tell my kids to stay off of other people’s properties and not to approach strangers. I also teach them that if something looks or feels suspicious it probably is…and on Halloween I’m saying, “Run up to that house with the statue with a knife sticking out of its head and ring that bell, honey!”


Parental Lesson #3: Do not watch scary TV shows because it will give you nightmares.

Halloween Lesson: Let’s see as many freaky things as we possibly can and reassure you that it’s okay.

I work hard year round to make sure that the shows my kids watch on television are appropriate and was especially vigilant about this when they were little. I made sure they were exposed to shows and images full of rainbows, love and sunshine so they wouldn’t have nightmares. Then on Halloween night I walk my children past Halloween decorations that consist of severed heads, and skeletons with their eyes popping out, soothing them by saying things like, “Oh, look at the funny guy!” When what I really should be saying is, “Children, if you see a guy with a knife sticking out of his head in real life, you run like Forest Gump on Jolt Cola and don’t look back.”


Parental Lesson #4 It’s not nice to play tricks on people.

Halloween Lesson: Yell trick or treat and watch adults play tricks on innocent toddlers!

Kids love to play tricks on people and as a parent is it my job to tell them not to, that it’s simply not nice. So enter Halloween, where adults are constantly playing tricks on kids. There is always one guy on the street who didn’t get to live out his childhood fantasies or who shares a sense of humour with your five year old and can’t wait for Halloween to express himself. Usually this person gets dressed up like a stuffed scary dude staying creepily still until your child nears the door and then jumps out at them. This “trick” nearly put me in therapy when I was six.


So that’s it. The ways Halloween contradicts everything I’ve taught my kids so far. But here is another contradiction…I still like it. I still think is a time to get together with the neighbours, let your kids have fun and overindulge, and I guess since it’s a holiday then that part makes perfect sense.


What do you think? Do you agree? Do you think Halloween is confusing for toddlers? Do you have any experiences, kid Halloween movies, or healthy Halloween treats to share?


About the Author

Lisa Van Meeteren is the mother of two children, ages 5 and 9. She works as a copywriter and has just completed a novel!


Halloween a Love/Hate Relationship?

By Lisa Van Meeteren

If Halloween and I were in a relationship we’d probably need counselling. That’s because while I can get into the Halloween spirit like anyone else, helping my kids come up with Halloween costume ideas and putting up Halloween decorations there are still parts of it that I don’t like and things about it that confuse me…I told you it’s complicated. Read on to find out what I love, what I like, things I’m not crazy about and things that confuse me, to see if you can relate.

These are a few of my favourite things…

What I love:

Halloween memories:

Halloween was the first time my husband told me he loved me when we were dating. And FYI he was dressed like a priest and I was wearing a Catholic school girl uniform. I know. That’s why it took me a week to say it back. I wanted to make sure he loved me. Not the fantasy…

Being a kid and dragging a pillowcase behind me full of candy and just as I felt like my legs couldn’t go one step further, my Dad would lift me up and carry me on his shoulders, pillowcase and all.

Sharing that same candy with my best friend who wasn’t allowed to go out for Halloween.

Making new memories:

Watching my kids get dressed in their costumes, decorate and get excited.

What I like:

Cobwebs in your house become homemade Halloween decorations (I think I heard this on T.V, and realized that yes there are a lot of decorations in my house.)

A bad hair day becomes a good hair day-if I wake up looking like road kill I can just call it a costume!

Pumpkin seeds- I love these suckers roasted with some sea salt! It almost makes pulling out the goopy strain pulp worth it.

Watching other people carve pumpkins- or better yet watching as my husband tries to use one of those pumpkin carving stencils and not lose his patience. I know it’s a bit sadistic but hey it’s Halloween!

Halloween Horrors! What I don’t like:

Dressing up. I know. Boo me. It always makes me feel silly. The odd thing is I like acting and don’t mind donning a costume on stage but in real life no thanks. Even as a kid my costumes were lame. Cow girl anyone (yes it’s jeans a scarf and a hat-about how far I was willing go in order to get candy.) I am an expert at easy Halloween costumes. One year when my daughter was a toddler and didn’t want to put on her costume, I pulled a robe on over her jammies, and tossed a roller in her hair and let her just got to one house.

Me! Or at least the person that takes over my body as I try to get the kids ready on Halloween night. That person runs around like a headless chicken searching through the freezer for hot dogs or pizza or some other nutritionally defunct fare that can be ready in ten minutes and gobbled down in five while simultaneously searching for missing parts of costumes. That person looks like someone from the night of the living dead with wild eyes, that bug out, yelling, “Hurry Up!” every five minutes in a voice so high that it alerts the dogs in the neighbourhood and generally acts like her kids are going to be late for their stage debut on Broadway.

