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Have a Healthy Halloween! 3 Great Recipes for a Happier Holiday

The scariest thing about Halloween? The nutritional content (or lack thereof) of the holiday food we eat.

Once a holiday that revolved around dressing up in costumes and getting spooked in haunted houses, Halloween is now a holiday that revolves around getting and giving candy. Though we wish we could establish a 10-foot no-sugar zone around us at all times, there's nothing we can do to stop our coworker from swinging by our desk with a plate full of cookies or the drugstore putting huge displays of candy right at checkout.

So what can we do to resist the onslaught of gooey orange sweets? First, we can make it a point to eat a full meal before going to a Halloween party so we don't gorge on caramel apples or gummi ghosts. Second, we can give small Halloween presents to friends and loved ones instead of candy—like little Halloween decorations or even a bouquet of orange flowers—and hope they return the favor next year. And, most importantly, we can indulge in the flavors of the season with recipes that satisfy our palate without leaving us sluggish and regretful on the couch come November first.

Butternut Squash & Chickpea Stew

Pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin ice cream sandwiches—just because it has pumpkin in it doesn't mean it's healthy! To get yourself in the Halloween spirit and still feel great, try a hearty fall stew made with butternut squash, which stands in for pumpkin in a pinch and contains a potent dose of potassium, folate, vitamin C, and inflammation-fighting antioxidants. Best part? The festive orange hue of this winter squash comes from its high content of carotenoids, which protect against heart disease, eye degeneration, and cancer. Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) fill out this recipe with their satisfying protein and fiber content.

Ingredients

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped into coarse cubes
    1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
    1 carrot, peeled and chopped
    ½ onion, chopped
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    1 tsp honey
    1 tsp salt
    1 tsp ground coriander
    1 dash cayenne
    Olive oil

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until the onion is soft and slightly browned.

Add the remaining ingredients to the pot along with two cups of water (depending on how thick you want the soup to be). Simmer for thirty minutes, and then mash the butternut squash pieces with a fork until smooth.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

This crispy snack is a healthier yet equally festive alternative to a bowlful of candy. And by boiling the seeds with a little salt rather than sprinkling the salt over the top, you can enjoy a nice salty crunch without going overboard with the shaker.

Directions

Clean and rinse the seeds of a carving pumpkin or a sugar pumpkin. Put the seeds in a pot of water with 1 tsp salt and bring to a boil. Boil gently for 10 minutes.

Drain the seeds in a colander and let dry slightly. Massage a little olive oil into the seeds, and then spread the seeds on a cooking sheet with minimal overlapping. Bake in a 325-degree oven for 10 minutes. Stir the seeds and return to oven. Check the seeds every couple minutes, and remove them from the oven when they're very lightly brown. Let cool and then serve.

Craving something sweet? This dessert is just as delicious as the cupcakes and candy corn you're seeing everywhere you turn, yet it's infinitely better for you and boosts your energy instead of sapping it. Heart-healthy dark chocolate, immunity-boosting raw honey, protein-packed almonds, and cholesterol-improving coconut work together to satisfy your cravings without the use of refined sugar or processed ingredients.

Dark Chocolate & Almond Clusters

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw almonds
    6 oz dark chocolate (at least 85% dark)
    Raw honey to taste
    Coconut shavings for topping

Directions

Set out some mini paper candy cups on a cookie sheet.

In a microwave or double boiler, melt the dark chocolate. Stir in the almonds and honey to your desired level of sweetness. Put a spoonful of the mixture into each paper cup, and top with coconut shavings before the mixture hardens. Store in the fridge to prevent melting.

Marshmallow Popcorn Balls

Ingredients

  • ½ cup popping corn
    6 T butter
    5 cups "healthy" marshmallows (ingredients should not include corn or corn syrup)
    Toasted coconut, dark chocolate chips, favorite nut chopped (all optional)

Directions

1. Prepare 1/2 Cup popcorn in an air popper. If you don't have an air popper we suggest buying some plain kernels and small paper bags. Place the kernels into the paper bag, roll up bag and place in microwave to pop.

2. Place popped popcorn in a mixing bowl, add coconut or nuts if desired.

3. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan over low heat.

4. Stir in 5 cups of marshmallows and cook until melted while stirring the mix constantly.

5. Pour marshmallow mixture over popcorn and mix with a spoon.

6. Allow to cool. Add dark chocolate chips at this time if desired.

7. Rub butter on hands and roll popcorn to form 8 even balls.

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