Healthy Halloween Treats

Healthy Halloween Treats

By Jenny Tschiesche BSc(Hons) Dip(ION) FdSc BANT

Do you like treats or tricks? Most of us would choose treats right? In fact, the celebration of Halloween traditionally marked the end of the summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter. That’s why it’s associated with death and surely, we all need to treat ourselves at such a desperate time! Whilst we might think that eating “treats” means abandoning our typically otherwise healthy lifestyle this doesn’t have to be the case. There are plenty of healthy ways to enjoy sweet treats and comforting food at this time of year.

Let’s look at sweet treats first. Our goal is to enjoy some of the more traditional foods and treats associated with the celebration of Halloween but to make sure that we do not consume too much sugar. Why? Because sugar lacks nutritional value, can lead to cravings for more sugar and is linked to cardiovascular disease and diabetes when overconsumed. Moderation, however, is fine!

 

Sweet Treats

There are plenty of simple alternatives to some of our Halloween favourites:

  • Healthy Hot Chocolate –

Simply combine cacao powder (which is even richer in nutrients that cocoa) with a small amount of milk of your choice (I recommend oat for a creamy, rich and satisfying hot chocolate). In a small saucepan heat another 200-300ml of oat milk depending on the size of your mug and pour this on top of your chocolate mix. Add a drizzle of honey or maple syrup and stir. Enjoy!

 Hot Chocolate

 

  • Peanut Butter Cookies –
Cookies are traditional at this time of year but what if you could have a protein rich and lower sugar and carbohydrate cookie. Wouldn’t that be nice!
    • 225g crunchy or smooth peanut butter at room temp
    • 100g coconut sugar
    • 1 egg, beaten
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

    Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4. Line a large baking tray with baking paper.

    Combine the peanut butter and sugar together until smooth. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until combined. Add the bicarbonate of soda then mix again. Roll into 12 balls. Arrange on the tray, leaving a little space between each one. Flatten each ball down with the back of a cold fork. Bake for about 8-10 minutes until golden and starting to crisp.

     

    • Dark Chocolate Bark –
    An even healthier way to enjoy dark chocolate is to melt it into a chocolate “puddle” then top with nutrient-rich chopped nuts and seeds with optional dried or freeze-dried fruits such as goji berries and/or freeze-dried strawberries. Cool on a piece of greaseproof paper on the fridge for about 30 mins then break into bark. You can store chocolate bark at room temperature once set.

       

      • Sugar Free Flapjacks –
      Who doesn’t love a comforting flapjack at this time of year? Yet, most of us would prefer not to be eating copious amounts of sugar, syrup and butter. This combination of stewed apples and dried apricots provides a hit of natural sugars and makes for a sweet and moist but healthier flapjack.
        • 300g apples, peeled cored and diced
        • 300ml apple juice
        • 1 tsp cinnamon
        • 1 tbsp chia seeds
        • 175g oats
        • 50g chopped dried apricots
        • Oil to grease baking tin

        Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6. Place the apples, juice and cinnamon in a pan and heat until simmering then simmer for about 15 minutes until apple is soft

        Mash the apple down using a potato masher then stir in the chia seeds, oats and then the chopped dried apricots

        Push the mixture into 9 brownie holes in a brownie tin or into a 20cm by 20cm baking tin (greased)

        Bake for 15 -20 minutes until just starting to brown on the surface

        Remove from the oven and cool before removing, slicing and serving

         Sugar free flapjacks

        Healthy Comfort Foods

        Pumpkin, apples, parsnips, butternut squash are all seasonal whilst kale is tastiest at this time of year having experienced the first bout of cold weather. Seasonal foods often reflect the needs of our body at this time of year. For example, pumpkin and butternut squash are a source of nutrients that are known to bolster the immune system. These include beta carotene, vitamins C and E which are all categorised as antioxidants.  

        Our objective where savoury foods are concerned is to optimise these seasonal vegetables to gain the greatest nutrient advantage. So, let’s enjoy roasted pumpkin or butternut squash as an accompaniment to a meal or within a sheet pan meal such as this fantastic example from https://www.glueandglitter.com/sheet-pan-butternut-squash-tacos/

        Other ways to enjoy these seasonal foods include:

        Pumpkin Soup

        See, I told you it wasn’t so difficult to enjoy seasonal treats. With your appetite whetted and your creativity inspired I hope you are not too afraid to enjoy these spooky delights this Halloween.