Santa Cruz Good Times

Thursday
Apr 24th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Fit or Treat

pumpykinLocal chef Lauren Hoover-West offers tips for a healthier Halloween

Halloween is just around the corner, and whether dentists approve or not, that means one thing: candy—and lots of it … everywhere you look. Though few have the willpower to resist a treat or two in the spirit of the holiday (nor should we), with childhood obesity and diabetes looming overhead, it’s about time that we come up with ways to celebrate that don’t lay waste to our bodies. For tips on a healthier Halloween, we turned to local chef Lauren Hoover-West.

Hoover-West teaches classes each month at New Leaf, which center on her philosophy in the kitchen (and the name of her cookbook): no wheat, no dairy, no problem. Diagnosed with food allergies in college, Hoover-West began converting traditional recipes and coming up with some of her own that did not contain wheat, dairy or refined sugar, and instead used healthy, low glycemic ingredients, including coconut milk, almond milk, oat flour, raw honey, grapeseed oil, olive oils, agave nectar, and pure maple syrup.

“For me, being a chef and foodie, first and foremost, the food has to taste good and have good texture,” she says. “I wanted to go through life without feeling deprived because of a food allergy.”

Today, Hoover-West specializes in creating recipes for people with both food allergies and health issues, including diabetes, autism, celiac disease, autoimmune disease, and inflammatory conditions. “The more I became aware of dietary restrictions, the more I wanted to make food that more people could eat,” she says.

When it comes to Halloween treats, Hoover-West advises shoppers to avoid high-fructose corn syrup—“Since your body cannot gauge when it’s full, it’s addictive, and it contains GMOs,” she says—and white sugar—“It spikes blood sugar, contains bleach and other chemicals, and causes inflammation.”

diningLauren Hoover-WestInstead, she suggests healthier alternatives like OCHO candy bars (an organic, wholesome alternative to traditional candy bars), Coco-Roons (all-natural raw treats), Justin’s organic Nut Butters, JJ’s Sweets dairy-free and gluten-free Cocomels, Nut-Free Sun Cups (peanut-free, tree-nut free, gluten-free, kosher and organic), Hail Mary Miracle Tarts and Macaroons (raw, dairy-free, gluten-free snacks), and Enjoy Life gluten-free and allergy-friendly cookies and chocolate bars.

Another option is to make your own Halloween treats at home—“That way, you can have more control over what’s in them,” says Hoover-West, who adds that baking and fondue parties are a fun way to involve the kids. “Whenever you can, add fat or fiber to anything with sugar, that way it’s a little gentler on the body.”

Her last bit of advice? “It’s important to limit kids to a certain amount of candy each day,” she says. “[Most] candy doesn’t go bad for a couple years, so you can even make a game out of it—see how long they can make it last.”  

For more info about Lauren Hoover-West, cooking tips, resources, her cooking class schedule, and to buy her cookbook, visit nowheatnodairynoproblem.com. Don’t miss her next class on Holiday Baking at New Leaf on Tuesday, Oct. 22. Visit newleaf.com for details and to register.

Trail Mix Truffles

1 cup organic nut butter or sunflower seed butter

(peanut, almond, hazelnut, etc.)

1⁄4 cup light agave nectar or raw honey

2 tsp. dark unsweetened cocoa powder (Valrhona)

1⁄4 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened

1⁄4 cup dried fruit (cherries, blueberries, cranberries, etc.)

1⁄2 cup mini chocolate chips (Sunspire)

1⁄4 cup nuts, finely chopped, optional (walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, almonds, etc.)

Coating: 1⁄2 cup chopped nuts and/or 1⁄4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

Instructions:

1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl with a spatula or mix in an electric mixer, with the paddle attachment, just until combined. 

2. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm. 

3. Pour nuts and coconut into separate 8x8 or 9x13 baking dishes. 

4. Using a one-tablespoon ice cream scooper or tablespoon, scoop out and place in nuts or shredded coconut. Roll in the coatings and enjoy. These can be refrigerated in an airtight container.

Coffee Toffee

1 cup coconut oil

1 1/3 cup coconut palm sugar/coconut sugar

1/4 cup plus 2 TBSP. filtered water

1 TBSP. molasses

2 tsp. instant powdered espresso, optional

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. sea salt or Himalayan salt

8 oz. chocolate (dark or semi-sweet), finely chopped or chips

Grease a cookie sheet (approx. 9x13 inches) and set aside.

