By heart and stroke charity Croí´s dietitian
This time of year, the treats can sometimes takeover the Halloween festivities.
The supermarkets are stocked to the rafters with Halloween themed high sugar and high fat treats. It can be difficult to say ‘no’ when we are surrounded by these foods at the petrol station, local shop or supermarket.
A recent report by Safefood has found that we now spend more on treat foods than fruit and vegetables in our weekly shop. We also know that 20% of what Irish children are eating day to day are treat foods.
The healthy eating guidelines recommend that treat foods (e.g. biscuits, chocolate and crisps) be limited to no more than two times per week.
So this year why not take a different approach and use the time to get creative in the kitchen. It may even be the perfect opportunity to ‘trick’ children to experiment with different types of vegetables, if cooked or prepared in a fun and super spooky way!
Here are some vegetable based Halloween recipes for you to try. Not only will you have fun preparing them, you and your children will be ‘treated’ to better nutrition.
The ingredients in these recipes provide the right balance of vitamins, minerals and fibre that help to maintain a healthy blood pressure, lower cholesterol and prevent weight gain, for a happy healthy heart this Halloween!
Healthy Halloween stuffed peppers
4 peppers (a mix of orange, red and yellow looks nice)
25g pine nuts
1 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
1 red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 small aubergine, chopped into small pieces
200g pouch pre cooked mixed grains (we used bulgur wheat and quinoa, available in most
2 tbsp sundried tomato paste/pesto
zest of 1 lemon
bunch basil, chopped
1. Cut the tops off the peppers (keeping the tops to one side) and remove the seeds and any white flesh from inside. Use a small sharp knife to carve spooky Halloween faces into the sides. Chop any offcuts into small pieces and set aside.
2. Toast the pine nuts in a dry pan for a few mins until golden, and set aside. Heat the oil in the pan, and heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Cook the onion in the oil for 8-10 mins until softened.
3. Stir in the garlic, pepper offcuts and aubergine and cook for another 10 mins, until the veggies are soft. Add a splash of water if the pan looks dry. Season.
4. Squeeze the pouch of grains to break them up, then tip into the pan with the tomato paste. Stir for a minute or two to warm through, then remove from the heat and add the lemon zest, basil and pine nuts.
5. Fill each pepper with the grain mixture. Replace the lids, using cocktail sticks to secure them in place
6. Put the peppers in a deep roasting tin with the carved faces facing upwards.
7. Cover with foil and bake for 35 mins, uncovered for the final 10.
8. The peppers should be soft and the filling piping hot.
1 small pumpkin (about 500g)
olive oil, for roasting
2 garlic cloves, peeled
½ lemon, juiced
2 tbsp tahini paste (Made from ground sesame seeds)
400g can chickpeas, drained
1 red pepper, deseeded, and sliced
1 yellow pepper, deseeded, and sliced
mini breadsticks and pitta chips, to serve
1. Cut the top off the pumpkin, about two-thirds of the way up. Remove the pumpkin seeds, then scoop the flesh out of the bottom and the lid.
2. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Cut the pumpkin flesh into pieces and put in a roasting tin with the garlic and a good glug of oil. Season, then bake for 45 mins until very tender. Leave to cool.
3. Tip the pumpkin into a food processor with any juices from the roasting tin and the garlic. Add the lemon juice, tahini paste and chickpeas. Season with salt and blend to a paste – add a little more oil if it is too thick. Scoop the hummus back into the pumpkin and serve with the peppers, breadsticks and pitta chips.
Cute Clementine Pumpkins
1. Peel a clementine, leaving the sections intact.
2. Cut a small piece of celery and stick it in the middle to be a stem.
There you have it: simple, mini pumpkins, great as a display on the table.
This tasty treat is as fun to eat as it is to make! You will need 1 ice-lolly stick or narrow plastic spoon for each Boonana!
Ingredients – Serves 1 Adult
1 large banana
1 tablespoon of unsweetened orange juice
1 tablespoon of desiccated, shredded coconut
2 raisins – for eyes!
1. Put the orange juice in a shallow bowl or plate
2. On a separate plate spread the shredded coconut – not too much a little goes a long way
3. Peel your banana and dip it in the orange juice
4. Next, roll the banana in the shredded coconut to make white spooky ghosts!
5. Add some raisins for the eyes
6. Place the stick or spoon up through the centre of the banana so the Boonana can fly around!
Serving Suggestions : Serve the Boonana straight away or freeze it first in the freezer.