October heralds the start of pumpkin season, steaming apple cider, and fall's most hair-raising holiday: Halloween. The day has always been a great excuse to step into a new character, whip up some themed cocktails, and over-indulge in sweet treats. However, Halloween festivities can come with a serious sugar overload. The good news is that it's still possible for the health-conscious among us to satisfy their sweet tooth without a pang of next-day guilt.
Rather than serving store-bought treats that are laden with spooky-sounding preservatives and additives, opt for these seven healthy Halloween dessert recipes. Homemade goodies are always more delightful, and when they're also vegan and gluten-free, you can feel good about serving them to any guest. Add the following healthy Halloween dessert recipes to your party lineup for seasonal treats that look naughty but aren't.
Gluten-Free Churro Poppers
These light and fluffy pillows are made from rice flour instead of wheat flour, non-dairy milk, apple cider vinegar, and a traditional cinnamon-sugar mixture. Bonus: Since these are made at home and not in a commercial fryer, you can control the amount and kind of oil you fry in, making them a better alternative to store-bought donuts or poppers and a perfect healthy Halloween dessert.
Beet Nut Butter Cups
A unique spin on traditional peanut butter cups, these Beet Nut Butter Cups have a homemade filling made from nutritious beets. With only four ingredients, you can make a simple, satisfying, and visually stunning Halloween dessert that people will be raving about for weeks after.
Gluten-Free Orange-Glazed Pumpkin Doughnuts
When you find doughnuts that are not only gluten-free, dairy-free, and baked, it feels like you’ve found the holy grail of healthy desserts. These doughnuts won’t disappoint—they’re packed full of flavor, thanks to spices and a zesty, tart orange glaze. The pumpkin doughnut base is moist and soft (not to mention perfect for Halloween), and the glaze nicely counterbalances the sweetness of the pumpkin.
Healthy Harvest Buckeyes
Anyone who is familiar with Ohio is most likely familiar with the state’s favorite sweet treat, the Buckeye. Usually made from peanut butter, powdered sugar, chocolate, and lots of other ingredients, they can be a tooth-achingly sweet morsel.
These Buckeyes might look naughty, but they're not. Half Baked Harvest has created the base with a unique combination of cannellini beans, applesauce, and pumpkin—plus the usual suspects of peanut butter and chocolate. It’s a no-bake recipe that won’t have you using every single appliance in your kitchen, and no one will be able to taste the beans, pumpkin, or applesauce—just the treat’s signature delicious and creamy peanut butter and chocolate.
Vegan Mayan Drinking Chocolate
If you’d rather drink your dessert, hot chocolate is a classic choice, especially in the colder Halloween weather. Instead of a super-rich hot chocolate topped with calorie-filled whipped cream, go for a Mayan drinking chocolate instead. This one is made from extra-dark chocolate and spices like cinnamon and nutmeg and cayenne (yes!), plus coconut milk. The result is complex and deeply satisfying, and it only takes 15 minutes to whip up.
Cashew Cream Caramels
Cashews are a popular replacement for anything dairy-related because they offer the same creamy consistency without all the stomach-upsetting ingredients. Take simple cashew milk to the next level by turning it into soft, chewy caramels—a delightful yet healthy Halloween dessert. Wrap them in wax paper, and place them in bowls around your house, or give them to neighborhood families as a welcome fall treat.
Graveyard Mousse Pots
These chocolate mousse pots will please everyone, regardless of age. Wallflower Kitchen uses Nakd Cocoa Delight bars as the dirt and an avocado-based chocolate pudding that tastes surprisingly like the real thing. Simple gluten-free gravestone cookies top off the pots to make these a spooky and yummy (and healthy!) crowd-pleasing Halloween dessert recipe.
This story was originally published on October 17, 2016 and has been updated.