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Trick or (Healthy) Treat?

Trick or (Healthy) Treat?

By Naomi Buff - October 25, 2016

Photo: Luke Jones
Photo: Luke Jones

I have a love-hate relationship with Halloween. I love the fun and excitement of getting my children dressed up for trick-or-treating but I hate the amount of candies that overflow from their plastic orange pumpkins.

Halloween used to be one night of “treats”, however, celebrations seem to now last the whole of October, making for a month of non-stop sugar intake. I personally don’t appreciate this amount of candy in my house, mainly because I have a sweet tooth and when I feel tired or stressed, I head straight for their stash. So to have a “sugar-free” house is my damage-control strategy. When I crave something sweet, I make a healthier alternative that is nourishing and non-punishing.

The amount of sugar we consume globally continues to increase and we are gradually following the American rule with the introduction of super-size portions and the commercialisation of holidays across the year. This is demonstrated through extended Halloween parties and huge amounts of confectionary candies that follow, when even ten years ago in France in Monaco, this was not the case.

In our house, I’m labelled the “Sugar Police”. Firstly as a mum, who cares about the health of her children and, secondly as a professional, who can visibly see the damage sugar causes to the body and mind. I don’t want to handcuff the fun of Halloween so I put a healthier twist on it and make creative and entertaining treats with my children at home. This occupies time during the school holidays and equally gives me the opportunity to educate them.

I have a handful of “mini” clients who I see on a regular basis. They are fussy eaters like my son and their parents, who have tried everything to get them to eat, come to me for help. It is an effective way to give the kids the control and allow them to be imaginative in the kitchen while experimenting with new and healthier foods.

I find both personally and professionally that bringing children into the kitchen and getting them involved in the preparation process helps with eating issues.

Here’s an example. When making cookies, try putting out a selection of ingredients on the side, say, raisins, walnuts, seeds or chocolate chips, and give them the choice. Even if your child goes for the chocolate chips (which they usually do), if the rest of your cookie is healthy, using almond flour as the base and maple syrup to sweeten, throwing in a few chocolate chips is still a much better alternative than a shop-bought cookie with processed sugars and zero nutritional value.

naomihalloweenEnjoy a happy, healthy Halloween this year and be inspired in the kitchen making these gooey chocolate eyes balls with your little monsters (recipe below). Don’t forget to tag us in your scary creations on Instagram monaco_life #monacolife #healthyhalloween #naomiskitchen

If you don’t fancy getting your hands dirty but love the idea of the kids cooking, then head to the Fairmont Hotel for the “Petits Chefs by Fairmont Monte Carlo”, a program organised with Monaco’s National Ministry of Education, which includes a series of workshops throughout the school break to give children the opportunity to have special cooking lessons with the Executive Chef Philippe Joannès and his team.

The next session is at the Fairmont Monte Carlo on Wednesday October 26th, with a session at 2 pm and a second one at 4:30 pm. Children between the ages of 6 and 12 will learn how to prepare and decorate their own Halloween dessert that they’ll then bring home with a little gift.

Reservation required (€35 per child) with limited availability at

For more information about one-2-one sessions with me and how I can bring some fun and adventure into your kitchen, contact

Naomi’s Gooey Eyeballs Recipe

This recipe involves three parts, a brownie base (makes about a dozen brownies), cashew cream and ingredients to decorate. Makes about 12 eyeballs.

Brownie Base 


200 g black beans (one can drained and rinsed)
75 g raw cacao
100 ml agave
50 ml coconut oil
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla powder
3 tbsp water (maybe more to reach the desired consistency)


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C fan
  2. Add ingredients in blender, putting the beans in first, followed by all the dry ingredients then the wet ingredients.
  3. Pulse on a medium speed until the beans start to break down and a gooey, dough-like consistency starts to form.
  4. If it’s too dry, add a little bit more water, 1 tbsp at a time until the desired consistency forms.
  5. Pour the dough into a loaf size silicone mould or a baking tin lined with parchment paper.
  6. Spread evenly and smooth down with the back of a spoon then pop in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
  7. Very important, when you remove from the oven make sure you leave the brownie at least 30 minutes before removing from the tray – otherwise the brownie will loose shape.
  8. Once cooled transfer to a wrack to cool further.

naomihalloween2Naomi’s TIP: Halloween aside, these brownies are a delicious decedent chocolate treat which is high in protein and fibre due to the black beans.

Cashew Cream


1 cup cashew nuts soaked for 8 hours or overnight
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp filter water
1 tsp vanilla powder
3 tbsp maple syrup
pinch of Himalayan salt


Add all the ingredients to the blender and whizz until totally smooth – you may need a little more water to reach a desired consistency of a thick cream.

To Decorate


12 canned lychees
4 tbsp strawberry jam
Dried cherries, raisins or chocolate chips


  1. Make the brownies and leave to cool;
  2. Make the cashew cream and refrigerate for 1 hour to cool.
  3. Use either a round circular cookie cutter or the top of mug or glass (cutting around the circumference) to make circular brownies.
  4. Use a teaspoon to spoon the cashew cream on top of the brownie and spread with a knife.
  5. Cut top of the lychee off and place in the middle of the cashew cream, then add a dried cherry in the middle to look like the pupil of an eye.
  6. Decorate with strawberry jam and serve in a very disgusting way!

We like to eat our eyeballs out of fine china, how will you eat yours?

For more healthy recipe ideas head to

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