Halloween – When You Don’t Eat Candy


banana_singleThis is the first year that our daughter really understands Trick or Treating.

When she was just two, Trick or Treating was simple — she enjoyed collecting the pretty colored things (candy) from our neighbors, but didn’t really realize the candy was for eating, i.e. “food.”  Halloween was about getting dressed up, going out in the costume, and collecting “items” to put in her pumpkin basket – not about the candy.

Those were the good old days… Fast forward (a year!), now she’s 3 1/2 – and this year she realizes that people are giving away candy!  I need a new strategy.  I don’t want her having all of that sugar, poor quality ingredients and artificial additives.

Trade Candy for a Fun Activity or Treat

We don’t eat candy in our house (I’m a nutritionist), so I want to set good habits early. I decided that instead of shunning Halloween (our daughter particularly loves the fact it’s a huge block party with dance music), I decided I’d negotiate with her.  We’d participate the Halloween festivities, but then when we get back home – she can trade in her collected candy for some homemade family treats. Choosing an activity that does not center around food is always a great idea too.

Before Halloween evening, you want to prepare your favorite yummy (but healthy) treat.  You can either include your children in this prep or not, whatever makes things the most smooth, fun and easy.

We are going to make Deviled Egg Owls and Banana Ghosts with our dinner before going out in our Halloween costumes, and Mini Chocolate Spider Web Cupcakes for after the “trade” after Trick or Treating.

Appetizer/Party Halloween Treats

There are many choices.  You can make fun dinner/appetizer items, that make Halloween festive but not revolve around sugar.  And before Trick or Treating, have some fun and healthy Halloween food to give you the energy and protein you need for an active evening.

HalloweenEggsDeviled Egg Owls:  Make your deviled eggs.  Here’s my recipe.  Decorate them like an owl by placing round olive slices for the eyes.  Then place an upside down triangle out of a carrot for the beak.  You’ll see the start of my owls in the photo included here.

Olive Spiders – Decorate deviled eggs and other appetizers with an olive “spider.”  Cut the olive in half lengthwise, place that round side up for the body.  Then slice 8 legs from the remaining half.

Mummy Pizzas – little gluten free crusts, cut a circle from gluten-free bread or use a gluten-free bun.  Cut white casein-free cheese such as Daiya cheese with a cheese slicer, then cut strips and lay them out like a mummy.  Decorate with black olive dots for eyes poking out of the mummy strips.

Sweet Treats for Halloween


The sweet treats can either be made with fruit, or they may include added sugar like in the cupcakes.  Often I choose to use fruit-based treats versus added sugar; however, this “candy trade” needed a bigger incentive, so we traded it for the cupcakes.  And while they do contain sugar, these cupcakes have less sugar than commercial recipes, include only high quality organic ingredients, and have no artificial additives.

Chocolate Cupcake Spider Webs

Start with a gluten-free cupcake. Here’s my chocolate cake recipe for cupcakes.

Melt chocolate chips and coconut milk (just a few ounces) – I don’t measure, just use a small bit to make the chocolate smoother and softer for dipping.  Melt in pan on stove.  Dip cupcake in chocolate sauce.  Let the chocolate cool before putting on the white icing.

Then make a white glaze—use powdered sugar and a very small bit of water (the smallest amount possible), mix until thicker than drizzle texture, more piping thickness.  Put throw frosting bag and pipe out of small hole to make concentric circles or a spiral.  Then using a toothpick to draw in the frosting, start from the center and draw straight lines out to the edge all the way around making a spider web effect.

Banana Ghosts

Banana with toppings

This is one of my favorites.  I combined this great idea on banana ghosts I saw on Pinterest, with a “topping bar.”

I love topping bars—be it for: chili, tacos, hot fudge Sundaes, or Banana Ghosts.  The toppings will vary, but the concept of an abundance of choices and the freedom to choose is always fun!

Peel ripe bananas.  Cut in half and place pop stick in the bottom.  Gently push chocolate chips in (point first) for the eyes (and nose/mouth if you want).

