By Maris Callahan
Halloween represents a season full of tricks and treats, but that doesn’t mean your diet should turn into a nightmare. Even though artificially flavored candy and fattening chocolate confections are jumping out at you and your kids no matter where you go, you can still indulge in your favorite fall flavors without gorging on pounds of store-bought candy.
“Decide at the beginning of each day exactly how many indulgences you are going to have that day,” says holistic health and wellness coach Lisa Consiglio Ryan. “If you plan ahead and stick to it, you won’t go overboard.”
By replacing some of your processed sugars with homemade goods, you’ll often find these sweets more satisfying – and less addictive. If you splurge on a quality treat, you’ll need less to be satisfied.
Instead of stocking up on packaged store-bought candy this year, deck your Halloween party with some of our favorite seasonal treats.
Apple Pecan Granola Bars
Many parents think that granola bars are a healthier alternative to candy on Halloween. While it’s true that they often have wholesome ingredients like oats and fiber, they are also loaded with sugar and some have even more calories than your favorite candy bar. Instead of passing out wrapped snacks, make homemade granola bars to share with the neighbors – they’ll probably even ask for seconds.
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats, toasted
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg + 1 egg white
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 cup light brown sugar
2/3 cup chopped apple
1/4 cup chopped pecans
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8″ x 8″ pan with parchment paper, allowing the sides to hang over the edges. Spray the parchment with PAM or another nonstick spray.
Step 2: In a medium bowl, whisk the vanilla, oil, sugar, egg, and egg white. In large bowl, combine the dry ingredients: oats, sugar, salt, cinnamon. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Add the nuts and apple; do not over mix.
Step 3: Spread in the prepared pan, pressing them in firmly to ensure they are molded to the shape of the pan. Bake until golden brown, about 30 to 40 minutes (or until bars are brown around the edges).
Step 4: Some grocery stores sell party mix by the gallon, which makes it hard to resist when you’ll be entertaining hoards of trick-or-treaters. Whether you’re handing it out at the door or offering it up at a festive neighborhood party, your guests will flip over homemade party mix – with a moderate amount of candy corn to add festive Halloween flavor.
Candy Corn Party Mix
1 cup salted peanuts
1 cup small pretzel twists
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup candy corn
In a serving bowl, combine all ingredients. Store in an airtight container. Yield: 12 1/4 cup servings.
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Squares
Some Halloween parties are a free for-all of cakes, cookies, and brownies. While it’s fine to splurge in these treats occasionally, wouldn’t you feel rather pass on chocolate cake from the supermarket and instead, indulge in a delicious homemade brownie swirled with fresh pumpkin and dotted with semi-sweet chocolate chips?
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon pumpkin-pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on all sides. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pie spice, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
Step 2: With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed until smooth; beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in pumpkin puree (mixture may appear curdled). Reduce speed to low, and mix in dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.
Step 3: Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake until edges begin to pull away from sides of pan and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely in pan.
Step 4: Lift cake from pan (using foil as an aid). Peel off foil, and use a serrated knife to cut. These will be thick and gooey, so let cool before cutting.
About the Author:
Maris Callahan is the author of In Good Taste, an avid self-taught home cook, and is widely knowledgeable about all things culinary. She is especially passionate about helping new cooks learn how to prepare healthy, delicious meals and snacks, even when life is busy. She believes in Ghirardelli chocolate, farmer’s markets and cooking from scratch when possible. When she is not in the kitchen working on her next recipe, Maris works as a marketing professional in Chicago and in her spare time, contributes to several websites including SheKnows.com, Diets In Review and Shape.com.