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Healthy Halloween Tips and Healthy Halloween IdeasEvery year, usually between gooey mouthfuls of sweets, I find myself lamenting that the concept of putting “Halloween” and “healthy” together doesn’t seem to garnish enough interest. The most popular focus of Halloween definitely seems to be the spooky factor, and yet sugar finds its way into everything. For example, take even a quick look at Halloween recipes available (online or in magazines/books), and you will find all manner of creepy looking creations; witch’s fingers, worm-ridden dirt cups, bleeding Jello hearts, kitty litter cakes, etc. (Many of those “recipes” are nothing more than covering a pre-prepared sweet with pre-prepared frosting or meltable chocolate, but I’ll save that topic for another post.) Finding one of those recipes that isn’t made of 90% junk ingredients is a lot more difficult. People want to have their freaky Halloween foods, but the resources to help us make those recipes a bit more healthy can be difficult to find. We all want to eat and feel better, but don’t want to compromise very much on taste. As the owner of a sweet tooth (or rather, a whole mouthful of them), I totally relate.

Hopefully this list will help get you thinking outside the box and inspire some new Halloween recipes that are creepy, delicious, and healthy. These include whole foods, which are naturally colored in vibrant Halloween shades and contain long lists of essential nutrients. To preserve the most color, nutrition, and flavor, try to keep cooking to a minimum. If you can’t serve an item raw, just lightly steam or bake it.

  • BLACK: poppy seeds, raisins, currents, black beans, cocoa, carob
  • PURPLE: blueberries, purple cabbages, blackberries, eggplant/plum (skin only)
  • GREEN: leafy greens, broccoli, kiwis, peas, green beans, avocados, celery, green onions, herbs, green apples (skin only)
  • ORANGE: pumpkin and other winter squash, oranges, carrots, cantaloupes, persimmons, orange bell peppers, yams
  • RED: beets, strawberries, cherries, raspberries, red bell peppers, cranberries, tomatoes, pomegranates, red onions, red delicious apples (skin only)
  • YELLOW: pineapples, bananas, corn, yellow bell peppers
  • WHITE: coconuts, potatoes, sweet potatoes, lychees, dragonfruit (some varieties)

When baking, try alternative sweeteners to white sugar. This will help you reduce the Glycemic Index, calories, and the “sugar high” that ends in a blood sugar crash (which contributes to fatigue and over-eating, among other things). I prefer fructose, as you don’t need to change up a recipe too much to substitute it in there, and it behaves very much like sugar.

To Replace 1 cup White Sugar:

  • Fructose = 2/3 cup (reduce other liquids by 1/8 cup)
  • Agave Nectar = 3/4 cup (reduce other liquids by 1/3 cup)
  • Barley Malt = 1 1/2 cups (reduce other liquids by 1/4 cup)
  • Brown Rice Syrup = 1 1/3 cup (reduce other liquids by 1/4 cup and add 1/4 tsp. baking soda)
  • Molasses 1 1/3 cup (reduce other liquids by 1/4 cup and add 1/2 tsp. baking soda)
  • Fruit Juice Concentrate = 1 1/2 cups (reduce other liquids by 1/4 cup)
  • Xylitol = 1 cup (not for use with yeasted recipes like bread or rolls)
  • Maple Syrup = 3/4 cup (reduce other liquids by 1/8 cup)

Another easy way to add some nutrition to a baked recipe is to use flours other than white wheat. I almost always use a 50/50 mix of spelt flour and whole wheat flour, and the taste and performance is almost totally unnoticeable. There are many other kinds of non-wheat flours available as well.

Here are a few more general tips that can help you eat and feel better this season:

  • Get really creative and make your own recipes using the lists above as inspiration. Aim for lots of colors and textures, and try new ingredients, and you’ll never be bored with healthy eating.
  • Create homemade meals and treats whenever possible. Pre-packaged and fast food is loaded with sugar, chemicals, trans-fats, sodium, artificial colors & flavorings, etc.
  • Eat healthy foods first and save treats for dessert time. If you fill up on real food, you will be less likely to over indulge on junk food.
  • Drink plenty of water. We often mistake thirst for hunger (especially when eating too much sugar), which causes us to over eat.
  • Use frozen vegetables instead of canned to cut sodium and increase flavor and nutrition.
  • Eat lots of raw fruits and veggies! You will get load of enzymes that aid in digestion, detoxing, and repairing your body. To avoid a tummy ache, eat fruit by itself, preferably on an empty stomach.
  • Avoid all artificial chemical sweeteners, all of which fall into 2 categories: either we don’t have nearly enough long term information on it, or it has been documented by the FDA to promote numerous health problems. Your health is too precious to risk on a product that might be deadly, and there are excellent alternatives, like Stevia.

