I pretty much flarped on Halloween this year and haven’t done nearly as much as I typically like to. I think I have had a serious case of “spooky block,” not having artificial colorings to fall back on, LOL! That’s okay though, I will just look back at this as my “deprogramming” year.
It’s funny, looking back on the first cake I made without chemical food dyes, I really loaded that sucker up with figurines! I remember thinking that the cake just looked like it was missing “something,” so I just kept adding and adding and adding…
I often wonder (and I do not know the answer to this) if all the artificial colorings, flavorings and preservatives can contribute to a leaky gut. I am still bafoodled by Luke’s positive IgG anti-casein blood test results. I have no idea how, at the tender age of 3, he has a leaky gut! He only consumed gluten for a few short months of his life (Luke does not carry either known gene for celiac disease but he does have a double copy of the genes for gluten sensitivity). I cannot recall him ever having a serious virus and I have always been diligent with probiotics and an overall healthy diet. I reserve NSAIDS for the rare occasion of high fevers, I have always been extremely cautious with antibiotics (I try to avoid them at all costs unless my kiddos are really in need of them) and I haven’t slipped him any booze in a long while (kidding!).
I just don’t get it and I keep landing back on the chemicals (colors, flavorings and preservatives) added to many prepackaged foods, which is the main reason I decided to keep pushing forward on what was originally only supposed to be a creative challenge (like I said, I have no idea if the chemical additives in some prepackaged foods contribute to increased intestinal permeability, it’s just something I wonder about). I am trying to work things out so my family and I can take a trip to visit the HealthNOW Medical Center in California (Dr. Vikki Petersen, whose educational videos I often share on Facebook), to see if she can help us figure out a plan that will allow us to fully heal and finally move on with our lives, I am really sick and tired of being sick and tired!
Anyhoo, the following are some of the all-natural treats I made my kiddos for Halloween this year.
I made this for Sam’s school lunch on Friday. I know, it looks weird (definitely not one of those ‘nutritious’ Lunchables) and I would never have touched this with a 10-ft. pole as a kid! ;-) That is why I am so weirded out at the stuff my kids will eat,…simply because I either: feign excitement over it, call it something gross like “scabs” or force myself to introduce “interesting” foods to them at such a young age (like Brussels sprouts). I kid you not, if you have an itty itty bitty, start them off eating the stuff your parents made you sit at the dinner table until you ate it (but you thought you were brilliant and threw all the blackeye peas on the funky colored shag carpet instead, thinking they would “just blend in!”).
The “puffs” are Veggie Pirate Booty, which are gluten-free and vegan-friendly. I also added some blood orange slices (a natural fit for Halloween!), fresh raspberries (I called them “scabs”) and a couple spiderweb hard boiled eggs (frozen blueberries were used as the natural dye). I borrowed the idea for the eggs from the amazing Martha Stewart. I found another website (RecipeGirl.com) that has a great closeup picture of them, so be sure to check it out!
One night I made Spooky Tarantula Tacos for dinner and they were a big hit with the boys! Of course, I had to make some ingredient substitutions in order to make the tacos gluten-free and dairy-free. For the cheese, I used Daiya’s Cheddar Shreds and for the sour cream, I made Kelly’s Cashew Sour Cream over at The Spunky Coconut (my guys LOVED it!!).
Back in March, I contacted B&G Foods, the makers of Ortega brand Mexican products and they sent me an email stating that the Ortega Taco Seasoning is gluten-free and dairy/casein-free (you can read my post on it here, but as always, since ingredient lists are subject to change at any given time, be sure to followup with B&G Foods on the current GF/DF/CF). I now avoid the hassle of constantly rechecking the GF status and just make my own Taco Seasoning…I save money and it tastes great. The Ortega Corn Taco Shells have a gluten-free label right on the package:
Okay, the idea for this came from Taste of Home Magazine, it’s called a Chili-Filled Coffin. The original recipe calls for adding black food coloring to a cornbread muffin mix, which I couldn’t use. I had just purchased some purple corn flour by Zócalo Gourmet, so I thought I would try making homemade gluten-free, vegan cornbread using that (versus the black food coloring). The color worked great, but unfortunately, the cornbread was not so much. I’m not sure if it was the recipe I used (recipes that traditionally require eggs have become a thorn in my you-know-what!) or if some additional recipe tweaking needs to be made when using the fine, powdery purple corn flour (it’s not a corn meal, which has a grittier consistency). More liquid perhaps? I will update this post once I figure it out.
