FeaturesOct/Nov 2015 Issue

Gluten-Free Halloween Guide

Survival tricks & delicious treats for gluten-free Halloween fun

trick or treater

Photography by Kelly Brozyna

Halloween is one of my favorite times of year. My kids love choosing costumes, making crafts and enjoying all kinds of yummy treats. The fact that they can’t eat gluten and dairy doesn’t make Halloween a bit scary. They not only survive their gluten-free Halloween - they thrive!

Based on the ages and dietary needs of your little goblins, you can plan activities for a gluten free Halloween that are safe and lots of fun. We do a different variation on these four basic ideas each year.

1.  The Teal Pumpkin Project

This concept, promoted by FARE, made headway last year. To participate, paint a pumpkin teal and put it by your front door as a sign that you offer non-food treats for trick or treat. Instead of candy, give out stickers, temporary tattoos, bracelets, spider rings or spooky erasers. This is a wonderful way to show support for children who have severe food allergies. My kids have a blast with these little surprises. Get more information on participating here.

2.  Real-Food Halloween Treats

Grocery stores are getting smarter every year about offering better candy choices for trick or treating. Companies like YumEarth and Go Organic Candies make lollipops and hard candy without high fructose corn syrup or artificial colors and flavors. Stores like Trader Joe’s offer safer candy, such as individually wrapped honey mints made with only honey, chocolate liquor and oil of peppermint. My personal Halloween favorites are fair trade mini dark chocolate bars from Equal Exchange and Endangered Species; they’re gluten-free, dairy-free and non-GMO.

3.  Candy Swap

Make a game out of exchanging candy for money or prizes. We started candy swapping when the kids were very little and they still love doing this. Decide whether your children would prefer money (we give them 10 cents per piece of candy) or a prize (we often do craft store gift certificates). The week before Halloween, we build excitement by telling our kids what we’re going to give them. We talk about what they might buy with their money or gift certificates. Then we make a big deal about our day-after-Halloween shopping trip.


Photography by Konstik/istock/Thinkstock

4.  Food Allergy Halloween Party

Throw an allergy-friendly Halloween party. Keep it low-stress by planning ahead and offer simple, fun activities based on your child’s age. Here are some party projects:

Have the kids trace a leaf pattern onto fall-colored construction paper. Cut out the shapes and use string to hang the leaves from a fallen branch at varying lengths to create leaf mobiles.

 Ask the children to bring a leaf from their yard to the party. They can make rubbings of all the different leaves, using white paper and red, orange and yellow crayons.

 Decorate a pumpkin. Provide each guest with a mini pumpkin or gourd. Give them craft paints, brushes and glitter to create their own unique painted pumpkins.

 Have a pumpkin hunt. Hide miniature pumpkins around your house or yard and let the children collect them in their Halloween buckets. The child who finds the most wins a prize.

Decorate cupcakes. Give each child a plain gluten-free cupcake and let them frost and sprinkle the tops to make their own personal cupcakes.

Treats are a big part of Halloween. The recipes on the below contain real-food ingredients and are low in sugar, perfect for kids of all ages.

gluten free halloween cupcakes

Photography by Kelly Brozyna

Gluten-Free Harvest Cupcakes


These gluten-free cupcakes contain a dose of good-for-you ingredients. Enjoy them frosted as a Halloween treat or skip the frosting and eat them as breakfast muffins. The eggs cannot be replaced in this recipe.


⅔ cup gluten-free coconut flour, sifted
¼ cup arrowroot powder
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
5 eggs, room temperature
3 cups shredded carrots
½ cup coconut milk (not coconut beverage)
½ cup unsweetened applesauce, honey or combination
¼ cup melted coconut oil
½ teaspoon vanilla liquid stevia*
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup chopped walnuts, optional
1 cup raisins
-Orange Frosting
-Sprinkles, optional


1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Line 2 muffin pans with unbleached paper liners to make 17 cupcakes.

2. Place coconut flour, arrowroot powder, cinnamon, baking soda and allspice in a bowl and whisk to combine.

3. In a separate mixing bowl, place eggs, carrots, coconut milk, applesauce, coconut oil, stevia and salt. Mix ingredients with an electric mixer until combined.

4. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, mixing to combine. Stir in walnuts, if using, and raisins.

5. Using a large (⅓ cup) ice cream scoop with a lever, transfer batter to prepared muffin pan, filling 17 cups equally. (An ice cream scoop makes nice, rounded tops and is faster than using a spoon.)

