13 Alternatives Kids Will Love

— By Liza Barnes, Health Educator

Forget haunted houses, the walking dead, or vampire bats. If there’s one thing that scares me about Halloween, it’s the candy. Packed full of artificial colors and flavors, chemical additives, and high fructose corn syrup, Halloween candy makes my skin crawl more than being blindfolded and sticking my hand into a bowl full of cold spaghetti! As a kid, I loved candy, of course. As a mom, I wish it didn’t exist. But I believe that depriving my daughter of the Halloween experience, candy included, would cause more harm than a couple of days of gluttony.Fortunately, I’ve recently discovered that there’s a whole new world of treats out there that will satisfy both of us. It’s still candy, but it’s not made of junk. If you’re going to be treating trick-or-treaters with candy this Halloween, consider stocking your plastic pumpkin pail with some of these healthier selections. Far from handing out apples or toothbrushes, these crowd pleasers are the real thing!

Barbara’s Snackimals Animal Cookies are far beyond traditional animal crackers, which usually contain trans fats and very little flavor. These crunchy cookies are even made with organic ingredients and come in Chocolate Chip, Snickerdoodle, Vanilla and Oatmeal varieties. They’re about $.89 per bag, and available at most natural food groceries and online atwww.WorldPantry.com.
CLIF Kid Organic ZBars are low in fat, made with whole oats, and fortified with 12 essential vitamins and minerals. They are free of hydrogenated oils, high-fructose corn syrup, preservatives, and artificial flavors or colors. And they come in 7 delicious flavors: Apple Cinnamon, Chocolate Brownie, Blueberry, Chocolate Chip, Honey Graham, Peanut Butter and, just in time for Halloween, Spooky S’Mores. Trader Joe’s sells them for $.69 each, and they’re often available online for even less.
Endangered Species Dark Chocolate Halloween Treats are individually wrapped, single-serving chocolate squares—perfect if you want to pass out something delicious and environmentally responsible. They’re available at natural foods stores and online atwww.chocolatebar.com ($6.72 for 24 pieces).
FruitaBü Organic Smoooshed Fruit Rolls look and taste like all-too-familiar junk food, but are made from real organic fruit, with no artificial additives or added sugar. You can buy them in natural food stores and many supermarkets, or online (www.StretchIslandFruit.com).
Ginger Chews by the Ginger People certainly taste good, so you can’t go wrong with flavors like Original Ginger, Spicy Apple Ginger, Peanut Ginger and Hot Coffee Ginger. The Original flavor is available in the bulk bins at Whole Foods for around $5.19 per pound, which gets you about 70 chews. Other flavors are available online at www.GingerPeople.com and packaged in the candy aisle of natural foods stories, including Trader Joe’s.
Let’s Do…Organic Gummi Bears are made with organic ingredients and contain no gelatin, gluten, high-fructose corn syrup or artificial additives. All that’s left is delicious flavor! These come in boxes containing four individually-wrapped bags and are available in four varieties: Super Sour, Fruity, Classic, and Jelly. A box costs about $2.99. Buy them online atwww.EdwardAndSons.com.
Pure Fun Organic Candy makes yummy hard candies and lollypops that are free of pesticides, artificial flavors, synthetic colors, and gluten. They come in several kid-friendly flavors, like Tangy Tangerine, Loony Lemon, and Giddy Green Apple. They’re available at Whole Foods ($4.99 for a bag of 18 candies), or online atwww.PureFun.ca.
Stretch Island Original Fruit Leathers are sweet and chewy strips of real, dried fruit that will satisfy a kid’s sweet tooth and count as half a serving of fruit! Stretch Island is one of many brands of fruit leather that you can buy online (www.stretch-island.com), in natural food stores and at many supermarkets for about $.35 to $.50 each.
Sunspire Dark Chocolate Earth Balls are small but delicious chocolate morsels. They’re sweetened with whole grain malted barley and corn, which cuts the sugar content by 33%. They’re available in bulk bins at natural foods stories (including Whole Foods) for about $12.99 per pound (that’s about 80 individually wrapped balls).
Wolfgang’s Sweet Dark Chocolate Covered Blueberries and Raspberries are for the child gourmet! These mouthwatering morsels are made with real berries and dark chocolate, so they supply tons of antioxidants along with their fabulous flavor. They’re available at natural foods stores like Whole Foods for $5.99 for a box of 10-14 individually-wrapped pieces.
Yummy Earth Organic Lollipops and Candy Dropscome in flavors like Pomegranate Pucker and Wet Face Watermelon. Free of gluten, nuts and corn syrup, these candies are also certified organic and kosher. They’re available at Whole Foods and other natural foods stores, and online at www.YummyEarth.com. Lollipops are about $3.50 for 15, and drops are about $2.59 for 25.
Last Minute Treats: If you can’t get your hands on any of these treats before the porch lights go on, don’t forget about good old standbys like individual packages of nuts or raisins, which you can pick up at any supermarket. If you have your heart set on candy, stick to dark chocolate (which should not contain any milk), or candies with the shortest ingredients lists.

When you hand out these candies at your door this Halloween, you can feel a little better knowing that you’re doing your part. If you have kids, and they’re willing, you can even swap their junk for the good stuff. For my four-year-old, I buy an assortment of healthier treats, set up a store where she can shop for them, and let her pay for her purchases with her trick-or-treating loot. It may be a bit of a trick, but in exchange she gets a far better treat. She still eats more sugar than I’d like on Halloween—after all, natural or not, candy is still candy—but it’s healthier than the conventional choices.

This article has been reviewed and approved by SparkPeople healthy eating expert, Tanya Jolliffe.