Halloween Alternatives to Candy (Gluten-Free, Vegan, Nut-Free)

It’s hard to out-do the fun of Halloween. For one night every year, we dress up in our prettiest and scariest costumes, and ring doorbells of generous neighbors in hopes of securing tasty treats instead of tricks.

While Halloween is ripe with tradition and full of ghoulish fun, it can leave us all feeling a bit lethargic after one too many pieces of highly processed, sugar-filled candy. Fun-size favorites may be portion-controlled, but what kid (or kid at heart) can stop after just one piece? According to Nielsen, Americans have taken hold of the sugar habit, purchasing upwards of 600 million pounds of candy a year for Halloween, and 90 million pounds of chocolate during the week of Halloween alone. That’s about 1.2 pounds of chocolate per child in the United States purchased in one week! While this data is a tad dated circa 2009, Americans are estimated to spend more than ever before on Halloween candy in 2017, topping out at over $9.1 Billion.

There’s no arguing that treats are half the fun of Hallow’s ‘Eve, but we can do our part by serving up less-processed, more nourishing snacks to share. Halloween treats can be both tasty and free from a long ingredients list of refined sugar, fillers and artificial colors.

This year, why not step up your treat game? Whether you’re celebrating with a party or with a bowl at your doorstep, try offering snacks that are just as (if not more) fun, tasty and maybe even a little nutritious.


If You’re Hosting a Halloween Party

1. Seed Butter Cups

Pumpkin Seed Butter Cups

It’s hard to beat the classic chocolate peanut butter cup, but dark chocolate and seed butter does exactly that in a treat everyone will love. Simply melt dark chocolate and fill a silicone mold, a lined mini cupcake tin, or a greased ice cube tray up about a third of the way. For a spooky “witches brew” seed butter cup, use the green 88 Acres Pumpkin Seed Butter as the filling. Fill the chocolate and seed butter cups with more melted chocolate, and finish with a sprinkle of sea salt flakes. Get the full recipe here.

2. Apple Donuts

Apple Donuts

When sliced into ¼” thick rounds, apples provide the perfect, crisp canvas to serve as a sweet “donut” alternative. The sky's the limit on apple donut toppings, but a drizzle of seed butter, and sprinkle of dark chocolate chips, dried fruit or Seednola (or all three) provide sweetness, crunch and most importantly finger-food fun. To keep apples from turning brown, toss rounds in lemon or lime juice before topping.

3. Seed Butter Covered Dried Fruit

Dried Mango with Chocolate

When frozen, 88 Acres Dark Chocolate Sunflower Seed Butter hardens into a rich fudge-like consistency. Make tasty chocolate-covered treats by coating your favorite dried fruit in seed butter and freezing overnight. Compared to traditional chocolate coating, dark chocolate seed butter offers more protein, healthy fats, fiber and micronutrients from the seeds! For the best texture, choose fruit that retains softness when dried, like figs, dates, apricots, mango or apple. Top with crumbles of Seednola for a crunchy bite. 

4. Spooky Swirl Black Bean Brownies

Black Bean Brownies with Pumpkin Seed Butter

Black beans in brownies? No tricks here, this recipe is 100% treat (with the added bonus of protein and fiber from beans!). Black beans take the place of flour in the brownie recipe, making this suitable for those avoiding wheat or grains. With cocoa powder and a bit of maple syrup for sweetness, this treat is a fudge-like masterpiece that looks just spooky enough to eat.

If You’re Passing out Treats to Trick-or-Treaters

88 Acres Craft Seed Bars:

Craft Seed Bars not only make great snacks, they are tasty enough to be considered a treat. Individually packaged, the bars are a great option for those worried about cross contamination and food safety, as they are free of the top 11 most common food allergens.

Trail Mix Pouches:

Sold in single-serving bags, trail mix can be a smart choice that provides a balance of protein and healthy fat along with sweet treats like chocolate chips or covered fruit. Beware that many trail mix combines nuts and seeds, so if you are avoiding nuts, it might be best to make your own at home with a mixture of pumpkin and sunflower seeds.

Popcorn:

Single bags of pre-popped popcorn offer a fun alternative to candy for trick-or-treaters. Look for brands with simple ingredients that do not include dairy, gluten, nuts, or soy to provide a suitable option for all kids.

Alternatives to food altogether: stickers, masks, jewelry: Who says food is the only way to treat yourself on halloween? Stickers, masks and jewelry are exciting gifts to pass out and provide lasting fun,much longer than a 10 minute sugar-high. The Teal Pumpkin Project, organized by the national Food Allergy Research & Education foundation, aims to raise awareness for food allergies. Wherever you see a teal pumpkin, this household will be giving out non-food alternatives to provide safe options for trick or treaters with any type of food allergy.

Halloween is a great time to celebrate sharing. Companies like the Switch Witch help make managing hordes of candy a little easier by getting kids on board with trading candy in for a fun new gift. Alternatively, candy and treats can be stored in the freezer to be enjoyed in small doses throughout the year rather than all at once. Having healthier options like those above bring the goodness of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables to the halloween table.