As a “doting” mum of two little rascals I know that sometimes you just have to break the rules and let them gorge on some sweet nasties!  One of these times is Halloween!

Halloween for most parents = loads of junk and sugar! Every parent’s nightmare!  Instead of denying kids the treats, parents can make the Halloween season a chance to learn about good and bad foods…

Be consoled, the most important thing is not what they do or eat on one day; it’s what they do every day of the year. So keep it in perspective and let the fun begin!

Here I share some recipes from my “Catherine’s Family Kitchen” cookbook and offer some tips for a slightly healthier Halloween food plan:

Eat before you trick-or-treat. Serve your child a nutritious meal or snack before going trick-or-treating so they won’t be so inclined to devour ALL their bag of sweets in one go!

Set limits. Set limits on how many sweets/treats can be eaten each day over the holiday period and how long the treats can stay in the house. Remember it’s parents who are in charge of what kids eat. And they are what you feed them!

Think beyond traditional treats. Offer kids non-sweet alternatives like boxes of raisins, cheese crackers, pumpkin scones, pumpkin & sweet potato soup, baked apples, plain biscuits, bread sticks or cheese & fruit kebabs.

Distraction is great.  Plan Halloween games for your kids when they come back from “trick or treating” this will distract them from their horde of goodies (or should I say badies)!

Cod Fingers with Mushy Peas and Roasted Sweet Potatoes

(recipe from Catherine’s Family Kitchen)

This is comfort food for kids … but I bet you’ll have difficulty keeping the adults away. It’s surprisingly quick and easy to make your own fish fingers – or goujons if you want to be posh and it’ll set them up for a night of trick or treating!

Serves 4

For the cod fingers:

150g breadcrumbs
3 tbsp grated Parmesan
1 tbsp chopped fresh
salt and freshly ground
black pepper
1 egg, beaten
700g skinless cod, cut
into 2cm strips
sunflower oil

For the mushy peas:

150g frozen peas
2 tbsp water
3 tbsp cream
1 small sprig of mint,
salt and freshly ground
black pepper
For the sweet potatoes:
500g sweet potatoes,
halved and cut into 1cm
extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground
black pepper
lemon wedges, to serve

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6.

2. To prepare the sweet potatoes, place the slices in a roasting pan, drizzle with oil, salt and pepper and roast for about 20 minutes, until tender. Keep warm.

3. To prepare the cod fingers, combine the breadcrumbs, Parmesan and parsley on a wide plate. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place the beaten egg on a separate wide plate.

4. Dip the fish into the beaten egg, then into the breadcrumb mixture, gently shaking off any excess breadcrumbs. Set the breaded fingers aside on a plate. Repeat the process with the rest of the fish. Place the plate in the fridge for 10 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, to make the mushy peas, put the peas and water in a saucepan and cook for 5–6 minutes, until softened. Roughly mash the peas and add the cream, mint and salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm.

6. Heat some oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the fish to the pan in batches, taking care not to overcrowd the pan. Fry each side for 2–3 minutes, or until cooked through.

7. To serve, place the mushy peas in a bowl in the centre of a large platter. Pile the cod fingers around the bowl, followed by the roasted sweet potatoes. Serve immediately with lemon wedges.

This can be made with strips of chicken and is delicious with a homemade tomato sauce and paprika potato slices.

Curried Chicken Coconut Noodle Soup
(recipe from Catherine’s Family Kitchen)

This recipe is from our Vietnamese class in Ballyknocken Cookery School and has become a firm favorite in the Fulvio household. It is so hearty and a wonderful quick supper when all the children want to do is escape the dinner table to don their costumes.

Serves 4–6

vegetable oil
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp curry powder
800ml–1 liter chicken stock
1 x 400ml tin of
unsweetened coconut milk
100ml water
6 thin slices of fresh ginger
1 stalk of lemongrass, the
woody top section discarded
and the remainder minced
1⁄2 tsp whole black peppercorns
2 chicken breasts
130g medium Asian egg noodles
3 tbsp lime juice (about
1 1⁄2 limes)
3 tbsp Thai fish sauce (nam pla)
1 sprig of fresh coriander, chopped

1. Heat a saucepan over a moderately low heat. Add some oil and the garlic and stir for 1 minute, until it’s fragrant. Add the curry powder and cook for 30 seconds.

2. Stir in the stock, coconut milk, water, ginger root, lemongrass and peppercorns. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Add the chicken and poach it for about 20 minutes, or until it’s cooked through.
3. Transfer the chicken to a plate. Using two forks, shred the
chicken and stir it back into the broth.

4. Add the noodles to the soup, stir to soften and simmer for
about 3 minutes, taking care not to overcook.

5. Add the lime juice and the Thai fish sauce. Taste for seasoning,
adding more Thai fish sauce or lime juice as required.

6. Using a tongs, divide the noodles among the bowls and ladle
the soup over them. Sprinkle with coriander and serve.

About Catherine

With her effervescent and enthusiastic personality Catherine Fulvio is one of Ireland’s top culinary stars, an award-winning food writer, TV Chef and proprietor of Ballyknocken House & Cookery School, in Co. Wicklow.

Catherine knows how good food brings family and friends together. Growing up on a working farm Catherine has a strong connection with the land and appreciates the importance of fresh, quality, seasonal ingredients in producing flavorsome food and the rewards that it brings. 
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