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Happy Halloween, gluten-free

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31 October 2010

Happy Halloween, gluten-free

I'm a gluten-free bagel

I might look forward to Halloween on our island more than Christmas.

Every year, the island's kids and parents gather in town as the light grows dusky. Police cars with flashing lights sit at either end of town (about three streets long) to prevent drivers from going through. This means that every kid's dream comes true: you can walk in the street! run! jump!

All the businesses are decorated with giant inflatable black cats, orange streamers, pumpkins lit up from within by candles, and fake spider webs. Real estate agents, veterinarians, consignment shop owners, and bartenders sit out front with baskets bulging with Tootsie Rolls and Reese's Peanut Butter cups, shouting Happy Halloween!

It's a community gathering. The 12-year-olds roam freely at will, taking advantage of outfits one could barely call a costume to gather candy one more time. The 7-year-olds (like my nephew, Elliott, who went this year as a Ghostbuster) rule the streets, confident after years of shouting Trick or Treat! on this late October night. The parents of the little kids ooh and aahh when they see the other toddlers, the ones we've known since baby group at the Playspace, walking around as puppy dogs or Princess Leia. (Now that I'm an adult I realize — it doesn't really matter what you wear if you are under 5 years old. Any attempt at a costume evokes adoring glances and sighs from the adults.)

The little kids, however? They're not quite sure.

Last night, Lu held my hand almost the entire time we roamed the streets. She wasn't exactly scared. She looked befuddled. Why do we walk up to the store where we buy the printer cartridge and demand candy? And what the heck is candy?

Lu's had plenty of homemade baked goods and an occasional cookie on the ferry boat, but she has yet to experience candy. So really, the entire experience was a chance for her to watch the world around her with wide eyes and try to understand. For the first 20 minutes, she wouldn't take any candy. After she saw dozens of kids swarming at the entrance of the movie theater, she finally put out her hand. And then she clutched that little Twix bar until she had nearly crushed it in her grip.

So basically, Lu thinks Halloween means getting candy, clutching it, then trading the bedraggled candy for a new one.

Never mind. There will be many more years on this island. And I sense how quickly these next few years will go. (Look at this photo of Elliott from four years ago, looking quite a bit like Lu, only three years old. I think that was yesterday. Truly.) Soon enough, she will be the 7-year-old, confident and running without me, eating handfuls of candy.

In the meantime, holding her hand while we walked up and down the streets laughing? I didn't mind at all.

And on the way back to the car, I heard someone call my name. When I turned around, I saw a family and the girl you see in the top photograph.

Look at that: she's a gluten-free bagel!

This might be my favorite Halloween costume ever.

(Okay, that's not entirely true. This is my favorite Halloween costume ever.)

my favorite halloween costume

I had no idea the joy that Lu would bring joy to small children on every street by wearing this costume. "It's Elmo!" we heard shouted, at least a hundred times. Toward the end, when the night had arrived and Lu's face was darkened, one small group of children really did seem to believe she was the real Elmo. This was pretty great.

What kid doesn't love Halloween?

Well, it can be a tough night for kids who are gluten-free. (And of course, with food allergies to peanuts or dairy, it might be even tougher.) Remember that when you are choosing candy for the kids who arrive at your door.

If you are the parent of a gluten-free kid, you're going to want to double check that candy. Here are some lists I have seen this year, the most up-to-date information about what candies the kids can eat:

Gluten-Free Treats from

Gluten-Free Candy List from My

Gluten-Free Candy from

Of course, after the kids have gone to bed, you're going to filch some of the candy from their stash. Admit it. So you might as well make sure you are getting gluten-free candy as well.

Happy Halloween, everyone.


At 12:50 PM, Blogger Angela said...

Happy Halloween, Shauna!
And many more to you and your sweet family!

At 12:55 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Oh my goodness! I love the bagel! That is so cute! Whenever we have kids, maybe I'll dress them up as a donut and a glass of milk.. (of course, it would very ironic if at that time we STILL can't have sugar or dairy on top of the wheat/gluten!)

I love Lu's costume. Got any plans for her costume for next year?

For tonight's mellow Halloween dinner party/game night-seared pork chops with plum glaze, roasted sweet potato's, green beans and pumpkin carob mini cakes. Mmmmm... ^_^

At 12:57 PM, Blogger Jackie said...

This post made me smile so big!

At 1:04 PM, Blogger Pétra said...

Thank you for the links to gluten-free candy. I still remember when I was first diagnosed I went to see a movie and jokingly said as I opened my Twizzlers "I'd better make sure there's no gluten in this!"I was so surprised to see flour at the top of the ingredient list. I feel so comfortable now with what I can eat and not but ingredients do change and now I wont be reading labels all night.
Happy Halloween!

At 1:14 PM, Anonymous Bellydancerakn said...

Wow! Both of the kids are absolutely adorable!!!!!! Now saying that, thanks so much for your blog!! I myself am not allergic to gluten, or anything else, a fact for which I am very, very thankful.
However, my parents and I run a baking business. Now everything we make has gluten in it, in one form or another. The only think that doesn't have gluten is our soups, and even then that occasionally has stuff like tortellini in it.
We've been getting a lot of customers who are asking for gluten-free items. So I sat down today and googled gluten-free. Guess what one of the first results was? So I looked through your recipes and I've decided that we're going to try to make your apple & pear cobbler. In theme with what is available this time of year. We might also try to make those oreos if we get a big enough demand for more gluten free items.
So thanks so much for your blog and recipes!!!! I'm sure they'll be a big hit!

