Surviving the Treats of Halloween

First and foremost, I must admit that I am not a Paleo Perfectionist by any means.  I do my best on a daily basis, but as you can tell from my current book, Paleo Indulgences, I like to bake, I like a sweet treat occasionally, and I don’t want my kids to ever feel left out because of something as simple as food.  However, when it comes to those occasional treats, I want them to be with quality ingredients, real foods and as healthy as I can make it, but still love the taste and texture.  Like I always say, it can be the healthiest thing possible, but if no one eats it because it tastes bad, then it really didn’t matter that it was good for you.

So when we originally became aware of our food allergies, that first Halloween I panicked.  How was I going to enjoy the holiday, let the kids trick-or-treat, and still not allow gluten, dairy & nuts for my youngest, and artificial colors and flavors into their little tummies?

My solution that year was to create a Halloween Store for the kids.  I stocked up on mom-approved treats and non-food treats, then after the trick-or-treating, we came home and commenced with the Halloween Store where the kids essentially “bought” the good stuff with the bad stuff.  We’ve been doing this for years now and I am surprised and thrilled that my girls talk more about, and are more excited about, the Store than they are about trick-or-treating! Who knew? And this year is shaping up to be the same. They’ve been talking about the Store for weeks and wondering what will be for sale this year!

Here’s how it works…I usually set up a table with some Fall decorations and then display all of the items “for sale.”  Then I act as the Halloween Witch (This is in direct contrast to my everyday personality so the kids get a kick out of it.  Really!)  and the kids “buy” the good treats with their nasty trick-or-treat candy.  I don’t have a set “price” but make it up as I go, to ensure all of their bad candy gets “spent.”  I charge maybe 2 pieces of candy for a good lollipop, and maybe 25 pieces for a large piece of dark chocolate or a puzzle.  The kids really get into it, picking out the things they want (I buy the same for both to keep it fair, but they enjoy selecting what they want as they go.)

This was our solution to a problem of wanting the kids to be a part of something our society celebrates, but still mainting our food values to a degree.  So far, it has been a win-win for this family!  Keep in mind your needs as far as food allergies and what you’re ok with as a once-a-year splurge for the kids.  We don’t do gluten, grains, artificial colors or flavors.  Those are our strict limits.  We will allow some dairy in the chocolate (except for our youngest who can’t do dairy) and some organic sugar.  Those we can compromise on for this one day.  I also try not to overdo the treats and balance them with non-food items so that they aren’t eating sugar for the next month.

Here’s what I’ve got on the table this year:


How do you survive this sugar coated holiday?  I’d love to hear if you try a Store and what you’re kids think of it!  And feel free to post your ideas for Halloween treats that won’t scare you to death!  Happy Halloween!




  1. What a great idea! I love it and will have to remember it for when my kids are old enough to understand. Last year (pre-Paleo), I let my daughter pick out a couple pieces of candy and the rest she left for the “Great Pumpkin.” Who brought her a game.

    This year my daughter knows that we will give the candy to the dentist who is sending it to the troops. I will let her trade it in for a couple gluten free, dairy free treats I bought.

  2. Great idea! My husband asked what you do with the “bad” candy?

    • We’ve been trying to figure that out over the years! lol! The first year (kids were small so we were home early) we handed it back out to trick-or-treaters. Then we decided we didn’t like handing out that kind of candy either (didn’t support our food philosophy) so we’ve been giving it to a local dentist’s office that ships candy and other goodies to soldiers in Iraq. Of course, we have reservations about sending it to them too! It’s just junk all the way around and we haven’t landed on anything that feels right 100%. Last year we just threw it away. Not sure what we’ll do this year. I’m thinking I’ll go back to giving it to the dentist office, simply because if it brings even a moment of joy to any soldier, I guess that’s ok right? By the time I figure it out my kids will be too old to trick or treat! 🙂

  3. Tammy what a great idea! I have been struggling with Halloween and haven’t found a solution that will make everyone happy! I think this will work! Thank you Thank you! You are amazing! I just got your cook book The Healthy Gluten-Free Life in the mail yesterday and can’t wait to try the recipes! We don’t have any gluten intolerances that we know of 🙂 But my daughter and I do have an allergy to dairy. I am on the path to finding what works for us and your cook book will help us on that path! Love all the beautiful pictures!

  4. What a great idea! I’ve been bringing mine to the dentist office for the troops, but I will definitely try your store idea this year. I love it! Btw if you don’t mind me asking, I bought your 1st book the healthy gluten free life and loved it of course but what made you cross over to Paleo also?

    • Hi Lillian! Thanks for your post! My husband (with celiac disease) wasn’t 100% on just GF. He still had many bad days. After a lot of research he found the paleo diet and gave it a try. It didn’t take long for him to know that it worked. He rarely has bad (feeling bad) days now, and if he does, it’s usually because he chose to overdo something like fruit or it’s a lifestyle thing like too much stress. He has found that a diet combo of paleo/FODMAP (for more info on FODMAPs you can check out: & works best for him. Basically, he’s paleo with a few other restrictions because some foods in the FODMAP family are problems for him. We feel like he’s finally really healing his gut with this way of eating. My kids have also had great results. The sugar and gf grains we were still relying so heavily on weren’t doing them any good. Removing these things has helped my oldest with anxiety, mood, focus issues and overall well-being. For my youngest it was improved mood, sleep, immune system and tummy issues. For myself, I tried paleo for 30 days…I haven’t looked back since and that was well over 2 years ago now! I lost almost 30 lbs., have more energy, I’m sleeping better, my skin is clear and my sugar cravings are almost non-existent. Going gluten free made a big difference for my family, but going paleo made THE difference. Thanks for asking!

      Here are a couple of links for paleo info, in case you havne’t checked them out already: , , ,

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