6. Place cupcakes in preheated oven and bake until done, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

7. When cool, top with Orange Frosting and sprinkles, if desired.

Each cupcake without frosting contains 134 calories, 7g total fat, 5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 62mg cholesterol, 150mg sodium, 15g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 8g sugars, 3g protein, 7 Est GL.

Orange Frosting

Goji berries are available at most health food stores and online. They provide nutrients and a natural orange coloring to this frosting.

¼ cup + 2 tablespoons goji berries
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons water
1 cup palm shortening
½ cup honey
⅓ cup coconut flour, sifted
⅛ teaspoon vanilla liquid stevia
⅛ teaspoon fine-grind sea salt
1 tablespoon coconut flour, sifted, as needed
-Sprinkles, optional

1. Place goji berries and water in a small bowl. Let sit 20 minutes to soak berries.

2. Place palm shortening, honey, coconut flour, stevia and salt in a bowl. Beat with an electric mixer to combine. Set aside.

3. Place goji berries and water in a mini blender or food processor and process into a puree. Set a fine mesh strainer over a mixing bowl. Pour goji puree into the strainer and press it through the mesh, scraping with a flexible silicone spatula to get as much puree as possible into the bowl. Discard seeds left in the strainer.

4. Add strained puree to shortening and honey mixture and beat with an electric mixer to combine. If frosting is too thin to spread, beat in 1 tablespoon coconut flour to thicken.

5. Spread frosting over cooled cupcakes. Alternatively, cut a corner off a sturdy plastic food storage bag and add a #1M Open Star Tip. Place frosting into the corner of the bag with the tip. Twist the bag and pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes. Top each cupcake with a pinch of sprinkles, if desired.

Each cupcake with frosting contains 290 calories, 20g total fat, 11g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 62mg cholesterol, 167mg sodium, 28g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 17g sugars, 4g protein, 12 Est GL.

Recipe reprinted with permission from Easy Paleo Meals (Victory Belt Publishing), by Kelly Brozyna.

*TIP If you omit the stevia in this recipe, use ½ cup honey and no applesauce.

chocolate candy apples

Photography by Kelly Brozyna

Gluten-Free Chocolate Caramel Apples


Making caramel sauce without dairy or corn syrup is a snap. This simple gluten free, dairy free caramel sauce contains only three ingredients.


4 apples
4 popsicle sticks
6 ounces gluten-free, dairy-free dark chocolate (70–80 percent cocoa)
-Sliced almonds or sunflower seeds, optional

Salted Caramel
1 cup full-fat canned coconut milk
1 cup coconut sugar
¼ teaspoon fine-ground sea salt


1. Press a popsicle stick into the top of each apple and place apples in the refrigerator to chill overnight.

2. Prepare an apple holder by making 4 pairs of cross-cuts (two ¼-inch slits each, each pair 4 inches apart from each other) in the top of a closed egg carton. These will hold the apples upside down as they dry.

3. To make salted caramel, place coconut milk, coconut sugar and salt in a heavy-bottom pot (about 7 inches in diameter and 3 inches deep). Whisk to combine ingredients. Bring mixture to a boil, watching carefully so that it doesn’t boil over. Boil 15 minutes over medium heat. Then reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes, watching carefully to make sure mixture doesn’t burn. (Edges turn dry and black if burning.) Put on oven-proof gloves and carefully pour caramel into a small bowl. Stir regularly as it cools to room temperature. (Don’t wash your pot just yet; you may need it again.) Caramel should thicken to a molasses-like texture when it reaches room temperature (about 20 minutes). If it doesn’t thicken, pour it back into the pot and let it simmer over lowest heat 3 to 5 minutes. Wear gloves to pour caramel back into the small bowl and stir periodically as it cools to room temperature. (Gluten free caramel should be fairly thick. If it’s too thin and hot, it will run off the apple, taking the chocolate with it.)

4. Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Carefully pour melted chocolate into a bowl. Fill another bowl about half full with sliced almonds, if using, and set aside.

5. Dip each chilled apple into melted chocolate and swirl it around. Hold the apple over the bowl, twisting it until chocolate begins to dry. Place the stick of each apple (apples will be upside down) into prepared egg carton to dry completely.

6. When dry, dip each chocolate-covered apple into salted caramel and swirl it around. Alternatively, spread the caramel over the apple with a butter knife. Only a small amount of caramel is needed for each apple.

