The Little Boy and I get a kick out of Halloween. We like the spooky stuff, the decorations, and (of course) dressing up. But when it comes to the candy, Halloween has always been a bit of a headache for me. As much as I didn’t want my little one eating this stuff I could only think of as poisonous, I couldn’t get that scene out of my head from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory where as a child, Willy Wonka’s father The Dentist throws poor little Willy’s bag of Halloween candy into the fireplace. And then what happens to Willy? He grows up to become the neurotic owner of a giant candy factory!
Okay, so maybe that’s an extreme (and fictitious) example of what withholding candy from your children can do to them. But I also always think of what the unschooling mom The Organic Sister said about candy–it’s fun! True that. And then I think of how in Raising Bébé, the author says French children are given sweets on a regular basis, and by the time they are adults, they don’t care about them. Hmmm.
So maybe candy isn’t the best thing in the world for our bodies, but maybe making a big deal out of it is worse. Maybe we need to let our kids live a little. Maybe we need to trust that they aren’t going become sugar addicts because they got to taste some of the sweeter things in life.
But that doesn’t mean we need to give them crap candy. Last night I thought I’d take the easy way out and buy some “cheap” candy for trick-or-treaters. Only, I couldn’t get over the fact that all the chocolate candy has the possibility of containing slave labor (including child slave labor) chocolate, nor could I get over all the GMO and artificial (read: poisonous) ingredients. There is no way I would want my child eating that stuff, so I couldn’t in good conscience hand it out to other innocent children. And besides that, the candy isn’t even cheap! Doing quick math in my head, it seemed I could make peanut butter cups from quality ingredients for about the same price.
So, here are some homemade candy recipes that are made with no junk. No fake stuff, no refined sugars, and if you so choose, can be made organic, fair trade, and whatever else is important to you.
We made this one a few times last year. It is so good, probably my favorite homemade candy I’ve tried (and waaaaay better than the store-bought version). Calls for shredded coconut, coconut oil, dates, vanilla extract, sea salt and chocolate chips*. (Make your own honey-sweetened chocolate if you are on GAPS or want to avoid refined sugar.)
I made this last Easter when I broke my 7-week chocolate fast. This might actually tie for first as my favorite homemade candy. It has a chewy texture. It calls for honey*, coconut butter (also called creamed coconut, which you can make by putting coconut flakes in a food processor), cocoa powder, vanilla extract, and optional shredded coconut.
I haven’t tried this one yet but plan to soon! Calls for honey-sweetened chocolate (recipe included), peanut butter, palm shortening*, raw honey, vanilla extract, and sea salt.
A really good one if you are craving sweet peanut butter. Downside of these is they get soft at room temperature, so best kept at home in the fridge. Calls for coconut cream, peanut butter (or other nut butter), shredded coconut, honey, and sea salt.
Eating these will make you feel like a kid again–which is so great for my little boy who can only have homemade candy. These are packed with gelatin, so you could even think of them as little gut-healing candies, if you want. Calls for lemon or lime juice, honey, gelatin*, and optional lemon oil (which I recommend! I like adding orange oil, too). You can get creative with this recipe and use different juices like grape juice (just don’t use orange juice because they won’t set). Natural food coloring would be really fun with these.
This recipe looks too good to me to pass up. Popcorn is fairly inexpensive, too, and kids tend to get excited over it. Personally, I would skip the powdered sugar and sweeten up the chocolate with some honey to make it healthier but still a sweet treat.
The go-to recipe for when you need chocolate that isn’t made with cane sugar, sugar beet sugar (which is likely GMO), soy lecithin (usually GMO, too, unless organic), or other things you want to avoid. Calls for cocoa butter and cocoa powder (I subbed with pure unsweetened chocolate and it worked fine), honey, vanilla extract, vanilla bean seeds (I skipped this) and optional brewed coffee (I skipped this, too).
More ideas for treats, including links to recipes, and alternatives to candy. I’m thinking of making the “Ghost” coconut-covered bananas for the Little Boy.
*Notes on ingredients:
Choose responsible brands of chocolate if you would like to not support child and slave labor in Africa. Fair Trade certified and organic are safe, but also many higher quality brands of chocolate are more responsible with their cocoa sourcing, so are a decent second choice.
Honey is a great alternative to refined sugars; however, not all store-bought honey is real. Best bet is raw local honey, otherwise look for packaging that clearly indicates where the honey came from. “Honey” from China is illegal in the U.S. but is laundered in anyway, so best to avoid cheap honey.
If you choose to use palm shortening, look for a brand that is sustainable and doesn’t hurt the endangered orangutan population.
For gelatin I recommend Bernard Jensen or Great Lakes brands because they are made from pastured animals.