Healthy Halloween Recipes

Chef Jill Houk shares her favorite healthy Halloween 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

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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