Halloween Switch Witch to the Rescue!

Grandmother Witch

Around Halloween, health-conscious moms around the country are faced with the challenge of how to avoid all the HFCS and GMO-laden candy that surrounds us this time of year.

I want my son to be able to participate in Halloween Festivities, to dress up in costumes, to Trick or Treat, and to bob for apples with the best of ’em, but I don’t want him subjected to the metabolic havoc of gorging on Snickers Bars, Smarties, and Candy Corn.

So, we have struck a bargain with the “Switch Witch.”

I tell my son that he can collect all the candy he wants on Halloween, and then give it to “The Switch Witch,”  who will exchange it for his favorite foods.  This year I asked him what those foods were and he replied, “French Fries” “Chocolate Chips” and “Bananas.”  So, we gave the the Switch Witch the candy, and she gave Mama the raw ingredients.  The next day, I created the following recipe for “Banana Chocolate Chip Cupcakes” (being primarily comprised of of eggs, almond butter and sweet potato, these are much more like nutrient dense, grain-free muffins than cakes.)

And, as a bonus, it gave us a super-educational and fun activity to do all morning, as my three-year old got to measure everything out, press the button on the food processor, and, of course, lick the spoon!

Next activity is making gourmet french fries from our garden potatoes and local, home rendered tallow (lard works great too!)

Voila:  some (not so) naughty homemade treats to replace the typcial nasty Halloween fare.  THANKS, SWITCH WITCH!

RECIPE:  Grain-Free Banana Chocolate Chip Cake 

•4 cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes (cooled, or else the chocolate chips will melt, which is just as yummy….)

•1 1/2 cups homemade almond butter (made from soaked & dehydrated unpasteurized almonds–buzzed in food processor about 2 minutes)

•4 eggs (100% local & pastured with deep, rich golden yolks!)

•1/3 cup raw honey (or to taste)

•2 organic bananas (overripe ones work great)

•2 Tbsp. powdered gelatin (Great Lakes)

•couple handfuls of fair trade, organic, dark chocolate chips

•1 1/2 tsp. sea salt

•1 tsp. baking soda (optional)

Grease cake pan with coconut oil, butter, or other yummy saturated fat.

Process almonds in food processor or blender til it turns into almond butter.  Add remaining ingredients except chocolate chips and mix together.  Consistency should be like a cake batter. If it needs more liquid, you can add milk, cream, or cooking water from sweet potatoes. Stir in chocolate chips before folding into cake pan or lined muffin tins.

Bake at a low temp–250 degrees for about 1 hour.  This cake comes out pretty dense, almost pudding-like in the center, so we are basically dehydrating it a bit in the oven, and allowing the batter to “gel” rather than “rise.”  If you want fluffy cupcakes, add baking powder to batter, increase oven temp to 350, and reduce baking time to 20-30 minutes.

(Need I mention that these go great with homemade lard frosting?  Just pulse lard with maple syrup and spread it on!)

Bee Well this Halloween!

Nala Walla, MS, FIMCA, NTP (June 2015)
Ecosomatic Wellness Coaching

Jack O’ Lantern

Every year since I can remember, I have carved a pumpkin around Halloween. And every year, a friend remarks that they haven’t carved one since they were a kid. I am always scandalized by this notion. “Really?! You havent?!,” I stammer, unable to stop my eyes from popping a bit from my skull, just like Jack’s.

Carving a Jack O’Lantern is such a part of the fabric of my ritual life at this point that I can hardly imagine omitting it. And why would I!? There are pumpkins everywhere around harvest time, bushels and bushels of them, beckoning, pleading even, for us to sculpt their true jagged, bumpy faces out of the smooth orange skin. Especially when you consider that these pumpkins were grown just for this purpose–they are really no good for eating–it seems just so wasteful not to carve them!

First I scan the pumpkin pile for one that calls out to be chosen. Each one assumes a notably different posture, some slumpy and slouchy scoundrels, others upright and perky autumnal citizens, and there always seems to be one character in particular that asks loud-n-clear to go home with me. I pick ‘im up and off we go!

Later, in the crispy cool of my front porch, I study the shape of the pumpkin, and usually I can see a faint wraith of a face hovering sheerily over the surface. I trace out the features little by little with a pencil, gradually darkening the lines as a one-toothed grimace or scowly eyebrow reveals itself. I get out a small, thin steak knife, and pierce the flesh at the crown, circling the stem with little jabs until the top pops off, and I can get my hand in to scoop out the guts.

This year, while my Jack O’ lies there, disemboweled, my 8 month old son crawls over and has a blast squeezing all the goop through his tiny hands. Just another of the sensorial discoveries of his first Fall, along with piles of golden maple leaves to crunch, and baskets-full of shiny apples to roll about.

I set him next to a mound of straw that I’m using to line the apple box, and he plays there contentedly while I carve. Just as dusk falls I put on the finishing touches–a big curly moustache–and light a candle inside the punkinhead. A big smile creeps across my son’s face, almost as big as Jack O’s, and just as glowing.

I breathe a prayer of thanks for all the dead folk who I’ve been missin’, appreciating the abundance of the harvest, and my first Halloween as a mother. Wow! Its chilly out here! I grab a chunky wool sweater and wrap it a bit awkwardly around us–I am not yet accustomed to holding a baby in cold weather–cuddling him close as the steam of our breath mingles in the air, possibly for the first time.

This is the first year in a long time that I haven’t planned a big Halloween ecosomatic style performance to mark the occasion–I have more on my new-mommy’s to do list than I can possibly get done this season, and have had to let some balls drop. So, I am even more thankful to have this small, sticky ritual to acknowledge the pleasures of Autumn before the busyness of Mamahood calls me away again.

In a few weeks, when Jack O’s head begins to mildew, he will become ritual mulch for my garden. I will take another big breath and smush him into the soil, composting him down along with all those unfulfilled promises and little dreams rotting on the vine–all the projects I was so sure of when I seeded them, but which never quite ripened. These are the shriveled things which don’t seem so important anymore through Jack O’s now-dim eyes, reminding me how much better they will serve as fodder for spring growth.