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Healthy Halloween Candy: Alternatives to Fun-Size Candy Bars

- Written by on September 30th 2016

Halloween is coming up and Americans are predicted to spend $2.5 billion dollars on Halloween candy. That is a lot of sugar, folks. While most of us fondly recall eating too many fun-size candy bars, bouncing off the walls, and going to bed with a tummy ache, we also know we don't have the metabolism of our younger selves.

This doesn't mean you shouldn't reward yourself with a little something from the trick-or-treat bowl or help yourself to a special seasonal treat. You just need to know what to pick! Parents, on the other hand, might not want to become the least popular house on the street by handing out Halloween pencils. With all that in mind, we've come up with some healthy Halloween candy alternatives to keep everybody happy come October 31st.

Low Calorie Halloween Candy

If you're counting calories, you might be interested in some sweet treats that aren't so rich. Be aware that these choices are often very sugary, but in moderation they might be just the thing to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Lollipops

The classic Dum-Dum lollipops come in sixteen flavors (plus the mystery flavor) so you can satisfy your craving for root beer, cream soda, butterscotch, cotton candy, etc. without the sugar bomb of the real deal. A serving size is considered 2 pops for a total of just 50 calories and a reasonable 10 grams of sugar. Though they do contain artificial flavors and colorings, they are gluten free, dairy free, and nut free. Plus, lollipops take longer to eat than other types of candy, so you're less likely to overdo it.

Dum-Dum Pops

  • dairy free, nut free, and gluten free Halloween candy
  • easier portion control thanks to slow enjoyment
  • artificial flavors and dyes

Fruit Snacks


Rather in the mood for something chewy? Forgo Starburst and Skittles in favor of fruit snacks made with real fruit juice. Sure, they're still sugary, but at least you can eat an entire pouch of Annie's fruit snacks for 70 calories and 10 grams of sugar (plus 100% of your daily vitamin C requirement) while just 4 Starburst will run you 80 calories and 11.5 grams sugar (plus artificial flavors and colorings).

Unless you're the owner of the house famous for passing out full-size candy bars, Annie's fruit snacks are probably too expensive to hand out as a healthy Halloween candy alternative during trick-or-treat. You could however get a variety pack with 24 pouches to offer your kids and their friends or to offer as a trade for the junkier stuff collected during the night.

Annie's Homegrown Fruit Snacks

  • organic, vegetarian, vegan
  • no artificial ingredients
  • expensive

Marshmallow Treats

No marshmallow is going to be a health food, they're basically pure sugar. Nonetheless, a holiday isn't on its way until the seasonal Peeps start popping up in the grocery store. Halloween peeps are super cute and festive; you can get little Frankenstein monsters, pumpkins, ghosts, or tombstones. Plus, they're great if you have no self-control during holidays. Even if you eat 8 marshmallow pumpkins—that's the entire small size package—you're looking at just 110 calories and a okay-once-a-year 26 grams of sugar.

Peeps Marshmallow Pumpkins

  • available in cute seasonal varieties
  • good portion size to calorie ratio
  • high in sugar

Sugar Free Halloween Candy

Though finding Halloween treats you can enjoy without going way over your caloric goals can be important, not everyone can tolerate the amount of sugar in the low(er) calorie treats above. If the sugary candies mentioned so far don't suit your low sugar diet, we've found a few other options.

Peanut Butter Cups

Reese's Sugar Free Peanut Butter Cup Miniatures

  • sugar free
  • individually wrapped for portion control
  • sweetened with maltitol, which some may find hard to digest

Miniature sugar free Reese's cups will save you 20 grams of sugar compared to the regular miniatures. They ARE sweetened with maltitol, a sugar alcohol which can cause gastrointestinal issues in some people, so be sure to stick to the recommended serving size and keep these for yourself rather than handing them out. These sugar free peanut butter cups are individually wrapped, making portion control easier.

Licorice Twists


Twizzlers Sugar Free Strawberry Twists

  • sugar free
  • perfect for nostalgic cravings
  • sweetened with maltitol (see above), also NOT gluten free!

Twizzlers also makes sugar free twists without the 19 grams of sugar contained in one serving of the regular twists. They too are sweetened with maltitol, so don't go too crazy.

