Gluten-Free Halloween Sweets

fig date balls
Cory Derusseau

There’s no trick to these kid-favorite gluten-free Halloween treats.

Gluten-free, allergy-friendly Halloween treats are within your reach—without scary food allergens and sugar overload. As the mother of four sons, one whose birthday is close to Halloween, I have a built-in theme for parties. The trick is to serve tasty, child-friendly foods without gluten and other common allergens and still satisfy my goal of nutritious eating.

With more companies now offering gluten-free and “free-from” products, the list of allowable candies is growing. Unfortunately, they often contain artificial additives, plus a large amount of sugar or high fructose corn syrup. It’s easy to become complacent and decide to look the other way on Halloween—but it can become a slippery slope of unhealthy eating that’s hard to correct come November. Then begins the holiday season with even more indulgence.

Not to appear a Scrooge—I love a good treat!—but my passion is to make fun, gluten-free foods that are safe, delicious and nutritious. It can be done. These recipes show you how.

homemade halloween treats

Halloween goodies photos by Cory Derusseau

Gluten-Free Fig and Date Balls


These mini gluten free treats deliver protein and fiber in every bite. Enjoy them without guilt. Vary the flavor and texture with additional ingredients and spices to suit your palate and dietary needs. For an adult-style treat, replace the hot water with an equal amount of hot rum.


2 cups pitted dates
6 dried figs, stems removed
½ cup ground pepitas*
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, optional
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 tablespoons hot water, more if needed
1 pinch salt
-Unsweetened coconut flakes, for rolling balls, optional
-Cocoa powder, for rolling balls, optional


1. Place dates, figs, ground pepitas, cocoa powder (if desired), coconut oil, hot water and salt into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a knife blade.

2. Pulse until mixture is well combined and comes together in a ball. If necessary, add an additional tablespoon of water, 1 teaspoon at a time.

3. Spread coconut flakes and/or cocoa powder on a plate or a piece of waxed paper.

4. Using 2 teaspoons, form date-fig mixture into small (walnut-size) pieces and drop them into the coconut and/or cocoa powder, if using. Roll coated pieces between your hands to form into balls. Enjoy at room temperature or refrigerate for firmer texture.

Each ball contains 44 calories, 1g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 3mg sodium, 8g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 1g sugars, 1g protein, 4Est GL.

*TIP Pepitas are shelled raw pumpkin seeds. Process them in a food processer, blender or a clean coffee grinder until finely ground.

homemade halloween treats

Halloween goodies photos by Cory Derusseau

Gluten-Free Blueberry Gummies


Gelatin is a fantastic food-as-medicine ingredient for healing the structures and tissues of the body and aiding in detoxification. These gummy snacks are fun to eat and good for you. For sour gummies, omit the honey and add 1/3 cup organic lemon juice to the blueberries before heating. For flavor variation, substitute other berries for the blueberries.


1 cup organic blueberries, fresh or frozen
2 tablespoons unsweetened apple juice, grape juice or water
4 tablespoons unflavored gelatin
-Honey or agave syrup, to taste, optional


1. Place blueberries and juice in a heavy saucepan and warm over medium heat. Stir and allow to cook until the liquid is steaming and the blueberries are plump.

2. Place berry mixture into a high-speed blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Remove the lid and allow the mixture to cool slightly.

3. Add gelatin and blend again until smooth.

4. Pour mixture into a 9×9-inch glass dish (or silicone candy mold, if desired) and refrigerate 30 to 60 minutes. Unmold or cut into squares or strips. Alternatively, use small cookie cutters to cut into fun shapes.

Each gummy contains 5 calories, 0g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 0mg sodium, 1g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 0g sugars, 1g protein, Est GL.

TIP Silicone candy molds are available at your local craft store.

fig date balls

Dairy-Free Chocolate Truffles


Make these for friends and family to enjoy or give away as gifts. No need to say “special diet”—just “yummy!”


1 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk (not lite), unshaken
4 tablespoons coconut oil
-Pinch of sea salt
2 ⅓ cups chocolate chips
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
-Unsweetened cocoa powder, for rolling, optional
-Unsweetened coconut flakes, for rolling, optional
-Unsalted seeds or chopped nuts, for rolling, optional


1. Open the can of coconut milk and skim the thick “cream” off the top to measure 1 cup. (Save any watery milk on the bottom of the can for another use.) Place coconut cream in a heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat. Add coconut oil and salt and bring to a simmer.

