Justin Robinson by Justin Robinson

To some, Halloween officially kicks off the holiday season, and along with it the challenge of enjoying yourself while managing to limit your intake (or disbursement) of unhealthy treats.  So when it comes to Halloween and the time-honored tradition of doling out candy to ghosts, goblins, and – of course – Frozen Princesses, one question arises:

What healthy Halloween candy will actually excite trick-or-treaters (and parents) without completely breaking your bank?  In other words, what treats fall between dental floss and a $5 bill?

The best Halloween candy to give away is real food, as opposed to packaged and processed foods, which is also perfectly in line with the prevailing trends in the health and fitness space.  The key to this clean-eating approach is to read ingredient lists instead of the Nutrition Facts label.

This Halloween, consider changing your approach from candy to the tasty food treats detailed below.

1. Fruit Snacks

Fruit Snacks

Sweet, colorful, chewy, look and taste like candy but actually contain some real fruit.  Look for products without artificial colors or flavors.

2. Graham Snacks

Mini graham crackers are sweet enough to find a place in trick-or-treat bags, yet contain a little bit of fiber and protein.  Look for brands without preservatives or artificial flavors.

3. Dark chocolate squares

Dark chocolate squares

These might be too bitter for some kids, but will make most parents very happy when they sort through their kids’ bags for “safety” reasons.  Dark chocolate is offered in a number of varieties, including mint, cocoa nibs, sea salt, and almond.  Look for at least 60% cocoa to get the most phytochemicals and antioxidants.

4. Dark Chocolate-Covered Almonds or Raisins

Some of these products might be difficult to find in single-serve packets, but these treats contain antioxidants, fiber, and healthy fats (almonds).  Brands that do offer individual packets include Orchard Valley and Oskri.

5. Justin’s Dark Chocolate Mini Peanut Butter Cups

Justin’s Dark Chocolate Mini Peanut Butter Cups

Your favorite mini peanut butter cups, sans hydrogenated oils.  Try not to eat the entire package before your doorbell rings.

6. Mini Lara Bars

These are great examples of granola/energy bars that contain only a handful of legible ingredients with no, or very little, added sugar (depending on the flavor).

7. Dum Dum Lollipops

Dum Dum Lollipops

Some actual candy is okay, too.  These small pops may have a few artificial ingredients, but they are under 4 grams of sugar and can satisfy most people’s sweet tooth.

Along with a real-food approach, the goal for finding the best Halloween candy is to look beyond total calories and grams of fat.  In the past, we have believed the healthiest candies were relatively low in calories and fat, but this came at the expense of artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners. 

Halloween, and the rest of the holiday season, is about giving, spending time with family/friends, and enjoying delicious foods…so choose the treats that will bring pleasure to you and your family without detracting from your long-term health and wellness goals.