When Halloween rolls around each year, the day brings joy to kids everywhere but may strike fear into the hearts of some more grown-up participants — and no, I don’t mean because of zombies or haunted houses. I’m talking about candy here, or more importantly the bad things candy can do to your teeth, your waistline, and your overall health. No need to fear trick-or-treating this year, because I’m here with the guide to the best goodies to keep stocked in your bowl — some of which are even good for your beauty and health! Check out this slideshow before you make your Halloween candy shopping list and you won’t regret it.
Special thanks to the nutritionists at CalorieCount.com for all the help choosing these treats.
Dark Chocolate-Covered Pretzels: Dark chocolate is very high in flavonoids, a type of antioxidant, which protects arteries while helping the body maintain a healthy blood pressure. A little bit of dark chocolate each day can actually lower your blood pressure and reduce risk of heart disease. The cocoa in dark chocolate can also lower stress hormones, meaning less collagen breakdown in the skin and fewer wrinkles. Plus these dark chocolate-covered pretzels are great for your salty and sweet cravings! Just be careful: only six pretzels in and you're already at 100 calories and 5 grams of fat.
Hard Candy: Three pieces of hard candy like peppermints or butterscotches are only 50 calories, and have no fat. Sucking on a small piece is a great way to get a little sugar if you're craving it, without overdoing it. Mix different variaties in your trick-or-treat bowl to keep it diverse so you don't crave something else. And be sure not to give these to extra little trick-or-treaters, as the small hard shape can be a choking hazard.
Popcorn balls: Popcorn is a whole grain, and a great snack. Popcorn balls, made by adding sugar, marshmallows, and/or corn syrup to popcorn, are delicious but should be eaten sparingly. Each ball has about 100 calories and one gram of fat. A great idea is to make them yourself, so you can control the amount of sugar and oil in your treat. You can also add healthy additions like dark chocolate, dried fruit, or nuts. They are super easy and fun to make, and a real crowd-pleaser you can even look for a vegan recipe online, and your little monsters won't even know the difference! Our favorite? These 100% vegan popcorn balls with dried currants, cinnamon, maple syrup, and flax seeds, from kblog.lunchboxlunch.com.
Dark Chocolate: Flavonols (the specific flavanoid in dark chocolate) are antioxidants that help your skin protect itself from UV damage that leads to wrinkles, fight free radicals that cause sun spots, and increase blood flow for glowing, dewy skin. Just remember that only dark chocolate has these health and beauty benefits, not milk chocolate. When shopping for Halloween candy this year, get dark chocolate options in place of milk or white whenever possible. Three small pieces of good dark chocolate will only total about 24 calories and zero grams of fat, while three milk chocolate Hershey's kisses = 78 calories and 4.5 grams of fat.
Sugar-free Gummy Bears: Just as yummy as the original candy, but with 45% less calories, sugar-free gummies are great for those watching their waistline. Ten pieces is only 28 calories and zero grams of fat. Want to be even trickier? Get some real fruit gummies at a health food store or pick the best option at your local grocery store, and mix them in with the gummy bears. These treats, flavored with real fruit juice and no artificial flavors or colors, are delicious and nutritious but still should be eaten sparingly, like a treat, not in the place of real fruit and fruit juices. Try Froose Gummy Snacks or Annie's Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks.
Trail Mix: Kids may grumble at the sight of trail mix instead of a Reese's peanut butter cup, but we think this snack is the perfect grown-up candy option. Look for ones with dark chocolate chips for antioxidants, dried fruit for vitamins, and healthy nuts for oils and omega-3 fatty acids that aid your skin, hair, and digestion. Make your own using the bulk bins at stores like New Leaf or Whole Foods for the perfect vitamin-packed beauty cocktail. Our favorite ingredients? Goji berries (their fiber helps aid weight loss, and B vitamins and antioxidants help fight free radicals that cause skin damage), raw pecans, almonds, cashews, pistachios (antioxidants, vitamin A, B, E, calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, fiber, beautifying fats, energizing, help hair, skin, and nails), coconut flakes (healthy fat and oil that keeps skin supple), whole grain cereal (fiber, calcium, zinc help aid weight loss and keep collagen and skin healthy), and of course, dark chocolate.
Fruit-Flavored Gum: Can't indulge in one piece without devouring the whole bag? If self-control is your problem, trick yourself this Halloween and chew on gum instead of candy. Chewing gum tricks your brain into thinking it's actually eating something, so you save calories while reducing stress. With all the yummy fruit-flavored options today, many are just as delicious as actual candy but are only around five calories per stick and contain no fat. Just be sure to pick a sugar-free option, so your chewing doesn't damage your teeth and gums and cause cavities.