Gluten Free Halloween Trick-or-Treaters
October brings fun tricks and treats for Halloween, the much-anticipated holiday for children. Children are happy to tell spooky stories, carve pumpkins, dress up as their favorite character and go trick or treating, filling their bags with sweet treats. However, Halloween can be a time of disappointment for children with food allergies and great anxiety for parents who worry about how to make Halloween safe and fun for their little ghosts and goblins. Food allergic little trick-or-treaters cannot eat most candies because they contain gluten, wheat, eggs, soy, milk or dairy, nuts and other food allergens, therefore, trick-or-treat safety definitely becomes an issue. It is estimated that cca. 2.2 million school-aged children have food allergies. An interesting fact here is that the month of October is also Celiac Disease Awareness Month.
Parties and gatherings around Halloween are fun, but also very tricky, especially for parents whose children are diagnosed with celiac disease or a different food allergy disease. They face an agonizing problem thinking over whether they should permit their children to collect candy containing so many allergens, or ask them to give up the goodies after they had gathered them. This is hard when the children aren’t old enough to understand why.
Halloween TRICK-OR-TREAT SAFETY TIPS for parents:
- food-allergic trick-or-treaters shouldn’t be allowed to fish into their pumpkin. Parents ought to put a Ziploc bag with safe treats into their pumpkin and have them eat only what is in that bag. Purchasing lots of extra safe treats for their own home would also be a smart idea. When the children come home, they should go through the pumpkin, together with their parents, and pick out safe treats. They would learn more about what they can eat and all the unsafe treats could be taken to work by the parents and shared with co-workers.
- A day or so before trick-or-treat, parents could deliver small zip-lock baggies of safe treats to all the neighbors who simply give the child those safe treats provided by the parent. From experience, neighbors are usually very supportive and glad to help. Chances are that the interested neighbors will learn what treats are safe for this child and think of it next year.
- If food-allergic children are attending a Halloween party, their parents should call the host at least a day earlier to find out if a meal is being served, what it might be; they could offer to provide part of the meal. This ensures that there will be gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, nut-free foods or other things to choose from.
- You can be the one to host the Halloween party! This will enable you to provide a completely gluten-free or dairy-free or other allergens-free party that will be fun and delicious! No one will know the difference.
- Children should be encouraged to trade their unsafe treats with the safe treats of other children. The old fashioned horse-trading is fun for all kids. If the food-allergic trick-or-treater swaps all of his/her chocolate for safe favourites like Lifesavers and Laffy Taffy, he/she can still have a very fun Halloween holiday (see the quick list of gluten-free chocolate and non-chocolate treats below).
- If your trick-or-treaters have a good meal before setting off, the treats they eat while out will be limited. You should also make sure to review the list of allergy-friendly candies before they leave home.
Chocolates: M&M’s, Milky Way DARK ONLY, Baby Ruth, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Miniatures, Pumpkins, Snickers
Non chocolate treats: Pez, Tic Tacs, Tootsie rolls and pops, Peeps Marshmallow Treats – (not cookie flavor), Haribro gummy treats, Skittles, Laffy Taffy, Lifesavers, Lifesavers gummies
(Precaution: check the ingredients on the package; these products are NOT DAIRY FREE)
There are many naturally gluten-free or dairy-free (or other allergen-free) dishes that can be used to make a holiday banquet in celebrating any season or event. It takes just a little creativity to modify different traditional recipes and to create a gluten-free (dairy-free or other allergen-free) version. Pumpkin, potatoes, fresh apples and pears, squash, popcorn are a few items among many other that you can use to make Halloween treats.
Tips for baking gluten-free cakes and biscuits
- Gluten free flours should not be used in the same quantity as flour that contains gluten.
- The ingredients must be weighed out exactly.
- Fresh ingredients (butter, milk, soy, eggs, etc) should be taken out of the fridge in due time to reach the room temperature (except to make shortcrust pastry).
- The oven should be switched on before you start baking. It shouldn’t be opened before the cake is baked or, at least not the first 15 minutes.
- The cake is done if a toothpick stuck into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
Halloween trick-or-treat gluten-free and dairy-free recipe
Gluten-free and dairy-free Halloween Muffins
Ingredients for 20 muffins: gluten-free All-Purpose Flour Blend, baking soda, baking powder, salt, soya or rice milk, coconut oil, xanthan gum, honey, pure vanilla extract, lemon juice, fresh blueberries.
ingredients: Buttery Non-Dairy Spread or unsalted butter,
powdered sugar, vanilla extract, soy or rice milk, food colouring.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees and adjust the rack to the middle position. Whisk together 4 cups of gluten-free All-Purpose Flour Blend, 4 teaspoons of baking soda, 3 teaspoons of baking powder, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum. Add 1 cup of coconut oil, 1 cup of honey, 1 cup + 2 tablespoons of soya or rice milk, 1 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract and 3 teaspoons of lemon juice. Stir well. When the batter is smooth, fold in the blueberries (1⅓ cups). Spoon the batter into line 2 standard muffin tins with liners, using a ⅓-cup measure. Place them in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes. Rotate the muffin tin after 15 minutes. Cover the muffins with aluminium foil 10 minutes before the end to keep them from browning. Leave the muffins in the tin for 20 minutes after you take them out of the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool them completely. Freeze them for an hour and then decorate.
Cream together 2 sticks of buttery non-dairy spread or unsalted butter and 1 cup of powdered sugar (use an electric mixer) and then gradually beat in another two cups of powdered sugar. Add 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons of soya or rice milk. When the icing is smooth and creamy, place ¼ in a separate bowl. Add 1 green, 2 blue and 2 red drops of food coloring to make black icing. Spread the white icing over the muffins while still frozen and put the black icing into a decorating bag. You can also use a resealable plastic bag and make a small hole in the corner of the bag. Draw a ghost or a spider web on top of the white icing. To make the web, draw concentric circles of black frosting over the top of each muffin first, and then draw 8 lines from the middle to the edge.
Halloween is really for children and they should participate in all aspects of Halloween, including choosing trick-or-treats. Ask them what they think a good treat would be and arrange with them not to eat any goodies until you see them. Even if you can't accompany them on their holiday tour, you can still make their Halloween safe and fun!
Search the web for more gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free and other allergen-free foods and recipes.
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