Trick or treat! Skip traditional calorie-packed snacks and make a few of these slimmed-down desserts instead
PB Chocolate Chip Popcorn Balls
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A fun, sweet, and salty snack, popcorn balls are a pretty healthy Halloween option, says registered dietitian Lauren O'Connor. Popcorn is a whole grain food that is high in fiber, naturally low in fat and calories, and packs in more antioxidants than some servings of fruits and veggies! Plus, this easy recipe from Nutrition Babes Kathy Siegel, RD, and Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RD, is packed with salty-sweet flavor!
5 cups air-popped popcorn
3 tablespoons honey
4 tablespoons natural peanut butter
3 tablespoons mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
Directions: Mix together popped corn and chocolate chips in a large bowl. Fill a smaller bowl with ice and water and set aside. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stir together honey and peanut butter until bubbling. Pour the honey peanut butter mixture over the popcorn and chocolate chips, and combine well with a spatula. Dip hands in ice water and roll popcorn into 2-inch balls (dip hands in ice water in between balls). If your popcorn ball becomes too fragile, dip it in the ice water briefly and then reshape it. Once all the balls have been rolled out, place them on a sheet of parchment paper to cool.
Makes 10 popcorn balls
Nutrition score per serving (one 2-inch ball): 90 calories, 2.5g fat (1.5g saturated fat), 1g fiber, 21mg sodium, 2g protein
Recipe provided by Kathy Siegel, RD, CDN and Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RD of NutritionBabes.com
Bewitching Brownie Bites
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These not-so-scary brownie bites are easy to make (they only require one bowl!) and have fewer calories and half the fat and sugar of regular brownies. But they still pack in all the rich chocolate taste you want from a Halloween treat, says recipe creator Marlene Koch, RD, author of Eat More of What You Love: Over 200 Brand-New Recipes Low in Sugar, Fat, and Calories.
½ cup bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 ½ tablespoons butter
¼ cup (or a 3.5 ounce container) prune puree (Koch recommends using baby food to make this ingredient even easier to add)
¼ teaspoon instant coffee crystals
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ cup dark brown sugar
½ cup granulated, no-calorie sweetener
1 egg, beaten
¼ cup cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ cup all-purpose flour
Directions: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly spray a 12-cup muffin tin with non-stick baking spray. Place chocolate chips and butter in medium bowl and microwave on high for 45 to 60 seconds (or until chocolate looks shiny and partially melted). Remove bowl from the microwave and whisk until completely melted. Whisk in prune puree, instant coffee, vanilla, and brown sugar (it should be lump-free), blending until smooth. Stir in beaten egg. Add cocoa powder, baking powder, and flour, mixing after each addition. Spoon batter evenly into prepared muffin tins, using about 2 tablespoons each. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until the center springs back when lightly touched. Cool pan on wire rack for 5 to 10 minutes before removing brownies.
Makes 12 servings
Nutrition score per serving (1 brownie): 100 calories, 4g fat (2g saturated fat), 15g carbohydrates, 7g sugar, 2g fiber, 20mg sodium, 3g protein
Recipe re-printed with permission from Eat More of What You Love: Over 200 Brand-New Recipes Low in Sugar, Fat, and Calories by Marlene Koch, Running Press, a member of the Perseus Book Group © 2012
Chocolate Almond Butter Cups
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If peanut butter cups are your favorite Halloween candy, this is the slimmed-down recipe you've been waiting for! This healthier version is made with antioxidant-rich dark chocolate and natural almond butter so there's no need to feel guilty after you indulge.
2 Hershey's dark chocolate kisses (or 50 calories worth of any kind of dark chocolate)
½ tablespoon raw almond butter (or all natural peanut butter)
Directions: Melt one piece chocolate and place in the bottom of a mini muffin wrapper. Place in freezer for a few minutes until solid. Top with almond butter. Melt other piece of chocolate and place on top of nut butter and freeze until solid.
