I’m featuring healthy Halloween recipes this week, starting with this ghoulish entrée of peanut poppyseed butter noodles. I created the sauce by mixing poppyseed butter into a traditional peanut sauce. Using “noodles” made of black soybeans and carrot spirals gets you a black and orange meal that is perfect for the holiday. Start your evening with a protein-packed dinner before heading out for trick-or-treating!
I’ve got a fun healthy Halloween recipe for you today that is a spin on your typical noodles with peanut sauce. Check out this colorful dish of peanut poppyseed butter noodles. It’s packed with protein from shrimp and black soybean pasta, and you’ve got some veggies in there with pumpkin-shaped carrots as well.
Halloween can be a challenging time if you are a chocolate-lover who is trying to maintain a healthy weight. Consider having a filling meal that is loaded with protein and fiber before the festivities. Having a satisfying meal before being surrounded by my favorite treats makes it far less likely I’ll overindulge.
Creating healthy Halloween recipes can be simple if you are willing to get creative
There are so many recipes for fun Halloween snacks online, but there seem to be fewer healthy Halloween recipes for meals. Luckily, it’s relatively easy to construct a black and orange meal using foods that fit your family’s taste preferences. You don’t need food coloring to make it happen.
For black foods, I used poppy seed butter and black soybean pasta. I’ll give some more details on both of these ingredients below. Squid ink pasta is another jet-black option.
There are lots of options for foods that are a natural vibrant orange. I used carrots here, but butternut squash, pumpkin, orange peppers, and (of course) oranges are some other options to consider.
If you need a party appetizer, arrange cauliflower, carrots, and yellow peppers to look like a giant candy corn. I picked up this veggie tray idea on Pinterest a few years ago, and it is typically well-received. Thankfully, fresh vegetables are foods that fit most special diets.
Consider incorporating poppyseed butter into your Halloween meal
The poppy seed butter used here is a single-ingredient food made from ground poppy seeds. The bitterness of the seeds is often paired with a sweetener and used as a filling for desserts. For example, you can find it in hamantaschen or kolaches.
Like sesame seeds and tahini, poppy seeds are a rich source of calcium. The brand I am using (Dastony) contains 40% of the DV for calcium per 2 tablespoons. The downside is that seeds are very energy-dense, so it is important to watch portions if weight loss is your goal.
It’s fairly difficult to find savory recipes using poppyseed butter, so here is my offering. If you have a peanut sauce recipe that you like, try substituting some of the peanut butter for poppyseed butter. This is likely to be the easiest way to use this new ingredient in a way your family will enjoy.
I recommend only using enough poppyseed butter to get a black sauce. If you use too much, your sauce will be very bitter. In the recipe below, I used half peanut butter and half poppyseed; this gave a nice color without too much bitterness.
The dates are an unusual ingredient in peanut sauce, but they take the place of added sugars that may be in typical peanut sauce recipes. I’ve made this recipe both with and without the optional dates and enjoy it both ways. If you (or your family members) dislike bitter flavors, you will want to add the dates.
Black soybean pasta is perfect for Halloween-themed dishes
If squid ink pasta makes you a little squeamish, black soybean pasta is an alternative for your Halloween pasta needs. (Disclosure: I have no relationship with the Explore company and will always disclose relationships within the post.)
In general, I’m not a big fan of faux meats, cheeses, and dairy. These products tend to be ultra-processed, lower in nutrients, and often don’t taste as good as the originals. However, products that replace refined grains tend to be a different story.
Most Americans eat far too much refined grain, while the intake of legumes and veggies tends to be very low. Choosing products such as this soybean pasta can help to improve dietary variety and may benefit the gut microbiome.
Unlike the products that replace animal-based foods, the products replacing grains are often more nutrient-dense options. (P.S. This does not mean that you need to torment yourself with cauliflower-based grain replacements if you do not like them.)
Last year, I compared Banza pasta to a typical refined flour pasta. This Explore pasta offers an even better nutrient profile, with 25 grams of protein per serving and 11 grams of fiber. Those on low-carb diets may be pleased to learn that this product only has 8 grams of net carbs per serving.
