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Tips for Halloween treats that sidestep calories, food allergies

Saturday - 10/27/2012, 8:11am  ET

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There are fun, festive options beyond candy to give out to trick-or-treaters on Halloween night. (WTOP/Paula Wolfson)
  • Gallery: (4 images)

Paula Wolfson, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - When people think of Halloween, what word comes to mind? For children, it is probably candy.

But there are healthier options out there for trick-or-treaters. One of the best ideas may be to think outside of the box, going for non-food items.

Registered dietitian and sports nutritionist Marie Spano says those who want to give out something other than food or candy can hit a party store, a dollar store or a discount mart and load up on stickers, Halloween-themed erasers and glow sticks.

She even suggests funky rub-on tattoos that kids love, but offers a word of caution.

"Make sure you have a separate basket so you don't pull out that princess tattoo for that 15-year-old teenager," she says.

Of course, the fact of the matter is that no matter what parents hand out, their kids are still going to come home with bags full of the sweet stuff. Spano suggests sorting and storing their trick-or-treat haul immediately. Throw out the things they aren't crazy about and put the rest behind closed cabinet doors.

She says in this day and age when so many children have nut allergies or problems with gluten, non-food treats may actually be the safest way to go.

Spano says there are a few items, like hard candies and individual packages of rice- or corn-based snacks, that will work for all kids. But a glow stick in the hand of a five-year-old may create the biggest smile.

Check out the photo gallery above to see some of Marie Spano's favorite ideas for different, healthy treats.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)