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Gluten Free Halloween

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… :-D

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! :-D

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

printable recipe

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

printable recipe

24-oz. Frozen Strawberries (with sugar added), thawed

2 cups Honest Kids All Natural Fruit Punch

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). :-D
  • *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:

CandyExperiments.com

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… :-D

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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Comments

  1. Roly Poly Bear says:

    Heidi,

    I think you and your family have come a long way! I am new to your site and have seen some of your "old" recipes (using colored frosting and cheese from a can etc…)and how they are now so much healthier and although more time consuming, you really have done a wonderful job as a parent and hope you know that. Having grown up with an anaphylaxis allergy that was never really taken very seriously by my parents (I got my first epi-pen when I was living on my own)I for one truly appreciate all you and your hubby are trying to do for your whole family. I know it gets discouraging sometimes, but all you are doing is worth it. Don't beat yourself up over the past, "behold you are doing a new thing…" I also just wanted to ask you a question here, since I am NOT computer savvy, but I have always noticed in my life that I felt sick after consuming products with oats from that "smiling old gentleman" brand which I believe is made in the USA (even all the entire cereal line by them gave me trouble…) BUT, I find I can bake and consume products when I use my store brand (Fred Meyer) oats that say they are a product of Canada…. Have you or any of your other gf pals here ever had a similar experience? Thank you for your time and God Bless you and your famliy!

    • RI GF MOM says:

      Hi Roly Poly, yes there is a lot of reason for that. In the US oats are grown and processed side by side with wheat and other grains this means there is a very large level of cross contamination and it's likely you are reacting to the wheat or other grains in Quaker Oats. Certified GF oats now available through Bob's Redmill or Cream Hill Estates or many say McCann's(although not certified GF) are grown on designated separate fields and processed separately (McCann's works b/c that' all they process there, again not b/c it's specifically GF). Many are now finding (including my two gf/Celiac daughters) that they can tolerate oats really well and loving making our own granola and oatmeal and oatmeal cookies regularly. There is a lot of info out there now about re-introducing them into your diet so as to not create a reaction. It's recommended that you eat them no more than once a week at first then up it slowly making sure you can tolerate them. It is now widely accepted that oats themselves are gf, but the high level of cross contamination in most oats is the problem for those of us sensitive to gluten, etc.

      Enjoy!!!!

    • Roly Poly Bear,

      Thank you for the kind words, I really appreciate them…and our food has certainly changed quit a bit in just a year's amount of time! It's funny and sad at the same time, that the more we move towards an all-natural diet, the more resistance I get from my circle of friends and family. I think people (myself included) have a difficult time embracing change, even if it's for the better. Food is so closely tied to our memories and social events that changing/removing certain foods, either out of necessity (like celiac disease or food allergies) or in the hopes of improved overall health (like the artificial food colorings, etc.) can make people really uncomfortable and emotional. I can't tell you how often I get pressured to "let your kids just be kids," or "there is already so much you cannot have, why would you voluntarily remove more ingredients?" Another one is, "Heidi, you need to 'live' a little every once in a while, what's one (gluten-filled) meal really going to do to you?" OYE!

      It was comments like those, they kept me stuck in denial and depression for the first 3 years after my diagnosis and I would harm myself by cheating in social situations, especially around the holidays. My dietary needs made a lot of people really uncomfortable and that was when I realized I had to learn how to let go. I've lost a lot (socially) since my diagnosis and that when I decided to raise my kids differently, by taking the social emphasis off of food and redirecting it towards the people in our lives. We don't go to parties anymore for the food, we go for the friendship and it has become acutely obvious to me that most people go to parties for the food and not for the people! I won't allow food to have that kind of power over me anymore (which is sometimes easier said than done). :-D

      As for the oats, I have heard a lot of people express that they don't feel well after consuming products from that particular company but I can't personally vouch for it (then again, I could eat a slice of whole wheat bread and most likely I would not suffer any obvious outward consequences). I do know that some people cannot tolerate any oats whatsoever (even GF Oats), but if you can eat another brand, that might not be the case. Do you have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity? Have you ever had any follow-up blood testing done (tTG-IGA, IgA-AGA & IgG-AGA)?

