Family Fun for Everyone this HalloweenFor the majority of children, Halloween is a great time of year. What’s better than wearing fancy dress and getting handfuls of tasty sweets and chocolates?
But what about the children that have food allergies? Imagine having your stash of treats and goodies taken away from you because you could get seriously ill.
That’s where The Teal Pumpkin Project comes in. This fantastic project was launched by the Food Allergy Research and Education project (FARE) in the USA in 2014, and its aim is to make Halloween an occasion that everyone can enjoy. Families who take part offer non-food treats, so children with food allergies can enjoy the festivities with their friends. All you have to do is put a teal coloured pumpkin in your window to signify you have suitable treats for children with allergies.
Taking Part in The Teal Pumpkin Project
Although The Teal Pumpkin Project is fairly new, many people are already starting to embrace it in the UK. Mother and food blogger, Penelope Reader, is keen to raise awareness of the project.
Penelope first heard about the project in 2015 and was eager to get involved straight away. As Penelope’s son, Harry, has food allergies, she wants to ensure he can enjoy Halloween as much as other children.
“I came across the project on Pinterest last year. It seemed to be a largely American concept, which Allergy UK had taken on board, yet no one was talking about it. I wrote a blog post and put together a Periscope video last year, encouraging people to take part. I’m going to do the same again this year.
“My son has multiple food allergies, which include dairy, soya, eggs and strawberries. While Halloween isn’t something we celebrate yet, as he’s only two, I want him to be able to join in with his friends when he’s older. Teal pumpkins becoming mainstream would fundamentally change Halloween, making it inclusive and accessible.”
What Does the Project Involve?
It’s incredibly easy to take part in The Teal Pumpkin Project, and painting the pumpkin is a fun activity that your children can get involved in.
“All you have to do is buy a pumpkin, paint it teal and carve it if you wish, then put it in the window alongside your orange pumpkin. You paint it teal as it’s the colour of food allergy awareness.”
On Halloween make sure you have a supply of non-food treats, like mini bottles of bubbles, to give out in place of chocolate and sweets. Parents don’t have to hover in the background, anxiously waiting to confiscate non-safe treats, nor do they need to check food labels.
“Halloween is becoming a bigger festival in the UK, and I think it’s easy to make it inclusive. Imagine being the one child in the class who can’t join in, because of the risk of anaphylaxis?”
You don’t have to get rid of your traditional orange pumpkin – both pumpkins can sit side by side. Just make sure that your sweet, sugary treats are placed in a separate bowl to your non-food treats.
The Importance of The Teal Pumpkin Project
Penelope’s efforts of promoting the project have been successful, and she’s had lots of positive feedback.
“I have had a very positive response online. In person, people are less aware, but those I speak to are keen.
“I do training with youth groups such as Brownies or Guides to raise awareness of food allergies and The Teal Pumpkin Project. I ran an allergy awareness training session recently with a group of children who thought it was simply marvellous.”
Emma Amoscato is a national features journalist, an international writing trainer and blogger from the UK. With two children who suffer from multiple food allergies, she was excited to hear about The Teal Pumpkin Project.
“I found out about the Teal Pumpkin Project through the Food Allergy Research and Education project in America and thought it was a great idea. I have two young children with multiple allergies, and I want them to be able to take part safely in the same activities as their friends.”
After taking part in the project in 2015, Emma and her children are keen to participate again.
“My son James is three and loves painting the pumpkin. This year will be my daughter’s first time – she was only three months old last year, so I’m sure she will get stuck in too.
“We’ll be taking part and offering food and non-food treats, which can be little gifts like stickers, crayons or small toys. The lovely thing about this project is that it’s inclusive and everyone can enjoy Halloween together. It is also a great opportunity to raise awareness about food allergies in a fun way.”
Like Penelope, Emma has also been raising awareness of The Teal Pumpkin Project through her blog. Her friends, family, and the public are very open to the idea.
“Most people have been very responsive to this project, and it’s an easy way to show support for those with food allergies. Anyone can get involved by displaying a teal pumpkin.”
With food allergy awareness campaigners paving the way for The Teal Pumpkin Project in the UK, teal pumpkins will hopefully become a Halloween essential, alongside scary masks, sweets and chocolates.
“The project has caught on quickly amongst the allergy community, who are all keen to spread the word. It’s slowly gaining speed and has had more coverage this year, so hopefully more people will hear about it and get involved.”
If you’ve scooped out the inside of your pumpkin ready for carving, don’t let the handfuls of fresh pumpkin go to waste! Why not try this spooktacular grain and gluten-free Halloween recipe?
Chocolate and Mini Marshmallow Spider Mounds
Preparation Time: 25-30 minutes
Cooking Time: 15-18 minutes
Cooling Time: 20 minutes
- 4oz maple syrup or honey
- 4oz pumpkin (lightly boiled)
- 1 tbsp vanilla essence
- 3oz butter – melted
- 4oz coconut flour (grain and gluten-free) – or if your family doesn’t like coconut use 4oz gluten-free plain flour or try a 50/50 mix
- 1/2 to 1 ½ tsp cinnamon (depending on your taste)
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ginger
If you want to make the recipe even tastier, then consider adding the following:
- 3oz free from chocolate buttons
- 1oz mini marshmallows
Before you begin, preheat your oven to 180°C / 350°F. Reduce for fan ovens according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Then hollow out your medium pumpkin and put the shell to one side ready for carving.
- Remove the seeds and pulp, then cut the firmer flesh into medium sized chunks.
- Soften the pumpkin chunks in boiling water for approximately 8 -12 minutes.
- Drain the softened pumpkin and mash lightly. The chunks should lose some of their shape, but should not be so soft that they resemble a purée. Allow to cool.
- While you’re waiting, carve and paint your pumpkin teal.
- Once cooled, combine all the wet ingredients well, using a hand or stand mixer.
- Add the soft pumpkin to the wet ingredients.
- Sift all the dry ingredients into a bowl.
- Fold the dry ingredients into the wet mixture using a spoon.
- Once all of the ingredients are incorporated, fold in the chocolate drops.
- Then add the mini marshmallows if desired.
- Using an ice cream scoop, turn out your spider mounds onto a piece of lightly greased parchment paper.
- Pop them in the oven for 15-18 minutes.
Once baked, transfer them to a cooling rack for 20 minutes. When they’re cool enough, let your little monsters decorate them with non-edible, spooky spiders for a scary effect (don’t forget to take them off when it comes to eating).