Have you noticed that Trick-or-Treat is almost non-existent now? For the past several years, hubby has sat by the front door with a large plastic bowl of candy and other goodies to pass out to the neighborhood kiddies, but hardly anyone ever shows up. We live in Utah, and Utah has organized Trunk-or-Treat festivities at the local church building every year, so very few kids roam the neighborhood after dark.
When I was growing up in California, our local church group used to put on a Halloween carnival with a haunted house and fun things like that. We would get dressed in our costumes, head for the church patio, and spend the afternoon and evening playing carnival games and eating hot dogs and chili. But now, the thing-to-do seems to be Trunk-or-Treat instead.
For us, the hot treat of choice was popcorn balls and those hard, red slick candied apples. Mom had a large box of old clothing, shoes, wigs, false teeth, and parts of costumes from previous years that we could go through and create our own masterpiece with. We were free to use mom's makeup to complete the look, as the church carnival didn't allow masks. They didn't want to scare the kids.
It wasn't until the scare of going door-to-door surfaced with the possibility of getting poisoned or winding up with a razor-blade in those apples and popcorn balls that mom and dad switched from giving out homemade treats to store-purchased individually-wrapped candy. It was dad watching a youngster toss the popcorn ball into a trash can that did it. And Halloween was never the same again after that.
Halloween Fun Without Sugar or Sugar Substitutes
Hubby is so disappointed. Since he doesn't have any children of his own, he really likes passing treats out to the kids. In fact, Halloween is far more exciting for him than Thanksgiving or even Christmas. Oddly enough, he hasn't even asked for Halloween candy this year. Usually, he tries to play the, "we got to get the candy early" game, so he can dip into it before the great day arrives, but that hasn't happened this year.
He did speak up this morning to let me know there is only one week left until Halloween, after the local news station reminded him that the holidays were just around the corner. But his delay got me thinking. There's no reason why Halloween has to be drowning in sugar, or even sugar substitutes. Fun is the name of the game, and food can be fun without all of those unnecessary carbohydrates and sugar alcohols. Even Splenda has been starting to get a bad name these days.
I've been reacting badly to all sugar substitutes for years now, so my answer to the Halloween dilemma has just been to use a little common sense and a few realistic low-carb survival tactics. But why should I have to do that? Why not just come up with a few fun ways to celebrate the holiday that doesn't include sugar or restraint?
Low-Carb Halloween Food Ideas
Coming up with a cute and tasty low-carb Halloween spread just takes a little bit of ingenuity and creativity. Think pumpkins, jack-o-lanterns, spiders, eyeballs, and fingers. How would those types of Halloween sensations translate into fun low-carb food?
Low-Carb Halloween Eyeballs: Cheeseballs are a solid holiday tradition, but you don't have to mold the dough into a single giant ball. After combining equal parts of cream cheese and butter until well mixed together, roll the dough into giant eye-ball sized balls and then top each eye-ball with a pimento-filled green olive slice for a gross look the kids won't be able to resist.
Tangerine Jack-o-Lanterns: This is an easy one. Just buy a bag of those cutie tangerines and use a black felt-tip pen to decorate them like jack-o-lanterns. This would make a great activity to do with the kids. Give them 2 or 3 tangerines each and let them decorate them anyway they want to. Cuties have about 8 net carbs each.
Blood-shot Eyeballs: To make a blood-shot eye ball isn't difficult. Hard-boil several eggs, then smash them just enough to crack the egg shells, but leave the egg intact. You then simmer the eggs in a red-colored liquid such as beet juice or a red food-colored water. The red color will seem through the cracked shell and look like blood-shot eye balls once you peel the eggs.
Spider Eggs: No party or family gathering is complete without a tray of deviled eggs, but Halloween calls for something special. Why not dress your deviled eggs up to look like creepy black spiders? Place a black-olive half in the middle of the filling for a spider body, then cut the other half into thin spider legs.
Low-Carb Mini Pizza: Form low-carb pizza dough into mini pizzas, or use large portobella mushroom caps. Spread or fill with sauce, sprinkle with cheese, and then cut pepperoni into eyes, nose, and mouth for a jack-o-lantern before baking. Alternatively, you could also arrange the cheese into a spider-web design, and then top each pizza with either a plastic spider or an black-olive spider cut as above.
Hot-Dog Fingers: Hot dogs are the perfect size for creepy-looking fingers that the kids will all be fighting over. Just cut a small piece of hot dog off of the top of one end of the dog to look like a fingernail that has been removed, and then cut slices into the dogs for knuckles and wrinkles. Alternatively, you could use a piece of red or green bell pepper to make a colored fingernail. For a really eery presentation, stick the dogs finger-nail up in a bowl of homemade dip.
|Photo by: Arne Heggestad, CC by-sa 2.0|
Jack-o-Lantern Puke: Low carb and guacamole go hand-in-hand like bacon and eggs. But why just serve the guacamole in a festive bowl surrounded by cheese chips and nuked pepperoni slices? Sometimes, it's all about the presentation. Go the extra mile by carving up a nice Jack-o-lantern. Set the pumpkin at the end of a large platter, and then arrange the guacamole as if the pumpkin is puking it up all over the table. Drape some of it out of the pumpkin's mouth and then most of it arranged on the platter. This will look even better and more realistic if you add some chopped tomatoes and onions to your guacamole. If you don't like guacamole, you could substitute a homemade chunky salsa for the same effect.
Halloween Quesadillas: If you can have low-carb tortillas, have some fun and cut out triangle eyes and a mouth out of one tortilla. Heat a second tortilla in a pan and top with grated cheese. Cover the cheese with the tortilla cut into a jack-o-lantern face, and heat until the cheese is melted.
Jack-o-Lantern Berry Cups: Cut the top off of an orange, about one-third down. That should give you a wide enough opening to carefully remove the orange sections without hurting the orange skin. You want the orange to keep it's round shape. Carefully carve the orange like a jack-o-lantern, and then fill with an assortment of low-carb strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries. Whatever you have available.
Halloween-Shaped Cheese Slices or Hamburgers: Who needs cookies for Halloween? Simply pull your old Halloween cookie cutters out from where you've been hiding them, and use them on slices of real American cheese instead. Pumpkin shapes, cats, and witch hats in white or orange cheese slices will add a unique holiday twist to any raw-vegetable or low-carb cracker platter. You could also cut cooked hamburger patties into scary Halloween shapes as well. Use reduced-sugar catsup to draw jack-o-lantern faces on each patty. Another idea is to cut a jack-o-lantern face into your American cheese and then melt it slightly on top of your burger.
Don't Forget the Decorations
When you're talking about a holiday where the focus is on food, don't forget to surround yourself with a festive atmosphere. A Halloween tablecloth, skeleton cut-outs, danging spiders, a variety of decorated pumpkins, witch cauldrons, dried flowers, and lacy doilies will go a long way toward making your low-carb Halloween special. While food is always important at any celebration, allow your imagination and creativity to spill over into a memorable atmosphere that the kids will remember for years to come.