By “healthy” I just mean “better than the alternatives,” meaning made from real food ingredients and without artificial dyes, preservatives, and all the other junk found in typical candy.
I still prefer to opt for candy-free gifts or experiences whenever possible, even at Halloween. But thanks to companies making candy with better ingredients, our family can take part in neighborhood trick-or-treat festivities (without resorting to handing out seaweed snacks… although I happen to think those are also delicious!).
Wait… Is Healthy Candy Good for You?
Given the negative health effects of sugar… no, definitely not!
I’ve taken some flack for my stance on sugar. (But hey, I can’t help what the science says.) There were quite a few years we even skipped parties and trick-or-treating altogether.
We’ve experimented with different approaches to Halloween (the ultimate candy-palooza) over the years. As our kids got older, we decided that rather than opt out, we could use Halloween or other special events as a chance for our kids to practice making good food choices.
Now that more companies are making better candy options (with ingredients I can actually recognize), I’ve been able to find some favorites that my kids love and I can live with. Mixing these in (sparingly) with plenty of non-candy alternatives makes for a fun, creative, and healthy Halloween that I think is better than the original tradition!
Healthier Candy (& Non-Candy) Alternatives for Trick-or-Treating
I usually make my own candy or chocolate when we are going to have it, but that won’t fly for trick-or-treating. If you’re looking for healthier store-bought candy, here are the ones that passed the test for us.
Of course you won’t find many of these in your local grocery store, so I use my Thrive Market membership to stock up. The prices are low, it’s convenient, and I love the selection.
All of the following treats are economical (.15-.50 cents each on average) and individually wrapped for trick-or-treating. Bonus, the neighborhood kids will probably like them better than the junky stuff!
Spooky Fruit Snacks
These gummy and jellybean packs get their color and flavor from real food ingredients like pear juice and carrot juice. A far cry from most store-bought candies, these are also GMO and gluten free. (Case in point: the price on Thrive is about $6 for a bag that contains 20 individually wrapped packs, and the same bag on Amazon is about $10.)
Really Peely Fruit Tape
Remember these from the school lunch days? Something about the shape just makes this fruit leather more fun. This version uses real fruit and skips the corn syrup.
Ghost and Skull Lollipops
Not only are these fun for Halloween, these festive pops are also organic, non-GMO, and contain no artificial coloring or flavors. These are also a friendly choice for kids with nut or gluten allergies. Plus, with Thrive market pricing these are super affordable for the whole neighborhood at about 10 cents each.
Mini Nut Thins Cheddar Crackers
Give kids a break from all the sweet treats with these yummy grain-free cheese crackers. They’ll never know they’re nutritious to boot. These are also individually wrapped for easy trick-or-treat distribution.
Enjoy Life Mini Chocolate Chip Packs
Who doesn’t love chocolate chips? No more sneaking from the bag… kids can have their own! These mini packs are as good as it gets with only 3 ingredients: organic sugar, chocolate, and cocoa butter. They are also vegan, nut-free, and perfect for trick-or-treating at only 40 cents each.
Popcorn Snack Packs
We don’t do popcorn often, but when we do we choose organic and non-GMO. Kids and grown-ups alike will love the “buttery” goodness of coconut oil and a sprinkle of pink Himalayan salt.
Yum Earth Organic Sour Twists
This is another candy brand I can get behind for the occasional treat, and kids love the tart flavor and fun twisty shape. The colors look a bit like candy corn too, but come from natural sources like black currants and turmeric.
Grape Fruit Strips From Stretch Island
Moms have long been a fan of these natural fruit leather bars. The ingredients are just “apple puree concentrate, pear puree concentrate, grape puree concentrate” and I guarantee they taste a lot better than some other popular (artificially) fruity candies.
Peanut Butter Cups (Without Peanut Butter)
No Halloween trick-or-treating list could be complete without peanut butter cups. These Dark Chocolate Sun Cups are perfect since they’re nut-allergy friendly and (in my opinion) an improvement on the classic treat.
Torie & Howard Chewie Fruities
These chewy fruit candies look exactly like the popular Starburst candies, but use mostly organic and natural ingredients and no artificial flavors or colors. Plus, their creative flavors will tempt even grown-ups: meyer lemon & raspberry, pomegranate & nectarine, and blood orange & honey.
Best Buy: Natural Lollipops
I know shopping for natural or organic products can mean a real bite out of the budget, but this time there’s no excuse. I saved the best for last with these natural assorted lollipops… 40 organic and real-fruit flavored pops in a bag for less than 15 cents each!
Non-Candy Goodies for Trick-or-Treating
Again, I offer these only as occasional alternatives for special occasions where candy is unavoidable (like Halloween), not as weekly/daily foods for kids.
To keep candy from being the center of the holiday, mix in plenty of non-edible treats and prizes. They are still inexpensive and kids love them! Here are 26 ideas of what to give out at Halloween besides candy.
Other Healthy Halloween Snacks & Treats (Kids Like!)
One strategy for limiting candy consumption is to offer kids plenty of nutritious food before heading out the door to trick-or-treat. Rather than our usual dinner, we make some Halloween-themed appetizers to share and make sure they are heavy on protein and fiber (and low on sugar).
While there are a million ideas for healthy Halloween party food, I’ve only tried ones that seemed very simple and easy to prepare (because I am not Martha Stewart), but I’m happy to report most of these turned out very well with little time and effort. In most cases, the kids were begging to take over and make them themselves. (I let them!)
Here are some favorite Halloween party snacks and treats we’ve tried:
- Homemade chocolate or fruit snacks (make in a Halloween-themed candy mold for extra fun)
- “Candy” apples dipped in dark chocolate and rolled in chopped nuts
- Deviled eggs topped with a green olive “eyeball” or if you’re really creative, black olive “spiders” (here’s a picture)
- Clementine oranges served whole and peeled with a spring of green on top for a pumpkin look. Check out this recipe with cute banana ghosts dipped in chocolate as well!
- Cut-up veggies and fruit arranged in the shape of a skeleton, with a bowl of real-food ranch dressing as the head/skull (see what’s possible here)
- “Witches Brew” smoothies (otherwise known as a cucumber lime smoothie on less spooky occasions)
- Chocolate chia seed pudding cups (the dirt) topped with gummy worms and a cookie “tombstone”
I also keep some homemade treats along with some non-candy prizes on hand for after trick-or-treating. The kids cash in some of their less ideal candy for fun Halloween jewelry, trinkets, or toys. They usually have no problem with this and in fact look forward to it.
Have a Happy Halloween!
Bottom line, sharing in community with our friends and neighbors is a top priority for us. These options are about as close to healthy candy as you can get, and they’ve made participating in the trick-or-treating possible for our family. By providing some better alternatives to the usual Halloween candy-fest, we hope our kids will have a positive outlook on healthy eating and get to focus on just having fun!
What do you hand out at Halloween? Have you found candy with better ingredients? Please share!