Full Disclaimer: no candy is truly healthy, unless fruit counts. 😉 But there is a spectrum of course.
First things first are the main ingredients to avoid: gelatin, dairy, food coloring/artificial dyes, and high fructose corn syrup.
Let’s go over the first one: gelatin. Gelatin is pretty disgusting. How is it made? By literally boiling up all the leftover bits of animals, bones, cartilage, beaks, tendons, hooves, and SKIN! It’s found in so many places other than candy too including cheeses, cosmetics, yogurts, soups, and vitamins. If this doesn’t gross you out, let’s look at the possible health implications. One main area of concern is that toxins are stored in many different places in the body, most heavily in our bones. Even if the gelatin comes from a “grass-fed” or “organic” source this is still a concern.
The next ingredient on the list to avoid is dairy. This might not be too big of a surprise, as people are becoming more and more aware of its negative health implications. There are plenty of reasons to avoid dairy and not just in candy! It can be confusing looking at the ingredient lists because the industry uses different terms, perhaps to confuse consumers more. You can learn more about what to look for here.
Now on to food coloring/artificial dyes. The name alone should be enough for you, artificial. Research shows these manmade creations can disrupt the immune system, increase hyperactivity, and can causes long term health issues from asthma to migraines. Many countries have banned these chemicals, but no, no, not the US. We let companies run amuck here and do whatever they want, regardless whether there’s clear data linking the toxic ingredients to long-term health problems. Eye roll. Examples of artificial dyes on packaging: Red 3, Blue 1 Lake, Blue 1, Yellow 5.
Last, but certainly not least, is high fructose corn syrup. This ubiquitous ingredient is added to so many products, from drinks to cookies, and everywhere in between. The sweetener is heavily processed from cornstarch that’s been shown to cause a wide range of issues including increased appetite, increased risk of weight gain, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and dementia.
Before we get to the candies I approve of and enjoy, let’s discuss which ones to stay away from. The usual suspects is always a good idea. Candy corn, skittles, snickers. Larger companies, ones that have commercials on tv, are usually the worst offenders. Look for smaller companies that proudly the state the ingredients they do and don’t include in the products.
Enjoy Life makes a wide range of treats including cookies, baking chocolate, and snack bars, all allergy friendly.
Lesser Evil “No Cheese” Cheesiness Popcorn
Lesser Evil has a few products that I love including their “no cheese” cheesiness popcorn. All their products are organic but not everything they create is vegan so be sure to look for the big V to ensure it’s veggie friendly.
Again, another company that isn’t completely vegan so check the label, Yum Earth definitely has a few snacks containing gelatin so be careful. These gummy fruits show below are delicious and completely vegan!
Hu Chocolate is definitely on the pricier side, but so worth it! If you’re giving away a bunch of candy this might not be the best choice, but if it’s just for you and your family, perhaps so! I especially love the hazelnut butter or cashew butter one. The little Gems are also great for snacking or baking. Hu can be found at many health food markets, Whole Foods, or online.
Peanut Butter Date Bars
These Peanut Butter Date Bars are one of my favorite sweet treats and they happen to be one of my own!
Healthy Chex Mix
Here’s another one that’s my own! My healthy Chex-mix recipe that’s gluten-free, vegan, and oh so easy to make!
To get more vegan Halloween treat inspiration, check out Choose Veg.
Many of their recipes can easily be turned gluten-free.