Is the scariest part of Halloween the excess sugar consumption? Added sugar is associated with type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, kidney and cardiovascular disease, and obesity…all frightening, and often food-based, ailments. Yet the National Retail Foundation predicts American spending on Halloween candy alone for Halloween this year will be $2.7 billion.
When did candy become such a big, unhealthy part of Halloween?
A short and sweet trick-or-treat history:
Candy hasn’t actually been a central part of Halloween for long, and it doesn’t have to be for you (the costumes and get-togethers are far more fun anyway). Why let candy corporations run your fright night celebrations? There is no need to sacrifice festiveness for fitness when tastier, better-feeling alternatives are out there. Have healthy Halloween snacks instead!
5 Creepy-clean Halloween Concoctions
1. BOOnanas and screamberries
Slice peeled bananas in half and press chocolate chips into them to make a ghostly BOOnana face, then spread melted semi-sweet or dark chocolate for the mouth. Cut the tops off of washed strawberries, pat dry, then dip in yogurt. Plain Greek yogurt works best, as it has more opaque coverage and can be sweetened to suite your personal tastes with natural sweeteners like honey or agave nectar. Place dripped strawberries on a sheet pan and place in the freezer for an hour, then add a second coat, and dab chocolate eyes (or use mini chocolate chips) and smear on a scream.
Optional: Double-yogurt dip bananas too for a smoother, brighter white finish and use raisins or dried blueberries for eyes if looking for a further health boost. Up the ‘spook’ factor by adding ‘blood’ to the base of the plate in the form of strawberry sauce, juice, or colored liquid from boiled frozen berries.
2. Pumpkin pie steel cut oat mini bowls
To pumpkin spice up your morning, throw together some oats using a slow cooker, pressure cooker, or just a pot on the stove. For 6+ small servings, add 1.5 cups steel cut oats to 3+ cups of liquid (you can mix and match water, coconut milk, almond milk, etc) and begin bringing your cauldron to a bubble. Stir in a can of pumpkin, and add 1-2 tsp of pumpkin pie spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and clove). Splash with maple syrup and/or shred in fresh apple if desired. Cook covered until oats are tender, then stir in 1 tsp vanilla. To cook in an instant pot or other pressure cooker, set to 15 minutes on high, and release the 15 minutes after cook time is complete. Top with sliced apples, nuts, pumpkin seeds, and milk!
3. Berry-dyed spider web eggs
Place 6-12 eggs in water over high heat (eggs should be fully submerged). Add 1-2 cups of blueberries, blackberries, or other strongly colored berry to the water. Frozen berries work best for this, as their cell walls have already been partially broken by the freeze, allowing more color to seep out. Bring to a boil. The eggs’ taste will be unaffected by the berry juice, don’t worry! Turn off heat, cover, and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Then, lift out each egg with a slotted spoon and create spider web cracks in each egg through use of counter or spoon, and your hands. Transfer eggs to a bowl of cold water, then replace the water with the dyed berry juice they were boiled in and move to the fridge. Once the eggs have cooled, shell them!
Optional: Top the eggs with gray sea salt, or make these spider web eggs into deviled ones to up the fancy factor! For a more graphic presentation, place the eggs in a bowl with the dyed juice, though be aware…your spider web eggs may not hatch, and will become dyed by the colored liquid over time.
4. Chocolate peanut-butter apples
In the case of fruits and tasty condiments, drizzling is often a healthier option than dipping. To craft these Snickers bar-esque beauties, slice apples (toss them in lemon juice to avoid browning) and lay them on a baking sheet (or pretty platter). If your peanut butter is not runny enough to drizzle, try gently warming it up in the microwave or stirring in coconut milk or coconut oil to thin it out. You can also melt semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips and drizzle them across the apples. Once you’re satisfied with your drizzling, top your apples with nuts, and place the sheet in the fridge to harden your chocolate. The fatty, protein-filled peanut butter paired with the apple results in a slow release of the apple’s natural sugars, minimizing the glycemic response.
Optional: You can serve these as slices and/or as slices on a stick, and substitute in other nut butters like almond butter.
5. Ghostly chips and guac
Itching to use your Halloween cookie cutters? Use them on corn tortillas instead, then bake the cut-outs at 350 degrees to make ghost or bone chips! Remove from oven when edges are brown and chips are crispy. Goulish guac makes a great dip that’s full of healthy fats!
Optional: Use dyed berry juice to add a face or designs to your creatures. To avoid crafting every chip by cut-out, use the shapes as accents mixed in with standard tortilla chips (blue corn adds to the crunchy creepiness).
Looking for more kid-friendly solutions to the candy overflow?
- If you’ve got little ones and want them to experience trick-or-treating, you could try a Switch Witch approach. However, in the long run it’s probably better to be straightforward about sugar, and/or to just go to fewer trick-or-treating houses in the first place. What do kids really gain from going to more than five houses?
- If you’d love to hand out something, but don’t particularly want to add to the monstrous sugar mountain, try handing out glow sticks, bubbles, stickers, bouncy balls, erasers, temporary tattoos, or pencils instead.
Halloween just got healthier. Let us know how your creepy-clean concoctions turned out!
Share some of your favorite treats and healthy swaps to make Halloween fun and healthy!