15 Halloween Treats Nutritionists Secretly Love
It's confession time! Nutrition experts get real about the candy they obsess over. And no, there are no kale chips or cacao nibs on the list.
“Kit Kat bars are fabulous because I can sit there and savor them layer-by-layer,” says Ami Paulsen, a certified nutritional therapy practitioner. Although that’s not to say she only eats one. “I’m always surprised by how many mini candy bars I can pound in one night,” she says. Some may see the pile of wrappers as a monument to shame, but we say it’s a tribute to your unwavering dedication to celebrating Halloween.
This colorful, crunchy-sweet snack hit the top spot on many of our expert’s lists. “Peanut M&Ms are always my go-to treat,” says Molly Devine, RD, LDN, founder of Eat Your Keto and advisor to Remedy Review. “They’re tasty, plus the added protein and healthy fat from the nuts ups the nutritional profile somewhat.” The trick is portion control, so she suggests buying the fun-size bags. Or you can get the party pack and strap it to your face, feedbag-style, and tell everyone you’re going as Mr. Ed for Halloween.
Candy corn may be the season’s most polarizing treat; you either love it or you hate it. I say it’s a tasteless nub of ugly wax, but there are those who love it, really really love it, like Lauren Manaker, MS, a registered dietitian. Don’t try getting fancy with the flavors or mix-ins, she says. “I am a sucker for classic candy corn, and I make no apologies for that,” she says. Find out the most popular Halloween candy in your state.
If you’re the one at home handing out candy, why not indulge in a little adult treat? “My favorite Halloween (and really year-round) indulgence is wine,” says Angela Bicos Mavridis, holistic nutritionist and CEO and founder of TRIBALÍ Foods. Be sure to choose a festive-looking bottle; The Prisoner Wine Company sells several bottles with spooky designs, like Blindfold (a white blend) or The Prisoner (a red blend). Make it festive while keeping it on the down low from judge-y parents by putting it in a fall-themed insulated wine tumbler with a lid.
Peanut Butter Cups
Chocolate and peanut butter is a classic combo any time of year, but with Halloween, you get even more options to get your fix, says Kristen Kizer, RD, LD, a registered dietitian at Houston Methodist. But you can forget the waxy kid’s stuff; she goes straight for the real deal. “I take a scoop of high-quality peanut butter and roll it in dark chocolate chips,” she says. If you’re short on time (or just lazy like us), Justin’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups are a high-quality alternative.
“I happen to love fruity desserts, and a caramel apple is the perfect marriage of seasonal fruit and sweetness,” says Scarlett Full, registered dietitian at Growing Naturals. Gooey caramel and add-ons like chocolate, marshmallows, or sprinkles make it decadent and, you know, there’s a fruit in there… somewhere. It’s practically health food. These are the worst Halloween candies for your teeth.
Caramel. No matter how you pronounce it, the gooey stuff is priority #1 when it comes to the Halloween candy. Paulsen says she pilfers from her kids’ bags after they go to sleep (read: collapse in a sugar coma). “I’m all about the Snickers bars. Or the Twix. It’s a toss-up. Okay, it’s both,” she says.
Chocolate + peanut butter really sent our experts into a frenzy (seriously, half of the people we interviewed cited these as their fave) and there’s really no better way to enjoy the combo at Halloween like Reese’s pumpkins, says Kerry Clifford, MS, RD, LDN, with Fresh Thyme Farmers Markets. Say what you want, but the cute shape really does make them taste better! They also come in bats, ghosts, and jack-o-lanterns. Don’t miss these healthy Halloween candy swaps.
They’re so sweet they make your head hurt, so crunchy they make your teeth ache, and so colorful they dye your teeth and tongue for hours… and that’s exactly why you can’t get enough of them, Manaker says. “Nerds are a classic throwback to my childhood,” she says. “I used to get so excited when I would get a box of Nerds in my trick-or-treat basket, and now that I am older, I feel a little nostalgic when I eat those little candies.” Find out the most popular candy the year you were born.
Whether you love toffee or just have a fondness for someone named Heath, you can’t deny the deliciousness of brown sugar and toffee covered in chocolate, says Ginny K. Mirenzi, MS, RD, LDN, education coordinator at the University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center. “When I was a kid I used to trade anything for these,” she says. Hey, the “mommy tax” is totally legit!
Froot by the Foot
If you think fruit snacks are either healthy or a Halloween candy cop-out, then you’ve haven’t seen what they’ve been doing with the gummy snacks these days. We’ve got major advancements in the field, including ones that tattoo your tongue, burst with “juice,” come printed with cartoons, are tie-dyed, and come in rolls longer than your leg, just to name a few. Fruit snacks were always one of the treats Mirenzi says she’d buy early and stock up on before Halloween even hit.
Salty sweet chocolate is the favorite flavor profile of Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, at Light Track Nutrition. She skips the cheap kiddie chocolates and goes straight for a Lindt Dark Chocolate Sea Salt bar, but if you’re left with what you’ve got in the treat bowl, a Take Five is the holy grail. Or make your own fancy variety with seaweed, cacao nibs, and smoked salt. (Actually, don’t do that. That sounds vile.) Find out 14 mind-blowing things you never knew about Halloween candy.
Coconut is another love-it-or-hate-it Halloween flavor, but this one may work in your favor as it seems that more adults like it than kids—which means it will be that much easier to talk your little ones into handing over their Almond Joys and Mounds bars. Bonus: the almond and the coconut make it a tad bit healthier, which is why it’s one of her top picks, Devine says.
Think chocolate-dipped stuff is just for Christmas? Then you’ve never dipped strawberries in white chocolate, rolled them in chocolate chips, and called them ghosts, says Margie Saidel, MPH, RD, LDN, VP of Nutrition and Sustainability at Chartwells K12. Who cares if they’re not “traditional?” Do you really need a reason to roll stuff in chocolate? Heck, fire up the chocolate fountain from your wedding and stick your face in it. Here are 14 things nutritionists do on Halloween that you don’t.
Pumpkin Pie M&Ms
Nothing says fall like a warm slice of pumpkin pie with whipped cream, says Mia Russo Stern, founder of Brooklyn Culinary Arts and Organically Thin. You could make an actual pie, but that seems a little labor-intensive for a Halloween treat, right? Get your fix with these specialty M&Ms in pumpkin pie, pecan pie, and candy corn. Thanksgiving and Halloween treats melded into one—what is this crazy madness? Here’s what 100 calories of your favorite Halloween candy looks like.
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