Healthful Halloween treats & recipes

Sep 15, 2008 at 3:00 p.m. ET

Are you spooked by all the sugar in trick-or-treat sweets? This year, why not try some alternatives to candy and hand out more nutritious goodies to the children who come to your door? Also, try these yummy recipes below to share with friends and family or to bring to a Halloween party!

Halloween Cereal Balls

1/4 cup butter
1 package (10 ounces) marshmallows
2 tablespoons orange-flavored gelatin
6 cups crisp rice cereal
1/2 cup candy corn

1. Combine softened butter and marshmallows in 2-quart glass bowl and cook on high in microwave, uncovered, for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes, or when marshmallows are puffy.

2. Add the orange gelatin and mix well. Stir in cereal and add candy corn.

3. When the mixture is cool enough to touch, butter your hands and form the mixture into balls. Sit them to cool on wax paper and then wrap in plastic wrap.

4. Instead of making them into balls, you can also press the mixture into a 13 x 9-inch pan and serve.

Mini Carrot Cakes with Spider Web Frosting

Ingredients for the cupcakes:
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups grated carrots
2 Tablespoons orange juice
1 3/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon allspice

1. Lightly grease 2 12-cup mini muffin tins.

2. In a bowl, beat together the sugar, honey* and eggs.

3. Add oil, orange juice and carrots.

4. Add the flour, baking powder, salt and allspice and mix well. Pour mix into tins and fill about 3/4 of the way.

5. Bake at 350 F for 15 to 20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Remove from tins after cupcakes have cooled.

*Make sure not to give honey to children under the age of one because of the risk of infant botulism caused by the botulinum spore sometimes found in honey.


4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons milk
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
Plastic spiders for decoration (optional)
*Please don't use small toys for decorating if you have children under the age of three. They are a choking hazard.

1. Beat together the cream cheese, maple syrup and milk in a large bowl.

2. Add the powdered sugar gradually until frosting is creamy and then set it aside.

3. Chop the chocolate and melt in a double boiler on low.

4. Frost the top of the mini carrot cakes with the cream cheese frosting and pour the chocolate into a pastry bag with the smallest opening or into a zipper sandwich bag with a small opening cut out of the bottom.

5. Make one small circle in the center of the cupcake. Repeat several times to create the spider web design.

Apricot Cranberry Balls

12 ounce package of dried apricots
1/3 cup water
1 cup dried, finely chopped cranberries

1. Blend the dried apricots and the water in a blender or food processor. Form the mixture in to 1-inch balls.

2. Spread the dried cranberries on a plate and roll the balls in them to create a coating. Serve on a platter.

Pumpkin Almond Cookies

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup canned pumpkin
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 cups almonds, finely ground
Halloween cookie cutters (optional)
Parchment paper

1. Beat eggs canned pumpkin and brown sugar in bowl. Add almonds.

2. In a different bowl, mix flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.

3. Stir flour mixture with ingredients in other bowl and mix well. Divide dough into three balls and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours or until dough is firm enough to roll out.

4. Roll out each ball to a 1/4-inch thickness on a floured surface and press with Halloween cookie cutters.

5. Place cookies on two baking sheets lined with parchment paper, and bake at 350 F for 8 to 12 minutes or until firm.

Sweet Potato Bread Sandwiches with Peanut Butter and Banana

Ingredients for bread:
2 eggs
1-3/4 cups flour
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1-1/2 cups mashed, baked sweet potatoes (cooled)
Cooking spray

Ingredients for filling:
Peanut butter
2 to 3 ripe bananas (1/2 banana per sandwich)

1. Beat the sugar and the eggs with an electric mixer and then add oil and the mashed sweet potato. Beat.

2. Sift together the dry ingredients, add to the batter and mix.

3. Coat a standard-sized loaf pan with cooking spray and pour the batter in to it.

4. Bake for 1 hour at 350 F or until an inserted toothpick emerges clean.

5. Allow bread to cool completely and then refrigerate for at least an hour before slicing.

6. To prepare the sandwiches, spread peanut butter on one slice of bread and top it with sliced banana. Spread honey on the other slice. Place the slices together and cut into small finger sandwiches.

Quick Pumpkin Cupcakes

1 box regular yellow or vanilla cake mix, two-layer-size
2 eggs
1 tablespoon oil
2/3 cup canned pumpkin
1-1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 cup water or apple juice
1 can vanilla frosting
Candy corn
Black or orange jelly beans
Black licorice

1. Line two muffin tins with paper cupcake liners.

2. Blend the cake mix, eggs, oil, pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice and the water or juice until moistened and beat with a cake mixer for 2 minutes on medium speed. Spoon batter into tin and bake at 350 F for 18 minutes or until done.

3. Cool in pan before frosting and add candy to decorate the frosting.