So this whole Halloween thing has me wondering… who was it that decided that the requirements for Halloween treats had to be either sugary, buttery, or both sugary and buttery? My teeth just shuddered. Well, my curiosity got the best of me, and I embarked on an online quest to find out just how this cavity-causing tradition got started. The search actually proved much more interesting than I had anticipated.
The Halloween traditions that we celebrate today reign from a combination of two major festivals: the Celtic Festival of Samhain and the Catholic Church’s Hallomas. During Samhain, which literally means “Summer’s End”, it was thought that dead spirits could walk freely among the living. This was due to the belief that the realms of the dead and the living overlapped during the transition from one year to the next. In order to avoid being approached by these poor souls, men would dress up in black masks and cloaks, basically to say “Hey, I’m dead too leave me alone.” In an attempt to deemphasize the popularity of the pagan festival, the Catholic Church moved their “All Hollows Eve” holiday to November 1st. the same day as the Feast of Samhain. Despite the Catholic Church’s annoyance with Samhain, they still adapted traditions like dressing up, but instead chose to impersonate saints, angels and demons.
So, where did “trick or treat” come from? Turns out during the Middle Ages, poor adults and children would dress up in these costumes and go door to door begging for food in exchange for prayers and songs. Eventually in 19th century U.K, children realized this was a golden opportunity to get some treats. Instead of reciting prayers, they’d tell jokes or perform in some way, and so was born every dentist’s favorite tradition. Now in the United States, all religious context has been since removed, and instead, we are left throwing Halloween parties for our kids and friends.
Fear not cavity-conscious parents and friends, for as it turns out, there are some delicious, healthy AND spooky treats that might draw even the dead to your house. Whether you’re looking for a healthy treat to bring to a party, wanting to put a spooky twist on dinner, or looking to impress those health-conscious ladies at the office, I hope these recipes inspire you to bring something new to the sea of brownies and cookies that are sure to be present.
I love hummus, and it is this love that inspired me to want to use it as the main ingredient for this treat. Feel free to use a store-bought version, or if you have some time try making it yourself! Add some roasted garlic to add something extra to a more traditional recipe. I decided to plate this treat in my cast-iron simply because it was deep enough to hold my tombstones and trees in place. The black color of the pan definitely adds eeriness to the dish as well.
For the tombstones, I cut wheat pita bread into tombstone shapes of different sizes and tossed them in olive oil, salt, pepper, and smoky paprika. On a sheet tray and in the oven they went at 375 degrees for about 10-15 minutes, or until they started turning brown and crispy looking. While those were in, I chopped up some chives finely to make the grass and threw in some chopped up dill to bring different shades of green to the dish. After the chips cooled, I used some Siracha to write R.I.P as epitaphs and planted those in my graveyard. Finally, what’s cuter than little broccoli trees?
Not a fan of hummus? Try the recipe using a bean dip and/or cilantro and green onion!
Spicy Zombie Eyeballs
A party isn’t a party without some delicious and creamy deviled eggs. I mean zombie eyeballs. For this recipe, feel free to use a deviled egg recipe you hold near and dear.
During the summer, I was in a rush making my usual recipe and when I went to get the relish, I realized we were out. I quickly scanned the refrigerator looking for something that could replace the relish, and decided I’d try adding some hot giardiniera. Since then, I’ve never gone back. The giardiniera adds a nice acidity and bite to the creamy egg mixture.
After mixing together all the food ingredients, add a drop of green, blue or red food dye. When filling the eggs, place the egg batter in the corner of a Ziplock bag, and snip off the corner for a make-shift pastry bag. This makes the job of stuffing the eggs much easier and aesthetically pleasing.
Add an olive to make an eyeball and some Siracha as bloody veins, and you’ve got yourself some Spicy Zombie Eyeballs.
Recipe for filling: (Makes 12)
6 hard-boiled eggs
1-2 tbsp light mayonnaise
3 tbsp giardiniera, small dice
Salt and pepper to taste
1 drop of food dye
Yacking Pumpkin Guacamole and Pico de Gallo
This ghouly treat is probably my favorite. It gave me a fun excuse to sit down with a glass of wine and carve a pumpkin. When carving the top, make sure you carve a large enough hole to hold a bowl – this is for the pico. Finding a stencil online was super easy, and I also decided to make the job even easier by buying my guacamole from Whole Foods. For the chips, I used the same wheat pita bread from the Graveyard Hummus recipe but this time cut them into triangles and added some cumin and cayenne to give them a more Mexican-style flavor.
To assemble the dish, I placed the carved pumpkin at the edge of a glass casserole dish. I placed the guacamole on one side of the dish, and the chips on the other.
On top of the pumpkin, I filled a bowl with homemade pico de gallo, simulating the “brains” of the pumpkin.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from these treats, it’s that healthy can be fun, too! All it takes is a little imagination (and maybe a little quirkiness) to come up with your own ideas for new Halloween treats.
If you need more Halloween inspiration, join us for The Chopping Block''s Family Night: Goulish Feast this Sunday at Lincoln Square. This hands-on cooking class for the whole family features Spiced Cider, BBQ Bat Wings, Jack-O-Lantern Spooky Pizzas, Caramel Apples and Pumpkin Cupcakes with Spider Web Frosting.