Ah, the post-Halloween candy blues. Let’s be real, Halloween season can be a scary time if you are trying to stick to health goals. The key is not only making smart choices about what you choose to snack on, but also to go easy on the amount. To help you out, Samantha Cassetty, M.S., R.D., and vice president of nutrition at Luvo — a food company that offers frozen chef-created, nutritionist-approved meals made from high quality ingredients (such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean proteins) — shares her top tricks in a Halloween candy showdown to help satisfy the season’s most common cravings.
1. Traditional chocolate bar: 3 Musketeers
(63 calories, 2 grams of fat, 10 grams of sugar per fun-size bar)
Those fun size bars are calling your name! “If you’re in the mood for a chocolate bar, consider the classic 3 Musketeers, which provides a sweet treat with somewhat lower calories that other options. It has a unique flavor due to the whipped nougat center covered in milk chocolate. For another option, if you’re into wafers, the Kit Kat snack size has similar nutritional info and a nice snap when you crack into it,” says Cassetty.
2. Nutty chocolate bar: Snickers
(80 calories, 4 grams of fat, 9 grams of sugar per fun-size bar)
“Some would say that if you want a chocolate bar, pick something with nuts, since they offer some healthy fat and a bit of protein. If you’re into nuts — and who isn’t — you might want to consider a Snickers, which has a pleasant salty crunch and 1.5 grams of protein, without off-the-charts sweetness,” offers Cassetty. To get that same enticing combo, try a handful of heart-healthy nuts like almonds or walnuts with a small square of dark chocolate.
For nut aficionados, also try one of these healthy trail mix recipes that you can eat on the go.
3. Candy craving: Jolly Ranchers
(23 calories, 0 grams of fat, 4 grams of sugar per piece)
“Traditional hard candies typically have a lot of sugar, so they aren’t great for your teeth. But they tend to take a while to consume, so the calories are spread out over a long period of time. Plus, you’re not likely to eat several of them in a row, especially compared to something chewier,” explains Cassetty. “Jolly Ranchers have a lot of flavor, so they are likely to satisfy your candy craving in a single piece. They also have less sugar than a few of the other options in this category. And don’t forget, there are many hard candies that are tasty and sugar free. Jolly Ranchers themselves come in a sugar-free version, as do Werther’s Original and Life Savers. Several other companies specialize in low or no-sugar candies designed for diabetics.”
Another great option is dried fruit, like apricots or cherries (just make sure they are unsweetened), which deliver a fruity punch and can also be sucked on for a bit like a lozenge.
4. Chewy and fruity: Twizzlers Twists
(50 calories, 0 grams of fat, 6 grams of sugar)
“This is a broad category, and many of the products contain significant amounts of sugar and corn syrup. Among the options, Twizzlers Twists have slightly fewer calories and less sugar than some of the others. If your family’s not into licorice, another option is Starburst, which is nice because it comes in small packs of two candies, with 40 calories, less than one gram of fat and 6 grams of sugar per pack. Plus, it takes a little while to chew through them, so they tend to last,” states Cassety.
Looking for mother nature’s version of the perennial fave? Make your own fruit leather with a dehydrator to get that fix you’re after.
5. Bite-sized boost: Hershey’s Kisses
(21 calories, 1 gram of fat, 2 grams of sugar)
Craving a quick hit of chocolate-y, smooth goodness? “A single Hershey’s Kiss could be the answer. It provides a nice chocolate boost without a whole lot of calories. Plus, it’s fun to carefully unwrap the foil. The key is to keep it to one or two Kisses. They come in a variety of flavors, including milk chocolate, cookies ‘n’ crème and caramel-filled, so you’ve got options for any taste,” says Cassety.
Still haven’t kicked your craving? Try one of these chocolate cake recipes that are easy to make from scratch, and work on portion control by immediately wrapping the leftovers after you’ve cut your slice. Better yet, bring your treat to a potluck and share with friends.
6. Crunch time: Oven Baked Lays Chips
(120 calories, 2 grams of fat, 2 grams of sugar per serving)
“If you need a bit of crunch, look for oven-baked chips, which tend to have far less fat than fried versions. You can easily find reduced sodium packs — a simple trick that will help keep your treat from being overly unhealthy,” offers Cassety.
Another great way to satiate a crunch hankering is to reach for your produce drawer: Try carrot or celery sticks for that gratifying crunch you’re after, and then assess if you still want to reach for the chips or not.
“It goes without saying that the key to enjoying Halloween treats, and any snacks for that matter, is moderation. Try to ration candy and encourage your family to make it last by eating just a few pieces per day. Of course this is easier said than done. If someone goes a bit overboard, don’t panic! Check out my plan to help them come down from too much sugar and then read this post to help bring things back into balance after overindulging,” says Cassety.
Went a little overboard? It’s OK! Perhaps the best lesson from Halloween overindulgence is to remember that there’s no point in beating yourself up and every day is a clean slate. Now, if you’ll excuse us, we think it’s time for an Acai bowl break.