Homemade Halloween

I am sure there are multiple blogs out there addressing Halloween with food allergies.  Let me throw my hat in the ring so you can have some recipes before the big day.

We love Halloween.  We love the fun of it and not the scare of it.  We get excited for carving pumpkins, being out past dark, and wearing the cream of the crop costume that Dad makes. (Yes, he is the captain of that ship in this house, and rightfully so.  He never ceases to amaze me with the way his brain works and how he finds tools around the house to make our kids dreams come true.)

We love to celebrate the innocence of Halloween.  The part that all of us remember, the sweet, innocent magic of it.  Dressing up and somehow allowing the night to transform you into a real pirate, a princess, a superhero,or a cowboy.  For one night, you really believe you are what your costume says you are and you travel the night hunting for treats.  I love it!

But how do you create the holiday for kids with allergies?  If you just have a gluten or dairy issue, there is still candy for the taking on the Halloween.  Sure you have to dig out the stuff you can't eat, and trade for the stuff you can eat.  But what do you do when sugar is your trigger? 

That my friends leaves you with an empty Halloween bucket.

Last year we made it happen, but I think we are going to do even better this year.  I have 18 months under my belt now and a wide range of resources.  So I would like to share with you what I have found to save you the time of digging around.

A few thoughts:

My children are in school and this adds an extra level of struggle.  Their friends will be coming to school with brightly colored wrapped candy, Carmel apples, and fun drinks.  I don't care how fun you make the veggies look, they aren't stupid.  They know the difference.  We don't always play the competing game, but Halloween is kind of like the Superbowl, and that means, I need to make sure my kids are satisfied so they aren't beyond tempted to throw all the hard work out the window and go crazy with the candy.

You may think this is overboard, and that's alright, maybe it is, but I want the day to be special for my kids too, instead of a day filled with rejection and feeling like they are missing out, because frankly, they would be.

So each meal is a very basic meal, just with a special spooky name, or a little twist thrown in.

Breakfast: Sweet potato pancakes, but I will put blueberries for eyes, strawberries for noses and apple wedges cut out like teeth.  Viola, pumpkin pancakes.  I will most likely serve them a smoothie and throw in extra spinach to turn it a gooey green color for a  "monster ooze" brew.  (See what a silly name can do for making something special?)

Lunch: (the trickiest) Hot Dog monsters: I will cut the bottoms into strips like an octopus and attach olives for eyes.  A trick I learned is cooking the hot dog first at home, then filling your kids thermos with hot water for a couple minutes.  Pour out the water, insert hot food and it will stay warm till lunch time.  Great right?!
I will include green grapes with a little sign that says Goblin eye balls.
Black bean chips are just a great dark creepy color.
And each kid will get a spider egg.  Thank you Martha Stewart! (dyed in blackberries of course!)
Then for a treat, I plan on making these cookies.

Project lunch a success!  (I hope.)

Snack: I think making these fun apple slices with pine nuts will be great!  Thank you pinterest!

When they come home from school I want to have Carmel apples waiting for them.  We haven't had a Carmel apple in over a year, but thank you to my friend Kristy and the book, "Eat like a dinosaur" we have a Carmel recipe that is sugar free!  I have attached it at the end.

We will then get ready by watching "Its a great pumpkin Charlie Brown" while I make supper.

Supper: Spaghetti, or also will be called "The brain".  I also saw this idea on pinterest that I thought was cool, so we will have that to enjoy as well.

We plan on transforming into Thor, a Ninja, and a pink pirate, (don't ask me, I'm still working on that one) then out for trick or treating.  The kids and I had a big talk and they still want to go.  So we will collect treats for about an hour, then come home where a "safe" treat bag waits for us.  The kids decorated their treat bag tonight, I thought they did a great job.

Today I stopped at The Paper Depot on Lyndale by the Farmers market and collected a bunch of small bags and boxes so that I can fill them with safe candy that I am currently making.  I will also include fun Halloween pencils, small boxes of raisins, erasers, a Chinese yo-yo, and another fun little game that I can find in the Target dollar section.

For their treats, I plan on making fudge. (included below)
I will also use Enjoy Life Brand chocolate and dip apples in that as a treat.
I will make these cookies.
Another version of peanut butter cups.
And then there is a brand of gummy worms and jelly beans that I for the life of me can't remember but will collect tomorrow so I will update then. 

That pretty much covers it I think.  Dad will get to pick out his favorite candy that he wants to keep and then my kids get to share the rest of the candy with their friends at school.

It's taking me a week to prepare, but I love the magic of childhood and don't think it's that fair that a food issue would keep a child from something so special. 

