Build a better-for-you Halloween

Halloween is a candy-centric day. That’s the fun of it. It also can be a great opportunity to show kids — and adults — that Halloween fun doesn’t have to all be centered on candylicious treats. Some Halloween treats can even be good for you.

Whether you celebrate Halloween with block parties, house parties, school events or old-school door-to-door Trick-or-Treating, here are ideas for treats that won’t leave trick-or-treaters in sugar overload, plus three good-for-you, guilt-free recipes to help infuse a bit of delicious creepiness into this year’s Halloween festivities. (Tip: Target has a variety of fun, nutritious, and well-priced items).

Non-edible Halloween treats:

We’ve been handing out these Halloween treats for years now, and they always get great reactions from kids. They’re excited to get different from the usual mini-candy bars, and it’s a blast to watch them pick out a few of their favorites. Some of our most well received non-candy treats for little ghosts and goblins include:

Halloween-themed tattoos
Vampire teeth (especially glow-in-the-dark vampire teeth)
Halloween stickers
Glow sticks, necklaces, bracelets
Edible better-for-you Halloween bounty

If you want to give out tasty treats, you can make it healthier with some of these better-for-you snacks. They may not be perfect, nutritionally speaking, but in the world of Halloween treats, they’re pretty darn good:

Popcorn Snack Packs like Angie’s BoomChickaPop Sweet & Salty Kettle Corn or Skinny Pop
Annie’s Halloween Bunny Grahams
Nature’s Bakery Double Chocolate Halloween Brownie (available at Target)
Fruit leather, such as Stretch Island Fruit Leather
Sun Chips
Recipes for Halloween treats

If you are hosting or going to a Halloween party, here are three recipes for festive, healthful items you can bring:



Rebecca Miller, registered dietitian at Ochsner Fitness Center, combines pumpkin spice with decadent dark chocolate bark for a portable, snack-able, and versatile treat, perfect for Halloween festivities. Find more of Rebecca’s delicious creations on her blog, Twisted Nutrition.

Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Bark

Makes: 8-10 servings

2 -3 ounces chocolate bars (70-85 percent cocoa or higher if desired)

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or more if desired)

2 tablespoons pistachios

2 tablespoons cashews

2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds

1 tablespoon dried apricots, diced

1 tablespoons dried cranberries

In glass microwave-safe bowl, break apart dark chocolate bars and melt at 20- to 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until melted, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle in pumpkin spice and stir until well combined.

Pour melted chocolate onto parchment-paper-lined large baking sheet or cutting board and spread into a thin layer. Sprinkle evenly with nuts and dried fruit.

Pop board with chocolate trail mix into fridge or freezer until the chocolate hardens. Break apart into pieces.

Per serving: 130 calories, 9 grams fat, 3.5 grams saturated fat, 1 gram polyunsaturated fat, 2.5 grams monounsaturated fat, 10 milligrams sodium, 10 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 4 grams sugar, 3 grams protein.


You’d never guess that these creepy, tasty little cookies, created by Ben McLauchlin of Swerve, are gluten free, with no sugar added.

Shortbread Finger Cookies
Makes 36 servings

1-3/4 cup fine almond flour

1/4 cup coconut flour

6 tablespoons softened butter (or coconut oil)

1/2 cup Swerve

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon almond extract

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 egg (room temperature)

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

24 almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In medium bowl, mix together all ingredients except almonds, until thick, creamy batter is formed. Place in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Remove dough from refrigerator in small amounts. Scoop heaping teaspoon at a time onto piece of waxed paper. Use the waxed paper to roll the dough into a thin finger-shaped cookie (don’t make cookies too big or they will become fat fingers).

Press one almond into one end of each cookie to give the appearance of a long fingernail. Squeeze cookie near the tip and again near center of each to give impression of knuckles. You can also cut into dough with a sharp knife at the same points to help give a more finger-like appearance.

Arrange shaped cookies on the baking sheets. Bake in preheated oven until cookies are slightly golden in color, approximately 8 minutes.

Dip ends of cookies in raspberry sauce (recipe below) for “blood,” to help them appear to be bleeding. You also can remove the almond from the end of each cookie, place a small amount of raspberry sauce into the space, and replace the almond so that the sauce oozes out around the tip of the cookie.

Raspberry Sauce

9 ounces fresh or frozen raspberries

1/4-1/2 cup Swerve (depending on level of sweetness desired)

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum

Combine raspberries, Swerve and lemon juice in saucepan over medium heat; cook and stir until raspberries break down, Swerve dissolves, and sauce is heated through, approximately 7-10 minutes.

Remove from heat and press sauce through fine-mesh strainer to remove seeds. Place back on stovetop at medium heat and add xanthan gum, whisking quickly to thicken (1-2 minutes). Remove from heat and set aside to let continue to thicken and come to room temperature.

Per serving: 60 calories, 5.5 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 35 mg sodium, 4.5 grams carbohydrate, 1.3 grams fiber, <1 gram sugar, 1.5 grams protein.


The Green Fork in NOLA creates these gluten-free pumpkin bars, or make them yourself at home. Canned pumpkin can be used in place of fresh pumpkin, and you can use less maple syrup if you like (though this original version is still very low in added sugar).

Pumpkin Spice Bars
Makes 12 servings

1/2 cup almond butter

1/2 cup pumpkin flesh

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 eggs

2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin spice blend

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Streusel topping

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1/3 cup almond flour

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon maple syrup

1 tablespoon coconut oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk almond butter, pumpkin, maple syrup, eggs. Add cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, pumpkin spice blend, and soda. Pour batter into 8×8 baking dish lined with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine all of the streusel ingredients and stir until moist and crumbly. Sprinkle the crumble over to the top of the batter. Bake for 20-25 min until golden brown and firm.

Per serving: 160 calories, 13 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 66 mg sodium, 9 grams carbohydrate, 2.5 grams fiber, 5 grams sugar, 4.6 grams protein.

Note: Registered dietitian Molly Kimball offers brand-name products as a consumer guide; she does not solicit product samples nor is paid to recommend items.

Molly Kimball is a registered dietitian in New Orleans. She can be reached at Comment and read more Follow her on Facebook:, Instagram: and Twitter:

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