Dietitian's Tip of the Month
In our home, decorations reign. Largely because I lead our festivity planning committee, ha! My boys know that when a holiday or birthday fete is upon us, Momma will surely be getting her decoration on. Thankfully as my boys are still very young, they are happy to “oooh” and “ahh” all day long to make it vastly worth it. Hopefully they will at least appease my desire for appreciation long into their adolescence!
Of course, the latest decorating craze is Halloweeen and as our youngest just turned ONE, we had extra fun with food for his “Pumpkin Party”. And as I had so much fun bringing it all together, I thought it would be fun to share it with you here! Whether you are planning a Halloween gathering for your own family or preparing for a pumpkin themed birthday party, I hope this party plan will take the stress out of your own 🙂
Before I dive in, here is my little man smashing into his Baby Pumpkin Birthday Cake!
I used a mini bundt pan to create tiny pumpkin cakes. So cute and thankfully easy!
Okay, here is our menu:
- Pumpkin Chili. Truly you can add an entire small sugar pumpkin (once roasted and pureed) to your favorite chili recipe (about the same amount as is found in a single can of pumpkin). I added one to this recipe for a Spicy Quinoa Vegetarian Chili – one of my favorites, though as it is definitely “burn your tongue” spicy, I only used 1/2 of the jalapeno and 1/2 of the chili powder.
- Sweet, Creamy Butternut Squash Soup with Maple Roasted Chickpeas. I diced and roasted the squash the night before and measured out all of my ingredients (thank you, mise en place!) for a quick and easy addition to my slow cooker the day of. You can see one of the slow cookers steaming away at a healthy simmer behind my munchkin and I below.
- Monster Sammies. How cute are these? With the help of my mom, we kept these as simple as can be and we still received rave reviews. This addition was a delight (or should I say, de-fright??) to our party.
My beautiful mom and party co-creator, hard at work.
Pack dinner rolls or sliders with your favorite sandwich fillers, cut the rolls only partially through, and top with olives for eyes!
- Spooky Spiders. How cute is this big guy? He was consumed within the first hour, but thankfully it took far less than that to create him. I used toothpicks, however craft sticks or even tough pretzel tricks may work just as well if not better (I had to use a ton of toothpicks as I wanted a big spider).
- Jack O’Lantern Clementines. Go husband, go! I was thrilled he volunteered to draw the faces for me. He did quite impressive work if you ask me. I’m thinking I will need to ask him for his artistic flair more often 😉 #luckyhusband
Spooky Spiders and Festive Oranges will make even the plainest fruit tempting to your little ones.
- Pumpkin Rolls. Simply bake your favorite dinner rolls and add a pretzel stick when you pull them from the oven. So. EASY. If you wanted to get super fancy you could cut little ridges into the raw dough prior to baking to take these pumpkins to the next level. (Word to the wise, the pretzel sticks get soggy the next day, so be sure to make these the day of!)
Pop in a top for a festive addition! Perfect side for the chili.
My little guy certainly enjoyed the pretzel portion of the rolls.
- Monster Cupcakes. I used a simple scratch recipe for chocolate cupcakes and vanilla buttercream frosting to avoid artificial additives and colors, yet then chose to top them with orange sprinkles and candy eyeballs. All things in moderation right? 😛
- Gingersnaps with Pumpkin Pie Dip. My mom kindly made her famous gingersnap cookies for us and I paired them with a Pumpkin Pie Dip served inside of a pie pumpkin lined with plastic wrap. This dip is crazy addicting though, so consider yourself warned. It is a “skinny” recipe, though I chose to stick with the full fat (sometimes light) whipped topping.
The chili would also be great served in a little pumpkin (as long as you kept it warm!).
- Candy Corn, Peanuts and Candy Pumpkins. Simple and topped with a fun sign to “Eat Your Veggies”.
Eat Your Veggies!
- Finally, our Pumpkin Cakes. If you can get your hands on a mini bundt cake pan, these are so much fun. Perfect for a tiny smash cake! I inserted frosting right down the center of the top bundt cake, spread more on the bottom half and then layered the two back to back on top of one another (you may need to trim yours if they bake up rounded).
Our Pumpkin Smash Cakes! Enjoyed by all three boys and myself. Yum!
Here are the mini bundt cakes baking away!
What do you think? As a busy mom of two little men (three if you include my husband!), I tend to go with SIMPLE food choices and although I am a foodie who enjoys cooking, I truly don’t have the time. This is why these are fast and simple. I promise!
The day before your gathering, there are plenty of things you can do ahead:
- measure out your ingredients and place them by each recipe
- prep your chili and soup and place into the refrigerator
- Set your candy bags right onto your serving trays
- Decorate your clementines
- Prepare your pumpkin pie dip (it keeps quite well)
- Purchase your ingredients 🙂
- Get a good night’s sleep
Good luck! Hope you enjoy these party ideas as much as we have!
Jessica Corwin, MPH, RDN
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