Creepy Cravings: a healthier halloween

They’re creepy and they’re kooky, mysterious and spooky, they’re altogether ooky…they’re called added sugars and they will ruin your life and haunt your dreams!!! Okay, so Halloween is the one day a year when it is perfectly acceptable to gorge yourself with all the sugary sweetness under the sun, and a few tricks and treats here and there never hurt anybody. So if you must, grab a few gummy worms and chew on some chocolate. But just in case you are looking for some healthier alternatives to the traditional Halloween fare, we’ve got some ideas up our costume sleeves.

Honey sticks: Super simple. Super sweet. One tiny plastic tube full of enough goodness to fill your hearts and bellies to the brim. Enjoy the sweetness of sugar without the spike then CRASH in your glycogen levels. Honey can stabilize your energy levels, enhance your immune system, aid in digestion troubles and even give your skin a lovely glow. Pick up some of these little gems at your local farmer’s market to support both the buzZzZzing bees and busy farmers. While you’re there, you might happen upon another healthier alternative to that classic candy bar – maple lollipops. So slurp down the honey sticks and suck on the maple pops knowing that these SWEET treats are free of those yucky ingredients you can’t even pronounce. There will surely be smiles all around…and maybe some sticky fingers.

Clementine Jack-o-lanterns: This two-ingredient tasty treat brings a big burst of juicy flavor in one little sphere. Added bonus – this petite fruit packs a powerful calcium PUNCH and vitamin C boost. Grab some clementines and black markers and go to town. Draw on those festive faces yourself and let little ones choose their favorite as a sweet and healthy Halloween snack. Or for the bigger little ones (the ones old enough to entrust with the high honor of yielding a permanent marker) let them craft their own clementine friends. Just make sure to warn them that they will be eating those friendly faces later…

Make your own…fruit snacks: Say farewell to food coloring and fake flavors. These HOMEMADE fruit snacks will taste even BETTER than the store bought stuff. The truly natural flavor and sweetness comes from honey or maple syrup, combined with fresh or frozen fruit. Use fruit juice as the liquid base, or as this fun recipe suggests, choose your favorite kombucha to kick up the flavor. If you’re clueless when it comes to kombucha, check out my post from a while back on some of my favorite brands and flavors. Once you mix up all your ingredients (by the way, there’s only four!) let your little ones choose their favorite shapes from some miniature molds, and pour away! The hardest part will be waiting for them to cool down and solidify…but it will be worth the wait and certainly worth the extra work to get a truly fruit flavor in every bite.

Make your own…animal crackers: Create your own edible farm animal friends with this healthy yet delicious recipe. This one happens to be vegan AND gluten free, but we suggest swapping in some of the good stuff – grass fed butter – for an even creamier bite. However you make ‘em, these cookies will be a BLAST to make and even more fun to EAT. Little hands are perfect for rolling out the dough and using miniature cookie cutters to shape these treats. Sweetened with applesauce and seasoned with nutmeg, it will be tough to stop yourself after munching on just a few. Luckily this particular recipe yields just shy of 100 cookies, so all the tricker treaters on the block can have a taste.

Make your own…nut butter cups: Okay, we know you love ‘em. We do too. They’re called peanut butter cups and they taste even better this time of year when they come in the pumpkin shaped variety. But have you ever checked out that list of ingredients on the ones you pick up at the store? TOO MANY TO COUNT. But we’ve got a simple, sweet solution – make your own. Invite all your mini monsters into the kitchen to take part. This chocolatey delight is the perfect opportunity to show your kids what is inside the food they eat, literally. Melt your favorite store bought chocolate chips – go for the options with higher cacao percentages for less sugar and more antioxidants – and better yet, opt for fair trade varieties when you can. If you’re feeling EXTRA adventurous, try making your own chocolate by melting some coconut oil and mixing in some raw cacao powder and maple syrup or honey. Have your little ones dollop on the nut or seed butter – peanut, almond, cashew, sunflower…maybe even pumpkin. Finally, for an extra twist, add some fresh berries or jam to make PB&J cups to munch on at any time of day…hey, fruit and nuts, it’s basically a salad, right?

Wishing a happy & healthy Halloween to all, filled with more treats than tricks, and more natural sweetness than phony flavor. Gather all your little goblins and ghouls around the kitchen counter and try out some of these simple & sweet recipes…just make sure you save some for yourself, grown ups get to pig out too.

(Image by flickr member kellie licensed under Creative Commons)

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