Let me just warn you…I love Halloween. Not the gory Freddie Kruger stuff with gross out bloody masks with all manner of hardware and veins popping out, but the whimsical Halloween with witches, ghosts and caramel dipped apples. My kids were early converts to my love of All Hallow’s Eve, but my husband is a hold-out because of all the aforementioned gore. Each year, he turns into the Halloween version of the Christmas Grinch. So each year, to seduce him over to the (highly decaffeinated) dark side, and to thrill my kids, we throw an old fashioned Halloween party.
Complete with a bean bag toss, eyeball-in-a-spoon relay race and a tootsie roll toss, we decorate brown lunch bags with washable markers, put a costume on the dog (yeah, I know…borderline animal abuse) and decorate silky gluten-free cupcakes with all manner of Halloween paraphernalia. Sugar doesn’t sit well with my kids, but I do surrender to it a few days each year and give them a little more latitude than usual.
Now, not everyone is up for hosting a party. In fact, at the end of the party when my yard is littered with candy wrappers and blown-out whoopee cushions, I always promise myself that this year is the last. Then, as with childbirth, all the mess and hassle become a faded memory and I forget how organizing teams of children into some semblance of a line is akin to herding butterflies, and I do it all again, year after year.
Parties, however, can be socially stressful, overwhelming and confusing. So I suggest down time with your family this Halloween season. Sew or buy a couple bean bags and see how far apart you can toss them before they get dropped. My family did this for over a half hour. Under the leg, left-handed, right-handed, catching it in our shirts. It got us all outside and working as teams. No TV, no computer, and no fighting.
Duct tape a large strip of brown paper over your dining room table and create the best Halloween scene you can with washable markers. Scary houses, hooting owls and witches flying over a full moon is a creative way to keep a project growing and changing.
Or dig through your Halloween decorations for a bin or plastic pumpkin and toss tootsie rolls into them at a distance. Paint mini pumpkins together as a family, or, my kid’s piece de resistance – stage your own dress up party.
And when your kids tell you they are hungry, give them something orange and delicious. My family’s most favorite soup (yes, my kids eat it), is Butternut Squash Soup made with homemade chicken stock. Bone broths are a wonderful source of nourishment for kids with autism who are typically low in calcium. Pair the broth with a roasted butternut squash and you’ve got a bit of a masterpiece, in my humble opinion.
For dessert, you can use an arts and crafts paint brush to paint semi-sweet melted chocolate into inexpensive bon bon molds (from Michaels), for Gluten, Casein-Free Pumpkin Bon Bons. If pumpkin is not your cup of tea, fill the bon bons with your favorite fruit jam. Decorating cupcakes is another family favorite. Using your favorite GFCF mix, or this wonderful chocolate cupcake recipe from Elana’s Pantry, decorate using strawberries, meringue cookies (from Trader Joe’s) and gummy worms for Creepy Cupcakes. And to make sure all the treats your kids eat are gluten-free, check out Alison St. Sure’s list of Gluten-Free Halloween Candy from her Sure Food Living blog, as well as her list of allergen-free candy.
Halloween can be a loud, scary event in the life of your child, but you can bring a bit of whimsy back by adapting it to your kid’s particular needs and tastes. And if their tastes run to a rich, yet healthy meal, try this Butternut Squash soup for the entire family. If they turn their noses up at it, bride them with a Creepy Cupcake.
Gluten, Casein, Soy-Free Butternut Squash Soup
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 1 hour, 5 minutes
Yield: 4-6 servings
Special equipment: Immersion blender or stand blender http://astore.amazon.com/amysglufrepan-20/detail/B000GHF3V8
1 2 1/2 – 3 lb. butternut squash, quartered lengthwise, seeds removed
2-3 T olive oil, divided
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 c. chicken broth
1-2 tsp. salt, divided
grinding of fresh pepper
fresh chives as a garnish, optional
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Place butternut squash quarters on roasting pan, skin side down. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and roast in oven for 50 minutes until fork tender. Remove and set aside until squash is cool enough to handle.
3. Meanwhile, heat remaining olive oil in soup pot and saute onion and a dash of salt over medium heat until translucent, about 8 minutes, stirring frequently.
4. Add chicken broth to pot. Scrape all flesh from squash and add to pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
5. Add 1 tsp. salt and a grinding of pepper and puree soup in batches in a blender (be careful not to overfill), or use an immersion blender to puree soup in the pot. Taste and adjust for seasonings, and sprinkle individual servings with chives for garnish. This soup is even better the next day and can be easily doubled.