No matter what your age, you can enjoy a fun, gluten-free Halloween with a little planning ahead. Use these suggestions as a guide for navigating Halloween for your or your child’s dietary needs. You may find yourself having even more fun by getting creative with the following do-it-yourself projects!

Throw a Pumpkin Carving Party and Roast Pumpkin Seeds

A pumpkin carving party is a great naturally gluten-free setting for your adult, teen, or kids Halloween party. CDF pumpkinDownload and print the CDF Butterfly logo to trace and carve out your pumpkin in celiac-style! Or paint your pumpkin with celiac-blue and a white butterfly for a less goopy night. Share your advocacy pumpkin on Facebook and Instagram with #myCDFpumpkin @CeliacDiseaseFoundation 

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 brands in recent surveys.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds recipe:


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 (approx 1 tsp per 2 cups seeds), salt, and spices (approx 1/2 tsp each per 2 cups seeds, or to taste). Return seeds to baking sheet and bake another 20 minutes or until golden brown and crisp (few things are worse than a chewy pumpkin seed!).


Spice suggestions:

  • Cinnamon and sugar
  • Garam masala or curry spice
  • Paprika
  • Rosemary and parmesan cheese
  • >Brown sugar, chipotle chile 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 of trees. But many major coffee shops are not making their allergen info 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!

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

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

It is known that gluten cannot be absorbed through the skin unless there is a cut or tear. The CDF Medical Advisory Board experts agree that cosmetics do not HAVE to be gluten-free for all individuals with celiac disease. BUT, especially for young children, makeup may end up on the hands and in the mouth. Furthermore, many people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity have additional sensitivities to topical products with various allergens or irritants.

facepaintTest out face paint before Halloween to avoid any unexpected skin reaction for these reasons, especially if there is a high risk for face paint to be accidentally ingested. 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 GF 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 GF eye shadow colors (works best for dark colors).

Trick-or-Treating Tips

Set expectations by discussing the plan and setting rules ahead of time to avoid any potential melt-downs during trick-or-treating, and to keep the night fun. Suggested guidelines may include:

  • All candy will be sorted with Mom and Dad, and the gluten-containing candy will be given to food banks or can be traded with siblings (use your judgment if this will create sibling conflict).
  • Use our up-to-date Gluten-Free Halloween Candy List as your guide for sorting.
  • Determine how much candy will be kept, and how much will be allowed to eat each day.
  • Allow your child to fill up 1 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!

If you’re at home giving out candy on Halloween, consider giving out only gluten-free candy to help out potential gluten-sensitive trick-or-treaters. Also consider giving out non-food treats to make the night fun for those kids with multiple food restrictions!Happy Halloween 1

Email Janelle with Your Questions