24 Oct The Hidden Trick in Your Treat
Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays. I love dressing up, I love the mysterious energy, and I love candy. I’ve always had the biggest sweet tooth. I remember coming home from school everyday after Halloween and running to my candy stash as soon as I opened the door. I’d grab 10-20 pieces of candy, sit down on the couch to watch my favorite show, and chow DOWN! I wanted it ALL!
Now, my sweet tooth has been passed on to my oldest daughter, Piper. If you ask her what she wants to be when she grows up, she’ll tell you she wants to own a bakery. I’m not positive that baking is her passion, but I am convinced all she envisions are the free cupcakes. With Halloween approaching, Piper is getting more and more excited about Trick-or-Treating so she can taste all that sweet, sweet candy. I want to keep my girls from repeating my glutinous childhood behavior for Halloween, so we do things a little different than most.
As a vegan family, it’s pretty obvious that we avoid most traditional Halloween candy because most treats are not vegan. There is some candy that is vegan by default, like Sour Patch Kids, but we still like to avoid the big brands. It’s hard to explain to my girls why they can’t have it. Walking down the aisle in Target you can smell the sugar in the air as you pass the candy section. The bright colors and cool packaging entice children and adults.
But you know what keeps my girls from throwing fits and tantrums?
The first thing my girls will ask me, “is it vegan?”
“Yes,” I say.
“So, we can have it?”
Then the question—Why not? My initial response is just to say it’s junk, but kids can’t accept that. So, I break it down. I mean, do you know what’s in that candy? I always said junk and knew it was junk, but as I challenged myself to write this post, my mind was blown at what I discovered. Even before I was vegan, I always knew candy was unhealthy….but I never really knew that it was TOXIC. How are people eating these toxins? And how is this legal?
Let me tell you a little about artificial food coloring, in case you don’t know. Or maybe we should just call it what it is—petroleum. This is dangerous. Some colors—like yellow #5 (TARTRAZINE), yellow #6, blue #1, and red #40—are banned in other countries. These artificial food colorings are doing damage and nobody seems to mind. Ingesting these colorful toxins are linked to bedwetting, hyperactivity, ear infections, chromosome damage, asthma, diabetes, headaches, and even cancer. I’m sorry, but WHY do we want to give these to our kids again? Popular Halloween candy containing article food colors are M&M’s, Skittles, Sour Patch Kids…basically anything bright.
Another disgusting ingredient you should know about is hydrogenated oil and partially hydrogenated oil. Hydrogenated oils are oils that are often healthy in their natural state but quickly turn into poisons through the manufacturing and processing they undergo. They heat this oil causing it to go rancid, inject it with a catalyst like aluminum, nickel, or platinum and rearrange its molecular structure so that instead of oil, what you have is now closer to plastic. One molecule to be exact. ONE MOLECULE away from being plastic. Essentially this toxin is going to make your heart work harder than it needs to and will affect your body in a negative way within only minutes of consumption. Popular Halloween candy containing hydrogenated oils are Butterfinger, Almond Joy, Snickers, Reese’s Pieces, Starburst, and Airheads.
TBHQ preservative, or Tertiary Butylhydroquinone, is something I just found out about. This preservatives increases shelf life and is found in candy, as well as, fast food. TBHQ is, in fact, a chemical preservative that is a form of butane. According to a study in the June 2008 issue of “Carcinogenesis,” TBHQ has been linked to an ability to make cancer cells resistant to chemotherapy agents. Another study in the June 2014 issue of “Food Chemistry” reported that TBHQ can fragment DNA and cause damage to the human lung and umbilical cells. Scary for sure! Popular Halloween candy containing TBHQ are Butterfinger, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and Nestle Crunch.
Lastly, I want to talk a little about chocolate. Not only does common chocolate candy contain dairy, which has been linked to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and osteoporosis, there are plenty of other ingredients in popular chocolate that we should be concerned about. Because cocoa butter is expensive, most companies are choosing cheaper ingredients to maximize profit and keep their candy affordable. Two popular cocoa butter replacements are Soy Lecithin (GMO) and PGPR (Polyglycerol polyricinoleate). Research does not know what long term affects PGPR has on a person. A fat insoluble in water just doesn’t sound healthy. I don’t think big business and food manufacturers should compromise our health to give their shareholders more profit. One of the biggest chocolate brands using PGPR is Hershey’s. Hershey’s makes all the favorites: Kisses, Reese’s, Kit Kat, York, Mounds, Almond Joy, and Reese’s Pieces.
Ok, so now you’re probably doing one of two things. Either thinking what the $@*#? or you’re convinced it’s ok to live a little, you know, everything in moderation. Except moderation doesn’t exist during the holidays, especially when it comes to candy on Halloween. Heavy doses are being ingested. Did you know Americans spend $2.5 billion on candy in October?
In this day and age, it’s evident our diets are the number one contributor to our health, so let’s start doing something about it. Eat smarter, shop smarter, and pay attention to what you are supporting.
Below are a couple examples of Halloween treats that feature more conscious choices for kids. Organic, vegan, honestly made treats. On the left, my friend Ellen gives us an idea of what her son Elvis gets for his Halloween treats: walnuts, raw vegan macaroons, lychee, finger puppets, and wrapped goodies. On the right, my photo from a post I made last year on Instagram features healthy candy like Justin’s peanut butter cups, Ocho candy bars, Surf Sweets gummy worms, Go Organic fruit chews, Organic Choco Chews, and vegan dark chocolate caramel bites. All of these are available to purchase online from The Natural Candy Store
Another easy and fun way to make sure your kids aren’t eating traditional candy is to make it yourself. It’s pretty simple to veganize some modern candy recipes, and we often do this with some of my childhood favorites like Almond Joys or peanut butter cups. Here is my recipe (modified from here) of a vegan almond joy. This recipe is easy enough to have your kids help and doesn’t take all day in the kitchen. Respond in the comments after you try them in your kitchen. Have fun and stay healthy around Halloween.
CISSY LALA’S VEGAN JOYS
makes 12-14 bars
- 1 cup shredded organic unsweetened coconut flakes
- 2 TB fine organic cane sugar or coconut sugar
- 2 TB brown rice syrup
- 1 tsp coconut nectar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 12-14 almonds (remove for allergies)
- 6 oz dark chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life)
Combine the shredded coconut, sugar, brown rice syrup, coconut nectar, and vanilla extract until the dough is throughly mixed in a food processor and will hold its shape when pressed together.
You can use a tablespoon to ensure the bars are all equal. Press and shape each scoop into a small rectangle and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Put an almond on top, and then place in the freezer for about 15 minutes to harden and hold shape a little better for dipping.
While they are freezing, melt the chocolate. Place the chocolate in a glass bowl to melt. Make sure your glass bowl and spatula are dry. A drop of water will separate the chocolate, and you will not be able to evenly coat your candy. Put the bowl over a small pot of bowling water and stir constantly until smooth.
Use a toothpick to help dip each bar into the melted chocolate. Once it’s covered, tap the toothpick lightly on the edge of the glass bowl to remove excess chocolate. If you are using almonds, I find it easier to use a little of the melted chocolate as glue before dipping the entire candy into the chocolate. Place the coated bars on the parchment paper and place them in the freezer for a few minutes to set.
The bars should last several days in the refrigerator. I hope you enjoy this recipe.
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