Healthy Halloween tricks & treats

Burnt Sugar LollipopsBurnt Sugar LollipopsCandy corn, sugary snacks and chocolate bars galore. These are staples of Halloween trick-or-treating, but not the kinds of foods you want your kids to feast on. (Ok, this applies to us adults, too-we all eat the leftovers from the trick-or-treating bowl and the kids' candy stash.)

So in order to have a healthier Halloween this year, I'm going to think about the words "trick" and "treat" a little differently and make my own goodies for family and friends.

TRICK
I looked up "trick" in the dictionary-it's "a crafty procedure or practice meant to deceive or defraud." Your healthy Halloween trick? Sneak in more veggies. How? Fuel up for trick-or-treating fun with our Pepperoni Pizza recipe that hides both tomato and pumpkin puree in a yummy sauce. Your kids (or your boyfriend, girlfriend or, heck, even you!) will get a healthy dose of veggies, extra beta carotene and fiber. And no one will be the wiser because it's so delicious.

TREAT
Enough tricking-bring on the treats! We love sweets as much as the next person, but we figure, why waste empty calories on not-very-good packaged candy when we could quickly whip up a delicious healthy dessert for a Halloween treat?

Try this easy, heart-healthy homemade Caramel Sauce recipe over apples for a festive party treat. Or hand out homemade Burnt Sugar Lollipops as party favors-they only take 10 minutes to put together! (If you do decide to hand these pops out to trick-or-treaters, make sure to include a tag with your name and phone number so other parents know the treats are safe.)

No special equipment or fancy molds are needed for these gorgeous jewels-just a little patience and steady hand to pour out the hot sugar syrup. Wrap the lollipops individually in large, clear lollipop bags and seal with a silver twist-tie or a piece of ribbon.

Burnt Sugar Lollipops

ACTIVE TIME: 10 minutes

TOTAL TIME: 1 1/2 hours

EASE OF PREPARATION: Easy

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
24 cinnamon sticks, preferably 4 inches or longer

1. Line a large baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper; place in the refrigerator until chilled, about 30 minutes.
2. Stir sugar, corn syrup, water and cream of tartar in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer, wiping down the sides of the pan occasionally with a wet pastry brush to remove any crystals, about 5 minutes.
3. Once the mixture reaches a full boil, cook, undisturbed, until very light amber, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour into a second deep saucepan, preferably one with a pouring lip; set aside just until the mixture stops boiling and is thickened somewhat (it will continue to darken), about 2 minutes.
4. Make 24 lollipops by pouring 1 1/2-inch circles onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 1 inch apart. (Give yourself a few practice attempts-you have plenty of extra syrup for experimenting.) Press a cinnamon stick into each circle to form the lollipop stick. Use a spoon to drizzle the remaining sugar syrup (be careful: it's very hot) over each lollipop, thereby affixing the sticks and creating a sandwich of hardened sugar that holds the stick in place-do not let the circumference expand beyond its original boundary. (You won't use all the sugar; some will harden in the pan before you pour it out.) Let cool for about 20 minutes, then break off any shards of hardened sugar and seal the lollipops in individual bags.

Makes 24 lollipops.

NUTRITION INFORMATION: Per lollipop: 85 calories; 0 g fat (0 g sat, 0 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 22 g carbohydrate; 0 g protein; 0 g fiber; 8 mg sodium; 6 mg potassium.

MAKE AHEAD TIP: Store lollipops in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

By Carolyn Malcoun

When associate editor Carolyn Malcoun came to Vermont to attend New England Culinary Institute, she knew she didn't want to work in a restaurant but knew that she wanted to do something in the food industry. Luckily she discovered EatingWell, where she's able to combine her love of food and writing.



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