What are your favorite healthy Halloween recipes and tips? Please leave your suggestions in the comments!

Posted on October 12th, 2007 in
Halloween Food by Lauren

fair trade halloween kit We’ve been waiting all year for October to roll around for one exciting reason: Fair Trade month! OK, you probably didn’t mark your calendar for that but it’s a cool idea to celebrate anyway. With chocolate candies flowing like wine this season, why not take a moment to learn a little about their creation? You’ve probably watched one of the mouth-watering videos that take you on a factory tour. There are Willy Wonka like rivers of melted chocolate, and endless conveyors of chocolate candies. But what happens before the ingredients get to the factory? Unfortunately, it’s a pretty messed up story that includes child slave labor and third world farmers who get paid pennies for their delicious cocoa. Talk about a Halloween horror story. Here’s a short video that gives some info on why standard (non Fair Trade) chocolate production is still able to exi$t, as well as one guys creative way to bring attention to this problem:

So what can you do to help end child labor in the production of cocoa & chocolate? It’s easy, just spend your money with companies that adhere to Fair Trade practices. There are lots of companies who produce Fair Trade chocolate, and many retailers who sell it, including Amazon. There is even a Fair Trade Halloween kit available for treat-giving on The Big Night. In addition to 42 delicious chocolates, the kit has 42 Halloween postcards to hand out that give knowledge about the importance of Fair Trade. You can still give out yummy chocolate candies, but toss an informative postcard into their candy sacks at the same time and you’ll help spread the word, too. Another alternative: give non-chocolate goodies on Halloween.

Our favorites are Lara Bars (their Chocolat line uses cocoa) and Dagoba, Green & Blacks and Endangered Species. What’s your favorite brand of Fair Trade chocolate?

Posted on October 12th, 2007 in
Halloween Food by Lauren
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Vegan Candy Corn I’m seeing a lot of DIY Halloween action this year, and it’s still relatively “early” in the season. I predict we’re in for a great year. Keep creating, Halloweenies!

One industrious sweet tooth decided to revamp the holy grail of Halloween treats and make homemade candy corn. Melisser wanted to enjoy its simple sweetness sans the sucky ingredients, so she tweaked a recipe from the Epicurious Editor’s Blog- with perfect results- and shared her success story online. Visit her blog for a step by step recipe with pictures. If you make your own homemade candy corn, let us know how it turned out!

Posted on September 29th, 2007 in
Halloween Food by Lauren

Fruit and vegetable purees, such as canned or fresh pumpkin, can be added to nearly any recipe to add flavor and nutrition. Pumpkin pie can be really delicious, but it gets served frequently during Autumn so it can get boring. Below are a few variations of common recipes that include this illustrious vegetable (as well as the added beta-carotene, potassium, and fiber) that you can whip up in no time. They’re so easy, you can even get the kids involved!

Pumpkin Pancakes
This is a yummy recipe that’s useful for using up leftover canned pumpkin.

  • 2 cups unbleached flour (1/2 whole wheat + 1/2 spelt is a yummy combo)
  • 2 Tbsp. sweetener (sugar, fructose, etc.)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or more!)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 3/4 cups non-dairy milk (soy, rice, almond, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (not canned “pumpkin pie”)
  • 1/4 cup applesauce or mashed banana
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • Optional: a few drops of red & yellow food coloring

Combine flour, sweetener, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, and salt in large bowl. Combine milk, pumpkin, applesauce/banana, and oil in small bowl. Mix well with a fork. Add to flour mixture, and then add food coloring if using. Stir just until moistened; batter may be lumpy. Heat pan or griddle, add enough extra oil to barely coat the bottom. Fry em’ up! If you’ve got a pumpkin shaped “pancake ring” or copper cookie cutters (preferably with a handle), be sure to use that to create fun pumpkin shaped pancakes. Makes about 8 medium sized pancakes.

Pumpkin Corn Bread

  • 1/3 cup corn oil
  • 1 cup unbleached flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal (try blue cornmeal!)
  • 1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup soy buttermilk (add 2 tsp vinegar to 1/2 C soy milk and let curdle)
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 2 Tbsp. sweetener (sugar, fructose, etc.)

Brush the inside of a 9″ or 10″ cast-iron skillet with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Place in the oven, then set the oven temperature to 425 F. If you don’t have a skillet, use a cake pan, but just grease it for now and don’t put it in the oven.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cornmeal, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the pumpkin, buttermilk, remaining oil, applesauce, and sweetener. Then stir the dry ingredients into the wet until just combined.

Remove the skillet from the oven, pour in the batter, return to the oven, and bake 30 to 40 minutes, until the center is firm.

