Shorter days and snow flurries are beginning throughout Alaska, heralding the end of October and the spooky night of Halloween. While the holiday itself may not be too scary, the effect of the ever-present sugars in candy on kids and adults can loom like a ghost. Some less sugary alternatives to celebrate the season include crafts made from household items and healthier Halloween-themed treats. Pull out the craft supplies to make spider webs or head to the kitchen for an afternoon of playing with homemade play dough, while munching on mummy faces made out of pizza, cheesy witches brooms and zombie hands made from salmon. Up the ante on an All Hallow's Eve party with a platter of smoked salmon arranged to look like a skeleton hand while paper mache pumpkins decorate the house. Have a safe and healthy holiday while enjoying the spookiness of the season with these tasty bites and family-friendly activities:

HEALTHY TREATS

Mummy Face Pizzas
Serves: 4
Time: 5-10 minutes

4 pilot bread rounds (or tortillas or circles of bread)
¾ cup pizza sauce (canned or homemade)
3 string cheese logs (or 2 ounces of cheese cut into thin strips)
8 black olives, sliced vertically

Joshua Genuino and Rejoy Armamento / Alaska Dispatch News Joshua Genuino and Rejoy Armamento / Alaska Dispatch News

DIRECTIONS

Add three tablespoons of pizza sauce to one side of pilot bread or tortilla and spread, leaving ½-inch border.

Pull string cheese apart and layer on top of pizza sauce in overlapping patterns, similar to mummy wrapping, leaving space for eyes.

Place two olive slices in available space, creating the mummy's eyes.

*Mummy pizzas can also be served warm – simply place on baking sheet and    broil in oven until cheese is melted, or microwave at 15-second increments until  cheese is melted.

Zombie Hands
Serves: 2
Time: 5 minutes

2 slices of whole wheat bread
2 tablespoons mayonnaise or cream cheese
4 ounces smoked salmon, sliced thin (lox style)
2 green olives or 12 almond slices

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DIRECTIONS
Carefully cut hand shapes out of bread slices – don't worry about accuracy or having four fingers and a thumb, zombies tend to be missing pieces after all!

Spread a tablespoon of mayonnaise or cream cheese over each cut out hand.

Carefully layer pieces of smoked salmon on top of bread base, breaking salmon into pieces as needed to fit and maintain hand shape.

If using olives, carefully slice olives in half and, with one half, cut small triangles for fingernails and with the other half cut circles for spots on back of hand. If using almonds, simply lay slices as fingernails and cut one or two slices into a circle for spots.

Skeleton Hand
Serves: 2-4
Time: 2 minutes

2 long smoked salmon strips
5 short smoked salmon strips
1 slice of thin-sliced smoked salmon (lox style)

Joshua Genuino and Rejoy Armamento / Alaska Dispatch News Joshua Genuino and Rejoy Armamento / Alaska Dispatch News

DIRECTIONS
On a serving platter, tray or cutting board, lay the two long strips side by side to create the two arm bones.

Lay the slice of thin-sliced smoked salmon at one end the long strip, creating the palm of the hand.

Lay the 5 short smoked salmon strips, extending from the thin-sliced salmon, as the thumb and fingers of the hand.

Witches Brooms
Serves: 2-4
Time: 10 minutes

2 string cheese logs
6 pretzel rods
chives

Joshua Genuino and Rejoy Armamento / Alaska Dispatch News Joshua Genuino and Rejoy Armamento / Alaska Dispatch News

DIRECTIONS
Cut each string cheese log into three 1 1/2-inch portions.

Stick a pretzel rod into one end of string cheese and cut or fray the cheese by hand at the other end, taking care not to break any bit of the cheese off.

Tie a chive around the cheese, just above where the pulled pieces end, for a final touch.   

CREEPY CRAFTS

Play Dough – Monster Eyes

4 cups flour
¼ cup salt
1 ½ cup water
1 tablespoon oil
2-4 drops food coloring or natural dyes as desired

Joshua Genuino and Rejoy Armamento / Alaska Dispatch News Joshua Genuino and Rejoy Armamento / Alaska Dispatch News

DIRECTIONS
Place flour in a bowl and add in the other ingredients.

Mix with a spoon or hands until dough comes together, adding more flour or water as needed.

If desired – add food coloring or natural dyes to dough.

Kids can shape dough into eyes or any other shape they want. Bake dough at a low temperature for a long time to harden. Paint dough as desired.

Play Dough Ooze (Spreadable Dough)

½ cup warm water
2-4 drops food coloring or natural dyes as desired
1 cup flour
¼ cup table salt

DIRECTIONS
To make colored dough, begin by mixing food coloring or natural dye with warm water.

Mix flour and table salt together in large bowl.

Slowly add warm water to dry ingredients, stirring with a spoon or hands to blend.

If the dough is too dry, add more warm water. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour.

