When Halloween is over, most of us are stuck with a heap of candy that either our kids got when out trick-or-treating or leftover from what we did not hand out to trick-or-treaters. What do we do with all this candy?! Is there any healthy candy we could have gotten?? It’s bad enough that I want to eat it all, but obviously having it around for the kids to take is not healthy. Ideally, candy should be reserved for special times and as a reward that is earned; not a normal part of a regular daily diet.
Is there such thing as healthy candy? Not really. If it has sugar, it’s not healthy. What candy do you know does not have sugar?! Don’t be fooled by the fact that it may say “no sugar added” or that nuts make it all better. Kids don’t need any of that sugar…ever. There are healthy-ish options though.
The really bad stuff to avoid:
- Stay away from food colorings. Candy has so many additives that are not healthy and may have a negative impact on your child’s short and long term development. Examples of these are colorings such as Red 40 or Yellow 5.
- Avoid high fructose corn syrup. Fructose must be converted by the liver to glucose, glycogen or fat before becoming available as an energy source. This is unlike other carbohydrates found in foods such as rice, that our bodies usually break down into glucose which is a vital energy source and readily distributed. High fructose consumption is linked to insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
What healthy candy does that leave you with?
There are brands that do fulfill the more natural requirements, avoiding food coloring and high fructose corn syrup. Here are my favorite picks for healthy-ish candy for kids and adults:
1. Unreal Candy
This company does a great job making products that look like the typical candy we love, such as M&M’s and peanut butter cups but with 40% less sugar and nothing artificial. Their products are also gluten free, vegan, non-GMO, and still very tasty.
2. Wholesome & Surf Sweets
This company focuses more on the gummy sorts of candies and they are absolutely delicious. They also include nothing artificial and contain organic ingredients.
3. Enjoy Life
If you have a child with allergies, you may be familiar with this brand already. They are one of the few that stand out and seem to be on supermarket shelves more and more lately. They are free of almost every allergen, some of which are: gluten, eggs, dairy, soy, tree nuts, and sesame. They use good ingredients and are absolutely delicious. They have many options, including protein bites, cookies, and chocolate chips.
4. Dark chocolate in general
Dark chocolate in general is also a great choice for a healthy candy. It has multiple health benefits it offers while being lower in sugar than alternative sweets. It contains antioxidants, fiber and minerals, it helps to improve cholesterol, and is believed to have a positive impact on the heart, skin, and brain. Some top-notch options include: Antidote and Pascha. They are high in cacao, lower in sugar. Pascha also has keto friendly options that are sweetened with stevia and contain no sugar.
5. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Sunflower Seed Butter Cups
For more affordable dark chocolate options, head to Trader Joe’s. They have delicious dark chocolate sunflower seed butter cups with solid ingredients, though less cacao percentage.
6. Mavuno Harvest Dried Fruit
Dried fruit is always a great idea as long as there is no added sugar. It’s easy to devour a lot of this in one sitting, but keep in mind that even though it is just fruit, it’s still packed with a lot of sugar. Mavuno Harvest is a great brand with a great social mission. They source organic fruit from small farming cooperatives in rural sub-saharan Africa and bring it to America.
7. Bare Fruit Chips
Another great use of fruits becoming more mainstream to the snack market are chips made from fruits and vegetables. Bare makes chips out of apples and even carrots with no sugar added!
8. Frozen popsicles
Ok, while it isn’t technically healthy candy per se, and you can’t give these out to trick-or-treaters, another great idea is frozen popsicles. If you have a juicer you can make your own at home and add both vegetables and fruits, freeze them in molds with popsicle sticks, and have a fun activity to do with your kids that they will be excited to eat later on. A good alternative you can buy is Good Pop, that has no sugar added to it. There are some ingredients that are still slightly questionable, such as natural flavorings, but they do avoid the red flags like food colorings.
So where can I get healthy candy?
Unfortunately, these alternatives are more expensive and harder to find than the classic choices we are used to seeing in supermarkets. A great source for these options is Thrive Market, which has items at a lower cost and delivers to your door. Whole Foods also carries great brands as well. It is still always up to you to be a smart consumer and read labels in order to make an educated decision as to what you choose feed your children.
Lastly, less is more. So make sure to moderate.
If you are to give candy to your kids, the best thing to do is give it in moderation. They should understand that it is not a healthy choice, but that once in a while it is okay to eat with parental permission or good self-regulation. It may be easier to give them a portion instead of a whole bag of something and then have to take it away. It can be fun to indulge sometimes and take part in the enjoyment it gives your kids to have a delicious snack.