Every year, Halloween parties see lots of candy corn, punch bowls and bobbing for apples. Miniature candy bars are all the rage with homeowners purchasing treats for the door to door trick-or-treaters. According to the product review website Influenster, each different state in the US has a Halloween candy that is more popular than all the rest. Check out a few of the candies and states on that list.
- Alaska and Illinois – Snickers
- Colorado and Ohio – Milky Way
- Connecticut and Rhode Island – Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
- Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming – Candy Corn
Looking at that list, and thinking about your own favorite Halloween candy, you may be worrying that it will be tough to come up with whole food substitutions for those and other popular sugar-filled and preservative-rich Halloween treats. Here are a few ideas of how you can create whole food alternatives to the teeth-decaying, obesity-promoting, unhealthy snacks and treats that are so popular every October 31.
Replace Bobbing for Apples with … Nothing!
Bobbing for apples is a Halloween mainstay. A dozen or so apples are placed in a large bucket or basin filled with water. The idea is to bite into an apple without using your hands, by dunking your head down into the apple-bobbing water. Since apples are perfectly healthy whole foods, there is nothing to replace here. Get some organic apples and bob away!
Replace Candy Corn with … whole Food Candy Corn Cookies
Healthy Whole food-friendly cookies can be made using some combination of coconut flour, almond flour, natural nut butter, eggs, mashed bananas, puréed pumpkin, raw honey, organic maple syrup, applesauce and other healthy, unprocessed ingredients. You can use Halloween cookie cutters to make cookies in shapes of witches, goblins, pumpkins, bats, and monsters.
The three iconic colors of candy corn are white, orange and yellow.
You can make a healthy whole food orange glaze by combining molasses or raw honey with the juice from carrots and oranges, or puréed pumpkin. The yellow of the candy corn color rainbow can be made with juice taken from grapefruits, lemons and ginger root, mixed with turmeric and the honey mentioned above or molasses. Stick a white potato through your juicing machine and combine that juice with, you guessed it, honey or molasses to create a healthy white glaze.
Paint your cookies, and any Halloween treats like candy corn, and your kids may not miss the sugary, preservative-filled, toxic, bad-health-promoter that is traditional candy corn.
- 2 sticks butter, softened
- 1.5 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 3 cups flour
- red food coloring
- yellow food coloring
- Cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and continue to beat until incorporated.
- In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture and mix until a soft dough just forms.
- Remove dough from mixer bowl and separate into three equal pieces (use a food scale to weigh each piece if you want to be exact!). Mix together a little bit of red and yellow food coloring to make orange and then add the orange coloring to one of the dough pieces. Make another dough piece yellow and leave the third plain.
- Place a piece of plastic wrap or tin foil inside a loaf pan and pat down the white dough inside. Place the orange dough on top (pat down firmly) followed by the yellow dough. Remove dough from pan, wrap up in either tin foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for at least four hours.
- When you are ready to bake your cookies, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cut 1/4th-inch slices down the width of the dough. Continue cutting each slice into small triangles.
- Place triangles on a lined baking sheet and bake for 6-8 minutes until tops are puffy and bottoms are golden.
Replace Candy Bars with … Sinful Decadent Healthy Bars without the Guilt
Any number of healthy, whole food candy bar alternatives can be made with walnuts, cashews, almonds and other nuts, your favorite fresh berries, dates, puréed or mashed bananas and pumpkin, and many other whole food fruits and vegetables. Blend your dates and mashed fruit, and then combine this mixture with chopped or ground nuts, berries, and seeds. Form in candy bar shapes and place in the refrigerator for an hour.
Making whole food versions of popular Halloween treats requires a little creativity and a lot of testing and experimenting, but it’s worth the payoff when you know you are giving your children (and yourself) a healthy alternative to traditionally unhealthy Halloween candy.
The Colossal Healthy Candy Bar is three tasty parts. First, the bottom biscuit layer inspired by Twix, is a mildly sweet, vegan and grain-free cookie made with coconut flour. It is crisp when it comes out of the oven, but goes pretty cake-y once it is combined with the other ingredients. Delicious nonetheless, and a pretty important counter-point to all the richness of the other layers.
Second, the caramel-and-nut layer inspired by Snickers, but with a twist: instead of just using dates in the caramel, I balanced out the sweetness by adding a healthy dose of hazelnut butter. Wowzers. This was a very delicious decision. The caramel became far more complex, rich-tasting, and it is essential to note that this would make a fantastic spread or topping all on its own. If you do not have hazelnut butter, I recommend almond or cashew in its place. Instead of using peanuts, I used roasted hazelnuts to sink into the top of the caramel for awesome texture and crunch – almonds could also be used here.
Lastly, each bar is enrobed in luscious, raw, dark chocolate. I usually use coconut oil in my raw chocolate recipes, but after reading the (incredible!) new cookbook Clean Cakes by Henrietta Inman I was convinced that using solely raw cacao butter was the way to go. It delivers a crisper finish and creamier texture. If you want to make things simpler and faster, feel free to use a ready-made bar of chocolate in this recipe instead of making your own. Raw chocolate is, of course, the healthier choice, but if you’re pressed for time or ingredients, this is a good shortcut to take.
