“Tricks” for Tasty Halloween Treats

On the BMA set ready for my segment

This morning I was on CBS Better Mornings Atlanta discussing Healthy Halloween Treats. Of course Halloween and candy go hand in hand. But you can change that by shifting your focus from the candy to the other fun things that Halloween brings such as dressing up in costumes, decorating the house or table, and pumpkin!! And not just pumpkin carving (which is lots of fun too), but fall is time for eating pumpkin. I love pumpkin. It is really versatile, especially in baked goods, where it can substitute for some of the fat in a recipe. Not to mention, it is packed with great nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, fiber and iron.

My oh-so-talented husband carved the pumpkin for me last night.

Halloween is also the perfect time to get your kids in the kitchen to help fix some healthier snacks. Getting children involved in cooking is a great way to expose them to new foods as they are more willing to try something new if they helped prepare it. Having kid-appropriate cooking utensils makes the job safe and fun. And of course, it can get messy so a pint-sized apron might be in order. My sister, Claire Dunaway, makes some adorable ones. Here is one she made for my son to help out as I prepared for this segment. Unfortunately he refused to wear it – not sure we’ll be dressing up this year!

My artist sister is branching out into children's clothes and accessories

 Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins
Adapted from Libby’s Pumpkin Cranberry Bread
Yields 30 muffins or 2 loaves of bread

1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1.5 cups whole wheat flour
5 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice*
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
1 (15 oz) can Libby’s 100% pure pumpkin
4 eggs
½ cup canola oil
½ cup applesauce
½ cup orange juice
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease muffin pans or use muffin liners. If making bread, grease and flour 2 9×5 inch loaf pans.
  2. Combine flours, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Combine sugars, pumpkin, eggs, canola oil, applesauce and orange juice in a large mixer bowl; beat until just blended.
  4. Add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture, stir just until moistened. Fold in cranberries. Spoon batter into prepared muffin pans.
  5. For muffins, bake for about 20 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. For bread, bake 60 to 65 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.


Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins

*Pumpkin Pie Spice                      
Yield 5 teaspoons

3 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp cloves
½ tsp allspice
¼ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground dry mustard


Easy Pumpkin Pudding

Easy Pumpkin Pudding
By Judy Doherty, Food and Health Communications in the Holiday Secrets Cookbook available at http://www.nutritioneducationstore.com/products/Holiday_Secrets-387-0.html
4 2/3 cup servings

1 cup canned pumpkin or pumpkin puree
1 pkg (4-serving size) sugar-free, nonfat vanilla pudding
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1-1/2 cups skim milk

          Mix all ingredients together. Place in individual bowls or glasses and chill until set. Garnish with raisins for a festive touch.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

 Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Granola Bars
The recipes for these little goodies is from Meal Makeover Moms. There are some other fantastic pumpkin treats on their site too, so check it out!

 Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
Clean pumpkin seeds in water to remove strings and pulp. Spread on a greased pan. Toss with olive oil, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for approximately 15 minutes or until browned, stirring  half way through. 

Pumpkin Applesauce
Mix 1 tablespoon of pumpkin puree into ¼ cup of applesauce. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Enjoy!

Here are some more “tricks” for putting a healthy spin on Halloween:

  • Wait to buy candy until a day or two before Halloween.
  • Don’t buy your favorite candy. You’ll be less likely to overindulge in candy around the house if it isn’t your favorite.
  • Have a family dinner before trick or treating. If kids have empty stomachs before going out for the evening, they are more likely to overdo it on the candy afterwards.
  • Instead of giving out only candy, buy some inexpensive toys to put in the candy bowl and let children have a choice. I found some great stickers, tattoos, yo-yos, themed pencils and plastic Halloween figures for super cheap at Kroger and Party City.
  • After trick or treating, let your children eat what they want. Then have them pick out their favorites to eat over the next few days. Then discard the rest. But there are some options other than just simply tossing out:
    • Have the Switch Witch pay a visit and replace the discarded candy with a toy.
    • Send the candy overseas to troops.
    • Donate the candy to an assisted living home or a homeless shelter.


What are your favorite ways to eat pumpkin? How do you shift the focus off the candy in your home?


Toasted Pumpkin Seeds