Rude kids or kids that look like they could shop at the LCBO and not get carded. How come there are still teenagers who look like they are old enough to sport mustaches ringing my bell and asking me for candy at 9:30?  Half of them have jobs and probably make more than I do. Go home. Go to a party. Leave me alone.

Candy fights. No I don’t mean we throw chocolate bars at each other. (Hmmm date night?) I mean getting asked every day by my kids if they can have a candy in their lunch like other kids, me saying no, them whining…you get the picture.

Sneaking candy. Not the kids. ME!! I tell myself every year…thou shalt not eat a bowl of mini-chocolate bars just like thou wouldn’t eat more than one regular chocolate bar at a time. Those little suckers are dangerous. Logically I know that just because they are the mini version doesn’t mean I should sit down to a whole bowl of them- I mean pizza pockets are the small version of pizza but I wouldn’t scarf down an entire box at one sitting.

So that’s it my dysfunctional love/hate relationship with Halloween. The good, the bad, and the mini chocolate bar bad…

Happy Halloween! Are there also some things that make you anti-Halloween? What are some things you love, like, or dislike? Do you have any special Halloween memories you’d like to share?


About the Author

Lisa Van Meeteren is the mother of two children, ages 5 and 9. She works as a copywriter and has just completed a novel!

How to make Fast and Frozen Fantastic!

Frozen food doesn’t have to be scary!

After you’ve juggled all of your to-dos for the day, and put out a few “fires” there are times when suppertime suddenly sneaks up on you, and you realize you haven’t prepared a thing. Usually this means panicking-and tossing whatever you have in the pantry and freezer together, shelving your healthy recipes for the night. But wait! Last minute meals can be healthy, even when they come from the freezer. Yes, that’s right…just make sure that your freezer is stocked with the following ingredients for and you can make healthy recipes for dinner in a flash.  Here are some dinner ideas:

Frozen shrimp or other cooked fish

  • Cooks in minutes, great for stir fries.
  • Cook ½ cup whole-wheat pasta per person. Drain. In a skillet sauté for 4 minutes: ½ cup scallops/shrimp per person, 1 cup frozen peas per person, 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil per person, 1 tbsp Parmesan cheese. Add the cooked pasta and mix.

Frozen Brussels sprouts

  • Steam and toss with dill.

Frozen broccoli

  • Simmer 2 cups of broccoli and one potato in one quart of broth. Purée to soup consistency. Stir in 1 tbsp Parmesan cheese.

Frozen soybeans/lima beans

  • Steam for 2 minutes. Add seasoned rice vinegar.
  • Makes a high-protein snack.

Frozen apple or pineapple juice concentrate

  • Use to replace some sugar in baked goods with real fruit sugar (see recipe below for Pantry/Freezer Apple Spice Muffins).

Frozen whole-wheat tortellini

  • Great as a small portion loaded up with veggies (crushed tomatoes, sliced pepper and onions, etc.

Frozen berries

  • Irreplaceable superfoods-smoothies/baking.

Frozen pizza

  • Thin-crust and whole-wheat: add seeds, veggies, etc

Here is one of my quick and easy chicken recipes that will make a healthy dinner in a snap!

 Skillet Chicken

This meal comes together in a flash with barely the basics from the fridge. It is a fool proof, adaptive formula that can be cooked on the stovetop, stuffed into the oven or the whole skillet can go on the BBQ depending upon your gear and energy level. Just about any frozen veg does the trick, mix ‘em up if you have to. Any mustard flavour, and any jam or jelly works, water or broth can sub for wine…you really can’t mess this one up.  It is your go to “cook’s night off” solution.


Serving Size: 4     Preparation Time: 20 minutes

  • 4   boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil
  • 2 red pepper — sliced
  • 4 cups frozen broccoli
  • 1 tablespoon grainy mustard
  • 2 tablespoons red pepper jelly
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 teaspoon butter


Rub chicken breast with Italian seasoning, salt and pepper as you warm a cast iron skillet.

Add oil and brown chicken breasts on both sides for 2 minutes.

Add red peppers and stir for 2-3 minutes.

Stir in broccoli. Mix in mustard and red pepper jelly, cover and allow to cook through for 10-15 minutes. Pour in wine, add butter and simmer for 1 minute to finish.



About the Author

Theresa Albert

Theresa Albert is a Food Communications Specialist and Toronto Personal Nutritionist. She is @theresaalbert on twitter and found daily at

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