Healthy Halloween candy may seem like a paradox, but it does exist. Saturated fat, high fructose corn syrup, and even sugar-free Halloween candy can turn certain sweets into a scary option.
However, candy alternatives for Halloween and understanding calories in Halloween candy can help keep the holiday fun, festive, and healthy! Read on for tips on navigating the tricks and treats this Halloween, including the healthiest candy bars and alternative options.
Healthiest Halloween Candies
Just like any other food, Halloween candy can add value and variety to the diet. Consumed alongside well-balanced meals, Halloween treats can certainly be part of a healthy diet.
The following tips can help you keep your candy as nutrient-rich as possible.
Fun Size, Snack Size, or Mini Size
Small size sweets can help to keep candy under 100 calories. Options such as mini rice cereal treat bars are great for trick-or-treating. Even classic favorites, like Peanut M&Ms, can be part of a healthy diet if enjoyed from a “fun-size” pack.
Other smaller-size favorites to enjoy include:
• Charms Blow Pops (only 70 calories each)
• REESE’S Peanut Butter Cup (single cups)
• SNICKERS®(“fun-size” bar)
• YORK Peppermint Patties (150 calories each)
Homemade Halloween Treats
While homemade treats may not be allowed in the classroom, concoctions created in your kitchen can be perfect for parties. Create healthier versions of your favorite candies at home. Find innovative ways to make classic Halloween treats at home.
For example, you can use dark chocolate and peanut butter to make homemade peanut butter cups. You could also create hard candies or gummies using your own molds (often found on baking supply sites or Amazon.com).
Healthier Versions of Halloween Favorites
Some brands create “healthy” versions of your Halloween favorites by doing one (or more) of the following:
• Adding fiber
• Reducing calories
• Using allergen-free ingredients
While not usually as easy to find as traditional treats, healthier alternatives can be a smart choice. For example, Justin’s® Brand makes dark chocolate peanut butter cups. This type of chocolate candy has a similar nutrient profile to the popular REESE’S Peanut Butter Cups, but includes organic ingredients, antioxidant-rich dark chocolate, less added sugar, and no cholesterol.
The following 10 brands are considered the healthiest candies and candy alternatives for Halloween among dietitians and experts:
1. Alter Eco (organic)
2. Endangered Species Chocolate (vegan, gluten-free)
3. Hu Kitchen (organic, paleo, gluten- and soy-free)
4. Lily’s Sweets (stevia-sweetened, no added sugar)
5. OCHO Candy (organic)
6. SkinnyDipped (lower sugar)
7. SmartSweets (low-sugar)
8. Surf Sweets (allergy-friendly)
9. UNREAL® (low sugar)
10. YumEarth (allergy-friendly)
Sugar Free Halloween Candy
First know that “sugar-free” doesn’t always equal healthy. For certain people, like diabetics, sugar free sweets can help.
However, candies with a lower sugar content often have artificial flavors or sugar alcohols to substitute. These compounds can cause digestive distress in some individuals. In any case, sugar-free gum is often a safe choice to enjoy.
Low Sugar Sweets
New candy brands are responding to customer demand. For example, SmartSweets makes hard and gummy candies that look like traditional options, but with far less sugar. Brands like these can be a great option if you are looking to keep sugar low and fiber high for balanced blood sugar.
While sugar free Halloween treats may be appropriate for certain populations (i.e. diabetics), intentional and mindful eating may be the way to go for others. Sugar isn’t the enemy necessarily, but should be consumed in moderation. Mindful eating practices can help you enjoy balance in your diet while enjoying seasonal favorites.
Remember, Halloween is just one day out of the whole year. One day won’t wreck a whole year of healthy habits.
Candy Alternatives for Halloween
Halloween is classically linked to candy, but it doesn’t always have to be about sweets. Healthy snacks or toys can take the place of candy at parties or in trick-or-treater’s bags.
Healthy Snacks to Substitute for Sweets
Instead of candy, try handing out these delicious snacks:
• Animal-shaped graham crackers
• Applesauce pouches
• Cereal bars (preferably including real fruit)
• Fruit snacks or leathers made with 100% fruit (or fortified with vitamins)
• Individual fruit cups (in water not syrup)
• Individual bags of pretzels
• Pudding cups (low-fat)
• Whole-grain cheddar-flavored crackers
• 100% fruit juice (boxes or pouches)
Toys and Other Trinkets
Halloween themed handouts don’t have to be sweets to be something kids will love. Trick-or-treater’s will love non-food fun trinkets like:
• Bouncy balls
• Glow sticks
• Vampire teeth
That's a Wrap on Spooky Sweets
If you’re looking to keep calories or sugar low this Halloween season, the good news is that there are still plenty of choices available to you. From new allergy-friendly brands to fun-size favorites, there’s something for everyone.
The bottom line? Steer clear of what might upset your stomach, and don’t forget that you can indulge intentionally without wrecking your overall diet goals.
Ellis E. Enjoy a Healthy and Happy Halloween. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Published October 2019. https://www.eatright.org/health/lifestyle/holidays/enjoy-a-healthy-and-happy-halloween
Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups. Hormel Foods Corporation. https://www.justins.com/products/dark-chocolate-peanut-butter-cups/
REESE’S Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups. Hersheyland. https://www.hersheyland.com/products/reeses-milk-chocolate-peanut-butter-cups-1-5-oz.html