Halloween was always my favorite holiday as a kid. I love fall and used to really dig dressing up (you’d never know it now, given that my uniform is either jeans and a black tee shirt or a shift dress and pumps or boots). One thing I don’t love about Halloween is the sugar-fest that seems to start earlier and earlier every year. Even as a kid, I found all that candy overwhelming. My mom used to pour our collective loot into a glass bowl in the dining room that the family could take from, and I’m so glad she took that approach instead of conditioning us to be candy hoarders. I don’t know if this was conscious on her part, but putting it in a room that we didn’t go into all the time was also helpful, as we had to (subconsciously) consider whether the candy was worth going out of our way for. When you see candy in front of you (say, on the kitchen counter or on the desk of a co-worker you walk by all the time), you’re more likely to reach for it.
Anyway, I am all about lower-sugar seasonal treats, and when General Mills sent me a box of their new Pumpkin Spice Cheerios to play around with, I had fun dreaming up crazy things. I was inspired by the not-too-sweet flavor of the cereal, though, and I eventually decided to keep it simple and create something you could serve at a Halloween party that would be a nice alternative to the usual hype. You can candy the pumpkin seeds as I did here or enjoy them simply toasted, with a little sea salt.
To give yourself and your family (and/or friends-as-family) a break from the sugary treats this time of year, throw together this barely-sweet snack mix and watch it disappear.
Halloween Snack Mix featuring Pumpkin Spice Cheerios
- 1.5 teaspoons egg white
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- dash of sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
- 1/4 cup corn kernels
- 1 cup pumpkin spice Cheerios
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Whisk together egg white and brown sugar in a small bowl. Add sea salt, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla.
- Pour egg white mixture over pumpkin seeds. Toss well to coat.
- Spread coated seeds on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 10 minutes and remove to stir. Bake another 5-10 minutes or until seeds are crisp but not burned. Set aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, pour corn kernels into a brown paper bag. Fold the top of the bag over once or twice. Microwave in one-minute intervals until corn is popped (you can tell when the popping sound slows down).
- Toss popcorn, cooled candied pumpkin seeds, and Cheerios.
Disclosure: General Mills provided me with cereal samples. I was not compensated for my time. Recipe is my own.