Gluten-Free Trick or Treat Tips
October ushers in the cool crisp days of autumn. This is the month that makes us think about crisp apples, pumpkin pie, warm cider and Halloween treats. It is also Celiac Disease Awareness Month. So let’s explore all the goodness and goodies of October gluten-free.
When we think of the seasonal offerings of October, there are fresh apples, pears, pumpkin, squash and, potatoes, which are all naturally gluten-free. They provide a wide variety of tastes, textures and menu possibilities. With a little creativity you can have a complete seasonal banquet that is all naturally gluten-free. We can start with creamy squash soup or salad greens with sliced pears, dried cranberries and feta cheese with a balsamic dressing. A side dish may be sweet potato medallions with mandarin oranges in a brown sugar glaze, with roasted chicken stuffed with wild rice. To finish, the possibilities are endless from traditional pumpkin pie (with a gluten-free crust of course) to pumpkin cheesecake or even apple crisp. The important thing is to remember in celebrating any season or any event is that there are many dishes that are naturally gluten-free and many traditional recipes can be easily modified to create a fabulous gluten-free version. Check the box below for some helpful recipe conversion hints.
One of the main attractions for the month of October, especially if you have children in the house is Halloween. Trick or treating is easy gluten-free. There are many main stream candies that are naturally gluten-free (see list below). What can be trickier are the parties and gatherings around Halloween. Here are a few suggestions to help make the day filled with fun not worry:
- Make sure your trick or treat-er has a good meal before setting off. This will help limit the treats they eat while out.
- Make sure to review the list of safe candies before they leave home.
- If a Halloween party is on the agenda then call the host ahead of time to find out if a meal is being served and what it might be. Offer to provide part of the meal or snacks – this ensures that there will be gluten-free things to choose from.
- Offer to host the party! This will enable you to provide a completely gluten-free party that will be fun, delicious and no one will know the difference.
For classroom parties:
- The key is to talk to the teacher ahead of time. Make sure she has a list of safe candies and treats. Offer to provide a hypoallergenic snack for all such as popcorn balls, baked apples – or even fresh ones!
- Offer food substitutes as potential classroom treats such as Halloween pencils, stickers mini pumpkins etc.
- There are many non food related Halloween activities that the class can participate in: Carve pumpkins, start a mitten tree, research how pumpkins became a symbol of fall, investigate native foods and their growing cycle.
- Encourage the teacher to take on a neighborhood project – collect canned goods for a homeless shelter, collecting monies for UNICEF or other local charities.
- For treats think outside the candy aisle. There are lots of goodies that are non food related. The offerings can be adapted to the age of the children. Treats can be; Halloween pencils or pens, stickers, small Halloween pumpkins and figurines, glow sticks, pen flashlights, even coins for UNICEF.
Here is a quick list of safe gluten-free candies. It is important to remember Halloween is also about dressing up, carving pumpkins, and getting friends together. Emphasize the nonfood aspects of the day. Please note that the candies listed below are gluten-free to the best of our knowledge. We cannot guarantee that they are gluten-free nor do we know what measures are taken by the manufacturers to avoid cross contamination.
Milky Way DARK ONLY
Hershey’s bar – plain, almond
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Miniatures, Pumpkins
Non Chocolate treats
Brach’s Candy Corn, Autumn Mix, and Pumpkins
Tootsie rolls and pops
Peeps Marshmallow Treats – (not cookie flavor)
Haribro gummy treats
Sour Patch Kids
Recipe Conversion Hints
1 cup all purpose gluten free baking mix can be substituted for 1 cup all purpose flour
Crushed walnuts, almonds, or hazelnuts can be substituted for crushed graham crackers.
Crushed almonds can be mixed with all purpose gluten-free baking mix to make a delicious and crunchy coating for chicken nuggets, fish sticks or cutlets. Use ½ cup crushed almonds to ¾ cup flour. Season to taste.
1) Ground nuts or nut meal.
2) Gluten free ginger snaps
Use either as if graham crackers. Mix with butter, brown sugar and a dash of gluten free flour. Press into pie pan. Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees.
1/4 cup butter, 2 cup ground nut meal ( or gf ginger snaps), 2 tablespoons chickpea flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar
4 packages cream cheese, 4 eggs, 1 ½ cup sugar, 2 tsp vanilla, 1 tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp ground cloves, ½ tsp ginger, ½ tsp nutmeg, 1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1 cup sour cream, ½ tsp vanilla
1. Preheat oven at 450.
2. Make crust, bake and set aside to let cool.
3. In mixing bowl cream together the cream cheese, sugar.
4. When sugar mixture is creamed and fluffy add pumpkin.
5. Add eggs one at a time.
6. Add spices.
7. Pour over nut crust.
8. Bake at 450 for 15 minutes.
9. Turn oven down to 350 and bake for 55 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.
10. Mix sour cream, sugar and vanilla together.
11. Remove cheesecake from oven. Spoon sour cream mixture over top of cheesecake leaving room around the edge, covering any cracks.
12. Return to oven and bake for another 15 minutes at 350.
13. Remove from oven and let cool for one hour, then refrigerate.
14. Best when refrigerated over night.
6 large apples; skinned, sliced thin, ¾ cup sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ½ tsp nutmeg, ¼ cup corn starch
1 cup crushed Schar shortbread cookies, ¼ cup butter, ¼ cup sugar, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Prepare apples. Wash, skin, remove core, cut into thin slices. Place in large bowl.
3. Combine corn starch, spices and sugar together.
4. Add to apples, mix well.
5. Place apple mixture into 8 inch baking dish.
6. Make topping:
a. Crush cookies, add cinnamon.
b. Mix butter with sugar, combine with cookies, mix until resembles coarse meal.
7. Place topping mixture on top of apples.
8. Bake for 40 minutes or until apples bubble in 350 degree oven.
Citrus Brown Rice Pilaf
2 tbsp butter or oil, ¼ tsp oregano, 1 cup brown rice, ½ cup finely chopped pecans, 2 cups stock; beef, chicken or vegetable, salt and pepper to taste, ½ cup currants, 2 tbsp chopped, fresh parsley, 1 tbsp grated orange or lemon rind
Preheat oven to 350º F (180ºC). Melt butter or oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add buckwheat. Add stock, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Add remaining ingredients except parsley. Transfer to a greased 1-qt casserole dish, cover and bake for 20 minutes. Stuff in cavity of cooked chicken to serve. Garnish with parsley. Makes 6 servings.
Most children (adults too) like breaded chicken. Here is a way to increase the nutrient content of the meal. If your child is not allergic to nuts use finely chopped nuts mixed with your favorite seasonings in place of the breadcrumbs. For a really delicious and not quite as healthy version crush potato chips with the nuts and spices. Watch the chicken disappear!
Chicken Nuggets, Tenders, or Fish Sticks
Chicken breast ( or chicken strips or flounder cut into strip), ! cup chickpea flour, 1 cup crushed potato chips or crushed nuts, ½ tsp Pepper (use white if color is an issue), ½ tsp Garlic salt, ½ tsp Oregano, crushed, 1 -2 Eggs beaten
1. Heat oven to 400
2. Lightly coat the bottom of a baking pan with oil.
3. Mix together the dry ingredients.
4. Beat the eggs.
5. Cut the chicken or fish into desired size and/or shapes.
6. Dip the chicken or fish into the egg then into the coating mixture.
7. Place the chicken or fish in the pan.
8. Repeat until all chicken is coated.
9. Bake for 20 – 30 minutes depending on the size and thickness of the pieces.