Hello, dear readers!
We all love candy, right? Chocolate kisses, gummy worms, peppermint patties, candy corn………………
Well, I guess we don’t all love candy corn, but most of us have at least one or two favorite sweet treats that we couldn’t get enough of as kids. From Halloween hauls, to Easter eggs, to birthday bonanzas, candy remains one of our most persistent vices. Unfortunately, the vast majority of confectionary products contain egregious amounts of GMO-heavy, pesticide-laden high fructose corn syrup (sugar), buckets of artificial chemicals that provide flavor and color and, well, not much else. A diet high in sugar can lead to cavities, an over-worked liver, insulin resistance (a precursor of Type II Diabetes), increased caloric intake and weight gain, high cholesterol, and a whole slew of other more serious health problems. That being said, we all find ourselves in need of a sweet pick-me-up every now and then, especially those that take us back to our glorious childhood days.
Today, I’d like to offer up a handful of potential swaps and substitutes for some of your favorite candies. The goal here is not to deny or deceive the cravings of your sweet tooth, but rather to aid you in your quest to track down more eco-friendly, body-loving treats that will make you feel a bit less guilty when in comes to indulging. If you enjoyed our post on conscious consumerism, this swap list is for you!
THE FAVORITE – York Peppermint Patties
THE INGREDIENTS – Sugar, Corn Syrup, Semi-Sweet Chocolate (Chocolate, Sugar, Cocoa, Milk Fat, Cocoa Butter, Soy Lecithin, PGPR, Emulsifier, Vanillin, Artificial Flavor), Invert Sugar, Egg Whites, Peppermint Oil, Milk.
THE DESCRIPTION – This one sells itself. If you love the combination of mint and chocolate, chances are you’ve enjoyed one or two York Peppermint Patties over the years. As a devoted mint chocolate chip ice cream fan, this was always one of my favorite candies!
WHY YOU SHOULD SWAP – These dastardly little devils contain sugar, corn syrup, more sugar (from the chocolate), and invert sugar, a mixture of glucose and fructose created by splitting sucrose molecules into the aforementioned two components. In short, they’re loaded with the sweet stuff. PGPR? Soy lecithin? Artificial flavor? C’mon, we don’t need that crap! The next time you feel a mint chocolate craving coming on, skip the silver package and reach for something much more simple…
THE SWAP – Heavenly Organics Chocolate Mint Honey Patties
THE INGREDIENTS – Raw Organic White Honey, Organic 100% Dark Chocolate, Organic Peppermint Oil.
THE DESCRIPTION – That’s right, just THREE ingredients! When it comes to food, simplicity is usually the best option. If you haven’t tried these bad boys yet, you have no idea what you’re missing. Not only do these patties strike the perfect balance of bitter chocolate melting into rich, sweet honey and peppermint, but 100% dark chocolate (no sugar added) and raw honey offer an abundance of minerals and immunity-boosting antioxidants. To top it all off, raw honey is also well known for its antibiotic properties. In short, your body will thank you when you indulge with these beauties!
WHERE TO FIND THEM – Heavenly Organics products are available at many health food stores nationwide, but if your local grocery store doesn’t carry them, you can have them delivered right to your door via Amazon or the Heavenly Organics website.
THE FAVORITE – See’s Butterscotch Chews
THE INGREDIENTS – Sugar, Half & Half, Butter, Salt, Vanilla Extract.
THE DESCRIPTION – California-based See’s Candies has developed a devoted following over its 95-year existence and is renowned for producing some of the finest chocolates, truffles, and chews in the country. Their signature ‘Butterscotch Chew’ has become a company staple, a simple yet decadent version of the 19th century British classic.
WHY YOU SHOULD SWAP – Did you know that the first chewy and hard candies were developed as more affordable alternatives to dried fruit? Before the advent of modern agriculture, trade, and mass transportation, dried fruits were some of the most sought-after tradable goods in the world, prized for their sweetness, nutritional value, and long shelf life. Apricots, plums, and peaches from Asia were especially desirable in Europe, although only the wealthiest families could afford them. During the industrial revolution, the candy business exploded and thousands of cavity-inducing varieties became available worldwide at affordable prices.
The next time you have a hankering for gooey caramel or sticky butterscotch, skip the candy store and indulge instead in this naturally sweet, nutritious, and ancient delicacy…
THE SWAP – Dates
THE INGREDIENTS – Dates
THE DESCRIPTION – Imagine biting into the richest, softest, chewiest, most flavorful caramel you’ve ever tasted and then discovering to your surprise and delight that it doesn’t get stuck in your teeth. I’m eating a raw date right now, and that’s exactly how I would describe my experience. Dates are an excellent source of dietary fiber, antioxidants, and key minerals like potassium and magnesium. They aid in promoting digestive health, reducing blood pressure, provide anti-inflammatory benefits, and much more.
WHERE TO FIND THEM – The vast majority of grocery stores carry dates, and some offer several varieties with different consistencies and flavors. Be sure to check out your local farmers market as well!
THE FAVORITE – Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar
THE INGREDIENTS – Milk Chocolate (Sugar, Milk, Chocolate, Cocoa Butter, Lactose, Milk Fat, Soy Lecithin, PGPR, Emulsifier, Vanillin, Artificial Flavor).
THE DESCRIPTION – Everyone loves a classic, and when it comes to American sweets, Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar is arguably the most classic of them all. Produced by the world-renowned Hershey Company in Hershey, Pennsylvania, this iconic slab of sweet chocolate has been a staple in trick-or-treating bags and a key ingredient in s’mores around camp fires since it was first introduced in 1894.
