Trick-or-Treating & the Teal Pumpkin Project™

CDF has joined with FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) and the Teal Pumpkin Project™ to raise awareness of food allergies and promote inclusion, to ensure that ALL trick-or-treaters can enjoy Halloween!

Consider posting a sign on your door and painting a pumpkin teal to signify that you will be giving out non-food and allergy-friendly treats. Read more here.

How to Incorporate Candy into a Balanced Diet

Halloween candy is exciting for every child, but facing restrictions of a gluten-free diet while Trick-or-Treating can be challenging and disappointing for children. I suggest discussing the experience ahead of time to set expectations to keep the night fun. Also, it is important to discuss how candy will be eaten after Halloween night to encourage moderation to prevent sugar-highs and sugar-crashes with corresponding meltdowns. Suggested guidelines include:

  • All candy will be sorted with an adult, and gluten-containing candy will be donated or traded with others.
  • Determine how much candy will be kept, and how much will be allowed to be eaten each day.
  • Allow your child to fill up one ziploc bag with his/her favorites, and give away the rest.
  • Minimize the choices: keep a small container on the counter from which your child can choose one or two pieces for dessert, then refill it periodically from the candy stash.
  • Always brush teeth after eating simple sugars to prevent dental caries!

Face Paint & Costume Makeup – Do You Need to Worry?


Gluten cannot be absorbed through the skin unless there is an open lesion. Because of this, CDF’s  Medical Advisory Board experts agree that cosmetics do not need to be gluten-free for all individuals with celiac disease. However, and, especially for young children, if makeup may end up in the mouth, the experts advise that those products be gluten-free.

Since many people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity have additional sensitivities to topical products with various allergens or irritants, it is best to test out face paint and costume makeup several days prior to Halloween.

You can search for gluten-free face paint brands sold in your area, or you can make your own face-paint at home:

  • Mix body lotion or cold cream (check for gluten-free ingredients) with corn starch until it reaches a paint-like consistency. Add a few drops of food coloring to reach the desired color (the corn starch will prevent the food coloring from dying your skin) OR
  • Start with very light-complexioned face foundation as your base and add in a variety of gluten-free eye shadow colors (works best for dark colors).

Gluten-Free Halloween Foods

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds


Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of fiber, unsaturated fats, potassium, magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese, and iron (several minerals which are often deficient in those with celiac disease). Choose spices labeled gluten-free to flavor your roasted seeds. Spices are often ground in facilities that process gluten-containing grains, and levels over 20ppm have been found in several spice types in Canadian research studies.

Rinse seeds thoroughly in a colander after scooping them from your pumpkin; shake off water. Spread seeds on a greased baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes at 300° F to dry. Scrape seeds into a bowl and toss in olive oil or sesame oil (approximately one tsp per two cups seeds), salt, and spices (approximately half tsp each per two cups seeds, or to taste). Return seeds to baking sheet and bake another 20 minutes or until golden brown and crisp.

Spice suggestions:

  • Cinnamon and sugar
  • Garam masala or curry spice
  • Paprika
  • Rosemary and parmesan cheese
  • Brown sugar, chipotle chili powder, and cumin

Make Your Own Pumpkin Spice Latte


Flavored coffee drinks signal the changing of seasons as much as the falling of leaves off trees. But many major coffee shops are not making their allergen information publicly available, and you may have to call corporate headquarters or ask an educated manager to find out if your favorite fall drink contains any gluten-containing ingredients. If you find that the ingredients are gluten-free, still treat the coffee shop as a restaurant with the potential for cross-contact with gluten; notify your barista of your needs and ask him/her to wash preparation equipment thoroughly.

Alternatively, skip the hassle, save money, and reduce your sugar intake by making your own Pumpkin Spice Latte at home!

  • Mix 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (labeled gluten-free) with two tsp honey, agave, or maple syrup (note: honey and agave are higher in fructose and may cause GI distress to some individuals).
  • Brew coffee. Mix 8-12 oz coffee with pumpkin spice sweetener mixture until dissolved.
  • Shake 2/3 cup milk in a lidded jar for two minutes to make frothy, then microwave for 20 seconds and mix into coffee. Top with foam and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Enjoy and have a very Happy Halloween!