In the Halloween classic It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, trick-or-treating goes well for everyone but the cartoon’s namesake character. As all of his friends collect scads of candy, Charlie Brown gets rocks from the same adults distributing the treats. While that example may seem extreme, for kids who expect the rush of sugar from the season’s candy, getting something that’s healthy can seem like settling—like getting a rock, even.
Once when I was trick-or-treating, an older neighbor pulled out a tray that contained tomatoes she’d presumably grown in her garden, not the jumbo-size candy bars the couple two doors down was handing out. While my parents nudged my siblings and me to politely take one, I felt cheated. Why couldn’t she have just bought the jumbo bag of sweets from the store? Now, as an adult, I’d happily take the tomato, but it’s taken some work to get to that point.
It’s no secret that refined sugar, artificial colors, and flavors reign supreme during the Halloween season, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Eating healthier can be equally as delicious, and why not start now? From Halloween bat energy bites to chocolate-covered strawberry ghosts, we’ve found some healthier alternatives to Halloween treats that your kids will actually want to eat. Who knows? It might not be about candy after all.
Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Ghosts
In this recipe from Joyful Healthy Eats, strawberries are reclaimed as ghosts through three simple ingredients: strawberries, black icing, and white melting chocolate. After dipping the berry in the white chocolate, letting it cool and piping the face, you’ll have one deceptively healthy treat. Added benefit: Your test tasters won’t ghost you.
Paleo Witch Finger Cookies
If your kids like spooky treats, these Paleo witch finger cookies from Food, Faith, Fitness will deliver. The cookie base uses strawberry jam as an adhesive for the almond fingernail for an effect that’s a little too lifelike. Pro tip from Taylor, the recipe’s writer: Don’t cut the knuckles too deep.
Totoro Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
The Japanese animated character Totoro comes to cheesecake in this I Am a Food Blog recipe for pumpkin cheesecake bars. To turn your cheesecake into Totoros, dust them right before you put them out for others to eat so your creature’s stomach won’t dissolve into the dessert. Pipe the noise, eyes, and whiskers, and voilà!
Halloween Bat Energy Bites
In this chocolate energy bite recipe from Chelsea’s Messy Apron, you’ll get a mix of salty and sweet. While the round energy-ball bat body is made of ingredients like chocolate pudding mix, natural peanut butter, and crisped rice cereal, the wings are created with broken blue corn chips. To top it all off, the large eye decoration candies add a cute factor.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge-Stuffed Caramel Apples
This healthy take on the caramel apple won’t leave you pining for the ones you ate at fall carnivals, and your kids will get on board, too. How Sweet Eats recommends ditching the traditional sprinkles for sesame seeds for “crazy good” flavor. The chocolate peanut butter ganache won’t hurt either.
Mini Pumpkin Vegan Cheesecake Jack-o'-lanterns
Non-dairy friends, rejoice! These adorable mini-pumpkin vegan cheesecake jack-o'-lanterns from Food, Faith, Fitness use real pumpkin purée, cashews, and dark chocolate to deliver a more natural sweetness when it comes to cheesecake. For a stem, just add a sprig of mint for a completely edible treat.
Blood Orange Granita
Served alongside a creamy mixture, this blood orange granita recipe from A Couple Cooks is inspired by an Orange Julius. But instead of added flavors and dyes, natural sweetness from colorful blood oranges make up this dish. Don’t worry if you can’t find blood oranges; traditional oranges will work as well.
Chocolate Strawberry Peanut Butter Calaveras
Whether you’re observing Día de los Muertos or just want a skull-shaped dessert for Halloween, this recipe from ¡Hola! Jalapeño has you covered. Once you find your miniature skull mold, brush it with chocolate before filling with the strawberry and peanut butter mixture. The result? A festive, spooky treat.
Paleo Almond Joy Bars
Like Almond Joy candies, but have allergies or food sensitivities? Enter the homemade paleo version from Food, Faith, Fitness. These dairy-, grain-, gluten-, and sugar-free bars will be a perfect substitute for some of those Halloween handouts. Plus, your kids might want to actually eat them.
Spiders on a Log
Give the ants a rest, and opt for adding spiders to the log instead, like in this recipe from Chelsea’s Messy Apron. Once your celery spears are smeared with peanut butter, add chocolate chips and use a plastic bag to pipe dark chocolate legs onto the bodies. The celery will basically cancel out the chocolate.