By Hyacynth Worth
Despite having been exposed to delicious, healthy foods for almost their entire lives, my kids would still choose to swim in a vat of M&M candy and eat their weight in those little colorful bites were they given the opportunity (which is something nightmares are made of for this health-conscious mama).
Thankfully, we live in a world where that scenario would never unfold, but come Halloween time, it’s something akin when the littles take to the living room and dump their trick-or-treating stashes on the floor. They see sweet deliciousness; we parents see ingredients that make our skins crawl: hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors and flavors and enough sugar to produce a buzz that lasts 24 hours (so long bedtime!).
This year, as Halloween approaches, I’ve been thinking: what if we could find some really delicious, healthier alternatives to the junked out candy that normally makes its way into our little pumpkins’ plastic pumpkin buckets. So I did some digging and was delighted to find some treats that contain real ingredients that we can buy right here in the Chicagoland area and pass out during trick-or-treating (or use as trade-ins for the worst offenders that come out of the plastic pumpkin buckets).
After two years and thousands of recipes, a real kid, Nicky Bronner and his innovative chef pal Adam Melonas, finally found what they had been looking for: five flavorful candies – including peanut butter cups and chocolate covered peanut pieces — made of wholesome ingredients boasting 30 percent less sugar, 100 percent less artificial ingredients, more fiber, more protein and also more taste than other candies on the market.
UNREAL Candy is, well, real, but it’s totally unlike many other candies out there: made of entirely real ingredients with milk sourced from cows who are pasture-raised and cacao beans sourced from traceable farms in Ghana and Ecuador who do not use child labor — UNREAL Candy is a health-conscious consumer’s dream. While you’d think the price tag would be outrageous for such a product, the candies actually retail for $.89 to $1.29 for individual bars and $4.99 for the family sized bags and they are widely available at Chicagoland Walgreens, CVS and Staples stores. These candies are also slated to be found at Target, yet upon inspection at our local Target, our family can’t confirm that’s so for at least the Mundelein Super Target.
Yummy Earth Organic Lollipops
Deemed the “best lollipop I’ve ever tasted” by not only the TODAY show food editor but also both of my health-detective children who take pride in declaring “healthy” candy alternatives not as good, Yummy Earth Organic Lollipops really live up to the hype. These suckers will definitely be making their way into the classroom for my oldest son’s costume party as not only are they made of real ingredients like cane juices and flavored with real fruit extracts from black currants, pumpkin and apple, they are also free of the top allergens: gluten, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, dairy, casein and MSG. Sure the main ingredient is cane sugar juice, making it totally a sugary treat, but I can live with a short-lived sugar buzz when it doesn’t come with all of the added gunk.
Yummy Earth suckers are available in bulk bags at Chicagoland Whole Foods locations.
Surf Sweets gummy treats
Surf Sweets aren’t just made with all-real ingredients like organic fruit juices and sweeteners, they also contain the daily recommendations of Vitamin C. Surf Sweets are one of the few gummies on the market that don’t contain high fructose corn syrup, and the company’s motto is that if it doesn’t exist in nature, it can’t be found in Surf Sweet treats. If you’re really in the Halloween mood, Surf Sweets also makes Gummy Spookies in the shape of spiders.
Surf Sweets are available at multiple large chain, including Whole Foods, and small health food stores across Chicagoland. For a complete listing, check out the store locator:
Nature’s Path EnviroKidz Organic Koala Crisp Bars
These treats are reminiscent of the ones mom used to make from a certain popular rice cereal but come in snack-sized packages perfect for dropping into trick-or-treators’ buckets. My boys actually like them better than just plain old homemade Rice Krispie treats because these ones contain chocolate and their personal chef always opts for peanut butter flavor instead. These EnviroKidz bars are certified gluten free and wheat free and boast ingredients that do not contain any artificial additives, preservatives or colors. When needed in bulk, we’ve discovered that ordering them by the case from Amazon provides the most bang for the buck. We have, however, found them in plenty at our nearby Whole Foods.