Make these healthy treats as alternatives to sweets for Halloween

October 24, 2012 

Don't you hate having those bags of miniature candies sitting in a dish just daring you to eat the whole bowl?

Some years, our neighborhood has trick-or-treaters, and others, nary a one. That's when the stare down begins. Will I win or the candy bars?

To avoid the pitfalls of Halloween candy, I sometimes buy individually wrapped pretzels. Yes, I like pretzels, too, but at least they are low in fat. I rationalize well.

Another trick is to buy candy that I dislike, i.e., anything with coconut or dark chocolate or those sour worms or gummy bears.

My daughter always has liked what I call "junk candy." You know the sugary or sour balls, jawbreakers and the like. I never touch the stuff: It's empty calories, and besides I don't like them.

I have to watch the candy I do like, and I don't need the extra pounds or sugar. Remember, Halloween can be a nightmare for children with diabetes or other health-related problems.

In the past, I've bought rolls of dimes and given each child a dime, but in today's economy, what a trick to play on some poor child. What can a dime buy?

If you like me need to stay away from the candy bowl, here are a few ideas to give instead of candy:

n A coupon for a favorite treat at a fast-food restaurant. One of those restaurants is donating 90 percent of its proceeds from the coupon booklets to an adoption foundation, a cause close to my heart, and the trick-or-treaters still get a sweet treat.

n A glow-in-the-dark bracelet or necklace. These are usually inexpensive.

n Stickers. My daughter always loved these so

much that she would decorate her bedroom door and walls with them. Maybe I can teach my granddaughter better.

n Sugar-free candy. Some varieties are really good and have no after taste.

n Crayons, pencils, erasers. You can usually find stores offering a bundle for a special price.

n Inexpensive toys, such as, yoyos, puzzles, kazoos or bouncy balls (just make sure the ball is big enough not to be mistaken for candy).

n Goop, putty or slime in a small can. What could be better for Halloween?

n Small coloring or activity books.

Let your imagination take you away from candy land to fun land. After all, isn't that what Halloween is supposed to be for kids -- fun?

Gluten-free treats

Just in time for Halloween and the fast-approaching holiday season, Pat Kersteter of Gautier, Miss., found two gluten-free recipes in "The Grand Canyon Cook Book." This cookbook features Southwestern recipes from Arizona's natural wonder and is written by Bruce and Bobbie Fisher.

Weeks ago, a reader who was recently diagnosed with being gluten and lactose intolerant asked for readers' help. She wanted gluten-free and dairy-free recipes.

Today, these are gluten free. Certain brand names are used because the authors found these worked best.

GLUTEN FREE PINE NUT AND DATE PUDDING

(Serves 8)

1/4-cup stevia

1/4-cup Big Tree Farm's Coconut Palm Sugar

1 egg, beaten

1 cup pitted and chopped Medjool dates (other dates)

1/4-cup Bob's Red Mill Organic Brown Rice Flour (gluten free)

1/2-teaspoon salt

1/2-teaspoon baking powder (gluten free)

1/2-cup whole pine nuts

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix sugar and eggs. Add dates, brown rice flour, salt, baking power and pine nuts.

Pour into a greased, shallow baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes until golden brown.

-- Submitted by Pat Kersteter

GLUTEN FREE PINE NUT COOKIES

(Makes 30-33 cookies)

1/4-cup Bob's Red Mill Organic Brown Rice Flour (gluten free)

1/2-cup Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Oat Flour

1/2-teaspoon salt

1/2-teaspoon cinnamon

1/2-teaspoon baking soda (gluten free)

1-cup quick-cooking rolled oats (I used Quick Quaker Oats)

1 egg

1/3-cup Stevia Extract in the Raw

1/3-cup Big Tree Farm's Coconut Palm Sugar

1/2-cup softened buttery spread (such as Bestlife)

1-teaspoon vanilla

3/4-whole cup pine nuts (or pinon nuts if you're lucky to find them)

1/2-cup raisins

Set oven for 375 degrees.

Sift flours, salt, cinnamon and baking soda together. Mix oats into dry ingredients.

In a large bowl, beat egg, both sugars, buttery spread and vanilla until the butter is well integrated. Mix in dry ingredients. Stir in pine nuts and raisins.

Drop by the tablespoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet or one covered with a silicone baking mat.

Bake on the center rack of oven for 10 to 12 minutes until the pine nut cookies turn slightly golden.

Serve with a glass of your favorite "milk" (soy, rice, coconut or cow's milk) and don't forget the napkins and plates. These cookies are very crumbly.

-- Submitted by Pat Kersteter

German potato salad

Darlene Brown of Bradenton wants a good recipe for German potato salad and needs readers' help.

If you have a favorite German potato salad recipe, please send it to me. In the meantime, here is a good one from "Bell's Best."

GERMAN POTATO SALAD

6 sliced bacon

1/2-cup chopped onion

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1- 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon celery seed

Dash of pepper

1-cup water

1/2-cup vinegar

6-cups sliced, cooked potatoes

Cook bacon until crisp; drain, and crumble, reserving1/4 cup drippings. Cook onion in reserved drippings until tender. Blend in flour, sugar, salt, celery seed and pepper. Add water and vinegar; cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Add bacon and potatoes, tossing lightly. Heat thoroughly, about 10 minutes. Trim with parsley and pimiento, if desired. Makes 8-10 servings.

-- Recipe by Bubbles Talbot, Gulf Coast Council

Wanted: cornbread stuffed pork chops

"Once again I need your help," said Susan Daugherty of Bradenton. "I used to have a great cookbook called 'Cooking for Today' although it was dated around 1990. Somehow I have misplaced it.

"There is a pork chop recipe in it for cornbread stuffed pork chops, which is the best stuffed chop recipe I ever made. You use cornbread stuffing, bacon, onion, celery and some spices in it. Can you ask your readers if they have this recipe? I appreciate it," Dey said.

Readers, you've been asked. Please search your cookbooks and computer files for this recipe.

Don't forget these requests

We still need cookies, bars and cake recipes for fall and Halloween festivals. Also, those who have more persimmon recipes, please send those in. If anyone has a recipe for making bell peppers spicy, please send that along. Readers have asked for your help, please help if you can. That's what this column is all about readers helping readers.

Andrea Yeager, can be reached at ayeager51@cableone.net. Send contributions or requests to Cook's Exchange, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi MS 39535-4567.

If requesting a recipe, include the name or describe it.

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