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Fuel your kids for trick-or-treating with Joy Bauer's protein-packed recipes

These recipes will give you and your kids all the energy you need for Halloween night.

Trick or treat! If your kids are gearing up for a night of costumes and candy craze, I’ve got just what to serve them before they head out the door.

These nourishing meals are rich in protein and fiber, the MVPs of a trick-or-treat pregame. This power pair will help offset the wild blood sugar rise your kids may experience from excess candy.

First up, a winner, winner, chicken dinner: air-fryer chicken tenders served with a rainbow of different sauces and delicious veggies on the side. Your kids may go candy-level crazy for them. Next, a butternut squash chicken chili that’s packed with subtly sweet squash, a bounty of beans and protein-packed chicken. It’s wholesome comfort food at its finest. You and your kids are in for a treat!

Air-fryer chicken tenders

Chicken Tender
Kelly Harrison

Crispy-crunchy on the outside and juicy-succulent on the inside, these tenders have become a family favorite. Of course, you can make them the traditional way (baked in the oven; see instructions on the recipe page), but if you have an air fryer, this version provides a more faux-fried eating experience. Oh, and if you have some extra time, don’t skip the marinating chicken step; it helps lock in moisture and will ensure your chicken pieces are extra-tender and irresistibly good. For the marinade, you can use low-fat buttermilk or pickle juice. And the dipping sauce options are endless — from honey mustard and barbecue mustard to lemon dill, spicy ketchup and creamy ketchup.

In my house, chilly on the outside means I’m making chili on the inside. To me, chili is the ultimate comfort food and this hearty and warming bowl of goodness brings the magic. Plus, it’s a one-pot-wonder and serves a crowd (it yields about 14 cups), making it a perfect pre-Halloween feast, game day meal, cozy family dinner scrumptious solo supper with tons of leftovers. You butternut pass on this recipe — it’s so good.