*Dough can be kept up to 5 days in an airtight container

Spun Spider's Webs

To make one web, you'll need three sticks (or other straight items, including but not limited to: popsicle sticks or toothpicks; straws; pencils), all relatively the same size, and one ball of white yarn or twine.

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DIRECTIONS
Wrap yarn around center of one stick, overlapping the loose end to hold the yarn in place. For a more secure web, tie yarn on the center of stick and overlap the yarn around the loose end.

Joshua Genuino and Rejoy Armamento / Alaska Dispatch News Joshua Genuino and Rejoy Armamento / Alaska Dispatch News
 

Place second stick perpendicular to first stick, creating an X. Wrap yarn around both sticks, wrapping around both joints of the X.

Joshua Genuino and Rejoy Armamento / Alaska Dispatch News Joshua Genuino and Rejoy Armamento / Alaska Dispatch News

Place third stick over X perpendicular across one of the joints to create a six-point star and wrap yarn around all three sticks, wrapping around newly created joints to secure all three sticks together.

Joshua Genuino and Rejoy Armamento / Alaska Dispatch News Joshua Genuino and Rejoy Armamento / Alaska Dispatch News

When sticks are wrapped and secured, bring yarn to one side and wrap around one of the six points, bringing yarn under stick and wrapping it completely over before moving on to next point.

Continue wrapping yarn around sticks in a circular motion, creating a spider's web.

When web reaches desired size, or covers most of the sticks, tie the end off and trim close to knot to secure web or tie off and leave yarn attached to hang web if desired.

Paper Mache Pumpkins
Makes one pumpkin – takes minimum two days

One edition of Alaska Dispatch News
One 4-ounce bottle of school glue
½ cup warm water
One balloon or ball to use as form (use under parent supervision)
5-10 sheets of colored construction paper (for our pumpkin, we used orange, green, brown, and black)
Cup or glass to prop craft on, or string to hang from above while working/drying
Scissors
Pencil
Masking tape, if needed

Joshua Genuino and Rejoy Armamento / Alaska Dispatch News Joshua Genuino and Rejoy Armamento / Alaska Dispatch News

DIRECTIONS
Lay two pages of newspaper on work surface to cover and protect.

Tear remaining newspaper into small strips

Inflate balloon to desired size for pumpkin and place balloon (or ball) on cup or glass, using masking tape to secure if needed.

Mix together bottle of school glue and warm water in a large bowl or container.

Dip and coat each strip of newspaper in the glue mixture and layer on the balloon, overlapping pieces and covering balloon in at least two layers of newspaper. Leave a small section at the very end uncovered. This will allow the balloon to be popped and removed (or create a space to cut through paper to allow a ball to be removed).

Once entire surface is covered with two layers of newspaper, allow it to dry completely, preferably overnight. Move glue into an airtight container to reuse.

When newspaper is dry, tear orange construction paper into pieces — the smaller the pieces the longer it will take to cover the surface, but the larger the pieces the more difficult it will be to cover the curve of the balloon. Pieces the size of an egg are easiest to work with.

Move glue mixture back into a bowl and, similar to the newspaper layer, dip and coat each piece of orange construction paper into glue mixture before covering surface of balloon, still leaving the open space to remove balloon (or begin cut to remove ball).

Once entire surface is covered in orange construction paper, use scissors to cut a leaf shape and ¼-inch x 4-inch strip of green construction paper and a 2-inch x 4-inch piece of brown construction paper.

Make small ¼-inch cuts into one long edge of brown construction paper. Roll the brown construction paper rectangle into a small 2-inch tube and carefully pull the cut tabs back to create a stem that can easily be secured to pumpkin.

Curl the green construction paper strip around a pencil to create a vine curl.

Use glue mixture — or plain school glue — to secure the green construction paper leaf to the top of the pumpkin. Dip one end of twirled green construction paper into glue mixture — or dot with plain school glue — and secure on top of green construction paper leaf.

Take the brown construction paper stem and secure on top of both pieces of green construction paper, using the larger base that was created from the small cuts fanned out.

If making a jack-o'-lantern, cut desired face shapes out of black construction paper and dip and coat each piece into glue mixture before adhering in place to create a face.

Allow to dry completely, preferably overnight.

To remove balloon: carefully cut into balloon from small opening in dried pumpkin. Allow balloon to fully deflate before gently pulling through the small opening. To remove ball: carefully and slowly cut along back side of pumpkin in a straight line, starting at the small opening, until the ball can be removed. Once the ball is removed, use either tape, glue or pieces of construction paper dipped and coated in glue mixture to reseal the cut.

Display paper mache pumpkin proudly in a dry place.

This article was produced by the special content department of Alaska Dispatch News in collaboration with ANTHC. Contact the editor, Jamie Gonzales, at jgonzales@alaskadispatch.com. The ADN newsroom was not involved in its production.