2. Remove pan from heat and add chocolate chips, stirring until all chips are completely melted. Add vanilla.

3. Pour mixture into a 9×12-inch glass pan and place pan in the refrigerator to cool quickly.

4. Scoop mixture with a small ice-cream scoop or teaspoon, forming into balls. Roll them in cocoa powder and/or coconut flakes or topping of choice. Store in the refrigerator.

Each truffle contains 41 calories, 3g total fat, 4g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 1mg cholesterol, 7mg sodium, 4g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 0g sugars, 1g protein, 0Est GL.

For Peppermint Truffles, replace vanilla extract with ½ teaspoon peppermint extract. Roll balls in crushed peppermint candies.

For Orange Chocolate Truffles, replace vanilla extract with 1 teaspoon orange extract. Add 2 teaspoons orange zest to coconut milk before heating.

For Cookie Truffles, roll balls in crushed gluten-free, dairy-free cookie crumbs.

halloween menu

© iStockphoto/Thinkstock

gluten free red velvet

Halloween goodies and red velvet cupcake photo by Cory Derusseau

Better-Than-Ever Red Velvet Cupcakes


These rich cupcakes satisfy a sweet tooth without too much sugar. Antioxidants (from chocolate and beets) and flavor meet with delicious results. Top cupcakes with 7-Minute Frosting or enjoy them plain. This recipe can be made with egg replacement; see instructions at right.


1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour blend of choice
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon xanthan or guar gum (omit if in your flour blend)
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt (omit if in your blend)
¾ cup beet puree*
¾ cup sugar or coconut sugar or Sucanet
½ cup sunflower oil or other neutral-flavored oil
¼ cup unsweetened canned coconut milk or milk of choice
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract or pure almond extract
2 large eggs


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously oil the cups of a muffin pan or line them with paper liners.

2. Whisk together flour blend, cocoa, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

3. Combine beet puree, sugar, oil, coconut milk, vinegar, vanilla and eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, thoroughly blend ingredients on medium speed, about 1 minute. Turn to low and slowly add the dry ingredients, mixing until all ingredients are incorporated. Do not over-mix.

4. Evenly distribute batter into prepared pan, filling each cup about ¾ full.

5. Place in preheated oven and bake 17 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the center cupcake comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack before topping with your favorite frosting.

Each cupcake without frosting contains 208 calories, 11g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 35mg cholesterol, 154mg sodium, 25g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 13g sugars, 3g protein, 16Est GL.

For Egg-Free Red Velvet Cupcakes, omit 2 eggs. Combine 2 tablespoons flax meal with 6 tablespoons hot water. Let sit 5 minutes until thickened. Then add to wet ingredients.

*TIP To make beet puree, roast or boil beets until very tender or buy them pre-cooked (canned or frozen). Puree in a food processor or blender until smooth.

easy gluten free frosting

Frosting photo © iStock/Thinkstock

7-Minute Frosting


This frosting is for those who can tolerate eggs. (It cannot be made with an egg replacement.) It tastes like a light version of marshmallow fluff. Reduced sugar, along with vanilla extract and almond extract (if tolerated), push flavor to new heights.

3 egg whites
¾ cup sugar
4 tablespoons cold water
-Tiny pinch of salt
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar,
lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract, optional

1. Whisk together egg whites, sugar, water, salt and cream of tartar in a large heat-proof bowl that can be placed over a pan of boiling water or a double boiler. This mixture rises to at least 4 cups in volume so allow plenty of room in the bowl.

2. Place the bowl over a pan with a couple inches of boiling water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Using a hand-held electric mixer, beat mixture continually for 7 minutes.

3. Remove from heat and beat in vanilla extract and almond extract, if desired. Use immediately to frost cupcakes. Store leftover frosting in the refrigerator.

Each cupcake with frosting contains 221 calories, 11g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 35mg cholesterol, 159mg sodium, 28g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 17g sugars, 3g protein, Est GL 18.

Sweet & Spicy Cinnamon Garbanzo Beans


These tasty beans make a great snack that’s a little bit sweet and full of protein and fiber.


2 cups cooked garbanzo beans*
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon sugar or honey
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon sea salt


1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, mix together beans, oil, sugar and seasonings until well combined.

3. Spread beans in a single layer on prepared baking sheet.

4. Place in preheated oven and bake 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes until lightly browned.

5. Store in an airtight container until ready to eat.

Each ¼ cup contains 94 calories, 2g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 252mg sodium, 16g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 2g sugars, 3g protein, 7Est GL

*TIP You can use frozen garbanzo beans or 1 (15½-ounce) can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed.

Food coach Sueson Vess ( is author of Special Eats: Simple, Delicious Solutions for Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Cooking, available at