When I was a trick-or-treating kid, there was a always a health-crusader switching up the monotony of candy bar upon candy bar upon candy bar with a bag of pretzels or an apple. These were not the popular trick-or-treating destinations. We left those houses fast, feeling kind of ripped off–didn’t they get the message? The bounty of the night was CANDY–and anything less sugar-sweet and chocolaty/gummy/sugar and more sugar-coated wasn’t gonna cut it.
My mom–who governed the culinary domain in my household–wasn’t the kind of mom who stocked the cabinets with candy. We had mostly things for cooking–dried mushrooms and favas, barley and pasta, capers and tomato paste–and a tragic dearth of snack food. I would sometimes stand in front of my friends’ family’s kitchens in awe, the sugary cereals exotic and enticing–gold.
What do I suggest for trick-or-treaters? Candy. It’s safe and boring and mass-produced, but it’s also tradition and a guaranteed kid-pleaser. But that’s enough of it. If you’re entertaining while you’re handing out goodies, if you’re snacking during the day or late into the night–you can do better than Twix and such.
Here’s some healthy Halloween treats that are really treats, not punishments.
While you’re carving up your pumpkin (you must!), collect and clean off the seeds. Coat generously with melted butter, cinnamon, sugar, and a pinch of salt. Bake for about 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven, or until the seeds are toasty golden brown.
Don’t let the peak of apple season go uncelebrated. I love SweeTangos and Honeycrisps for slicing and dipping promiscuously into our fresh-ground nut butters, melted dark chocolate, or raw honey–then granola, for crunch-on-crunch action.
Maple Cashew Popcorn
Sky-high on the snackability scale. Pop popcorn, toss in cashews. Warm fairway maple syrup with a spoonful of sugar and a chunk of butter on your stovetop. Pour the mapley goodness over popcorn and cashews. Spread out on a pan and let cool. And life is good.
It’s apples that get all the love, but pears are in season, too, and just as stunningly sweet and wonderful. Poach in whatever floats your boat: white wine and ginger; pear liqueur and lemon rind; honey and star anise. You’ve got an elegant and healthy dessert. Even better with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or homemade whipped cream.
Vibrant, green, and delicious. Process thawed frozen peas, olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Spread on crackers, or use for a chip/veggie dip or a perky sandwich spread.