Celebrating Happy Halloween next week means a week full of sweet treats and candies.

Celebrating Happy Halloween next week means a week full of sweet treats and candies. Certainly one night a year it’s okay to splurge, but if you are hosting your own Halloween party here are some spooky treats that will make easier to get back on the healthy track following this sweet Holiday!

Last year, I shared with you the story of “The Teal Pumpkin Project”, the story goes, that while many children are out and about trick-or-treating and enjoying the holiday goodies, there are others whose Halloween can become more of a challenge.

For families managing children with food allergies Halloween can truly be a “tricky” time. Many of the traditional Halloween treats aren’t safe for children with life-threatening food allergies, often meaning these children do not get to participate in the fun tradition. The Teal Pumpkin Project is designed to promote inclusion of individuals managing food allergies.

Participating in this project is simple, simply paint a pumpkin teal and display it on your front porch, and either provide non-food treats, of course you may still provide candy treats, but the pumpkin will signify that you do have other options.

As result of last year’s article, I learned of a local neighborhood that has also embraced this project. Nikki Bundy wrote to me about the Castle Oaks community in Kinston whose motto is “Neighbors Helping Neighbors”. The group meets monthly and makes plans for hosting events, fundraisers and Holiday based projects.

Nikki shared with me that this year the Community watch group has taken on a project that directly affects her family and could potentially affect other families within the neighborhood and in Lenoir County. They have a beautiful 20-month-old daughter who has been diagnosed with many food and environmental allergies. Preparing meals, taking trips and attending events have proven to be a difficult task at times, as they must always plan ahead or chose to not attend places that could potentially place her at risk of getting sick. With that in mind, trick or treating is now one of those risks.

This Halloween, the Castle Oaks community has joined her family in supporting the Teal Pumpkin Project. They will have a large sign placed at the front of the neighborhood along with smaller signs and teal pumpkins placed in the yards to indicate they are supporting and participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project. They would like to issue a challenge to other community watch programs and neighborhoods in our surrounding areas to participate and help children with food allergies enjoy Trick-or-Treating this year. To find out how you can help or to find ideas for non-food treats you can hand out this year, visit foodallergy.org/teal-pumpkin-project/ideas-for-non-food-treats.

Here are some allergy-free recipes you may try this year!

Allergy-Free Caramel Popcorn

Recipe is free of common food allergens and contains no dairy, soy, nuts, or peanuts.

6 cups of popcorn (popped)

1 1/2 Tablespoons canola oil

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/4 cup water

1 teaspoon salt

Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Pour popcorn into a large mixing bowl. Combine all ingredients in a heavy saucepan. Heat on medium, stirring to mix.

When the mixture comes to a boil, stop stirring. Gently wash down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water to remove any sugar crystals that have formed.

Continue to boil until mixture reaches 320 degrees, the caramel stage. Use an instant-read candy thermometer, or follow our Candy Temperature Guide to determine when the syrup is done.

Remove from heat and pour over popcorn, stirring with a large spoon. Allow to cool slightly, then dump out popcorn onto waxed paper to continue cooling.

To make popcorn balls: Work quickly before popcorn has cooled. Use greased hands (ouch) or a mold to shape popcorn into balls. Press popcorn together tightly, and set on waxed paper to cool.

Yield: 6 1-cup servings

Nut-Free Trail Mix Recipe

This recipe is peanut free and nut free.

2 parts sunflower seeds or roasted pumpkin seeds

2 parts raisins

2 parts nut-free granola

2 parts dried fruit (such as apricots, cherries, or dates)

1 part nut-free chocolate chips

Combine all ingredients in an airtight container. Yields: 4 servings.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Snack Mix

This recipe is gluten free.

5 cups Chocolate Chex

4 cups Cinnamon Chex

1 cup salted cashew

1 cup dried banana chips

6 tablespoons butter, cubed

1 cup flaked coconut

¼ cup honey

2 tablespoons baking cocoa

1 teaspoon coconut extract

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine the cereals, cashews and banana chips. In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt butter. Add the coconut, honey, cocoa, extract and cinnamon; stir until blended. Pour over cereal mixture and toss to coat.

Microwave, uncovered, on high for 4 minutes, stirring every minute. Spread onto waxed paper to cool. Store in an airtight container. Yield: 3 quarts, 24 servings.

Note: Read all ingredient labels for possible gluten content prior to use. Ingredient formulas can change, and production facilities vary among brands. If you’re concerned that your brand may contain gluten, contact the company. This recipe was tested in a 1,100-watt microwave.

S’More Bars Recipe

This recipe is nut free.

½ cup butter, softened

¾ cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/3 cups flour¾ cup graham cracker crumbs

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

5 milk chocolate candy bars

1 cup marshmallow crème

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine the flour, cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture. Set aside 1/2 cup for topping.

Press remaining mixture into a greased 9-in. square-baking pan. Place candy bars over crust; spread with marshmallow creme. Crumble remaining graham cracker mixture over top.

Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into bars. Store in an airtight container. Yield: 1-1/2 dozen, 18 servings.