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Healthy, low-sugar Halloween treats

Straight from the patch: pumpkin seeds saved from carving can be incorporated into Halloween recipes for a guilt-free holiday. (Tara Nelson)

A diabetic’s first Halloween is always bittersweet.

October 31, 2001, three months after my type one diabetes diagnosis. Dressed as a blind mouse, I scavenged for treats that wouldn’t make my blood sugar spike. I settled for sugar-free jellybeans shoved into my pocket. Their artificial sweetener sugar gave me gas for the rest of the night.

Now a little more seasoned and completely sick of aspartame, I’ve realized my lack of insulin production put me ahead of the pack; I knew how to count carbohydrates (which became way hip in high school) before most of my peers knew the nutritional difference between apples and caramel apple lollipops.

So while most kids were gobbling various manifestations of corn syrup and crashing, I was seeking out healthy treats. Plus, refined sugars found in common Halloween candy makes everyone’s blood sugar spike and crash, diabetic or non-diabetic. And everyone knows the awful trick or treat hangovers.

Nine years later, I’m quite content with the following recipes. All of them exclude refined sugars, focusing on fall’s fabulous flavors. No candy crash, just healthy treats for a guilt-free Halloween.

Monster Mash Trail Mix

– 1 cup pumpkin seeds
– 1 cup slivered almonds
– ½ cup coconut flakes
– 1 cup dried cranberries

Scooping out the guts is always my favorite part of pumpkin carving; now you can take pumpkin to a whole new level with incorporating the pumpkin seeds into a trail mix combining ideal amounts of protein and carbohydrates.

While carving your prize-worthy pumpkin, set aside the remaining innards. Dig out the seeds, then rinse and dry them off.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit while lying out the pumpkin seeds on a shallow baking pan covered with parchment paper.

Sprinkle on a desired amount of slivered almonds and coconut flakes and bake for five to ten minutes or until golden.

After letting the pumpkin seeds, almonds and coconut flakes cool, mix in as many cranberries as you want.

Boo! Doctor Baked Apples

– four medium apples, such as Fuji
– ¼ cup raisins
– ½ cup unsweetened apple juice, such as Naked Juice’s Chai Spiced Cider

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Wash and core the apples, then place them in a baking pan.

Put one tablespoon of raisins in the middle of each apple; pour the juice over the apples and cover with tinfoil. Bake for 20 minutes.

Carefully remove the tinfoil, pouring the juices over the apples. Bake for another 20 minutes until the apples are tender.

Vegan Vampire Pumpkin Smoothie

– ½ cup canned pumpkin
– 1 cup soymilk
– small scoop vanilla soy yogurt
– 1 frozen banana
– ½ teaspoon cinnamon
– 1 tablespoon maple syrup or agave syrup

This one’s simple; combine all the ingredients in a blender. Adjust the ratio of soymilk, soy yogurt and banana for consistency.