This week, parents may lose a bit of sleep worrying about their children’s sugar intake. Let’s be realistic: Of course, the kiddies will overindulge.

This week, parents may lose a bit of sleep worrying about their children’s sugar intake. Let’s be realistic: Of course, the kiddies will overindulge.


It’s up to the grownups to make sure that it’s only on that one night. One of the best methods is substitution. Rather than processed sugar or other sugar products found in processed sweets, distract the little ones with easy homemade treats sweetened with the natural sugars of fruit.


If you are the lucky parents throwing the costume party this week, apple pizza might intrigue your little guests. Other parents will thank you for sending the heavy-duty sweets home to be eaten under their supervision. And the pizza, a familiar sight as well as being sweet, surely substitutes for those tooth-cracking candy-coated apples.


Battered and fried bananas get a weekend morning off to a good start. And pumpkin cookies, which do involve the use of some processed sugar, contain a lot less sugar than those from a box. Baking them also makes a great rainy or snowy afternoon activity from now until spring. Just remember to stock up on cans of pumpkin puree. They disappear quickly from the supermarket shelves right after the holidays.


Below, I’ve assembled these ideas in kid-tested recipes that have gotten such rave reviews that a lot of parents hijacked them for their own parties.


One more for the grown-ups: sugared, frozen grapes. They’re perfect snacks as well as edible garnishes for platters of everything from roasted meats to cheese and crackers.


Apple Pizza


Cinnamon and allspice make perfect autumn seasonings. Feel free to use ground ginger, too.




1 pound pizza dough from the supermarket bakery

olive oil

granulated sugar

ground cinnamon

ground allspice

2 apples, very thinly sliced and tossed with 2 teaspoons lemon juice

Butter

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Sprinkle flour or cornmeal on a sheet pan and set aside.


2. Roll out the pizza dough to fit the sheet pan. Place on the sheet pan. Spread with a very thin layer of olive oil. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.


3. While the pizza dough bakes, melt the butter in a skillet. Add the apples; cook, stirring until they just begin to soften. Season with cinnamon and allspice, and sprinkle with lemon juice and sugar.


4. Remove the pizza dough from the oven; reduce heat to 400 degrees. Sprinkle the apple mixture over the pizza dough. Return to the oven for 5 to 10 minutes longer, until nicely golden brown. Makes a 10-inch pizza.


Pumpkin Cookies




2 eggs

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup softened butter or margarine

1 cup pumpkin puree

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup milk

2 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup raisins

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a sheet pan and set aside.


2. Beat the eggs well in a large bowl. Add the sugars, margarine, pumpkin puree, vanilla extract and the milk. Blend together well. Add the nuts and raisins.


 3. Drop by the teaspoonful onto a greased cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart so that the cookies will spread out during baking. Bake 16 to 18 minutes.


 4. Remove cookie sheet from the oven. Transfer the cookies with a spatula from the sheet pan to a rack to finish cooking. Makes 16 to 18 cookies.


Fried Bananas


This is a great breakfast served with bacon and a little maple syrup drizzled on top of the bananas. I’ve put no amount on this recipe as it depends on the bunch of bananas you buy or the family appetites. If you run out of batter before you run out of bananas, just stir together a little more.




packaged pancake mix

a bunch of bananas

canola oil

2 teaspoons lime juice

1. Mix pancake batter according to package directions for 6 pancakes, reading first, and using slightly less liquid than directed so that the batter is thicker.


2. Peel and cut the bananas in half crosswise, then slice lengthwise into the bowl of batter.


3. Heat the canola oil in a skillet. Add bananas, turning to brown on all sides. Sprinkle lime juice over the bananas just before serving.


Sugared Grapes


Again, the cook decides on the amounts. Make as many as you need right now. Or make a large amount and keep them in the freezer for up to a month. Be sure to get the loose-grained granulated brown sugar, usually sold in a box, rather than the type of sugar, sold in plastic bags, that clumps together.




red, green or black grapes

white wine

granulated brown sugar

sour cream, as needed

Wash the grapes in cold water. Dry on a double thickness of paper towels for an hour, or until they are completely dry. Pour the wine into a bowl. Pour sugar into another bowl. Add the grapes and roll them around until they are wet. Then, roll them in the sugar, making sure that it sticks to the grapes.


Transfer the grapes in single layers in large, shallow freezer containers. In 30 minutes, the grapes will be frozen. They may be served as a dessert with sour cream for dipping. Or, as a snack or garnish, as described above.


Linda Bassett is the author of “From Apple Pie to Pad Thai: Neighborhood Cooking North of Boston.” Reach her by e-mail at KitchenCall@aol.com