Spooky, creepy things are starting to stir. It’s that time year when grown-ups revert to childhood, dress up as witches, ghouls or punks (?!), and kids munch their way through endless buckets of sweets, chocolate and ‘candy’. So is there such a thing as healthy halloween treats?
Healthy Halloween food
As a festival to celebrate the passing of summer into winter, Halloween originates from the Celtic festival of Samhainin (pronounced sow-een) when dead souls are thought to walk amongst us. While we associate Halloween with toffee apples, turnips and bobbing for apples, traditional food eaten on Halloween included Barmbrack containing a variety of hidden symbolic items. If you bite into a slice of your loaf and find ring, you will be married within the year, a thimble and you will remain a spinster or a button and your bachelor days will continue. Finding a coin predicts good fortune for the year. (Incidentally, in my family we still do this with apple tart on Halloween!)
We have come a long way from the traditional foods of Halloween like apples, nuts and turnips, thanks to the newer (American) ritual of pumpkins (who carves a turnip these days?!) and trick-or-treating to load our kids wth as much sugar as they can take.
Spooky party food
Here are a few healthy alternatives for your Halloween party to help strike a healthy (or slightly healthier) balance:
- eyeballs (peeled grapes)
- fingernails (flaked almonds)
- brains (spaghetti in tomato sauce)
- witches’ fingers
- witches’ brew
Spooky seasonal food
Halloween is the perfect time of year to celebrate the best of the autumnal harvest. Although pumpkins take the limelight, here are some of the other seasons highlights:
- apples – a low sugar fruit and packed with fibre, it is the best time of the year to enjoy local seasons apples. Buy local varieties as they taste much better and have not travelled halfway around the world to get to you. Check out your local greengrocer who is likely to stock varieties like Discovery and Cox’s pippin that have a proper appley taste.
- beetroot – this humble vegetable seems to have super powers when it comes to it’s health benefits. Found to help with exercise endurance and to reduce blood pressure, get this root vegetable into your shopping basket.
- cabbage and kale are part of the brassica family of vegetables which are renowned for their positive effects on our immune system and cardiovascular health thanks to their sulphur content.
- mushrooms – from chestnut and button to cantrelle and shiitake, mushrooms epitomise autumn. Medicinal mushrooms like mistake and shiitake are a big part of the Asian diet and research shows that the mushroom family could have anti-cancer effects.
- pumpkins and squashes – packed with carotenoids and antioxidants, squashes and pumpkins are at the best right now. Make them into soups, roast them with other root vegetables or add to casseroles and stews and make the most of these seasonal treasures.
- nuts – it wouldn’t be Halloween without brazils, almonds and hazelnuts. This nutrition powerhouses are packed with healthy omega 6 fats, minerals like zinc and selenium and vitamin E. Best enjoyed fresh and straight from their shells.