High Protein Halloween Candy

If you really want a high protein treat, you'll want to opt for a protein bar. If you're more interested in finding out what you can snack on from your office's candy bowl that might tide you over until lunch, go for the peanut M&Ms with 180 calories, 3 grams protein, and 1 gram fiber.

Peanut M&M's

  • a little protein and fiber - not just sugar
  • artificial flavors and food colors


Better than peanut M&M's are Unreal's Candy Coated Chocolate Peanuts with 200 calories, 6 grams protein, and 3 grams fiber, plus beetroot juice, turmeric root extract, and purple cabbage juice instead of blue 1, yellow 6, red 40, etc. Consider ordering a bag of these to avoid the temptation of dipping into the much-naughtier office sweets.

Unreal Candy The Nutty Ones

  • no artificial ingredients
  • more protein and fiber than peanut M&M's
  • not sold everywhere, but available online

Nut Free and Gluten Free Halloween Candy

Thankfully, if your primary health concern when it comes Halloween candy alternatives is finding nut and/or gluten free Halloween candy, you've got plenty of options. This list is rather comprehensive and will probably address whether your childhood favorite is safe to eat if you're gluten intolerant. If you're looking for a particularly healthy option, we'd go for the Dove Dark Chocolate Pumpkins. The packaging is adorable and what's inside is rather clean for Halloween candy:

Semisweet Chocolate (Sugar, Chocolate, Chocolate Processed with Alkali, Cocoa Butter, Milkfat, Soy Lecithin, Natural and Artificial Flavors).

Dove Dark Chocolate Pumpkins

  • gluten free
  • pretty clean ingredient list
  • kids don't usually care for dark chocolate

If you care more about seasonal flavors than seasonal packaging, you might opt for the Endangered Species dark chocolate bar with pumpkin spice and almonds (so long as you can eat nuts). The ingredient list is just as clean as the Dove dark chocolate, and 1/2 bar only has 11 grams of sugar, way less than a certain pumpkin spice hot beverage.

Another issue with Halloween candy is finding options that are safe for people with nut allergies, especially for kids in school who will be sharing treats with their classmates. Lists of peanut free and tree nut free candy have been published to make this easier. Some of the candies we've already recommended are peanut and tree nut free, including dum dum lollipops, Peeps, fruit snacks, and Twizzlers.

Be sure to check the packaging to confirm these products are still gluten and/or nut free - formulations change!

Clean Eating Halloween Treats

Apart from the dark chocolate, we've been playing fast and loose with the phrase 'healthy Halloween candy'. The alternatives in this section aren't really conventional candy, but if you're looking for something considerably healthier than your standard Halloween fare, you probably have to look outside the candy aisle. This is especially true if you want something kid friendly!

Squeezable fruit snacks from Happy Squeeze are excellent healthy snacks. Though they do have quite a bit of sugar in each pouch, you can at least count on getting 1/2 cup of fruit. Plus, they're certified organic and the packaging is BPA free. The caramel apple fruit squeeze is a great flavor choice for Halloween.

Happy Squeeze Treat Caramel Apple

  • organic and BPA free
  • 1/2 cup of fruit per pouch
  • 20 grams of sugar per pouch (from fruit and fruit juice)


Honey sticks are a great healthy Halloween candy alternative - they're individually wrapped, relatively inexpensive, and contain just one ingredient. It doesn't get much more unprocessed than that, unless you start handing out fruit (which many parents wouldn't let their kids eat, a sadly necessary precaution nowadays).


When it comes to choosing healthier Halloween candy, the best alternative for you is going to depend on what you need:

  • If you're just looking to treat yourself, pumpkin spice dark chocolate or the dark chocolate pumpkins are a really excellent choice.
  • When you just can't resist the free candy at the office, you'll do the least damage with a dum dum lollipop, Peeps, or a fun-size pack of peanut M&Ms.
  • If you want to reward your kids with a special treat, we love Unreal's less processed versions of popular candy bars.
  • For your trick-or-treaters, honey sticks would be our pick.

Just remember the most important thing—and in our opinion, the healthiest thing—is to enjoy the day and not stress too much about what you eat on a holiday that comes just once a year!

Author

Crystal Schlegelmilch

Written by on September 30th 2016

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