Have a Fun Halloween Without Wheat and Gluten!
If a member of your family has celiac disease or gluten intolerance, you know how important it is to keep the foods you prepare and eat completely gluten-free. You are probably accustomed to reading labels and spotting ways in which gluten can creep into prepared foods (vital wheat gluten is a common ingredient in everything from salad dressings to flavored potato chips). You probably make your own food as much as possible in order to keep your diet gluten-free.
Holidays are especially difficult for those on a gluten-free diet, no matter how old they are. Halloween is a treat-fest for children, but how many of those treats contain gluten? Any type of commercial baked goods are almost certain to contain wheat and, therefore, gluten. Candies may also contain gluten, so it is necessary to be very careful about which candies your child eats. Licorice and some chocolates should be avoided due to their gluten content. What all this means is that Halloween can be a disappointing time for your child unless you can provide gluten-free goodies in place of the ordinary Halloween treats.
Since my son has gluten intolerance, we maintain a gluten-free household. A few weeks before Halloween, I begin to plan the cooking and candy-making that I will do for our family to enjoy, as well as to share with others. All the children go trick-or-treating together; when they return home, we remove all treats that potentially contain gluten, and share them with the neighbors or a needy family. The kids know that they aren’t going to be short-changed, because they have already seen the table full of goodies waiting for them at home!
One of the favorite gluten-free recipes is the simple and well-loved Popcorn Balls. We shape ours a little differently and decorate them to resemble jack-o-lanterns.
Jack-o-Lantern Popcorn Balls
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup water
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. natural vanilla extract
2-3 cups air-popped popcorn
- Combine sugar, syrup, butter, water, and salt in a heavy pan.
- Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves.
- Boil until mixture reaches soft ball stage (228?-230? on candy thermometer).
- Remove from heat and add vanilla.
- Pour mixture over popcorn, stirring to coat thoroughly
- When popcorn has cooled somewhat, use buttered hands to shape into flattened balls (thick circles).
- Decorate each “pumpkin” with orange- and black-tinted icing. You can use your own icing recipe with powdered sugar, or Pillsbury white frosting, which is gluten-free.
Another popular Halloween recipe is Pumpkin-Raisin Treats. These cookies can be made large or small. The rice and corn flours give them a bit of crunchiness that is unusual for a cookie. You can buy rice, amaranth, and corn flours in the natural foods section of your grocery store or at a whole/organic foods store.
4 T. butter ½ cup whole corn flour
¼ c. honey ½ cup rolled oats
1 egg 1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. natural vanilla extract 1 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup canned pumpkin ½ tsp ginger
¾ cup rice flour ½ tsp nutmeg
½ cup amaranth flour 1 cup raisins
- Pre-heat oven to 350?.
- Blend together the butter, honey, egg, and vanilla in a mixing bowl, blender, or food processor. Add pumpkin and blend until smooth.
- In a separate bowl, stir together the flours, rolled oats, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.
- Add wet and dry ingredients together, then blend until smooth. Stir in raisins.
- On a non-stick baking sheet (or a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray), drop the batter by tablespoonfuls (for large cookies) or by teaspoonfuls (for small cookies).
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
This recipe will make about 2 dozen large or 4 dozen small gluten-free cookies. These cookies can also be frosted or decorated especially for Halloween. Your whole family will love the special treats you have made them!