Makes 1 serving
Nutrition score per serving: 98 calories, 8.1g fat (2.5g saturated fat), 7.1g carbohydrates, 4g sugar, 1.7g fiber, 1mg sodium, 1.9g protein
Recipe provided by Erin Macdonald, RD, of U Rock Girl!
Jack-O-Lantern Rice Krispies Treats
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These super-cute Jack-O-Lantern treats are guaranteed to bring out the kid in you!
2 tablespoons Smart Balance Light
4 cups mini marshmallows
2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
5 cups Rice Krispies
12 mini black licorice bites, or 6 mini Tootsie rolls, cut in half
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
dash of cloves
dash of ground ginger
You'll also need:
Orange food coloring
Black decorators gel
Ready to use fondant, dyed green (if desired)
Non-stick cooking spray
Directions: Line a large cookie sheet with aluminum foil and grease the foil with cooking spray. In a small prep bowl, mix together all the spices. Set aside. In a large pot, melt Smart Balance light over medium heat until well melted and it coats the pan (this will prevent the marshmallows from sticking). Add the mini marshmallows and put on medium heat until they are nearly melted. Add pumpkin puree and spice mixture. Mix well. Add a drop or two of orange food coloring (depending on your desired shade of orange). Remove from heat and add Rice Krispies. Mix until all of the Rice Krispies are mixed in. Spray your hands with cooking spray and scoop up about ⅓ to ½ cup of the Rice Krispies mixture. Start to shape the mixture into a pumpkin-like shape.
To decorate: Place the 'pumpkins' on the prepared baking sheet and press down a bit so they stand up on their own. Then press a half of a midget tootsie roll into the top of the balls (they should look like the stem of your pumpkin!). Wait until the Rice Krispies treats are completely cool to create the Jack-o'-Lantern face with the black decorators gel. For the green vines, take about the size of a dime's worth of the green ready-to-use fondant, and roll it in between your hands to make a long and skinny string. Wrap the string around a toothpick and let sit on a baking sheet until completely hardened. Once dry, remove from toothpick and place one or two vines to the right and left of the stem to complete your pumpkin.
Makes 12 servings
Nutrition score per serving (1 'pumpkin'): 105 calories, 0.8g fat, 25g carbohydrates, 12g sugar, 0.1g fiber, 94mg sodium, 1.0g protein
Recipe provided by Krystal Conover of My Buttercup Bubble
Punk-in' Mini Muffins
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Jenn Walters, co-founder of Fit Bottomed Girls, says this low-fat pumpkin muffin recipe is so easy, even the baking-impaired can succeed! "With just two simple ingredients, it takes just 20 minutes to whip them up. In fact, I always have a box of cake mix and a can of pumpkin on hand in case I need to make a dessert in a pinch—or need to beat a pumpkin craving this time of year." The recipe below calls for spice cake mix, but you can try it with any flavor you prefer, Walters says.
1 box spice cake mix
1 15-ounce can of pumpkin (plain, don't use pumpkin-pie filling)
Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Take a regular box of spice cake mix and mix well with the can of pumpkin (don't add eggs, water, or oil—the batter is supposed to be thick, says Walters). Divide the batter evenly between 24 mini-muffins and spoon into a mini-muffin tin that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake for 13 minutes.
Makes 24 servings
Nutrition score per serving (1 mini muffin): 86 calories, 0.8g fat (0.5g saturated fat), 19.4g carbohydrates, 9.6g sugar, 0.5g fiber, 160mg sodium, 1.2g protein
Recipe provided by Jenn Walters of FitBottomedGirls.com
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We just love these creative yet simple to make (and slightly scary) apple 'bites' from Gretchen Zelek of Do or Die Fitness. Carve them up for a Halloween party or just anytime you need a smile with your snack!
24 slivered almonds (approx.)
Directions: Wash, core, and quarter apple. Cut a wedge from the skin side of each quarter. Press almond slivers in place for teeth. Bite in and enjoy!
