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 delight in the season's sweets, getting something healthy instead can seem like settling—like getting a rock, even.
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. Choosing more nourishing options made with ingredients anyone can pronounce can be equally as delicious, and why not start now? From Halloween bat energy bites to chocolate-covered strawberry ghosts, we found 12 balanced alternatives to Halloween treats that your kids (and you) will actually want to eat. Who knows? It might not be about candy after all.
Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Ghosts
The Recipe: Chocolate Covered Strawberry-Ghosts
Why We Love It: In this recipe from Joyful Healthy Eats, strawberries are reclaimed as ghosts through three simple ingredients: strawberries, black icing, and white melted chocolate. After dipping the berry in the white chocolate, letting it cool, and piping the face, you’ll have one deceptively better-for-you treat. Added benefit: Your test tasters won’t ghost you.
Pro Tip: Use the icing to shake up the facial expressions of each "ghost."
Paleo Witch Finger Cookies
The Recipe: Paleo Witch Finger Cookies
Why We Love It: 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 an almond-based fingernail for an effect that’s a little too lifelike.
Pro Tip: Food Faith Fitness advises not to cut the knuckles too deep to keep cookies intact.
Totoro Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
The Recipe: Totoro Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
Why We Love It: Inspired by the Japanese animated character Totoro, these cheesecake bars from I Am a Food Blog are made with cream, pumpkin puree, graham crackers, spices, eggs, and sugar. 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 its nose, eyes, and whiskers, and voilà!
Pro Tip: After baking, cool on a wire rack for two hours.
While this Totoro cheesecake recipe does star cream and sugar, limiting serving sizes to a slice per person will keep these indulgent ingredients in moderation.
Monster Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
The Recipe: Monster Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
Why We Love It: The best of cookies and energy bars, these delicious and festive treats from Half Baked Harvest double as a mid-day snack (and dessert) because they're so filling, thanks to rolled oats. Mini M&Ms and chocolate chips add a hint of sweetness.
Pro Tip: They're even better frozen, so pop a few in the freezer for a late-night treat.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge-Stuffed Caramel Apples
Why We Love It: 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.
Pro Tip: This recipe can be made up to one day ahead.
Mini Pumpkin Vegan Cheesecake Jack-o'-Lanterns
The Recipe: Mini Pumpkin Vegan Cheesecake Jack-o'-Lanterns
Why We Love It: Non-dairy friends, rejoice! These adorable mini-pumpkin vegan cheesecake jack-o'-lanterns from Food Faith Fitness uses real pumpkin purée, cashews, and dark chocolate to deliver creamy sweetness without going overboard. For a stem, just add a sprig of mint for a completely edible treat.
Pro Tip: This recipe makes 12 cheesecakes.
Blood Orange Granita
The Recipe: Blood Orange Granita
Why We Love It: Served alongside mascarpone cheese, this blood orange granita recipe from A Couple Cooks is inspired by an Orange Julius. Colorful blood oranges bring sweetness without any added sugars.
Pro Tip: Don’t worry if you can’t find blood oranges; traditional oranges will work as well.
Chocolate Strawberry Peanut Butter Calaveras
The Recipe: Chocolate Strawberry Peanut Butter Calaveras
Why We Love It: For those observing Día de Muertos, 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.
Pro Tip: Let sit 10–15 minutes after you take them out of the freezer before serving.
Paleo Almond Joy Bars
The Recipe: Paleo Almond Joy Bars
Why We Love It: Like Almond Joy candies, but have allergies or food sensitivities? Enter the homemade paleo version from Food Faith Fitness. These bars are made without dairy, grain, gluten, or sugar and will be a perfect substitute for some of those Halloween handouts. You'll need toasted almonds, unsweetened coconut flakes, sweetener, coconut oil, and Stevia-sweetened chocolate.
Pro Tip: Make sure to have enough chocolate on hand to cover the bars.
Bloody Smoothie Bowl
The Recipe: Bloody Smoothie Bowl
Why We Love It: This raw and vegan-friendly smoothie bowl from Soul in the Raw may look spooky, but it's naturally sweet and full of non-scary ingredients like orange juice, strawberries, beets, raspberries, and goji berries. Molasses creates a moody, spiderweb design.
Pro Tip: Enjoy this recipe for breakfast, snack, or a healthy dessert.
Apple Monsters (Nut-Free)
The Recipe: Apple Monsters (Nut-Free)
Why We Love It: These treats from Two Healthy Kitchens are fun and nutritious. Apple slices, peanut butter, puffed rice cereal, and grapes come together to create silly faces kids (and kids-at-heart) will actually want to snack on.
Pro Tip: Two Healthy Kitchens uses nut-free butter such as soy-based Wowbutter, or SunButter (made with sunflower seeds).
Pumpkin Spice Granola
The Recipe: Pumpkin Spice Granola
Why We Love It: Not into costumes and such yet still want an easy-to-make and seasonally on-theme treat? Try Joyful Healthy Eats' pumpkin spice granola recipe. Oats, nuts, and dried fruit are baked in the oven with pumpkin spice seasoning, pumpkin puree, cinnamon, and maple syrup.
Pro Tip: Toss in cranberries after the oats, seeds, and nuts cool.