At 1:34 PM, Anonymous aubree said...

yup, my girl is allergic to peanuts (most nuts actually) and halloween is a minefield. we manage, and throw out most of the candy, it's more about the experience, right? :-)cry thanks for the links too--i will keep those!

At 2:48 PM, Blogger sweetpea said...

My favorite childhood halloween memory, sorting the collection of candy at the end of the night. But truthfully, I am a halloween scrooge. No specific reason, I just don't like any of it! Your post however reminds me how important it is to the little ones and their parents. Might have open the door tonight when the bell rings.

At 3:06 PM, Blogger I Am Gluten Free said...

Thank you for the GF candy links. It's always good to see updated lists. And thanks also for the two adorable pix! My husband and I perform concerts for children - during the past few weeks, we performed a whole bunch of Halloween Hullabaloo concerts. The best part (besides the singing!) was seeing all the different and adorable costumes. Your Elmo (Lu) is sweet!!!

At 3:55 PM, Blogger Angie said...

Her cheeks, they slay me!

At 6:28 PM, Anonymous Jennifer W. said...

Thank you for being a lifesaver with the candy lists. This was our first GF and Diabetic Halloween and although I wanted to curl up in the corner and have it be done with, my son insisted that he wanted to go and have fun. His sister traded him GF candy for his "glutenfied" items and laughter evolved more than once. Thanks for your blog as it is a lifesaver and inspiration. The pix of the kids are very cute!! Best bagel that I have seen in awhile.

At 9:16 PM, Blogger Unknown said...


Regarding Halloween candy and allergies/intolerances/celiac, last year and this year again, we've made the deal with our daughter that if she traded in all her candy to us, she'd get dessert after dinner the entire week. She's gone for it both times. Since we're dairy- and gluten-free (and we try to avoid peanuts), it just gets nutso to sort candy, and really stressful too. And I think the desserts are typically more nutritious.

The first year (three years ago) we were GFCF, we went through all the rigmarole of sorting candy, and traded out any non-ok loot at the rate of 10 chocolate chips each(if we had kept it up, there would probably have to be inflation in our exchange rate).

This year's problem is that little brother is big enough (4) to gloat over his hoard, and he has no allergies (as of yet...). Feels like whack-a-mole, fix one thing, another pops up. But we're happy to be participating in the community and not holed up at home. :-)

At 10:32 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

HI there - I saw a comment on Facebook that I just loved. They have a "switch witch" come and visit the night of Halloween. The kids put their candy out for the Switch Witch who will then leave them a present. All the Moms of toddlers who have not ever had candy loved that idea. I thought it would also be great for kids who have food allergies.

Lu was adorable as Elmo, her favorite!

:) tracy & kim

At 10:57 AM, Anonymous Nancy Baggett said...

Nice to meet and "panel" with you at Blogher Food. I just made the brownies from your new Gluten-Free Girl & the Chef book, and they came out really well. I don't think anybody would be able to tell they weren't "regular" brownies, and my g-f daughter-in-law was absolutely thrilled. I also think they look really appetizing in the pic I posted--yum. Stop by and take a look.

At 12:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the gluten free bagel Halloween costume lit my little heart up! So stinkin' cute. thanks so much for sharing that.

At 1:38 PM, Blogger Jennywenny said...

Oh bless, she has to be the cutest little toddler ever, love it! Shame she didnt enjoy it too much!!

At 1:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I convinced my kids to forgo the candy in exchange for a huge feast. Made GF ginger bread, GF pumpkin muffins, homemade caramel, etc. The table looked like the tables at Hogwarts on Halloween in the first movie! We went to a puppet show and a costume party too, so the kids were okay with it.

At 5:47 AM, Blogger Cardamom Kitchen said...

Dear Shauna ~

I've been meaning to write to you ever since reading your first (and most remarkable) book Gluten-Free Girl. We're from the same generation and I remember being bamboozled by processed food. Thankfully my immigrant Indian mother kept me in check. I have been SO grateful to find another soul beckoning folks into the kitchen.

Later this year, I'll be traveling to Kerala, India to see family and reconnect with my roots. I'll be collecting recipes and would love to start a dialogue with you about it as so many of them are rice-based and, therefore, gluten-free.

For more information on me, see:

I'm not sure how to connect with you directly. I couldn't find an email posted.


At 10:46 AM, Blogger Clea Danaan said...

Oh, this makes me miss the island! Though when I lived there we would just go around the Gold Beach loop. The downtown event sounds fabulous!

At 12:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the gluten-free bagel costume!
Brilliant post!

At 2:34 AM, Blogger Stace said...

I've just discovered your blog, and I'm in love! I've been gluten free for maybe a year now (although I've known I SHOULDN'T be eating it for much longer than that!) and I'd kind of resigned myself to a lot of second-rate meals... but I think that may be about to change. :)

At 11:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh, my, goodness. i was sure that first photo was the best ever. until i saw the second. way to go, elmo!!

At 12:34 PM, Blogger suz said...

I love that costume too! Halloween sounds lovely by you :)

At 5:51 PM, Blogger heba said...

i am so delighted to find your blog- you are "twins" with me and my husband....I love it! Thank you for sharing.
biggest loser season 6 :)


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