Prepare small bowls of toppings.  People can scoop the toppings that interest them onto their individual plates.  It’s really fun and delicious!  You’ll be surprised it’s so fun.

Some of our favorite toppings:

  • Nut/seed butter
  • Chocolate hazelnut butter
  • Melted coconut oil
  • Raw honey
  • Maple syrup
  • Chopped nuts
  • Chopped salted roasted pumpkin seeds
  • Dried coconut
  • Raisins, currants, or goji berries.

You can spread the nut butters and honey, dip in the maple, and roll in the coconut.  Press on the nuts and dried fruit.  If you use coconut oil, it’s best to the roll it in a dry topping and place in the freezer for at least 20 minutes.

Kids and adults alike love these!  Enjoy this Halloween with your friends, while sticking to your healthy diet and feeling great!



Julie Matthews is a Certified Nutrition Consultant who received her master’s degree in medical nutrition with distinction from Arizona State University. She is also a published nutrition researcher and has specialized in complex neurological conditions, particularly autism spectrum disorders and ADHD for over 20 years. Julie is the award winning author of Nourishing Hope for Autism, co-author of a study proving the efficacy of nutrition and dietary intervention for autism published in the peer-reviewed journal, Nutrients, and also the founder of BioIndividualNutrition.com. Download her free guide, 12 Nutrition Steps to Better Health, Learning, and Behavior.


  1. Hi Julie
    Great post. We have been switching for years and I love the Switch Witch concept. Another thing that has helped us is to trick or treat with children who have similar diet restrictions. Sammy goes every year with a boy he met in speech therapy five years ago. They are both gluten, dairy, GMO and dye-free so every year we (the moms) take turns creating the “safe” bag of candy which we switch out with them. This year since Sam is older, I negotiated a video game with a few safe sweet treats since I want him to eat low sugar as well. Sugar really affects his behavior. My GF support group (GIG of Tri-Valley) also hosts a gluten, dairy and dye-free Halloween party. We had it last Sunday. I had a big banner up and about five families stopped by to learn more. it’s amazing how many more families are becoming aware of all these issues and also are being diagnosed with gluten sensitivity.

    Be well,
    Kim Rice

  2. Hi Julie, thanks for the ideas. I noticed you mentioned the Daiya cheese. I looked up the ingredients and was concerned. Not much sounds real. Is it really ok? Thanks for your help.
    Filtered water, tapioca and/or arrowroot flours, non-GMO expeller pressed canola and /or non-GMO expeller pressed safflower oil, coconut oil, pea protein, salt, vegan natural flavors, inactive yeast, vegetable glycerin, xanthan gum, citric acid (for flavor), titanium dioxide (a naturally occurring mineral).

    • Hi Lani, I agree that it’s better to do all “whole foods” and not things like this cheese. While it will not apply to some people, I was applying the “special occasion” rule where if it does work, it might be a fun treat for a special party.

  3. I have four children. And like you, enjoyed the days when they didn’t know candy was edible.
    Once they discovered that, I started a tradition that they look forward to every year (even my 14 year old still likes it).
    When they return from trick or treating they sort their candy. There are a few types I will let them keep. Everything else goes into the Witches pot. When try are asleep the Halloween witch come, takes all the candy, and leaves behind special treats. Such as stuff toy, games, books, etc. something significant enough that they are happy to give up the candy, but not too big as to put value in the horrible candy

    The Halloween Witch is our favorite part of Halloween.

    • I love it Jody! Thanks for sharing your wonderful tradition.

  4. I agree with you about avoiding the chemical overload that comes with Halloween. I wish I’d known about this when my kids were younger. I love your ideas, especially the banana ghosts.

    Teaching kids to make good choices in the face of the societal expectation is a great habit to encourage. Having delicious, healthy treats ready to go is just smart.

  5. This is great for the kids and also great for the moms that sneak some of the junk their kids are given!

    Thanks for sharing some wonderful tips and recipes to make it fun and healthy!

    PS. I also see all that sugar and all those colors contributing to anxiety, irritability, mood swings and more …



Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.