Luke Skywalker? A transformer? Spiderman? A ninja? A pirate? The agonizing dilemma of how to dress up for Halloween is almost too much for 7-yr-old Trenton. “I can’t choose. They’re all just SO good!” While he laments day and night over his decision, I’ll probably end up spraying white zig zags on either side of my frizzy bed head and channeling the bride of Frankenstein.
Besides costume angst, another telltale sign of Halloween seems to be that suddenly becomes a candy pusher. Even the teller at the bank drive through and the cashier at my mechanic’s gave me mini candy bars, as if to say “Good job depositing your check so you can pay your bills. Even better job getting your oil changed; oh and here’s some processed sugar.” It can be difficult to stay healthy and focused this time of year, so whether you’re going to a fall party, dealing with family member’s food allergies, or just need some after school snacks, think smart and think readily available pumpkin seeds.
Our favorite part of carving pumpkins is collecting those delicious little seed morsels and toasting them up. Not only are they delicious, pumpkin seeds have an arsenal of secret weapons when it comes to nutrition. They are loaded with magnesium and tryptophan, which promote restful sleep and anxiety relief. (Would anyone experience stress prior to the holiday season…whaaat?) They also boast impressive levels of protein, phosphorous, zinc, iron, and A and B vitamins. That means that they regulate muscle and nerve function, blood sugar levels and blood sugar, and have long been used to eliminate microbes in the body (even parasites!) That’s a whole lot of work for a little seed! [Cue super hero music.]
When pre-packed treats are not required for Halloween events, consider making these.
Scary-free Pumpkin Seed Cranberry Bars
2 C gluten free organic oats
2 C raw pumpkin seeds
1 C organic dried cranberries
1 C sunflower seeds
1/2 C agave nectar
1/2 C sunflower seed butter
2 T coconut oil
1 C dark chocolate chunks (optional)
The first step is to toast your pumpkin seeds. If you just pulled yours out of a jack-o-lantern, press them between paper towels to absorb as much moisture as possible and keep them from becoming soggy. If you buy your seeds at the store, make sure you get them in the shell and unsalted. Although pumpkin seeds also come shelled, the hulls are totally edible completely delicious and an extra source of fiber.
Heat coconut oil over medium high heat in a wok or skillet. Add pumpkin seeds and stir frequently until they are toasty brown on all sides, about 5-8 minutes. Add a pinch of sea salt during the toasting.
Combine all other ingredients in a bowl and mix with your hands.
The mixture will be thick, and needs to be combined thoroughly, so hand mixing is the best way to go, not to mention the most fun for children interested in helping to prepare their own treats. Brush a 9 x13 pan with coconut oil and pack the mixture into the bottom of the pan.
It is important to press down tightly so that the ingredients cling together as they bake. 25 minutes in a 375 degree oven should have them perfectly golden brown. Wait for the bars to cool completely before slicing or you will end up with a pile of crumbs. (Which resemble granola and also taste good, but isn’t necessarily what you were after). These keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Serve these for breakfast; offer them as after-school snacks or dessert (alternatives). Children of all ages can enjoy them. You could have a line-up of princesses, zombies, turtles, nurses, ninjas, or politicians munching on these and they’d all be satisfied. Kids and grown ups alike. Or, as Trenton prefers to believe when he’s packing himself a bar for his lunch, practice your trick-or-treating riddles, in case you’re called on one!
What’s a pirate’s favorite pair of socks? Arrrrrrgyle.