Fun & Healthy Halloween Treats w/Chef Jill Houk & Best Vegan Baking Recipes

Halloween treats that you won’t be frightened to feed to your kids! Chef Jill Houk of Centered Chef Food Studios will share fun recipes you and your family make together.

Bonus: Cookbook author, Kris Holechek will be here to discuss The 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes cookbook.

Surviving Halloween—Tips and Recipes

It’s the time of year when kids (and adults) begin over-indulging on sweet treats. The holidays, starting with Halloween and going through New Year’s, are prime times to eat candy, cookies and other empty calories. How can you reduce your children’s (and your) sugar consumption without becoming a monster? Here are some tips and recipes so that everyone has a sweet Halloween without going into sugar overload.

Halloween Trick or Treating
Create a trick or treating game plan that has limits. By setting a limit for the amount of time or the area that your child can trick or treat, you are limiting his or her “haul” of goodies. Your child is unlikely to notice that you are setting limits strictly to reduce candy intake, but will just be overjoyed about trick or treating in general. Also, by setting to limits and having your child agree before you set out on your escapades, you are less likely to experience resistance when you stick to your limits.
Ensure your child takes only one treat at each home. Many families will give out more than one piece of candy. In this case, you are flirting with disaster—because your child may double or triple his booty of candy. Tell your child that one piece is sufficient. This way, your child also learns moderation. Likewise, buy less candy per year and hand out only one treat per child to set a good example.
Make sure your child has a healthy snack before going out to collect candy. Feed kids a light lunch or afternoon snack of healthy protein, produce and whole grains and he or she will be full enough to avoid snacking on candy while trick or treating. If your child becomes hungry on the way, either head back home for a healthy snack, or bring a healthy snack to eat on the road.

After Halloween
Set limits for how many pieces of candy your child can eat per day. Two to three pieces of Halloween candy is enough to satisfy most kids without adding too many calories, and is a good pace for getting rid of Halloween candy by Thanksgiving.
Create an expiration date for candy. By limiting how long candy is in your home, you can control how much your child eats, as well. My rule of thumb is Thanksgiving. By then, most children will have consumed the candy they like the best, and are down to the dregs. This way, you also avoid doubling up on treats. For example, your child will not be eating Halloween candy with pumpkin pie, chocolate Hannukah gelt or candy canes.
Keep the candy out of sight. By keeping the candy in a closet, you force a situation whereby your child must ask for it. Out of sight is often out of mind, and you may find that your child forgets about the candy one or two days.
Buy candy back. If your child has received an unusually large haul of candy, consider buying it back at the same price it would take to buy the candy from the store in the first place. This way, your child can save to money to buy games, stickers, novelty clothing or video games.
Make healthy alternatives fun and delicious. Create tasty healthy snacks like popcorn trail mix, which is chock full of vitamins and fiber, with a sweet kick. Or give regular foods Halloween-type names to make them fun and interesting. For example, to encourage your child to eat whole-grain spaghetti, call it “blood and guts” or something seasonally creepy.
Mix candy in with healthy foods. For example, melt caramels or chocolate candies and serve as a topping for strawberries and apples. Or make the banana “ice cream” and serve a scoop with one fun-sized candy bar.

Recipes >>

Spiced Popcorn Trail Mix

My son and I make this snack when the afternoons get chilly. He loves the sweetness of the dried fruit and the spice of the cinnamon, while I appreciate the nutrients he gets from the fruit and the fiber he gets from the whole grain popcorn. It’s worth the effort to pop the popcorn on the stove—the taste so much fresher tasting than microwave popcorn, plus you can control exactly what goes into your child’s snack.

Makes 4 servings

2 Tablespoons canola oil
1/3 cup popcorn kernels (NOT microwave popcorn)
2 Tablespoons white sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup coconut flakes
½ cup dried apricots, cut into ¼-inch pieces

1.Pop the popcorn. Place the oil and 4 popcorn kernels into a large, heavy pot over medium heat.
2.When the kernels pop, remove the pot from the stove and add in the rest of the popcorn. Replace the lid and shake the popcorn in the pot for 20 seconds. You can make this fun for your kids by having them count loudly to 20 while you shake the pan.
3.Replace the pot over medium heat and continue to pop, shaking the pan occasionally, until the popping slows down to one pop every couple of seconds.
4.Dump the hot popcorn into a bowl or paper bag. Sprinkle with sugar and toss to coat.
5.Add remaining ingredients and toss to mix completely.

This is a very special way of making popcorn that I’ve found to be fail-proof. By popping a few kernels first, you know the oil is hot. You then put the remaining popcorn in and let the oil and popcorn come to the same temperature by tossing them together off the stove. You will be amazed how few unpopped popcorn kernels there are. Plus, the popcorn doesn’t burn.

Banana “Ice Cream” (Sugar-Free and Dairy-Free)

This is a great dish because it’s loaded with potassium and nutrients, not sugar. And, chances are, your kids cannot tell the difference between this treat and “real” ice cream. If your kids are clamoring for their Halloween candy, tell them you’ll make them a sundae. Break up a bite-sized candy bar over a scoop of this ice cream to add some health to their Halloween leftovers.

Makes 8 servings

4 overripe bananas
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (or more to taste)
1 tsp lemon juice

1.Freeze bananas in their peels for 6 to 8 hours, or overnight.

2.When bananas are completely frozen, run each under a stream of warm water for 30 seconds. When banana is slightly warmed, gently pull the peel away from the frozen inside. If any peel or fibers stick to the frozen banana, scrape away with a spoon.

3.Cut or break each banana into quarters and place in the bowl of your blender. Pulse 6-8 times to break the bananas into smaller pieces. Add the vanilla extra and lemon juice. Run the blender steadily to break down the bananas and create a creamy texture. You may need to stop the blender occasionally and scrape the mixture down from time to time. If desired, add more vanilla extract to taste.

4.Remove “ice cream” from blender and place in freezable container. Cover tightly and freeze.

Pumpkin Smoothies

Makes 2 servings

4 ice cubes
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup lowfat or skim milk
1 ripe banana
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg

1.Pulse ice in blender until it’s the consistency of shave ice.
2.Add pumpkin, milk, and banana and puree until smooth.
3.Pour the smoothies into glasses and sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg.

Worms in Blood (Spaghetti in Marinara Sauce)

Makes 8 servings.

2 Tablespoons of olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 can of Italian tomatoes (28 oz)
3 leaves of freshly chopped basil
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 pound whole grain spaghetti

1.Heat the olive oil over a medium heat in a medium sized saucepan. Add the garlic and sauté until light brown.
2.Add tomatoes with their juice, crushing tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon.
3.Add chopped basil, salt and pepper and bring the mixture to the boil.
4.Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes or until the sauce has thickened.
5.Cook pasta according to package directions, top with sauce and serve.


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