Pumpkin Cookies
This is one of my favorite cookie recipes ever. I always bring these to potlucks and parties, where they receive rave reviews. They are fantastic with chocolate chips inside, or topped with maple frosting.

  • 1 cup unbleached sugar (or 2/3 cup fructose)
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup non-hydrogenated shortening (Spectrum brand is great)
  • 2 cups unbleached flour (1/2 whole wheat + 1/2 spelt is a yummy combo)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. orange peel

Heat oven to 375. Mix sugar, pumpkin, and shortening. Stir in the rest of the ingredients. (Chocolate or carob chips are a great addition to stir in now, if you desire.) Drop by large tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet, and bake until “light brown”, about 8-10 minutes. Take cookies immediately off cookie sheet, and if desired, frost after they are fully cooled. Makes about 2 dozen smallish cookies. Also, when I double this recipe I use 1/2 cup Spectrum shortening and 1/2 cup Earth Balance margarine.

Maple Frosting for Pumpkin Cookies

  • 1/4 cup non-hydrogenated margarine (Earth Balance brand is great)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. maple flavored extract
  • 1-2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup (not “pancake syrup”)

Heat margarine in saucepan over medium heat until “delicate brown”. Mix in the rest of it, except for the maple syrup, which you add little by little, making it the consistency you so desire. Frost cookies when they are completely cooled off.

Posted on October 20th, 2006 in
Halloween Food by Lauren

fair trade halloween kit As consumers, we have a lot to consider before making purchases; value, durability, style, environmental responsibility, and even the conditions under which the product was made. Some items are notorious for being manufactured using unfair labor practices, and unfortunately cocoa (the key ingredient in chocolate) is one of them. In 2001, the US was concerned with this subject when it was found that child slavery was involved in producing 43% of the world’s supply of cocoa! In response, Global Exchange says that, “…the US chocolate industry agreed (via the Harken-Engel Protocol) to voluntarily take steps to end child slavery on cocoa farms by July of 2005. Unfortunately, this deadline has now passed, and the chocolate industry has failed to comply with the terms of this agreement.” Nice. Is it just me, or does it seem a bit perverse that child slaves in Africa are making the chocolate that American kids are given to enjoy on Halloween?

So what can you do to help end child labor in the production of cocoa & chocolate? Simply spend your money with companies that adhere to Fair Trade practices. There are lots of retailers who produce Fair Trade chocolate, and there is even a Fair Trade Halloween kit available to take things a step further. In the kit there are (in addition to 42 delicious chocolates) 42 festive Halloween postcards to hand out that give knowledge about the importance of Fair Trade, all for just $15. (Spend $20 and you can enter coupon code ftm2006 to save 10%. Why not buy 2 or more kits to get this discount?) So you can still give out yummy chocolate candies, but toss an informative postcard into their candy sacks at the same time and you’ll help spread the word, too. Another alternative: give non-chocolate goodies on Halloween.

I haven’t sampled many of the brands that are available, but I love Lara Bars (their Maya line uses cocoa) and Dagoba, and have heard so many people rave about Green & Blacks and Endangered Species. What’s your favorite brand of Fair Trade chocolate?

Posted on October 8th, 2006 in
Halloween Food by Lauren
Tagged as: , ,

2006 Halloween CandyOh, the many delicious facets of Halloween. While adults may spend days deciding how to spend their Halloween night (costume party? haunt? trick or treat chaperone?), most kids can immediately tell you what their plans entail: collecting and devouring as much candy as humanly possible.

We at 365 Halloween fall into a small minority when it comes to our candy policy; we don’t give any out. Yes, we’re the hippie neighbors that many kids scowl at while watching fruit strips, boxes of raisins, and stickers plop into their candy sacks. But one peek into those bulging bags of sugar and we know they won’t miss one mini Snickers bar. On average, most Americans consume 142 pounds of sugar per year, and given the scientific data on sugar consumption and the symptoms everyone can feel for themselves, we’d rather focus on other aspects of Halloween and give out healthy treats.

Since other Halloweenies out there in Interwebland have already plunged head first into this season’s newest candies, we’ll leave the reviews to them. X-Entertainment has a 2 part series, and as usual, Matt never disappoints. I-Mockery reviews over 30 varieties of candy which is a whopping 3 pages long. Your afternoon is spent if you sit down for these 2 entire articles. For a shorter read with some fun animations, Jason has written his personal thoughts on this year’s haul.

What are your thoughts on giving out candy for Halloween? Do you give out the usual treats, opt for something healthier, give out non-edibles, or give nothing at all? We’re definitely going to have an article about low-sugar alternatives to passing out candy, so check back for that in a few days.

Posted on September 30th, 2006 in
Halloween Food, Halloween Websites by Lauren
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