Healthy Halloween alternatives

Halloween, which is steadily catching up to Christmas as the major American holiday, is around the corner, which means the Halloween recipes have come out of hiding. Gnarled witches’ fingers. Edible eyeballs. Cat litter for dessert. No doubt about it, Halloween recipes are fun. When else can you serve “bloody fingers” or “wormy” apples and get by with it?

One problem with so many of these recipes is that they’re sweet. That’s not a big deal if you’re hosting a Halloween party and serving desserts instead of candy, but if your kids are lugging around pounds of candy from another party or a trick-or-treating jaunt, the last things you need to serve them are cookies and gooey treats.

Children have good imaginations, so making savory, “spooky” treats is easy, especially for younger kids. Here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Drained pear halves are naturally skull-shaped. Add raisins for eyes and teeth (actually, the spaces between the teeth) and a couple of thin crossed celery stalks (the pale inside stalks work best) for “crossbones.”
  • Anything round and topped with orange Cheddar cheese-an English muffin, a cracker, a hamburger patty-can portray a jack-o-lantern. Use a bit of green pepper for the stem and red peppers and olives for the face.
  • Fold about four feet of foil lengthwise into thirds. Shape the folded foil into a ghost shape, crimping the ends together. Place on a cookie sheet and pour popped popcorn into the foil “pan” to make a ghost. For the eyes and mouth, use black olives, drained and patted dry, pieces of chocolate cookie, or unwrapped chocolate kisses (upside down).
  • Pimiento-stuffed olives cut in half make natural “eyeballs.” Put them in deviled eggs (the yolk part is the “iris”), or insert them into turkey or lean beef meatballs, then bake the meatballs, “eyes” sides up.
  • Ants on a log? Make spiders instead. Fill celery sticks with cream cheese or peanut butter. Place two or three dark raisins on the filling in each piece of celery and make legs with skinny black licorice cut into short bits, or with black icing gel if you can’t abide the idea of licorice and peanut butter in such close proximity.
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