7. Dip each caramel-coated apple in the bowl of sliced almonds, if using.

8. Place the stick of each coated apple into the prepared egg carton and let apples sit upside down to dry completely.

Each apple contains 692 calories, 33g total fat, 7g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 178mg sodium, 96g carbohydrate, 5g fiber, 73g sugars, 6g protein, 46 Est GL.

Recipe reprinted with permission from The Paleo Chocolate Lovers’ Cookbook (Victory Belt Publishing), by Kelly Brozyna.

gluten free peanut butter cups

Photography by Kelly Brozyna

Gluten-Free Mini Sunflower Cups


These delicious mock peanut butter cups are full of flavor but free of gluten, dairy, eggs, peanuts and nuts.


6 ounces dark chocolate (70–80 percent cocoa)
½ cup unsweetened sunflower seed butter
1 tablespoon honey
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped, seeds reserved
⅛ teaspoon fine-grind sea salt


1. Place chocolate in a double boiler and melt it gently. Using a small silicone basting brush, coat the inside of 8 miniature baking cups with the melted chocolate. When all cups are coated, rinse the brush in hot water and dry it with a towel.

2. Place baking cups in the freezer for 5 minutes. Remove from freezer and brush on another coat of melted chocolate. Return chocolate-coated cups to the freezer. Rinse the brush in hot water and dry it with a towel. Gently keep chocolate warm and melted on very low heat in the double boiler.

3. To make the filling, place sunflower seed butter, honey, vanilla and salt in a mixing bowl. Beat ingredients together with an electric mixer until thoroughly combined.

4. Remove small pieces of batter and roll them into equally sized balls to fit into the chocolate cups.

5. Remove chocolate cups from the freezer and press a ball of batter into each cup.

6. Brush melted chocolate over the top of the filled cups and place candy in the freezer to set. Rinse the brush in hot water and dry it with a towel. When the chocolate top coat is solid, brush a final coat of chocolate on top.

7. Store Sunflower Cups in the refrigerator until served. Eat cold or at room temperature.

Each serving contains 239 calories, 19g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 13mg sodium, 13g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 2g sugars, 5g protein, 5 Est GL.

From The Paleo Chocolate Lovers’ Cookbook (Victory Belt Publishing), by Kelly Brozyna.

gluten free chocolate cherries

Photography by Kelly Brozyna

Dairy-Free Sour Cherry Cordials


Finding dairy-free cherry cordials in the store is almost impossible so this recipe comes to the rescue. Maraschino cherries made without corn syrup, artificial flavors and colors are available from Tillen Farms (tillenfarms.com) and Trader Joe’s (traderjoes.com).


1 (9-ounce) jar sour cherry spread, preferably no sugar added
9 maraschino cherries
4 ounces dairy-free chocolate


1. Fill 9 cavities of a deep truffle mold about half full with sour cherry spread.

2. Press 1 whole maraschino cherry into each cavity. Top each with more sour cherry spread, as needed.

3. Insert a toothpick into the middle of each maraschino cherry and place the mold in the freezer at least 8 hours. (Filling will freeze but not harden completely.)

4. Gently melt the chocolate in a double boiler.

5. Remove the mold from the freezer. Pressing each cavity from the bottom up, gently pop the filling out of each mold. (Don’t pull filling out by the toothpicks.) If a little bit remains in the cavity, scoop it out and press it back into place.

6. Dip each candy by its toothpick into the melted chocolate. Remove candy and twist the toothpick between your fingers to dry the chocolate coating. (It only takes a few seconds to dry.)

7. Place candy on a sheet of unbleached parchment paper and carefully remove toothpicks. Let cordials thaw to room temperature or refrigerate for firmer candies.

Each cordial contains 165 calories, 7g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 0mg sodium, 27g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 21g sugars, 1g protein, 15 Est GL.

TIP  To make Sour Cherry Cordials without maraschino cherries, combine the sour cherry spread with ⅛ teaspoon vanilla liquid stevia (more to taste). Fill the truffle mold with this mixture in step 1 and freeze. Proceed with recipe as instructed but without the maraschino cherries.

From The Paleo Chocolate Lovers’ Cookbook (Victory Belt Publishing), by Kelly Brozyna.

Kelly Brozyna is author of four gluten-free, dairy-free, refined-sugar-free cookbooks. She showcases healthy gluten-free recipes and nutrition tips on her blog, TheSpunkyCoconut.com.

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