So, though none of these recipes are mine, I hope it will lead you to some amazing women who are doing a lot of work creating good, all natural treats, and hopefully maybe a blog or two you didn't know was around.


Caramel Sauce
½ cup honey
½ cup maple syrup
½ tsp baking soda

Warm large sauce pan over medium heat, add honey and maple syrup to warm pan-mixture should gently bubble, but if it begins to immediately boil and brown it has burned and you should start over.
Once gentle bubbles begin to form, turn heat to medium low; have little hands continuously stir to prevent burning.
Mixture will bubble and potentially expand over edge of pot, if that happens, remove from heat and stir and return to heat once bubbles subside.
Once sauce has thickened and the color has darkened (about 10) remove from heat to add baking soda.
Whisk in baking soda thoroughly and continue to stir as it starts to expand and bubble; return to medium heat for 2-3 min. Whisk constantly until sauce has become a thick, rich, bubbly sauce that does not reduce when moved off of heat.
Remove from heat and let cool, stirring occasionally-sauce will reincorporate to a thick caramel consistency.
Serve and use warmed (heat in microwave or on stove top)
Store in an airtight container for several months in refrigerator.

½ cup coconut oil
½ cup cocoa
1/3 cup honey
Dash of salt
Teaspoon of vanilla
Put all ingredients in food processor, blend, put in plastic wrapped pan and place in fridge.

When a muffin goes bad

Ever have a muffin or scone or bread recipe that didn't work?  Me too!

Two weeks ago I posted on Facebook this ddelicious pumpkin muffin recipe:
(1 1/2 cup brown rice flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tbls cinnamon, 1 tsp nutmeg, 1 tsp ginger, (I also add a tbls of chia seeds for omega 3) 1 mashed banana or 3/4 cup pumpkin or any other flavor you want, 1 egg, 1/3 melted butter (we use soy free earth balance), or you could use coconut oil, and a good tbls of pure maple syrup, 1/2 cup chopped pecans or other nut of choice. Mix all together and bake at 350 for 18 minutes.)

The last two times I have made these muffins, they have overly thick and haven't risen.  I think I am adding too much pumpkin, but I'm not sure.  The muffins don't rise, and they aren't dry, they just aren't done.  Cooking them longer doesn't work because then it will dry them out.  So then I am left with mostly done, thick, flat muffins.

What to do?

I really hate throwing away food, especially when I can factor in the expensive ingredients and my time.

So again, what to do with my "can't use as is" muffins?

We hosted our annual Harvest Supper and I was making individual berry pies.  The recipe called for a pie crust top, I created non-usable pumpkin muffin crumble instead!  I took thee muffins, crumbled them, added a handful of gluten free oats, a handful of chopped  pecans, and 3 tablespoons of honey.  I mixed it together and threw it on top. 

The outcome was DELISH!

(The berry pie is two containers of strawberries, one container of raspberries, and one container of blueberries.  Add 1/2 cup of berry preserve, 3 tablespoons of corn or tapioca starch and 1/3 cup honey.  Mix all together.)

Well, that took care of one batch.  Then I made another batch, but these were our only option for breakfast.  I had nothing else to serve my kids for breakfast.  No eggs.  No oatmeal.  No cereal.  And not enough fruit to fill them.  What to do?  I have half baked, unrised, thick muffins.

Our little mishap created the BEST breakfast ever!

I mashed up two muffins in a bowl, added some coconut creamer, drizzled just a dash of maple syrup, and sprinkled chopped pecans.


I mean it...BEST DISH EVER!  So yummy.

I have no words.

Except, next time you mess up a muffin, fix it with cream and syrup.  You can't go wrong.

Fried eggs over fresh greens

Trying to cut down on the amount of carbs I am eating and at the same time teach Big how to cook, I thought I would include our favorite recipe that we indulge in almost every day here. We eat eggs or oatmeal every morning during the week and only bake on the weekends. I usually make scrambled eggs or frittata or egg scramble with veggies. However, Big's favorite eggs to eat are fried eggs. I thought this was the perfect thing to start teaching him. It teaches him lessons on the stove, cleaning cast iron, and how to season and handle eggs. So we have been working on this a few times, and Big knows that he can not under any circumstances work the stove without an adult, but with me, he is doing great and doing it all on his own. So how do you eat fried eggs? He likes them with just salt and pepper, but recently he is enjoying my salad. Fried eggs over a bed of spinach or greens, topped with avocado, salsa and blueberries for fun. When we have extra, we throw black beans on there or corn or fresh pepper from the garden, whatever we have on hand. For a quick lunch though, fry the eggs and put them on the greens and voila, wonderful lunch!

I am sorry for those of you who are vegan, maybe you could just use Tofu, but since we are soy free here, we love our eggs.

