Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Frightful Holiday

The days of ghosts, ghouls and goblins are upon us. The decorations are up, treats bought, and costumes chosen. Halloween is only a week away. The rustling wind and long shadows take on double meaning and every echoing footstep causes me to look over my shoulder these days. Yet the fear that the spirit world inspires cannot compare to that of a parent's dread about the candy high that this week spawns.

Before I go any further, I have to say I'm no candy hater. When we crafted Purple Asparagus' mission statement, we intentionally left out any reference to the word "healthy," but instead talked about good eating. Good eating we felt was a diet high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, which left room for sometime foods, candy included. I certainly remember loving Halloween's post-trick-or-treating where I inspected my loot, organizing it and rationing it out. I think that the big difference is, like most everything these days, a matter of degree. I would travel a 3-4 block radius in a suburban neighborhood and come home with the same amount of candy that my son gathers in one small 1/2 city block. Back then, I got one piece a house. Nowadays, people throw handfuls of the stuff like beads off of Mardi Gras floats. Then there are the parties, school and otherwise with goodie bags stocked full of candy. Boxes of treats are sent from relatives near and far. I know that my son's body will recover from a jolt of sugar shock, it's just my sanity that seems to be damaged watching him bounce from wall to wall.

For some strategies against the sugar attack, check out this recent Mindful Metropolis article for which I served as a source.

Mindful Metropolis October 2009

For a healthy alternative to the sugar fest, come see Purple Asparagus at the Evanston Farmers' Market with Now We're Cookin' as we make Witches Brew (spiced apple cider) and Bug Salsa (black bean and peppers) with Creature Chips. If you want to stay in the city, the Green City Market has an exciting line-up for their annual Halloween Party. While you're there, consider supporting the Market by becoming a member.

Bug Salsa
For 4 servings

2 cups of cooked black beans
2 tablespoons sweet onion, chopped
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 red pepper, chopped into squares
2 teaspoons chopped cilantro

Combine the lime juice, cumin, and salt in a large bowl. Drizzle in the olive oil while whisking to combine. Add black beans, onions, cilantro and peppers and mix to combine. For a more adult version, I add 1/2 serrano chile, seeded and chopped.

Whole Wheat Tortilla Spikes
For 4 servings

1 bag whole wheat flour tortillas
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400º F. Slice the whole wheat tortillas into ½ inch slices. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and place the tortilla spikes on top. Spray the spikes lightly with cooking spray. Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned and crispy.

Witches Brew

1 1/2 gallon of apple cider
1 cinnamon stick
5 cloves
2 strips of orange peel

Wrap the peel and spices in cheesecloth and tie at the top. Pour the cider in saucepan and add the cheesecloth package. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Serve warm.

Our terrific volunteer, Gracie, who declared Bug Salsa delicious, with a friend that she recruited.

Evanston Farmers Market

Black beans from Three Sisters, IL
Red peppers and onion from Genesis Growers, WI
Cilantro from Smit's, IL
Apple cider from Seedling, MI
Spices from The Spice House, IL


  1. How fun! Will have to try that bug salsa.

  2. The Little Locavore would have loved to volunteer, but he had gophers to kill!


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