Just because you have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) doesn’t mean you have to miss out on Halloween fun. While most candy that you’ll find trick-or-treating is laden with refined sugars and food additives, which can worsen IBD symptoms and contribute to inflammation, there are many healthy ways to satisfy your Halloween sweet tooth. When you make your own treats, you can control the ingredients, modify them to suit your dietary needs, and avoid provoking gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms. Here are five IBD-friendly goodies to try this Halloween.
1. Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
Few food combinations beat chocolate and peanut butter, but the classic Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups handed out on Halloween contain a slew of undesirable additives and refined sugar. Luckily, it's very easy to make your own peanut butter cups. It requires only a freezer, a stove or microwave, and three ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry: dark chocolate bars, coconut oil, and peanut butter.
Pour melted dark chocolate into lined mini muffin tins. Let them set in the freezer for five minutes. Add a dollop of combined peanut butter and coconut oil and return the muffin tray to the freezer for another few minutes. Finally, top your PB cups with another layer of chocolate and let it harden in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes.
You can get fancy by sprinkling the top with some flaky sea salt, or adding mix-ins like pureed fruit for a PB&J spin, pumpkin spice for a seasonal feel, or puffed rice for some crunch.
For full recipe details, visit Organic Authority.
2. Pumpkin Mousse
The soft texture of pumpkin puree makes it easy to digest, plus it’s inexpensive and readily available at most grocery stores this time of year. Pumpkin puree contains a variety of nutrients that are especially beneficial for those with IBD, like beta-carotene and alpha-carotene, both of which are antioxidants that combat inflammation. Beta-carotene and alpha-carotene are also vitamin A precursors, meaning they’re converted into vitamin A in the body. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), those with IBD are at greater risk for vitamin A deficiency, so incorporating pumpkin into your diet can help you boost your intake and meet your needs. Additionally, pumpkin puree is rich in soluble fiber. This type of fiber has prebiotic properties, feeding friendly gut bacteria to support a healthy gut microbiome, according to research published in the journal Molecules in November 2021.
To make a tasty and nutritious pumpkin mousse treat, heat up some pumpkin puree in the microwave or on the stovetop, then mix in a few shakes of cinnamon, a spoonful or two of plain Greek yogurt for creaminess, and a dash of honey to sweeten. The result is a decadent-tasting pumpkin mousse, which provides a similar feel to pumpkin pie but is much lighter, easier on your GI tract, and lower in sugar. Additionally, Greek yogurt provides calcium, protein, and a healthy dose of probiotics to help populate your gut with good bacteria.
For full recipe details, visit the Center for Applied Nutrition.
3. Peeled-Apple Nachos
Apple-picking season is back, and certain therapeutic diets for IBD, such as the Crohn’s Disease Exclusion Diet (CDED), classify apples as “mandatory foods” to consume daily in order to foster a healthy gut environment. Whole apples with the skins may irritate an inflamed gut during flares, but peeling apples improves their digestibility so you'll still reap the gut health benefits they have to offer.
For a fun Halloween treat for both your taste buds and your gut bugs, try making apple “nachos” by arranging peeled apple slices on a plate as you would tortilla chips, then adding a generous amount of tasty toppings such as drizzles of nut butter, mini dark chocolate chips, cinnamon, honey or pure maple syrup, and any other flavorings you choose. If you are actively experiencing a flare, try baking your peeled apple slices before adding toppings to soften the apple fibers so they go down smoothly. It's also helpful to limit toppings that are high in roughage, like whole nuts and seeds and dried fruit, which are harder to digest.
Apple nachos are also very kid-friendly, and preparing them can serve as a great way to get children more involved in the kitchen.
For full recipe details, visit The Simple Veganista.
4. Snickers Stuffed Dates
As long as you’re not experiencing IBD symptoms, you can satisfy your candy bar cravings with a naturally sweet option made from dates. Simply stuff pitted Medjool dates with creamy peanut butter and dip them into melted dark chocolate. Then refrigerate the stuffed dates until the chocolate hardens.
Using creamy peanut butter rather than crunchy varieties or whole peanuts, like those found in a Snickers bar, helps minimize GI irritation. Creamy peanut butter is already somewhat broken down, requiring less work for your digestive tract, while also providing a dose of healthy fats and protein.
Dates are raw fruits and high in fiber, so they should be avoided by anyone experiencing a flare. They also contain potassium and magnesium, two essential minerals that are lost during an IBD flare, according to the University of Michigan IBD Program. Incorporating dates into your diet is a delicious way to replenish these minerals.
For full recipe details, visit A Nourishing Plate.
5. Healthy Homemade Fruit Gummies
Gummy candies are typically loaded with artificial dyes and high-fructose corn syrup, but you can easily make a homemade version with real fruit, gelatin, lemon juice, water, a pinch of salt, and some honey to sweeten. Start by pureeing your fruit of choice with a splash of water. Strain the mixture and heat the pureed fruit over the stovetop in a small pot with the rest of the ingredients, slowly whisking to eliminate clumping. Pour the mixture into silicone candy molds and refrigerate for at least two hours. You can pop the gummies out of their molds and enjoy this naturally sweet alternative to gummy bears.
Gelatin is a protein found in animal bones that’s derived from collagen, which is the most abundant protein in the human body and happens to be found in the intestinal lining. While human studies on the effects of collagen supplementation are limited, in order for your body to make its own collagen, you must consume the essential amino acids that make up collagen, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Incorporating gelatin into your diet, which contains all the amino acids found in collagen, can therefore help to provide you with the building blocks needed to repair collagen-rich tissues, like the lining of your intestinal tract. Further, incorporating gelatin into foods provides an easy-to-digest source of protein.
For full recipe details, visit EatTheGains.com.