Halloween is right around the corner, and talk about fright . . . I'm having a full-on panic attack about the holiday this year.
Here's my dilemma: As a dietitian, I don't feel good about giving kids oversize, empty-calorie treats to add to their already over-sugared budget. But I also don't want to be the Grinch who stole Halloween or be known as "those people," the types who hand out — egads! — raisins, pennies, or toothbrushes.
If you're like me and you don't want to have your house egged or your trees draped with toilet paper due to "lame" treats, try these seven goblin- and ghoul-pleasing goodies.
1. Peanut M&M's
The good news about peanut M&M's is, well, the peanuts. Peanuts provide 30 essential nutrients and are a good source of protein, fiber, and B vitamins. Instead of handing out regular M&M's, opt for the snack packs of Peanut M&M's to get the goodness of the peanuts with less added sugar of traditional chocolate bars and a bit of protein.
Peanut M&M's (1 Fun Size Pack): 90 calories, 5 g fat (2 g sat fat), 7 g sugar
2. Hershey's Kisses With Almonds
Hershey's Kisses are a great option for Halloween due to their diminutive portion size and only 25 calories per kiss. Kids can have four to five kisses and get fewer calories than a regular candy bar, plus the almonds provide positive nutrients, like protein and vitamin E.
Hershey's Kisses (1 piece) With Almonds: 25 calories, 1 g fat (<1 g sat fat) 2.5 g sugar
3. Kind Nuts & Spices Bars
Instead of a "full-size" candy or energy bar, I'll hand out Kind Bars, which are made from wholesome ingredients like nuts, whole grains, and dried fruit that pack in protein, fiber, and unsaturated fats. Kind Nuts & Spices line has 50 percent less added sugar (just 5-6 grams) compared to energy bars and pack in a lot more filling protein and fiber.
Kind Nut Delight: 210 calories, 16 g fat (2 g sat fat) 5 g sugar, 6 g protein, 3 g fiber
4. Noncandy Tricks
I'm planning to mix in noncandy tricks with my treats because a study from Yale University found that children are just as excited about getting a toy as they are candy.
Ghoulishly Great Ideas:
- Spooky school supplies (pencils, erasers)
- Scary stickers
- Plastic rings and bracelets
- Temporary tattoos
- Arts and crafts supplies
- Glow sticks
- Bouncy balls
5. Jelly Beans
Yes, they're 100 percent pure sugar, but jelly beans are a great option because they satisfy a sweet tooth with just four calories per bean! An average jelly bean has just 3-4 calories, so I can give out "snack packs" without adding too many calories to kids' diets.
Jelly Belly Assorted Jelly Bean Flavors (1 snack pack): 28 calories, 7 g sugar
6. S-L-O-W Sweets
Treats that take kids a long time to eat help slow down consumption so that hopefully they'll eat fewer calories. Some of my favorite s-l-o-w treats to hand out include lollipops, taffy, Tootsie Rolls, and licorice.
Jolly Rancher (1 piece): 20 calories, 4 g sugar
Twizzlers (2-piece pack): 30 calories, 4 g sugar
Tootsie Roll Pops (1 pop): 60 calories, 10 g sugar
Tootsie Rolls Juniors (1 piece): 35 calories, <1 g fat (<.5 g sat fat), 5 g sugar
7. Peppermint Patties
Peppermint patties are a surprisingly better choice because they are low in fat so their calorie counts are kept in check. Plus, they're made with dark chocolate, which naturally has less added sugar than milk chocolate.
York Peppermint Patties (1 piece): 50 calories, 1 g fat (<1 g sat fat), 9 g sugar