To pipe the RIP, I placed some of Wayfare Foods’ “We Can’t Say It’s Cheese” Cheddar Style Dip (which is now certified gluten-free) in a pastry bag with a #3 tip (or use a Ziploc bag and cut a small hole in one of the corners). I then went over it with organic ketchup.
For the chili, I just made my own using the recipe my mom made when I was growing up. If you are in a hurry, Hormel’s canned Chili with Beans is gluten-free (click here for Hormel’s full gluten-free product list).
Chili con Carne
1 lb. ground beef (I use grass-fed beef)
2 medium onion, chopped
3/4 cup Green Bell Pepper, chopped
1 can (15-oz) Stewed Tomatoes (I now use Pomì brand plain chopped tomatoes because it comes in a BPA-free aseptic carton)
1 can (8-oz) Tomato Sauce (I used homemade tomato sauce which I made with a recipe from Kalyn’s Kitchen)
2 tsp. Chili Powder (more or less, to taste)
1 tsp. Garlic Salt
1/8 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
1 can (15 1/2-oz) Kidney Beans (Learn how to pressure cook dry beans over at MissVickie.com).
- Brown Ground Beef (or turkey), onion and bell pepper in a large skillet, until meat is cooked through and onion is translucent, grain off any fat.
- Stir in remaining ingredients, except the kidney beans, heat to a boiling, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in beans, heat through and serve.
Last year I made the Ghoulish Fingers and my kids loved them. When Sam asked me to make them again this year, I had to figure out a way to make them dairy/casein-free, which was actually really easy to do with cashew cream cheese! I made different colored “fingernails” this year using olives, carrots and grape tomatoes.
The “Eyeballs on a Log” were my spooky spin on “Ants on a Log.” I filled the celery stalks with cashew cream cheese then topped with a couple sliced garlic stuffed olives (my kids are not fans of pimento stuffed olives). With all the green and beige coloring, I felt it need a little pop of red. Using a toothpick, I dabbed on some pizza sauce in the center of each garlic for a red iris.
For the punch, I found several recipes on Squidoo.com for punch that did not call for things like green food coloring, etc., but in the end, I just threw a few things together. I omitted soda and used sparkling water instead because all I wanted was the fizz, and not the high-fructose corn syrup, sodium benzoate, etc., etc. that is commonly found in soft drinks.
All-Natural “Bloody” Halloween Punch
24-oz. Frozen Strawberries (with sugar added), thawed
1 cup POM Wonderful Pomegranate Juice
1 (12-oz.) bottle Sparkling Water
Dry Ice (optional)
Lychee Eyeballs* (optional, see note below)
- Place the thawed strawberries in a blender and puree until smooth. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve (optional, but will help remove some of the strawberry solids to make the juice a little more translucent).
- Combine all the ingredients, add a small chunk of dry ice and watch your kids go crazy! (I emphasize small because last year my husband put an entire 5-lb. block of dry ice in my plastic punch bowl. While there was certainly a big “WOW” factor in the fog department, all the plastic fused together and the liquid became a solid).
- *NOTE: You can’t see the lychee eyeballs I made because the punch was too opaque (and I didn’t catch on to the fact that they weren’t in the picture until after they were long gone), but I definitely recommend making them! Parents and kids alike in our house had a lot of fun eating eyeballs all afternoon!
Fun Halloween Activities
Have you had a ‘Boo Gram‘ delivered to your door this year? Boo Grams are a lot of fun and I definitely recommend trying it out…our neighborhood goes nuts with these every year!
I plan on allowing my kiddos a few ‘safe’ pieces of candy from their loot bags then we are going to put on our mad scientist goggles and have some fun! Check out these site for cool candy science experiments:
The Teachers Corner (Floating M’s)
About.com (How to do Chromatography with Candy and Coffee Filters)
Science20.com (Top 10 Scientific Uses for Leftover Halloween Candy)
And of course, you just have to do the SUPER COOL Mentos Rocket! Preferably outside…
Gluten-Free Halloween Candy Resource Lists (be sure to print out the lists for an easy reference):
Halloween Candy List: Gluten-Free and Allergen-Free Status for 2010 (Sure Foods Living)
2010 Gluten-Free Halloween Candy List (Gluten Free Life w/Jenn)
Gluten-Free Halloween Candy List 2010 (MyGlutenFacts.com)
Do you have anything special planned for Halloween or any allergen-friendly tips to share?
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