Fried Eggs over fresh greens 

2-3 eggs
coconut oil for cooking
Bed of greens
Avocado or Guacamole
Salsa Sea Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: peppers, onions, tomato, broccoli, hot sauce, black beans, corn

Heat pan on med-low heat. Add Tablespoon of Coconut oil and heat through. Crack 2-3 eggs over pan and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper to taste. Cook eggs to over easy, med, or hard depending on your liking. I like a runny yoke to act as my dressing.

Cube up your avocado and dice the rest of your vegetables.

Wash greens and lay on plate.

Dish eggs on top of greens and then top with your variety of veggies and guac, and salsa.

Dig in.

Berries, bread, and coffee

Fresh homemade morning

Today started with having my in-laws in town.  It was so wonderful to start the day with them in the house.  Sharing stories and doing life.  It was a quick visit, but always so wonderful to see them.

Since we are heading out on Friday, the goal for all of our meals is to eat through our food so as not to waste it.  Since I am a sucker for cheap food when I can find it, I scored big at Aldi this week, but noticed that we are only about a day away from most of our fruit going bad.

This morning started with smelling coffee brewing while we cut fresh fruit to munch on.  Nothing beats fresh berries and fruit as a morning snack.

While we munched, the kids helped me make squash bread. I have a recipe for Zucchini bread but didn't have zucchini left over from the Lasagna I made last night, but I did had steamed acorn squash and it was sitting in my fridge earlier this week so I used that.  I needed to use it before it went bad, so we turned it into bread.  This bread tastes nothing squash and everything like soft, moist goodness.  I love the crunch of the nuts, but you can easily leave them out.  The Sorghum flour adds to the sweetness, but you can switch it out with an all purpose GF flour.  Coming from someone who has experimented with switching out flours and thinking they are interchangeable, take my word for it, not all flours are created equal.  You could use almond flour or sweet rice flour, but I would stay away from any kind of bean flour.  If you want your kids to eat squash, use the best tasting kind of flour to help balance out the flavor.  Here is a quick couple photo's.

I'll be honest, the bread was so good, we ate the whole thing fresh out of the oven and didn't use any nut butter or jam.  Just soft, moist bread warm from the oven.  It truly lasted about 15 min and then it was all gone. We don't get a lot of bread in this house, so when we do, we go all out.

Coffee and bread this morning was just what I needed to start my day right.

Big really wanted to make a smoothie, so we let him be the chef on that front.  He didn't want any liquid or health benefits, just fruit.  ONLY fruit.  So we scooped fruit from our fruit bowl and he wanted to add a peach a plum and an apple.  So all in all, I think the smoothie included peach, plum, apple, strawberries, blueberries, grapes, and kiwi.  It was Delicious!  That kid is onto something.  I always try to sneak in a veggie or some other health benefit and he went straight to the good stuff.  I'll let him cook more often I think.

After we feasted on brunch we went out to tend the garden.  This is when we got to pick our first produce of the season!  It was very exciting.  We planted late, and last year not at all, so this was a very, very big deal.  I let middle pick it and then we all took a turn to smell our fresh beautiful green pepper.  The smell was so potent.  We decided then we would marinate chicken and have baked chicken on a bed of spinach and strawberries and blueberries that night for supper with strips of our beautiful green pepper.

So today was filled with homemade goodness, a trip to our favorite children's bookstore and a game of Sorry where everyone was in a good mood and not one kid minded loosing. (a rare moment mind you).

Enjoy the recipe!

My version of a Zucchini Bread Recipe

I didn't have zucchini but had lots of squash frozen in one cup increments.  Here is my final version of a recipe that I altered.

Gluten/dairy/corn/sugar free Squash Bread

Preheat 350 degrees

1 cup cooked and mashed squash (or 1 cup of zucchini or pumpkin or banana.  Use whatever you have on hand.)
1 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch (sometimes called tapioca flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tablespoons of Chia seeds or flax seeds
1 tablespoon cinnamon
3/4 cup honey or agave or pure maple syrup
1/3 cup coconut oil or olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh lemon or lime juice
2 egg whites or egg replacer (1/4 cup liquid)
1/4 cup coconut milk (or rice or almond if you don't have coconut)

1/3 cup nuts optional

Wisk together sorghum flour, tapioca starch, baking powder, baking soda, chia seeds, xanthan gum, sea salt, nuts if using, and cinnamon.

Add oil, lemon juice, egg white, coconut milk and honey.  Beat to combine and continue to beat on medium high until batter is smooth.

Add in squash or banana, or pumpkin or zucchini.

Scoop and scrape the batter into prepared loaf pan.  Sprinkle nuts on top if using.

Bake for one hour, or till tooth pick comes out clean.