Free candy! It’s no surprise why Halloween is one of kids’ favorite holidays. It’s estimated that the vast majority of kids will trick-or-treat and many also attend at least one Halloween party.
Kids eat, on average, about 25 pounds of candy each year, and most of that is consumed around Halloween. And, according to research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 17 percent of the calories in 6- to 17-year-olds’ diets come from added sugars – equal to 22 tsp of sugar a day. That’s why many nutritionists (including myself!) look for healthier alternatives to dole out to the tiny goblins and ghouls at my doorstep.
Here are five options that have all the fear and fun—minus the “empty” calories.
Fun Fruit-Based “Leathers” or “Squeezers”
Look for fruit-based options that have kid appeal, too. Fruit leathers, ropes and squeezable pouches are all good as long as they don’t have any added sugars.
Snack Packs of Raisins
You can’t go wrong with mini boxes of raisins for pint-sized pirates and princesses. For example, Sun-Maid’s mini boxes of California raisins have just 45 calories, no added sugar and are fat free. What’s more, a recent University of Toronto study found kids reported feeling fuller and ate fewer calories at their next meal when they snacked on raisins compared to other popular snacks.
Mini Packs of Nuts
Nuts are a great snack alternative to candy because they provide essential vitamins and minerals, healthy fats and provide fiber and protein to help keep tummies satisfied. Since nuts are high in calories, look for the single-serve packages like Wonderful Pistachios Halloween-sized, 1 oz packs. Each package has 80 calories, 3 grams protein and 2 grams fiber. Not only are they a great choice, kids will have fun cracking them open.
Flavored Milk Straws and Pudding Pouches
One proven way to get kids to drink their milk is to flavor it, but regular flavored milk can be packed with added sugars. Got Milk? Magic Straws comes in many great flavors and transform plain milk to flavored with just 1 tsp (17 calories) per straw. Another great idea is to hand out shelf-stable, single-serve puddings that are made from lowfat milk.
Research from Yale University found that trick-or-treaters are just as happy with toys as they are candy. Here are some spooky ideas:
• Halloween-themed pencils, pencil toppers, crayons or erasers
• Scary stickers
• Plastic rings and bracelets
• Temporary tattoos
• Glow sticks
• Bouncy balls