      One extremely important thing that I have only recently come to fully understand, is that while a strict gluten-free diet *should* heal a celiac's villi, the gluten-free diet does not fully address the issue of a leaky gut, which would still allow large food proteins to enter the blood stream and wreck havoc on the immune system. I often wonder if this is why some people are really sensitive to certain gluten-free products (because 'gluten-free' does not mean the same thing as 'free-of-gluten'), and the trace amounts of gluten (under 20ppm) could still have an open door into the blood stream to cause problems. The same thing goes for other food proteins (like casein, etc.) which have no business being in our blood steam.

      I am starting to think this is why I continue to have health issues, despite being on a very strict gluten-free diet. I was never told by any of my physicians to consider this and seek further testing (or that NSAIDS and alcohol are two very big culprits in increased intestinal permeability). I have learned all of this on my own, through books by gluten sensitivity experts, in-depth phone conversations with Dr. Ron Hoggan, Ed.D (co-author of Dangerous Grains plus many many more), and from everyone in the gluten-free community who shares their personal story. There is a really BIG problem in the lack of complete information that is available/given to us, either because some things are just now being recognized by mainstream medicine, or not enough websites, books, etc. have all the information in one spot. The info is out there, but it has taken me a very long time to finally piece everything together from countless resources (especially since I was not aware that I should be looking at other things besides gluten).

      Oops, I wrote another book, LOL!

      Wishing you the very best of health and happiness,
      Heidi

  2. Honey, you call this scaling back and flarping!!! Good heavens … one amazing Halloween treat or meal after another! I got a little overwhelmed looking at all you had done. Seriously. There's no way your kids feel deprived.

    I think a lot of things can contribute to leaky gut and I don't see why dyes and preservatives couldn't be in that group. My husband drank Gatorade for years, but suddenly had headaches he couldn't control (He takes daily meds to prevent horrid debilitating headaches; yes, I think they'd go away if he completely gave up gluten.) When he gave up Gatorade, his headaches were under control again. His neurologist thinks that the Gatorade formulation had changed in some ways. Cheaper dyes? Not exactly evidence of the leaky gut influence, but an example of how these ingredients can affect one.

    Forgive me for butting in, but to Roly Poly Bear, I'd offer that Fred Meyer's brands of oats may have a lower amount of gluten than the more well known brand–one to which you have no noticeable effects. Many folks report that they can tolerate McCann's oats, but tolerating NON-certified gluten-free oats does not mean one should be eating them. There are things that happen to our bodies–harmful effects–that we are NOT aware of. Folks who are gluten free should only consume certified gluten-free oats. The GFCO (under GIG) lists several brands that they have certified to less than 10 ppm that one can choose from.

    Happy Halloween and hugs to all!

    Shirley

    • Shirley,

      The thing I need to mention is that all of the foods I shared in this post were made at separate times over a 6-week time frame, LOL!

      As for what we will actually eat today? I am making pork ribs with Bubbies Sauerkraut in the crock-pot and homemade applesauce on the side. :-D

      That is really interesting about Mr. GFE and what his neurologist said (so glad he has those headaches under control…I can't imagine a worse pain than a debilitating chronic headache!). Dr. James Braly made a small mention about chemical food additives in his book "Hidden Food Allergies (http://www.amazon.com/Hidden-Food-Allergies-Uncovering-Allergies/dp/1591201950) and I want to learn more. That book is fascinating to me and I could personally relate to so many of the possible IgG food allergies and their potential side effects, like sinus issues, food and alcohol addictions, etc. Dr. Braly pointed out that while IgE food allergies often make people feel so obviously (and dangerously) bad, IgG food allergies often leave people craving the very foods they are reacting too (and I am having a REALLY HARD time letting go of dairy, I need a cheese or Greek yogurt fix every few days, LOL!).

