There’s always one thing that really sucks about halloween, and that’s the absolute crappy, crap-filled, crapola candy bars and sweets that kids eat. This can kind of ruin a good night. Kids make themselves sick with all that junk, and even if they don’t, it’s still wreaking havoc in their little bodies. Sugar, fats and salts aside, there’s so many chemicals in these halloween-themed sweeties that it makes you want to stop the whole event altogether.
There’s ways to get around that though, whilst also keeping it fun for the kids (and the adults.) Home-making your own healthy halloween treats can create a whole new meaning to the day. A cooking session is good for filling in time with the kids as a fun activity, simultaneously teaching them a valuable lesson that home-cooked food can be even more fun than eating junk.
Even if you don’t have kids, these recipes are appropriate for any spooky event.
1 – Candied Apples
- Cooking spray
- 8 (4-ounce) Red Delicious apples, stemmed
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup light-coloured corn syrup
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/3 cup cinnamon decorator candies (such as Red Hots)
- Line a large baking sheet with foil, and coat with cooking spray. Insert 1 (6-inch) white dowel into stem end of each apple.
- Combine sugar, corn syrup, water, and candies in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Cook until sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally. Cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer registers 300° (about 8 minutes). Remove from heat.
- Working with 1 apple at a time, holding apple by its dowel, dip in syrup, tilting pan to cover apple. Turn apple quickly to coat evenly with syrup; let excess syrup drip back into pan. Place apple, dowel side up, on prepared baking sheet to harden (about 5 minutes).
Notes: Apples sold in bulk in bags, which tend to be smaller than those sold individually, are the ideal size for these treats. You’ll find white dowels at hobby and craft stores, or use wooden craft sticks. Store Candied Apples in an airtight container for up to three days. Recipe uses cinnamon candies (Red Hots are a good choice) instead of the cinnamon and red food colouring used in other versions.
2 – Spiced Pumpkin Biscuits
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup fat-free buttermilk
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
3 tablespoons honey
- Preheat oven to 400°.
- Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, and salt in a large bowl; cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Chill 10 minutes.
- Combine buttermilk and honey, stirring with a whisk until well blended; add canned pumpkin. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture; stir just until moist.
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead lightly 4 times. Roll dough into a (1/2-inch-thick) 9 x 5–inch rectangle; dust top of dough with flour. Fold dough crosswise into thirds (as if folding a piece of paper to fit into an envelope). Re-roll dough into a (1/2-inch-thick) 9 x 5–inch rectangle; dust top of dough with flour. Fold dough crosswise into thirds; gently roll or pat to a 3/4-inch thickness.
- Cut dough with a 1 3/4-inch biscuit cutter to form 14 dough rounds. Place dough rounds, 1 inch apart, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 400° for 14 minutes or until golden.
- Remove from pan; cool 2 minutes on wire racks. Serve warm.
Notes: This method of folding the dough creates irresistible flaky layers. To maximize the number of biscuits, gather the dough scraps after cutting and gently pat or re-roll to a 3/4-inch thickness. To make these biscuits extra halloween-ey, use icing to create fun shapes like cobwebs, ghosts or scary faces after the cookies have cooled down.
3 – Strawberry Ghosts
- 1 pound strawberries
- 1 12-ounce bag white chocolate chips
- 4 tablespoons shortening
- Mini dark chocolate chips OR edible black marker.
- Rinse strawberries with cold water, gently (but thoroughly) pat dry with paper towels, set aside. Line a small-medium baking sheet (something that will fit in your fridge) with wax paper or aluminium foil.
- In a microwave safe bowl (or double boiler) melt the white chocolate chips with shortening and stir until smooth. Carefully dip strawberries into melted chocolate, turning all the way around so that all sides are coated with chocolate. Remove and allow the excess coating to pour off onto the wax paper to form the “tail” of the ghost; slide the strawberry back and set on wax paper to dry.
- Before coating has set, place two mini dark chocolate chips on as the eyes. For the mouth, cut off the tip of a mini chocolate chip and place on the strawberry with the bottom side facing up.
- Place in the fridge to cool.
Notes: If you are using edible black marker instead of dark chocolate chips for the ghostly features, simply wait for the white chocolate strawberries to completely cool and harden before drawing on them.
4 – Choco Cheerio Tarts
- 1 1/2 cups Cheerios
- 1/2 cup pitted coarsely chopped dates
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup natural almond butter
- 1 9.7 ounce bar of chocolate
- 1/4 cup light coconut milk or heavy cream
You will also need a silicone pumpkin mould to create the desired shape. Note that other shapes can be used if you cannot find a pumpkin mould.
- For the dough/crust add Cheerios, dates, salt and almond butter to your food processor. Combine well for 1 minute. The dough should stick together when you pinch it.
- For the ganache, carefully melt your chocolate in the microwave or in a metal bowl over a simmering pot of water. Take chocolate off heat when melted and add coconut milk or cream. Combine well until creamy and smooth.
- For the assembly, place cheerios or press bits of dough into the faces in the moulds (eyes, nose & mouth.) Carefully cover face with a few spoonfuls of chocolate ganache – each pumpkin should be filled about 1/3 with ganache. Put in the refrigerator or freezer until firm, about 20 minutes.
- Press Cheerios mixture firmly into the moulds (over the chocolate) until you have reached the tops of the pumpkins.
- Chill again in the refrigerator for about 60 mins. Gently remove from moulds.
- Add a pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice or chai spice to your chocolate or dough mix.
- If you don’t have Cheerios just use another unsweetened cereal.
- Instead of dark chocolate, use milk or white chocolate.
- Instead of almond butter try peanut butter, sunflower seed butter, pecan butter.
- For added flavour add peppermint, orange or coconut to your chocolate.
5 – Boo-nana Pops
- 1 medium banana
- 1 cup white chocolate
- 8 mini dark chocolate chips
- 4 popsicle sticks
- Cut banana in half lengthwise, then in half to make four quarters.
- Insert popsicle sticks into bananas, and freeze bananas on a wax paper lined cookie sheet.
- When the bananas are frozen, fill a coffee mug with chocolate. Melt chocolate in the microwave 30 seconds at a time, stirring until the chocolate is melted and soft.
- Dip the bananas one at a time into the chocolate, scraping off the excess chocolate from the back of the banana, and place it on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Quickly add the chocolate chips for the eyes before the chocolate hardens (you have to work quickly here).
- Return to the freezer until frozen and ready to eat. Eat frozen.
Those are our top 5 healthier alternatives to the regular halloween sweeties available. From experience, kids love them and most enjoy being a part of the process. The Strawberry Ghosts and Spiced Pumpkin Biscuits in particular, have been a huge hit at adult parties also.
We realise that not everyone can eat all of the ingredients needed for certain recipes, therefore, for the absolute best grain-free and dairy-free halloween cupcakes check out this recipe on the Texanerin Baking website.
For a delicious 100% gluten-free vegan pumpkin cupcake recipe try this fantastic one on Popsugar.
Happy, Healthy Halloween!
If you are interested in Nutrition, why not get qualified? The School of Natural Health Sciences offers a Diploma in Holistic Nutrition. On successful completion of this course the student will have an understanding of human digestion, and the underlying principles of healthy nutrition and be capable of giving sound advice on nutritional requirements for good health. All our courses carry internationally recognised qualifications.