Halloween is a wonderful holiday to celebrate, full of costumes and horror movies and things that go bump in the night. Many people also associate this occasion with the sugary morsels their kids bring home after an enthusiastic night of trick-or-treating around the neighborhood, but those are rarely the healthy choices that any of us want hanging around in the pantry.
People might not be able to get away with hiding their kids’ treasure trove of snacks (or throwing them away entirely!), but at least everyone can make healthy choices when it comes to their own diets.
Whether you’re hosting a party or just spending the evening at home alone, watching a horror movie marathon in the dark, you can whip up some of these wonderfully creepy snacks to liven up your night. Not only are they spook-tastic, they’re delicious, nutritious, and ideal for an anti-inflammatory diet.
#1 – Blood-Red Beet “Hummus”
Legumes are a great big “no” when one is avoiding inflammatory foods, and since hummus is made from garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas), that delicious dip has to be taken off the menu, much to many peoples’ dismay.
Beet hummus is a surprisingly delicious alternative to that beany spread: beets have an earthy flavor similar to that of chickpeas, but don’t have any inflammatory components. Rich in iron, folate, potassium, and vitamin B6, these root vegetables are as tasty as they are good for you. When you transform them into a hummus-style dip, the end result is a deep, purple-red concoction that couldn’t be more perfect for a Halloween buffet table.
- 2 cups roasted beets, peeled and diced (about 8 medium or 10 small beets)
- The juice of 1 or 2 lemons, depending on how lemony you’d like this to be
- 3 small garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon *tahini (optional: omit if you’re eliminating all seeds and nuts)
- Salt to taste
To roast the beets, preheat your oven to 375F, place each beet in a square of aluminum foil, and coat the roots lightly with olive oil. Wrap them up tightly, place onto a baking sheet, and cook for 45-60 minutes, depending on their size (smaller beets need less time in the oven).
Remove the sheet, allow the beets to cool for a good 15 minutes, then peel them, dice them, and pop them into your blender or food processor.
Add the rest of your ingredients and process until smooth. Taste the dip and adjust the salt and lemon juice if desired, then scoop out into a bowl and serve with raw vegetable crudités, dehydrated root vegetable chips, or endive spears.
*Note: if you do use tahini in this recipe, try to find black tahini at your local Middle Eastern grocery store. It’ll make the dip a deep, dark blood red—ideal for your spooky get together.
#2 – Spiderweb Eggs
These little protein bombs can be served two ways; whole, as hardboiled eggs to just bite into, or deviled. If you’re going to serve them whole, go for the smallest size eggs possible so they’re practically bite-sized. If you’re aiming to make them deviled, aim for large or extra large so they hold a lot of filling.
- A dozen small eggs with white shells
- 2 cups frozen blueberries or blackberries
- 8 cups of water
- Black, grey, or red salt
To hard-boil your eggs, place them in a single layer inside a large cooking pot, and cover with the water and frozen blueberries. Turn on the heat, bring the water to a rolling boil, then remove the pot from the burner, cover it, and let it stand for 15 minutes.
Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon, and tap each of them in a couple of places with a soup spoon: you’re aiming for a round depression with thin crack lines radiating outwards from the centre.
Place the eggs back into the blueberry water, and put the pot in the fridge overnight, or for 8 to 12 hours. Then, gently peel the shells off: the cracks will have absorbed pigment from the blueberry water and have dark grey “spiderwebs” on them.
When you serve these, pour a little bit of the grey, black, or red salt in a little dish and place that nearby for people to sprinkle them over their eggs.
If you can’t get your hands on frozen blueberries, or if you’d rather that the “webs” on your eggs are dark brown instead of grey, you can steep the cracked eggs in strong-brewed decaf black tea instead of the blueberry water.
#3 – Deviled Option
If you’re using large eggs instead and would like to make them “deviled”, you can make them even spookier by using mashed or pureed avocado instead of mayonnaise or yogurt.
- A dozen large hard-boiled spiderweb eggs, sliced in half lengthwise (use the same preparation process as above for the small eggs)
- 2 large, ripe avocados
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon or lime juice
- A pinch of garlic or onion salt
- Optional: Flying fish or salmon roe as a garnish
Use a spoon to remove the cooked yolks from your hard-boiled eggs, and place the contents into your blender or food processor. Add in the scooped-out flesh from your avocados, toss in the garlic or onion salt, lime/lemon juice, and a bit of salt, and combine until smooth.
Adjust the salt if needed, then use a teaspoon (or a piping bag) to fill the hollowed-out cooked eggs with this filling. If desired, sprinkle a bit of black or grey salt on top, or garnish with a tiny spoonful of orange or red fish eggs.
The combination of green goop inside spiderweb-fleshed egg makes for a perfectly themed snack: food doesn’t get much spookier looking than this!
#4 – Roasted Pumpkin Seeds (Pepitas)
If you carve a pumpkin (or three) this Halloween, don’t throw out the seeds! They’re packed with so much protein, zinc, magnesium, and healthy omega-3 fat that it would be a travesty to just toss them away!
- Seeds from the pumpkin you’ve carved
- Olive oil
- *Optional: garlic powder
Remove as much pumpkin flesh and stringy bits from the seeds as possible, and then rinse them thoroughly in a fine-mesh colander or strainer. Rub them dry with a clean towel and set them aside on some paper so they dry out a thoroughly as possible.
Preheat your oven to 300F.
In a bowl, toss the dried, clean pumpkin seeds with a couple of tablespoons of high-quality olive oil, and either sea salt or pink Himalayan salt.
You can use as much or as little salt as you like, or to suit your dietary restrictions. The seeds are delicious on their own so they don’t need too much seasoning. That said, some people like to toss in a little bit of garlic powder, but that’s entirely up to you.
Spread the seeds in a single layer on a shallow, non-stick baking sheet, and then bake for 40-45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the seeds are a beautiful golden brown. Remove them from the oven and let them cool down completely before transferring them to a serving bowl or container. They’re wonderfully crunchy morsels that have far more nutrient density than popcorn or chips, and the more pumpkins you carve, the more seeds you’ll have to snack on.
#5 – Spider Guts Smoothie
Adults and kids alike love these smoothies, which are sweet and creamy and packed with nutrients. Some people call them “grasshopper” smoothies, but if you’re aiming for a more seasonal name, you can’t get much creepier than implying that they’re made from frothy spider guts.
- 1 frozen banana, cut into slices
- 1/2 cup fresh or canned (organic) pineapple, peeled and chopped
- 1 cup fresh mango or kiwi, peeled and chopped
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 cup avocado cubes
- 1 cup baby spinach leaves
- 1/2 cup ice
Place all the ingredients in your blender and process on high until smooth and creamy. Pour into glasses and serve, preferably with a little toy spider clinging to the glass.
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Have a safe and happy Halloween!
Rick Kaselj, MS