Coconut Flour Power!
With so many diets and lifestyles focusing on gluten-free and grain-free eating, coconut flour is a wonderful option for many people. Made entirely from dried coconut flesh that is pulverized into a soft, fine powder, coconut flour is a nutrient-dense alternative that is increasingly available at health food stores and even supermarkets. Score!
There are several benefits of coconut flour, my favorite being that it is remarkably high in protein and fiber. Translation: super filling and satisfying! It is low in sugar and digestible carbohydrates, and scores low on the glycemic index, so it a perfect choice for paleo eaters and diabetics. It’s also nut-free and non-allergenic.
The flavor of coconut flour is slightly coconut-y, but not overwhelmingly so. I like it in things like these chocolate bars where there are many other strong tastes going on that overshadow the taste of the flour. If you want to compliment and enhance the flavor of the flour, use coconut milk as the liquid portion of a baked good. Seriously yummy.
What’s the catch you ask? Well, there are a few downsides to using coconut flour, mainly due to its density, dryness, and lack of elasticity. It’s certainly not a flour to experiment with if you’re looking to replace wheat flour for instance, as the two behave completely differently (that goes for using coconut flour in place of almost any other flour, whether grain, seed, or nut-based). Coconut flour is also crazy-absorbent and needs quite a large proportion of liquid to solid to avoid crumbly results (I’ve read the comments below, and it seems like a lot of you are struggling with this factor!) Most recipes I’ve found online remedy this by using a lot of eggs, but I used applesauce and flax seeds instead with good results. Once you get the correct ratio down it’s pretty easy to work with, but I’ve learned the hard way that it’s best to use tried and true recipes with this finicky ingredient!
The Colossal Healthy Candy Bar
Makes 16 bars
Coconut flour cookie bottom
1 ½ cups / 175g coconut flour
¼ tsp. fine sea salt
½ cup / 125ml unsweetened applesauce
2 Tbsp. ground flax seeds
1/3 cup / 85ml coconut oil, melted
2-3 Tbsp. maple syrup, as needed
Date and nut caramel
1 ¼ cup / 325g pitted soft dates
1/3 cup / 80 ml nut butter (I used hazelnut)
seeds of 1 vanilla bean
½ tsp. sea salt
¾ cup /115g raw hazelnuts or almonds
Raw chocolate coating
8.8 oz. / 250g cacao butter (not coconut butter or coconut oil)
1 ½ cup / 150g raw cacao powder
¼ cup / 60ml maple syrup
pinch of sea salt
Note: raw chocolate can be substituted with two 3½ oz. / 100g bars of dark chocolate (minimum 70% cacao).
1. Start by making the cookie bottom. In a small bowl stir the applesauce and the ground flax together. Set aside and let gel for 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350°F / 175°C. In a large bowl sift together the coconut flour and sea salt. Stir in the melted coconut oil, two tablespoons of maple syrup, the applesauce-flax mixture and blend until the mixture holds together when pressed. If not, add the remaining tablespoon of maple syrup and stir to combine.
2. Line a brownie pan with baking paper and firmly press the mixture into the pan, especially around the edges. Place in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes until the edges are beginning to turn golden. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool at room temperature.
3. Lower the oven temperature to 300°F/150°C. Spread the nuts out in a single layer on baking sheet and roast for 20-30 minutes until fragrant and slightly darker in color (a good way to check is to cut one in half and check the color in the center. Instead of cream, it should be golden). Remove from oven and let cool completely. If you are using hazelnuts, rub them together to remove as much of their skins as possible. Roughly chop and set aside.
4. Make the nut caramel. Add the pitted dates to a food processor and blend until creamy. Add the nut butter, vanilla bean, and sea salt. Taste and adjust according to your tastes.
5. Spread the nut caramel in an even layer over the cooled cookie bottom. Cover the caramel with the chopped toasted nuts, and press them down so that they are slightly sunken, reserving a few for garnish. Place the pan in the freezer to firm up for at least 4 hours (frozen bars are easier to cut and coat with chocolate).
6. Prepare the chocolate. Melt the cacao butter in a double boiler over barely simmering water. Remove from heat, stir in the maple syrup and salt, then sift in the cacao powder. Whisk together until smooth.
7. Remove the brownie pan from the freezer and pull up the edges of the baking paper to remove the filling. Place on a cutting board and slice into 16 equal bars.
8. Roll each bar in the melted chocolate, then pick up using a fork, allowing most of the excess chocolate to drip off. Set on a wrack and let harden. Take remaining chocolate and drizzle across the width of the bar to create a design (this step is optional, but it makes the bars look really beautiful). While the chocolate is still wet, sprinkle with remaining hazelnuts and let set. Place all bars in the freezer to firm up. Store in an airtight container in the freezer, and remove 10-15 minutes before serving. (Note: these are okay outside of the freezer, but if you’re using raw chocolate they will be relatively soft if left at room temperature).