Makes 4 servings
Nutrition score per serving (1 'mouth'): 65 calories, 3.5g fat, 5g carbohydrates, 1g fiber, 70mg sodium, 3g sugar, 1g protein
Recipe provided by Gretchen Zelek of Do or Die Fitness
Chocolate Cheesecake Cups
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If you want a more 'adult' dessert for your Halloween party, we'd recommend these classy, single-serving chocolate cheesecake cups created by Dr. Lynn Anderson, author of Recipes for Health, Sex, Happiness, and Love. Keep them in the spirit of the holiday by using Halloween-themed cupcake liners and serving them with spooky, printed napkins.
1 8-ounce package of Neufchatel cheese (or light cream cheese)
½ cup sugar
½ cup low-fat or non-fat cottage cheese
2 tablespoons of flour
2 tablespoons of cocoa
3 tablespoons of crème de cocoa, Godiva Chocolate Liqueur or Bailey's Irish Cream
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 egg whites
2 tablespoons chocolate chips
Directions: Place the first 8 ingredients in a food processor and blend. Spoon the mixture into paper liners in mini cupcake baking tins. Fill half-way. Top with 3 to 4 chocolate chips. Bake at 300 degrees for 20 minutes. Cool on a rack and then chill for at least 2 hours.
Makes 15 servings
Nutrition score per serving (2 cups): 100 calories, 4g fat, 90mg sodium, 10g sugar, 3g protein
Recipe provided by Dr. Lynn Anderson
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Do all those sweets have you craving something a little more savory? Try munching on a few of these healthy 'eyeball' treats, created by Amy Margulies, lead RD of RetroFit Weight Loss.
3 large carrots, sliced in chunks
¼ cup low fat cream cheese
½ cup sliced black olives
Directions: Hold carrot chunk upright. Place ½ teaspoon low-fat cream cheese on the top of the carrot, centered. Place a slice of olive in the center of the cream cheese to complete your tasty, edible eyeball.
Makes 18 servings
Nutrition score per serving (1 'eyeball'): 40.5 calories, 2.5g fat (1.6g saturated fat), 0.9g carbohydrates, 70mg sodium, 3.6g protein
Recipe provided by Amy Marguiles of Retrofit Weight Loss
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Another fun appetizer or snack, these 'fingers' are a delicious way to sneak in some nutrition while staying with the Halloween-theme. And at just 11 calories per finger, you can enjoy a few and still have plenty of room for a sweeter treat.
5 low-fat mozzarella cheese sticks
2 tablespoons low-fat cream cheese
½ green pepper, sliced into 10 'fingernail' sized pieces
Directions: Slice mozzarella sticks in half. Take your knife and make slight wedges on the cheese, to look like the folds of your finger and knuckle. Dig about ¼ inch of cheese out at the top. Place ½ teaspoon cream cheese in the ¼ inch hole. Place 1 green pepper "nail" on top.
Makes 12 servings
Nutrition score per serving (1 'finger'): 11 calories, 0.5g fat (0.2g saturated fat), 1.5g carbohydrates, 49.2mg sodium, 0.5g sugar, 0.3g protein
Recipe provided by Amy Marguiles of Retrofit Weight Loss
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This melt-in-your-mouth fall treat transforms a nutritious apple into a dessert. Since most versions come out closer to 300 calories, portion control is key. Slice a fully-loaded caramel apple into thirds and enjoy it with a few friends to keep it at 100 calories per serving (we love this caramel-pistachio-dipped apple recipe)!
For an even healthier 100-calorie alternative that you can eat all by yourself, O'Connor recommends warm, baked apples instead. Simply wash, dry, and core a small apple (go with a Granny Smith for a tart and tangy taste; for a sweet and tart combo, reach for a Pink Lady), dust it with cinnamon, wrap it in foil, and bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes. Once it's out of the oven, top it with a teaspoon of honey or sliced almonds.