I love Halloween, but maybe not for the reasons you might think. It’s more about being the gateway to the last quarter of the year, when fall transitions into winter (there’s nothing more peaceful than to watch the quietly falling snow by a warm fire!) and when we celebrate the holidays, family, and food. The crafts, yummy treats, and decorating. This time of year is very special.
But…I also find Halloween and the ensuing holidays to be stressful. If you’re someone who is severely gluten intolerant, it can be daunting. People don’t understand why you not only won’t but can’t enjoy their massive spread at their Halloween party. They don’t understand why you’re asking what’s in the adult witches brew before you take a sip. They suggest that “just this once” should be okay and that I should “live a little”.
Neighbors don’t understand why you’ve chosen to keep your porch light off and to not participate in Trick or Treating. No, dear neighbor, I’m not a jerk. I just cannot and will not serve up gluten laden (and this includes high fructose corn syrup—corn is a horrible gluten!) crap to your children or to my son.
I’ll share a dark little secret, I recently (as in the last month), did “live a little”. I was out with family and I ate a sandwich at a farm-to-table restaurant. I purposely and consciously decided to eat that sandwich. And I paid a big price.
I had an immediate reaction that lasted for three weeks. One sandwich, three weeks of hell. The inflammation hit my hands first. My hands were so swollen that I couldn’t wear any rings. Then I literally felt it coursing through my veins. I started to itch all over. Then I became very tired. The itching wasn’t from an allergic reaction (been there with the anaphylaxis); it was from my liver deciding it was going to sling me up against a wall. Then my allergies (which are still barely under control) went out of control and I ended up with a horrible upper respiratory crud that lasted for two weeks.
So, I won’t be going near gluten this Halloween. I hope that you won’t be either. Keep reading…I’ve got some great tricks + treats to navigate Halloween that won’t leave you feeling like the neighborhood scrooge or missing out on that divine pumpkin spiced latte!
But first, a little spooky history on Halloween itself!
A Little History on Halloween
Halloween takes its roots from Samhain (a Gaelic word pronounced “sow-win”), a pagan religious festival originating from ancient Celtic spiritual traditions. Samhain is usually celebrated from October 31 to November 1 to celebrate the harvest and usher in the dark half of the year. Those who celebrate Samhain believe that the barriers between the physical world and spirit world break down, allowing more interaction between the two. Both spooky and pretty cool!
Through time, the celebration of Samhain morphed into All Hallows Eve or Halloween. It still contains much of the original pagan practices and was brought to America through Irish immigrants (my ancestors!).
Trick-or-treating is said to have derived from ancient Irish and Scottish practices in the nights leading up to Samhain. In Ireland, “mumming” was the practice of putting on costumes, and then going door-to-door singing songs to the dead. Singers were given cakes in return.
Halloween tricks also take their roots from Samhain. In the ancient celebration, tricks were blamed on fairies bent on having some ghoulish fun.
Now that we know a little about the origins of Halloween, let’s dive into the good stuff!
SURVIVAL TRICKS + YUMMY TREATS FOR A GLUTEN-FREE HALLOWEEN
Halloween doesn’t have to be scary or stressful in a gluten-free world. There are lots of things you can do that are both fun and safe for you and your kids. Let’s start with the kiddoes and then I’ll share some adult deliciousness!
1. The Teal Pumpkin Project
This neat program has only been around for a few years. In fact, I think someone in my neighborhood mentioned it only last year. If I had known about it, I wouldn’t have become “that” neighbor—the one who keeps my lights off.
To participate, just grab a pumpkin and paint it teal. Place it by your front door as a sign that you will have non-food treats. You might have to let your neighbors know what the teal pumpkin means ahead of time. Instead of candy, you’ll have spooky stickers, spider rings, pumpkin erasers, or anything else your creative mind can come up with. This is a great way to make Halloween safe and fun for all children. You can get more information here.
2. Halloween Treats Without All the Spooky Stuff
If you really, really want to go the more traditional route and have food treats, stores are getting a lot better about offering better choices for trick or treating. You still have to be extremely vigilant though. Look for gluten-free, non-GMO treats without the high fructose corn syrup or artificial colors and flavors. Stores like Trader Joe’s have some decent options.
3. Go On Ahead and Go Trick or Treating
That’s right. If you have kids and you know that taking them trick or treating is going to lead to a pumpkin full of the “bad stuff” that both you and they will be tempted to eat (believe me, I know! I mean, just the aroma is intoxicating!), do it anyway. Say what? I know, it sounds a bit backwards from what I’ve been saying. There’s a method to this madness!
Make a game out of exchanging the pumpkin full of candy for other treats. Let your kids decide if they want to swap out each piece of candy for money or trade the entire haul for a bigger prize. It doesn’t matter if they are 4 or 12, they will love it. Then go on an after-Halloween shopping trip. It will be fun for all of you.
A GLUTEN-FREE HALLOWEEN ADULT STYLE
Now that we’ve taken care of the kids, we can’t ignore us adults. Halloween in a gluten-free world can be very stressful for all the reasons I mentioned above. But, there are ways we can compensate! The recipes below are awesome and not complicated. I’ve got tons more, but these are a few of my favorites! There’s a bit of pumpkin overload going on here. Halloween just is not Halloween without pumpkin. Even if you don’t think you’re a fan, these recipes just might change your mind.
1. PUMPKIN SPICED LATTE
This is Danielle Walker’s recipe from her Celebrations cookbook. You can find all the details, including how to make it, here.
2. PUMPKIN PIE MUFFINS
These make both a great breakfast muffin if you want to skip the frosting and a yummy Halloween treat. Personally, I eat them for breakfast with frosting, with the latte.
There are several recipes out there, but Elana Amsterdam of Elana’s Pantry has the best. The whole shebang is here.
For the frosting, a simple coconut milk whipped cream is all you need. It’s soooo good.
You’ll need two 13.5 oz cans of coconut milk, chilled in the fridge for at least 24 hours. It must be the canned milk. This is important. Believe me, I’ve learned from experience.
Place a glass or metal bowl and your mixer beaters in the freezer for 30 minutes. Remove the coconut milk from the fridge and carefully scoop off the cream that has risen to the top. Put it in your chilled bowl.
Beat the cream on high until peaks form. If you want, drizzle in pure vanilla extract, but it tastes great on its own.
Plop a dollup on your cupcake, and voila! I like sprinkling a little pumpkin spice for a little extra yum.
3. Gluten-Free Vegan Pumpkin Soup
Double bonus! This amazing soup is both gluten-free and vegan. It’s creamy, velvety, rich deliciousness. Our recipe roundup would not be complete without adding some savory decadence.
It only takes about 30 minutes to make. Pumpkin is of course the star, but it’s joined by onion, garlic, vegetable broth and coconut milk. Sprinkle on some toasted almonds and add a sprig of fresh rosemary. It’s divine!
Make this incredible soup for lunch or supper!
THE NEXT TIME YOU’RE FEEDING YOUR SKIN…
During this wonderful time, don’t forget about your skin too. Stress, the colder weather, and the drier air can take its toll. Not only is pumpkin food for the body and soul, but it also works wonders for the skin!
Check out our favorite pumpkin packed products…
KUDARAT PRODUCTS WITH PUMPKIN
RESTORATIVE EYE CREAM
A feast for your eyes! Our unique formulation was developed specifically for its ability to address the effects of puffy eyes and dark circles. Pumpkin seed extract softens and smoothes for extra nourishing.
Our highly concentrated skin brightening formula was created to help improve skin tone and texture. Pumpkin seed extract is one of the plant-active stars.