      And by the way, you are never "butting in," this is what we do, share our knowledge and experiences to help one another! :-D

      xo,

      Heidi

  3. Sandi says:

    I just found your blog. We are still reeling from the shock of our igG food sensitivity tests. Not one member of our family has escaped on this one. My husband has been gluten free for 2 years so we ordered the tests for the whole family. My 8 yr old son has it the worst with sensitivities to gluten, rice, corn, oats, cows milk, cheese, and some fruits and veggies. I almost have to ask what is left for him. My daughter is sensitive to gluten, all cheese (her favorite food), soy, and coconut. I am only sensitive to coffee (it figures) baker's yeast and brewer's yeast. No biggie until I read that means no sugar, mushrooms, or anything fermented or dried with molds/fungi. Ugh. We are seeing a nutritionist in another week. Neither kid has any symptoms, which is the strangest part.

    Your blog is great in coming up with foods kids want to eat. I look forward to creating some of your Halloween goodies.

    Sandi

    • Thanks for sharing Sandi! I am almost afraid to find out everything I might be reacting to! The good thing (from what I've read), it that a strict elimination diet of the offending foods for 6-12 months, *should* take care of the problem and the foods can eventually be reintroduced into the diet. I am sure other leaky gut contributing factors need to be avoided as well, but I am still fairly uneducated on this subject to say for sure. Two websites that I would definitely recommend checking out (if you haven't already done so), is Dr. Rodney Ford's: http://www.drrodneyford.com/ and HealthNOW Medical Center's blog, "The Gluten Doctors": http://www.glutendoctors.blogspot.com/ there is some great information on both websites about food allergies and intolerances.

      As far as your children not having any obvious symptoms, I can completely understand that, especially since eating gluten for most of my life never appeared to be a problem for me until 2 intestinal and 1 skin biopsy (plus a few autoimmune conditions) very much proved otherwise! ;-)

      Kudos to you for taking the necessary steps to uncover your family's hidden food sensitivities because left untreated, they can turn into some very big problems down the road.

      Heidi

      • Sandi says:

        Thanks for the sites…I was researching a lot of sites on igG to see if they were really legitimate. I guess I am in denial. My husband also found out the hard way about gluten. He had one strong round of antibiotics and he started reacting to gluten after that (skin biopsy and autoimmune as well.)

        Thank you so much!!

        Sandi

  4. Courtney says:

    Awesome post! You are soooo creative!

  5. Brooke says:

    So now I will be looking for the new "cheese." And maybe trying out that cashew stuff. My list of things to try keeps getting longer. :)

  6. Laurel says:

    What does your house look like when you don't "flarp" on Halloween? Geez girl can you say "over achiever?" Anyhoo, here's a link for natural food dyes. Maybe they'll be back in stock next Halloween (note, each color includes a link to its ingredients, no searching!)

    Here ya go sweetie: http://www.shopbakersnook.com/3m5/natural-food-co

    • Laurel,

      "Over Achiever" is my middle name, LOL! It's been pretty well established in my circle of friends and family that I'm over-the-top, especially during the holiday season. I was an event planner in my former life, so I always aim to please. This Halloween was a learning curve for me without using artificial colors, dairy and eggs, but in hindsight, I am actually glad I didn't have as many options…less time in the kitchen and more time just being "present in the moment." I don't do that nearly enough and I think I will be changing my modus operandi from now on, less focus on the food and more on my guests. :-D

      Thanks for the link to the natural food dyes, I would love to try a new brand!

      xo,

      Heidi

      • Laurel says:

        Aaah… event planner. That explains why we are always so blown away by your blogs. You were/are apparently a natural. I'm looking forward to seeing what you weave around your family this Thanksgiving. I hope you enjoy the Fall weather. We get somewhere between two weeks and a month of it and I just love the air, the colors, the expectations and the change.

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