Instructions:

1. In a medium heavy-bottomed pot stir together, with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, all ingredients except for the chocolate.

2. Cook the mixture over medium-low heat, constantly stirring with a wooden spoon until it reaches 315 degrees. You will need a candy thermometer. Quickly remove from heat.

3. Pour mixture onto the cookie sheet and spread with a silicone spatula to smooth out into a rectangle that is about 1/8 inch thick. 

4. Cool 20-30 minutes on the kitchen counter.

5. While cooling the toffee, melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in a glass bowl over simmering water. Cool the chocolate for 5 minutes off the heat.

6. Pour melted chocolate over the toffee and spread evenly to cover the Toffee.

7. Let the chocolate set/harden at room temperature for about 4 hours. You can put it into the refrigerator to speed up the process, but it may be dull or bloom. 

8. Break into pieces and enjoy! Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Comments (1)Add Comment
A win-win alternative to sugar shock
written by Elizabeth, October 21, 2013
I love the OCHO acronym. And just wanted to recognize the social impact of choosing these types of alternatives. Much of the commercial chocolate on the market is made using unjust labor practices. This makes more sense on so many levels- it's worth it!

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Best of Santa Cruz County 2014

The 2014 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll Come on in, and have a look around. There’s a lot to see—hundreds of winners selected by thousands of GT readers across Santa Cruz County. So if some of this looks familiar, it’s probably because you helped make it happen. But there are always new things to discover, too—you could go to a different winner or runner-up every day in the Food and Drink category alone, and you’d be booked just about until next year’s Best of Santa Cruz County issue comes out.

 

Something Essential Disappears

Lunar and solar eclipses follow one another. Lunar eclipses occur at full moons, and solar eclipses at new moons. Two weeks ago at the full moon we had the blood red moon—a total lunar eclipse (the next one is Oct. 8). On Monday night, April 28 (new moon), as the Sun, Moon and Earth align, a solar eclipse (Sun obscured) occurs. Eclipses signify something irrevocably is changed in our world. The Sun is our essential life force. Monday’s new moon, 9 degrees Taurus, is also an annular solar eclipse when the Moon moves centrally in front of the Sun, yet does not cover the Sun completely. The Sun's outer edges, still visible, form a “ring of fire” around the Moon.

 

Sugar: The New Tobacco?

Proposed bill would require warning labels on sugary drinks Will soda and other saccharine libations soon come with a health warning? They will if it’s up to our state senator, Bill Monning (D-Carmel). On Feb. 27, Monning proposed first-of-its-kind legislation that would require a consumer warning label be placed on sugar-sweetened beverages sold in California. SB 1000, also known as the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act, was proposed to provide vital information to consumers about the harmful effects of consuming sugary drinks, such as sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened teas.

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of April 17

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Tomorrow's Good Times Today
Upcoming arts & events

Latest Comments

 

Palate-Stretching 101

A wine education with Soif’s experts As a veteran of many weekend wine “seminars” at Soif, I have to confess that I’ve never known less (going in) and learned more (coming out) than I did last week at the Spanish Wine Tasting with ace rep Brian Greenwood. These are classy, casual events and it’s hard to imagine having this much flavor fun anywhere for $20.

 

Martin Ranch Winery

Sauvignon Blanc 2011 One of my favorite wines is Sauvignon Blanc, and this one made by Martin Ranch is particularly lovely. Bright, crisp and refreshing, it’s perfect to pair with fish and shellfish—and good for picnics as it has an easy screw-cap bottle. There’s nothing worse than setting down your blanket, pulling out your sandwiches—and then realizing you don’t have a corkscrew.

 

Foodie File: Red Apple Cafe

Breakfast takes center stage at Gracia Krakauer's Red Apple Cafe Before they moved to Aptos, Gracia and her husband Dan Krakauer would visit friends in Santa Cruz County and eat at the Red Apple Café all the time. Then they moved up here from Santa Monica five years ago, and bought the Aptos location (there’s a separate one in Watsonville) from the family who owned it for two decades.

 

How would you feel about a tech industry boom in Santa Cruz?

I feel like it would ruin the small old-town feeling of Santa Cruz. It wouldn’t be the same Surf City kind of vacation town that it is. Antoinette BennettSanta Cruz | Construction Management