Let's have a pumpkin carving party! Or a costume party! Or both! Whichever way you want to go, just be sure to gather with friends, have some fun, and feast on a simple, amazing menu that can be made ahead of time. And the fact that everything on the menu just happens to be healthy? Well that's just a bonus (and it leaves a little wiggle room in case you just happen have Halloween candy on the menu).
I've always loved Halloween. As a little girl I alternated between princess, fairy, "roller queen" (it was the 80's, what can I say), and a belly dancer. In college I graduated to a rodeo queen, and the first year dating my husband I went as an 80's prom queen (sensing a theme here?). He went as Don Johnson from Miami Vice. For some reason I haven't been able to convince him to share those photos.
I'm having just as much Halloween fun the past few years with my own daughter. I dressed her up as a fuzzy little duck her first Halloween. The next year she went as a super hero and last year as a cowgirl. This year there was no question in her 3 year-old mind. It had to be a pink sparkly fairy princess. It just had to. So we went with it.
In the spirit of the holiday, hosting a pumpkin carving party is the perfect excuse to invite friends and family over, hang out, carve a pumpkin or two, and maybe get into costume. The last part is up to you.
I've put together a simple, inspired menu that can be prepared ahead of time so you'll be able to enjoy the festivities. Make the entire menu or just one or two things and delegate the rest. The idea is to keep things relaxed and to have fun!
Below you will find suggested menu, links to recipes (all of which are naturally gluten-free and dairy-free), and tips for prepping the food ahead below. I'm also sharing some tips on pumpkin carving, if you decide to go that route. So invite a few friends over, make a few simple recipes, and celebrate the season!
1 | Autumn Crudités Platter
2 | Pumpkin Hummus
3 | Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Chili with All the Fixins
4 | One-Bowl Apple Cornmeal Muffins
5 | Chocolate Covered Pumpkin Cake Pops
Pumpkin Carving Tips
1 | Round up pumpkins of all shapes and sizes. You can provide the pumpkins, or have guests bring their own.
2 | Cover a table or other large, flat surface with newspaper to contain the mess and to make cleanup easy.
3 | Provide permanent markers and sharp carving tools. Carefully cut a round circle into the top of the pumpkin, then scoop out the flesh and seeds inside. Leave the cutting to the adults, but encourage kids to help with scooping and designing.
4 | Once the pumpkin is cleaned out, encourage guests to use their imaginations to create the perfect pumpkin.
5 | Don't forget small candles or lights to illuminate the pumpkins once they are carved. Light them up, turn down the lights, and enjoy!
Autumn Crudités Platter
Assemble a simple crudités platter for nibbling during the party. Think fresh fruits and veggies, a simple dip, some nuts, chips and perhaps some cheese.
Cut the veggies and make the dip ahead, then assemble before the party starts. Here are some suggestions to get you started:
1 | Grapes.
2 | Thinly sliced apples.
3 | White cheddar cheese (optional).
4 | Raw almonds.
5 | Sweet potato chips.
6 | Pumpkin hummus.
Don't Forget About the Seeds
Place two bowls on the carving table. Use one to collect pulp from inside the pumpkins, and the other to collect the seeds. When the party's over, get ready to make roasted pumpkin seeds!
1 | Give the seeds a good rinse to remove as much of the pulp as possible.
2 | Soak the seeds overnight in a large bowl filled with water and a generous pinch of salt.
3 | Drain the seeds and pat to dry.
4 | Arrange the dry seeds in one layer on a sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
5 | Roast in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the seeds are lightly golden browned.
6 | Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Enjoy immediately or store, tightly sealed, for up to 5 days.
1 | The Creamy Pumpkin Hummus can be made up to 3 days ahead and stored, tightly sealed, in the refrigerator.
2 | Serve as part of an Autumn Crudités Platter, or on its own with sliced veggies and root vegetable chips.
Be Sure to Pause to Admire Your Handiwork!
Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Apple Cider Chili
1 | Assemble the Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Apple Cider Chili the morning of the party, then keep warm until guests are ready to eat.
2 | Serve the chili buffet style, with plenty of topping options and allow guests to serve themselves.
3 | Topping options include sautéed chicken sausage (for the meat eaters in the crowd), grated white cheddar cheese, sour cream, chopped avocado, sliced green onions, and fresh lime slices.
One-Bowl Apple Cornmeal Muffins
1 | One-Bowl Apple Cornmeal Muffins make the perfect side for a warm bowl of chili. Top with butter or coconut butter and honey to take these muffins over the top.
2 | The muffins will last up to 3 months in the freezer, so make them ahead and store, tightly sealed, in the freezer. Defrost in the fridge overnight, then gently reheat in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven, wrapped in foil, for 20 minutes or until warmed through.
Chocolate Covered Pumpkin (Raw) Cake Pops
1 | Chocolate Covered Pumpkin Cake Pops are a decadent, healthy treat. The center is really a raw energy bite, so this simple dessert is easy to make and good for you, too!
2 | The Cake Pops can be made up to 5 days ahead and stored, tightly sealed, in the fridge.
When in doubt, Eat Dessert in Costume
Then Just Be Sure to Run it Off
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