All Treats, No Tricks: How to de-junk Halloween for kids

halloween kid

With jumbo candy bags for sale everywhere right now, and ads blasting sugary treats to give out next week, it's easy to associate Halloween with "fun size" giveaways. But what I've discovered in teaching cooking to kids is that they can definitely be swayed away from that deluge of junk — you just have to get them in the kitchen.


When kids make up their own treats, they quickly catch on to the idea that it's okay to have them in moderation, especially if you create savory foods at the same time. Even in my adult classes, I've found that having a larger variety of dishes is most popular, leading to guilt-free portion sizes for desserts. 


For me, getting kids into the kitchen has become a particular passion, maybe because of my own history. I grew up in the 1980s, when everything was processed and packaged, and later became a marriage and family therapist (my day job), where I've worked with a lot of kids in difficult situations. So many of them have constant health problems, especially when it comes to weight, and I've tried to help educate them about having food as fuel — putting good, healthy food into their bodies, and learning to feed themselves by learning some basic kitchen skills.


At this time of year, it can be particularly hard to remember that lesson, and Halloween just kicks off a season of overindulgence. But if you put kids in the kitchen and take the time to cook with them, I think you'll be surprised at the amazing results. 


Here's a recipe that can start any kid off on a culinary adventure, and it's easy to make it "spooky" for Halloween:


Zombie Eyes

Makes 36 larger buckeyes 



1/4 cup of cream cheese, at room temp

1 1/2 cups smooth peanut butter

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

3 cups powdered sugar

10 T unsalted butter, melted and cooled


12 oz dark chocolate, chopped, about 60-72 percent cocoa

1/2 cup of melted white chocolate

2-4 drops of red food coloring


Line a sheet pan with parchment. 


In a large bowl of an electric mixer, place the cream cheese and peanut butter. Beat until combined. Add graham cracker crumbs, and beat shortly. Add the powdered sugar and butter and beat on low until the mixture comes together then beat on a higher setting until combined. Scrape the bowl to combine then beat again if needed. The mixture will be slightly dry in appearance. Set them aside while you make the chocolate.


Melt the chocolate in a double boiler until smooth and shiny. Place in a small bowl to dip the buckeyes.


Using a portion scooper, roll about 1 T of candy in your hands, creating a ball. Dip just half of the candy in the chocolate, then set on the parchment lined sheet pan. Repeat this until all candy is covered.


Refrigerate for about 30 minutes or until the chocolate is set. While the candy is setting, melt the white chocolate in a double boiler. Once it is smooth, add in a few drops of red food coloring. Add in a bit more if the mixture is too pink. Place a small amount in a sandwich bag with a small corner snipped off.


Remove the candy from the refrigerator. Using the melted white chocolate, pipe jagged lines along the chocolate dipped portion to mimic blood vessels in the eyes. Place back in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes to set the white chocolate.


Join Chef Randi this Saturday, Oct. 25th in Stillwater as she leads a hands-on afternoon class for kids ages 8 and up. The menu will feature the recipe above, as well as whoopie pies and puff pastry-wrapped chicken strips. Sign up here.