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America’s Healthy
Cooking Teacher

Hallowe-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-n!!!!!!

I love (she said, her voice dripping with sarcasm) reading all the “healthy Halloween” tips that flood our inboxes and magazine covers this time of year. Not only impractical and hard to pull off, many of these articles imply that this one day of the year, dedicated to excessive candy eating, is the culprit for all of our wellbeing woes. If we could just keep our kids (and us) away from this “evil” holiday, all would be well.

 

Happy Halloween, right?

All year we battle marketing as it seduces our kids with junk food in shiny packages with cartoon characters and the latest action heroes. We reason, cajole, entertain, beg; we work to accommodate various tastes. We tap dance if we have to (and sometimes we have to) – all in the name of keeping our kids healthy.

 

And in one night… BAM! They (whoever they are) tell us that the battle is lost in a sea of candy wrappers and tummy aches.

 

Wait… what?

 

There’s no avoiding the adventure that is Halloween. And why would we want to? It’s a totally fun night for children big and small. We can, however, minimize the ill effects of candy binges. 

 

When I was a kid, my mother used to make a trade with us. For every piece of candy we handed over (sometimes quite reluctantly…), we received one of our favorite treats in return. It worked really well for our family.

 

Here are a few recipes for the little… and big kids in your life. I can’t promise they will give up every single piece of candy dropped into their bags, but these treats just might stem the tide and reduce the ‘Halloween Candy Hangover’ effects.

 

 

PEANUT BUTTER CUPS 

It doesn’t get better than peanut butter cups…and here’s a version with no junk, no simple refined sugar, no chemicals, no saturated fat… just all the yummy flavors we have come to love.

 

MAKES ABOUT 24 PEANUT BUTTER CUPS

 

2 cups non-dairy, dark chocolate chips

1½ cups creamy, unsweetened peanut butter

3 to 4 tablespoons brown rice syrup or honey

Pinch sea salt

 

Arrange candy papers on a baking sheet.

 

Temper the chocolate: Melt 1 ½ cups chocolate in a double boiler or in a glass bowl over a pan of boiling water and stir until chocolate melts and reaches 119˚. Remove from heat and place on a dry towel (do not let water hit the chocolate) and dry the bottom of the bowl. Stir in remaining chocolate until the temperature reduces to 86˚. Stir until smooth. Return the bowl over the boiling water and stir for 5 seconds. Remove to the towel and dry the bottom. 

 

Combine peanut butter, rice syrup and salt in a saucepan and cook over low heat until the mixture is soft and smooth.

 

Spoon tempered chocolate into each candy paper to fill them 1/3-full. 

 

Spoon peanut butter on top of chocolate in each cup, filling 2/3-full. Top each cup with chocolate, filling cups full. Set aside until set, about 30 minutes. You can speed the setting process by placing the cups in the fridge.

 

COOK’S TIP: If you decide to use Lily’s Sweets Chocolate Baking Chips in this recipe, you can skip the tempering. Just melt the chocolate in a double boiler until creamy and smooth and proceed with the rest of the recipe. They set up just fine! 

 

 

DOWN-AND-DIRTY EASY TRUFFLES

These are not totally quick, but they are so easy to make and so delicious. And since most of your time is simply spent waiting for them to set in the fridge, I advise you make them the night before you plan to enjoy them…and don’t tell anyone there’s tofu in them, ok?

 

MAKES 24 TRUFFLES

 

12 ounces non-dairy,  dark chocolate, finely chopped

1 tablespoon brown rice syrup

¾ cup unsweetened organic almond or soy milk

Generous pinch ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

2 tablespoons silken tofu, pureed

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

 

Place a couple inches water in a deep pot and bring to a boil. Place chocolate and rice syrup in a glass bowl and set aside. In a small saucepan, bring almond milk and cinnamon to a gentle boil and pour it over the chocolate. Place the chocolate mixture over the boiling water and whisk until the chocolate is smooth and creamy. Remove from heat and mix in vanilla and tofu. Cover tightly with plastic and refrigerate until well set, as long as 3 hours.

 

When the mixture is set, remove from fridge. Make your hands as cold as possible so you don’t melt the truffles. (Run them under cold water and dry them). Using a teaspoon, take 1 teaspoon of the truffle mixture and form ¾-inch balls and place them on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.

 

Place the tray of formed truffles in the fridge for 20 minutes. To coat them with cocoa, roll each truffle in your hands for a couple of seconds to warm the surface. Toss in the cocoa powder to coat and return to the baking sheet. Do not worry if there is too much cocoa on the truffles. Return to the fridge for 20 minutes. Shake off any excess cocoa and place each truffle in a miniature foil candy cup.

 

These will keep, in a sealed container, in the fridge for about 2 weeks.

 

 

GOOPY ICE CREAM SANDWICHES

You will not buy any junk food treats after you taste these babies!

 

MAKES 4 SANDWICHES

 

Chocolate Glaze

1 cup non-dairy dark chocolate chips

2 teaspoons brown rice syrup

cup unsweetened organic almond or soy milk

 

8 Best Chocolate Chunk Cookies Ever (see recipe below)

1 pint vanilla soy or other vegan “ice cream,” softened

 

Make the glaze. Place the chocolate chips in a heat-resistant bowl. Bring syrup and almond milk to a rolling boil. Pour over chocolate and whisk until smooth. Cover with plastic and cool slightly.

 

Make the sandwiches by scooping softened ice cream onto the underside of a cookie. Place another cookie on top and press slightly to spread the ice cream. Dip one half the ice cream sandwich into chocolate glaze.

 

Place the ice cream sandwiches on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place them in the freezer for 15–30 minutes to set the chocolate.

 

 

 

THE BEST CHOCOLATE CHUNK COOKIES

No kidding, the best – ever. Vegan, not vegan, healthy or not, everyone who tastes these says they are the best.

 

MAKES 28-30 COOKIES

 

8 tablespoons (1 stick) vegan butter substitute, softened

1/4 cup brown rice syrup

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup coconut sugar

1 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour

Pinch ground cinnamon

Pinch sea salt

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ cup coarsely chopped pecans

1 (3.5-ounce) bar dark chocolate (70% or more), coarsely chopped or

1 cup non-dairy, dark chocolate chips

 

Preheat oven to 350°F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

 

Using a hand mixer or a whisk, blend the buttery stick with syrup, vanilla, and coconut sugar until creamy. Mix in flour, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda/powder to form a stiff cookie dough. Fold in nuts and chocolate until incorporated through the batter. Wet a teaspoon and your fingers, and spoon cookie dough onto the lined sheets, allowing room for the cookies to spread, (about a dozen cookies per standard sheet). Bake for 18 minutes. Remove from oven and allow cookies to stand for 2 minutes on the sheet tray. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.