Spooky snacks are so fun, whether you're having a Halloween party or just want to make snack time special. But so many Halloween treats use artificial dyes and food colorings, are filled with refined sugars, and/or are highly processed with lots of unnecessary plastic packaging.

Today we're sharing our two favorite super easy Halloween spooky snacks. These healthier Halloween treats are really fun to make with kids or just because it's fun to get in the spooky spirit. Both of them use homemade edible googly eyes made from mini-marshmallows and mini chocolate chips. Try them out for your next snack time or for a fun holiday gathering!

Mummy Graham Crackers with Easy Googly Eyes

Ingredients

  • Graham Crackers
  • Hazelnut chocolate butter (like Nutella or Justin's) or sub almond butter, peanut butter, sunflower butter
  • Coconut strips
  • Mini-marshmallows
  • Mini chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Spread hazelnut chocolate butter on a graham cracker.
  2. Add two marshmallows near the top edge of the graham cracker.
  3. Squish an upside down mini chocolate chip in the middle of the marshmallow.
  4. Arrange coconut strips to make the rest of the cracker look like a mummy.



Apple Monster Mouths with Easy Googly Eyes

Ingredients

  • Apple
  • Nut butter (almond butter, peanut butter, sunflower butter)
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Mini-marshmallows
  • Mini chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Cut the apple into thick wedges. Then cut out a sliver on the outside of the slice for the mouth.
  2. Add nut butter into the cut out mouth.
  3. Arrange sunflower seeds to look like teeth.
  4. Add a dab of nut butter onto the sides of 2 marshmallow and slice on top of the slice for eyes
  5. Squish an upside down mini chocolate chip in the middle of the marshmallow.



Artificial food colorings are everywhere in our daily lives. They show up in lots of foods that we eat daily, like cereals, and in lots of treats like candy and baked goods. You can even find them in places you wouldn't think to look, like tomato sauce, farmed salmon, and even pickles! They are found in so many of our foods, yet we do not think much about them. So what makes up these colors that stay bright even when heated and stored for long periods of time? Keep reading if you want to know more about what artificial food colorings (also known as artificial dyes) are made of and how they affect your health!

What are artificial food colorings and what are they made of?

First off, if we're not making a rainbow cake, why do we even need food coloring in the first place? Well, consumers prefer that the color of their food match its flavor. Sadly, a lot (up to 70%!!) of the foods Americans consume are highly processed and end up a different color than we'd expect them to be. A gray hotdog or khaki colored candy would throw us off and probably wouldn't be as appetizing, right?

While there are many natural food coloring options, many companies choose to go with artificial food colorings because they're cheaper. The FDA has approved seven artificial food colorings for consumption in the United States, but these colors can be mixed and matched to create many different shades. Here's the bad news: the majority of them are made out of petroleum and crude oil (1). Even though the final product is highly refined and is tested to not have any traces of petroleum, we really don't like the idea of consuming something made from crude oil!

Are artificial food colorings bad for my health?

The jury is still out. In 2008, the Center for Science in the Public Interest petitioned the FDA to ban artificial food colorings because of recent studies that found a small, but significant, negative effect of these substances on children's behavior (2). These substances were also found to be carcinogenic, cause hypersensitivity reactions, and instigate behavioral problems (3). These findings were largely controversial, and the FDA ruled that artificial food colorings could still be used in food products without the use of a warning label. But earlier this year, OEHHA published a study on the potential health effects of synthetic dyes in children and found that there is evidence that "indicates that synthetic food dyes are associated with adverse neurobehavioral outcomes in children" (4). This information is not new to the European Union though. Six years ago, studies conducted by British government also found a link between adverse neurobehavioral outcomes in children and artificial dyes. This prompted the British government to urge food companies to stop using artificial food dyes in their products, and for the European Union to pass a new law "requiring that any food that contained [artificial] dyes ... would have to put a warning notice on, warning consumers that the dyes might trigger hyperactivity" (5). This law effectively made artificial food coloring impossible to find in foods made and sold in the EU.

Should you avoid artificial food colorings?

Even though more research needs to be done to reach conclusive findings, the current evidence is not looking good for artificial food coloring. While we wait for the results of these studies, we can take proactive steps in protecting our health. It's been established that the food we consume plays a large role in our health and unhealthy, highly processed foods are some of the biggest sources of artificial food colorings. By removing these products from your diet, you can improve your overall health and reduce the amount of artificial food colorings you consume.

What to use intsead

However, if you find yourself baking two dozen cupcakes the night before a big bake sale or you toddler has requested a rainbow cake for their birthday and you have to use food coloring, make sure to use natural food coloring. Common natural food coloring can come from beets, carrots, saffron, turmeric, spinach, blueberries, and blackberries and do not have any negative health consequences. Plus, natural food coloring is becoming increasingly popular and they're really easy to find in stores! Here are some of our favorites:


Plant-Based Food Color Variety Pack by Supernatural

India Tree Nature's Colors Decorating Set

Suncore Foods – Premium Pink Pitaya Supercolor Powder

Suncore Foods – Premium Blue Butterfly Pea Supercolor Powder

References

  1. https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/education/resources/highschool/chemmatters/past-issues/2015-2016/october-2015/food-colorings.html
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3441937/
  3. https://cspinet.org/resource/food-dyes-rainbow-risks
  4. https://oehha.ca.gov/risk-assessment/report/health...
  5. https://www.nhpr.org/2014-03-28/why-m-ms-are-made-...
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Artificial food coloring is readily abundant in the products we use everyday, especially in kids products like snacks, candy, and even medicine. These synthetic food dyes are made from petroleum and have been found to be carcinogenic, cause hypersensitivity reactions, and instigate behavioral problems (1). There still needs to be more research done to determine whether or not artificial food colorings cause a myriad of other illnesses and health complications, but until that research is completed we feel that it's best to stay away from these potentially toxic synthetic dyes. That's why we rounded up some popular kids snacks and even medicines and found alternatives that use vegetable and fruit colors instead!

  1. Annie's Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks

  2. Pirates Booty Cheese Puffs

  3. Nature's Path Organic Frosted Berry Strawberry toaster pastries

  4. 365 Rainbow Sprinkles

  5. UNREAL milk chocolate gems

  6. Children's Motrin Dye-free

Sources:

  1. https://cspinet.org/resource/food-dyes-rainbow-risks
Family

Non-Toxic Snack Swaps

Even picky eaters will love these!

Sometimes it can feel impossible trying to find snacks your kids will like that are still relatively healthy. There are so many different snack options out there and it's hard to tell which snacks are free of refined sugars, dyes, and artificial flavorings. That's why we decided to put together a bunch of non-toxic snack swaps that are great for kids of all age groups! These snack swaps have better ingredients and are overall less processed. Not to mention they are great snacks for when you are on the go!

  1. Bear real fruit snack rolls

  2. Made Good Vanilla Crispy Squares

  3. Simple Mills soft baked almond flour bars

  4. Late July organic peanut butter minis

  5. Bare organic apple crisps

  6. Annie's organic cheddar bunnies
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