Wednesday, October 22, 2008

getting ready for a dye free Halloween

I'm gearing up for the parties and trying to figure out how to let the kids have fun, without going "off the wagon". I'm sending alternate treats to school for the kids so they don't feel so left out from whatever orange colored pumpkin treat comes in. I have natural food coloring from the health food store that I need to experiment with. I'm hoping to make my own pumpkin shaped sugar cookies and dye my own orange frosting. Then I'll use mini chocolate chips to make the face. My gluten free/dairy free boy will get his GF cookies with the same frosting and organic chips.

Last year I let the kids go trick-or-treating as usual. Then I took all the candy and sorted out the stuff with dye (about 2/3 of it) and sent it to work with my husband. We kept what was left (lots of chocolate and clear stuff) and I still threw some away in December that they never got around to eating.

Lessons learned last year: Butterfinger has yellow dye. Most chocolate products don't have dye. Chocolate Tootsie Roll pops don't have dye, but the rest of the flavors do. Regular tootsie rolls are also dye free. Coconut and Cream Soda Dum Dums don't contain dyes but could have trace amounts from all the other flavors that do. Biggest lesson learned last year: don't save the red licorice and eat it all yourself while the kids are sleeping. I was sooooo grumpy the next morning that Ben actually said, "Mom, are you reacting to red dye?" and I had to admit that I was. What a proud parenting moment that was!

I'll probably get some chocolate candy, hopefully without artificial "vanillin" to swap for some of the colored stuff they get from trick or treat night. I'm also stocked up on Yummy Earth lollipops and Sweet Surf candy to use as trades for stuff they get from school, bus drivers, etc. The deal I have with my kids is that whenever they hang on to a piece of candy (such as given by bus driver) and turn it in to me, I give them 2 of my organic candies as a trade. I throw away the dyed candy. That gives them an incentive to delay the gratification a little more because they get extra. Sure, I spend a little more that way, but when the pay off is 3 kids with self control and stable moods it seems more than worth the extra 5 dollars spent on organics. I also keep candy in my purse so they don't feel like they miss out all the time.

We also have coupons for free Frostys from Wendy's to give out. I checked, the vanilla and chocolate are dye free. My friend had her kids bring back their dyed stuff to the house and she gave it back out to other kids. Feel free to comment if you have other ideas. My friends and I seem to do better when we put our heads together and swap ideas.

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