WHY YOU SHOULD SWAP – Simply put, you should strongly consider going organic when it comes to chocolate bars. Conventionally grown cocoa beans are among the most aggressively “treated” crops in modern agriculture, receiving a heavy spray of toxic pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers during cultivation. These chemicals can cause potential harm to both your body and the local ecosystems in which they are utilized. Additionally, many cocoa farmers are forced to sell their harvests to middlemen who rig scales and misrepresent prices, and there have been media reports of child slavery being utilized on some cocoa farms. The Fair Trade USA program works to ensure that farmers receive a fair price for their crops, encourages sustainable, organic growing practices, and strives to discourage the use of child labor in agriculture. Keep an eye out for their certification seals on products like chocolate, sugar, bananas, coffee, and more!
THE SWAP – Alter Eco Dark Velvet Bar
THE INGREDIENTS – Organic Raw Cane Sugar, Organic Peruvian Cacao Beans, Organic Cocoa Butter, Organic Whole Milk Powder, Organic Butterfat.
THE DESCRIPTION – Honestly, I have a hard time picking a single swap for this one because there are so many amazing eco-friendly chocolate bars out there. Alter Eco offers a delicious lineup of both unique and classic bars, all of which carry USDA Organic and Fair Trade certifications. When selecting a bar, try to go as dark as possible! Darker chocolate blends contain less sugar and contain higher concentrations of nutrient-rich cocoa powder.
WHERE TO FIND THEM – The best way to find the right bar for you is to swing by your local health food store and browse the offerings. Large chains like Whole Foods boast impressive selections, but try the smaller mom n’ pop places first. Keep an eye out for deals, too! While organic chocolate is generally more expensive, you can save a few dollars and sample different varieties by selecting the bars that happen to be on sale.
THE FAVORITE – Sour Patch Kids
THE INGREDIENTS – Sugar, Invert Sugar, Corn Syrup, Modified Corn Starch, Tartaric Acid, Citric Acid, Natural and Artificial Flavoring, Yellow 6, Red 40, Yellow 5 and Blue 1.
THE DESCRIPTION – When it comes to sour gummy candies, many would argue that Sour Patch Kids are the collective kings of their respective category. A movie theater must, this soft, chewy candy tantalizes tongues with that nigh irresistible combination of sour and sweet.
WHY YOU SHOULD SWAP – I must admit, Sour Patch Kids have been my favorite non-chocolate candy since I was little. That being said, I am also willing to admit that they are, in fact, evil little sugar bombs doused with artificial flavors and colors, bent on wreaking steady yet merciless devastation on your vital organs. Since we already stepped outside the box by substituting dates for butterscotch chews, I thought we might as well take a few steps further…
THE SWAP – Dried Golden Berries
THE INGREDIENTS – Dried Golden Berries
THE DESCRIPTION – Bear with me on this one, folks. They may look like tiny, shriveled oranges, but these golden gems are truly delicious and nutritious. Golden berries have been cultivated in South America for thousands of years, since the glory days of the Incan Empire. When dried, their citrusy flavor intensifies into a mouth-puckering tart sweetness. Rich in carotene, vitamins A and C, bioflavanoids, and potassium, golden berries are the perfect healthy substitute for your favorite sweet and sour gummy candy due to their chewy consistency and tart, sweet flavor.
WHERE TO FIND THEM – As far as dried fruits go, these little guys are a bit tougher to track down. Most Whole Foods locations do carry them, as well as many smaller natural foods stores and co-ops. Navitas Naturals and Sunfood Superfoods both offer bagged golden berries and are likely the most common brands found both in retail stores and online.
THE FAVORITE – Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
THE INGREDIENTS – Milk Chocolate (Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Chocolate, Nonfat Milk, Milk Fat, Lactose, Soy Lecithin, PGPR), Peanuts, Sugar, Dextrose, Salt, TBHQ, Citric Acid.
THE DESCRIPTION – The final sweet favorite on our list, this legendary American confection needs no introduction. Like its famous Hersey Bar cousin, the seductively sweet and creamy Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup is a Halloween favorite and makes special appearances at other holidays like Christmas and Easter. The dastardly love affair between peanut butter and chocolate has rapidly evolved into a timeless one. It was meant to be.
WHY YOU SHOULD SWAP – As with the Hershey Bar, this is simply a matter of trading up to a product made with cleaner, more eco-friendly ingredients. You’ll be glad you did!
THE SWAP – Theo Organic Peanut Butter Cups
THE INGREDIENTS – Organic Cocoa Beans, Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Peanut Butter (Organic Roasted Peanuts), Organic Cocoa Butter, Organic Powdered Sugar (Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Cornstarch), Organic Peanut Flour, Salt, Organic Vegetable Oil, Organic Rosemary Extract, Organic Ground Vanilla Bean.
THE DESCRIPTION – The organic peanut butter cups from Theo Chocolate are a simpler, more natural version of the Reese’s classic. Free from soy, palm oil, and other unnecessary additives, they come in both milk and dark chocolate varieties and are produced by a true chocolate maker. This is what a peanut butter cup is supposed to taste like. When you bite into one for the first time, you’ll never want to go back to Reese’s!
WHERE TO FIND THEM – As with the other treat swaps on this list, Theo Peanut Butter Cups are available at many natural food stores as well as through the Theo website.
BONUS CUPS – Can’t get enough of chocolate cups filled with creamy goodness? Looking for something a little different? You’re in luck! Lulu’s Chocolate makes a cup filled with sprouted almond butter and maca that will knock your socks off, and Eating Evolved just released a dark chocolate coconut butter cup that puts more conventional coconut candies like Almond Joy and Mounds to shame. They are both equally divine, find them online or at a health food store near you!
Well, that’s all we have for this week’s edition of our 5 Swaps list. Can you think of another healthy swap for one of the classic candies we picked? Do you have a swap in mind for a favorite sweet treat that we didn’t list here? Please take a moment to post your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section below!