​Rocco DiSpirito: Caramel apples a healthy Halloween treat

Does Halloween HAVE to be a cornucopia of candied calories? "No," says chef Rocco DiSpirito:

How's this for a treat?

Households with kids ate less junk food in 2012 than they did five years before. In fact, researchers say there's been a "cultural shift" in how parents shop -- which translates into their kids eating better.

Great news, right?

Well, when you read the fine print, it turns out those families reduced their purchases by just 101 fewer calories per person per day in packaged foods.

Now that's good, but not good enough to steer a child off the path to obesity.

In fact, the prevalence of type-2 diabetes in kids 10 to 19 years old has actually risen 30 percent in the last decade.

Now, if you find it hard to digest all those statistics, here's one that'll really stick in your craw: Roughly 80 percent of processed foods contain some form of added sugar.

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So with Halloween just around the corner, can I ask: Why are we filling our kids' goody bags with this?

The average trick-or-treater will collect about 600 grams of sugar -- roughly three heaping cups full.

Don't get spooked -- I'm not suggesting you take away the treats this Halloween. Rather, let's use a few simple tricks to protect our children's health.

A cultural shift in your kitchen doesn't mean giving up flavor, or fun.

Remember, nobody needs to finish all the candy in their bag -- and no one's going miss it when you offer them this.

So you see, giving your kids a healthy Halloween treat is no big trick.

Caramel Apples

I love this recipe for caramel apples. The caramel is not caramel at all, which means huge calorie savings and no refined cane sugar. Plus, by using the milk powder, I get an extra protein kick.


4 kid-size treats.
Prep time: Approximately 10 minutes.
Cook time: Approximately 0 minutes.


4 lady apples, washed and towel dry
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons fat-free milk powder
2 Tablespoons coconut nectar
4 packets stevia
1 cup water
10 sprays butter spray
1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon xanthan gum
8 cashews, toasted and chopped


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the milk powder on a nonstick baking sheet and shake it out to an even layer. Toast the milk powder in the oven until it is the color of a deep caramel, about 5 minutes.

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2. Add the toasted milk powder into a blender with coconut nectar, stevia and water. Process on high until homogeneous. Turn the blender on low and add the xanthan gum and blend until thick, about 1 minute. Add the butter spray and blend still on low to incorporate. With a rubber scrapper, scrape the sauce into a small bowl.

3. Coat the bottom of each apple generously and evenly with caramel, then roll in the chopped nuts and place in a small cup or dish.

Per serving:

108.875 calories
1.175 g fat (.2g sat, 0g mono, 0g poly)
2.5mg cholesterol
76mg sodium
19.8g carbohydrate
1.6g fiber
5.05g protein


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