Halloween: a night for pumpkins, garish costumes, excited kids and sugar. ‘Healthy Halloween food” seems a total contradiction in terms. When they were younger, the children were placated by a simple Halloween party at home, but Trick or Treating (otherwise known as sugar overload) now seems to be a non-negotiable activity. You can imagine my quandary. I restrict sweets all year and then they go and collect 365 days worth in one night. It’s a nutritionist’s nightmare. But the children’s enthusiasm is infectious – they talk about it, and parade around in the cat and skeleton outfits for weeks in advance. I don’t have the heart to say no.
However, the facts are quite simple. Excitement plus eating loads of sweets they’re not used to will in my experience, unequivocally result in tantrums, bad behaviour (usually in the street in front of people I know) and eventually a refusal to go to bed, thereby wrecking my evening.
So my mission is equally simple: to ensure that the kids and their friends have a good time, whilst surreptitiously limiting sugar intake by ensuring they don’t eat the entire contents of their bags on the way around the street. Central to this plan is filling them up with lots of healthy Halloween food before they even go out.
By loading up with some healthy food before knocking on doors, they’re less likely to:
a) be hungry and scoff the sweets before they even reach the bag
b) have low blood sugar levels; if blood sugar is low, the temptation is to immediately reach for something sugary to give us a burst of energy
So each year I make small portions of appetising Halloween food that kids and adults can pick at, such that our Halloween menu now seems to have become somewhat of a tradition:
We get the party going for the kids with Halloween drinks (although personally I’m sure adults would prefer a blueberry margarita or a festive bottle of Hobgoblin beer!). We use shot glasses for the drinks, which ensures they’re just drinking small quantities, and not zooming their blood sugar levels up too fast:
- Witches Potion or Slime Smoothie – (variations on our basic green smoothie – spinach, mango, banana and coconut milk work well)
- Vampire’s Blood (beetroot and apple juice)
I’d really like to cook something else but I now appear to be stuck in the Halloween tradition of making Eyeball Pasta. This is essentially wholewheat spaghetti (worms) with a tomato sauce, pasture-fed beef meatballs topped with mozzarella and olive eyeballs. If you’re gluten-free then soba noodles work equally well. It’s a filling meal, and the addition of meat as protein really works to keep their blood sugar levels even.
Really they have little room for dessert after all this food, but still they insist…. Baked apples are a more conventional alternative but I find we still have to go with the Halloween theme. So the desserts that we make in mini portions (so that they have a choice) include:
Ghostly Bananas – freeze half a banana with a wooden lolly stick in it, so that it looks like a ghost. Drizzle melted dark chocolate on for eyes and mouth when the banana is frozen and pop back in the freezer for 15 minutes to set.
Dragon Fruit and Snake’s Blood Jelly – Dragon Fruit can be found in many supermarkets and the name is perfect for Halloween. For the dark jelly, we make up a portion of immune-supportive Cherry or Blueberry Active (found in most health shops) mixed with a few gelatine sheets, and served in small ramekins or Halloween shot glasses with the dragon fruit. You could also substitute any dark juice.
Spider’s Web Jelly – make up dark jelly as above, and leave to set in ramekins in the fridge. Melt some dark chocolate in a bowl, then use a spoon to drizzle spider’s webs shapes of dark chocolate on greaseproof paper laid on a baking tray, and freeze for 15 minutes until set. Carefully lift the webs from the greaseproof paper with a spatula and lay on top of the jelly.
Hopefully this gives you a few ideas – and we’d love to build up a selection of your own suggestions, so please do email or share on social media your own photos and food that works for you.
The only question now is what to do with the bag-load of sweets they’ve gathered!
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