Come September every year, just in time for back to school, the store shelves start filling up with those boxes of ‘fun size’ Halloween treats. The size of the tiny treats are deceiving: how can it be bad to have just one? Or three?
Reality check: the amount of refined sugar and chemicals in candy is pretty high, even in mini size. They are full of artificial flavors and colors, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated palm oil and so on. That list should be enough to put you off but not to worry if you have a little sweet tooth! You don’t need to go without treats: you just need to make better choices.
Do you crave chocolate?
Standard refined chocolate bars are full of the ingredients mentioned above but a couple of squares of dark chocolate are a good alternative. A high quality brand will essentially contain cocoa, sugar, soy lecithin (which isn’t bad for you) and possibly some vanilla. Dark chocolate contains fiber, iron, magnesium and other good for you minerals but that doesn’t mean you should load up! There is still fat and sugar in each square. Look for higher percentages of cocoa—at least 70%—to get the beneficial effects of dark chocolate!
Replicating the flavors from your favorite chocolate bar without the negative ingredients
For some, the flavors they crave are more than just the chocolate: it’s the combination of sweet and salty or nutty that makes all the difference. You can create your own flavor combos to give you what you crave, without the garbage.
Do you love Peanut M&Ms?
Take a bowl and mix dry roasted peanuts with dark chocolate chips (avoid the semi-sweet). Grab a few and voila! Again, make sure the chocolate is high quality to avoid too many extra additives.
Craving a Butterfinger?
Make a buttery tasting pudding! Just mix greek yogurt (about 12 tablespoons) with a tablespoon of natural peanut butter and sprinkle in cocoa powder, to taste.
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are your weakness?
Two of the original cups contain 210 calories, 13g of fat, and 21g of sugar. Try a half a tablespoon of natural peanut butter with a square or two of dark chocolate. Perfection!
Hangry and looking for a Snickers?
Stop! One Snickers bar contains 215 calories, 11g of fat, and 20g of sugar. Here’s a version you can make at home. Check out this awesome recipe from Detoxinista! You can make a batch, store them in the freezer, and they’ll be ready and waiting when your craving hits!
Mixing nuts with dark chocolate will give you the sweet hit you crave, but the nuts will also give you fiber and some of those good fats your body needs!
Got a hankering for other types of sweets?
Do you like the crunch and tart sweetness of candy like Skittles?
Freeze some fruit on a baking tray! Frozen grapes, wild blueberries, or currants will give you that crunch and pop of flavor, without all the extra coloring, artificial flavors and sugar. Once they’re frozen, you can put them in a bag or freezer container and keep them in the freezer for when you need a little munch!
So, while you might not be inclined to hand out these treats to the little ghouls and goblins who come to your door, you can keep your hand out of the candy dish by making sure you have a stash of some of these healthy alternatives around!