Additionally, the Explore black soybean pasta is an excellent source of both iron and potassium. The one downside (for some) is that it tastes less like a refined flour pasta than Banza. It’s denser and heartier than other pasta options, but this is not necessarily a bad thing.
Explore black soybean pasta is a single-ingredient product that I would consider an excellent alternative to refined grains. Creating colorful holiday-themed dishes can be a kid-friendly way to help increase your family’s nutrient intake.
A few final thoughts before the recipe…
Some products that have undergone more processing can be a healthful regular addition to the diet. (Plain frozen and spiralized veggies are fantastic, IMHO.) Other processed foods should probably be consumed far less often.
Which products are best for you depends on a variety of factors, including what you were eating before making changes. It is possible to justify the health value of many products if it is replacing a worse option.
Taking small steps towards improving diet quality can be easier for some than making large changes. It was how I was able to meet my goals.
Something I’ve noticed since becoming a dietitian is that food companies actively try to get us to promote their products. Honestly, getting to try new food products at conferences is a lot of fun. (Who doesn’t love free stuff?)
I understand that some hate cooking or have limited time and prefer (or need) convenient products. I think it is fine to use these products if they help you out.
On the other hand, I’ve seen some questionable advertising from dietitians for certain items (like donuts). As a result, I currently have some mixed feelings about the use of dietitians as brand ambassadors.
I’ll always try to mention who a food might be appropriate for or how it can fit into a weight management goal on this site. If you have any questions, please ask!
And now for the disclaimer…
All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
The calorie information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don’t sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to this post. Let’s get cooking!
Ghoulish Peanut Poppyseed Butter Noodles
- ¼ cup poppy seed butter
- ¼ cup smooth peanut butter
- 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 80 grams pitted fresh dates (optional)
- ⅓ cup hot water
- 8 ounces black soybean pasta (227 grams)
- 5 ounces carrots (142 grams)
- 1 lb. cooked shrimp, peeled, tail-off, thawed (454 grams)
- 1 scallion, sliced
- ¼ cup raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
- Set a large pot of water to boil over medium-high heat.
- If you are using the optional dates (recommended if you dislike bitter flavors), soak them in the hot water.
- Whisk the poppy seed butter, peanut butter, soy sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil, and garlic together.
- Cut several coins from the carrots. Cut two notches from the tops of each of the coins (refer to pictures). Set them aside. These carrot "pumpkins" will be used as garnish.
- Spiralize the rest of the carrots. Get ready for an arm workout! haha
- Blend the soaked dates with the water in a food processor. You may need to stop the processor and scrape down the sides a few times until the dates are well-pureed.
- Whisk the date mixture into the poppy seed butter mixture.
- When the water in the pot starts to boil, add the pasta and turn the heat down to medium. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. (It will take approximately five minutes.)
- When the pasta is almost done cooking, add the cooked shrimp.
- Drain the pasta and shrimp mixture well. Stir in the spiralized carrots and then stir in the poppy seed butter sauce.
- Divide your pasta mixture into four bowls. Garnish with the carrot "pumpkins," pumpkin seeds, and scallion. Happy Halloween!
This is a level 3 recipe (weight maintenance and active lifestyles). As previously stated, all recipes containing flour get a bump to level 3. This is because items with flour tend to be easy to overeat if not carefully portioned. The optional dates were included in the calorie count above; skipping them is one way to lighten this recipe. Using a legume-based pasta that is packed with protein may provide more satiety than one made with refined grains. However, it is still possible to overindulge. If you have a weight loss goal, minimizing your use of flour may make it easier for you to create a calorie deficit. Spiralizing carrots is a lot of work! You can use frozen butternut squash spirals as a shortcut, but they won’t provide the vibrant orange color that the carrots do. Additionally, you’ll miss out on the opportunity to make the pumpkin-shaped carrot garnish.
What do you typically do for dinner on Halloween? Do you have a special themed meal, get takeout, or skip having a full meal to save more room for treats? Let me know if you try my healthy Halloween recipes that I'm featuring this week!