Trick or Treat – Part 2



Last October we did a story on Halloween candy and seemingly healthier alternatives to Trick or Treat favorites like peanut butter cups, Snickers, m&m’s, and gummy bears. After consulting with our resident nutritionist Sarah Wragge, we discovered many of the lower calorie, less sugar, and even “healthy” brands had so many fillers, fake sweeteners, and inflammatory ingredients you were better off having the real thing. A Snickers as compared to a Quest Bar was the perfect example.

A few weeks later I happened to be standing in line at CVS in the aisle with all the crackers, chips, and cookies. The Pepperidge Farm Milanos caught my eye. I LOVE Milano cookies, but would never buy them assuming they were high calorie, fat and sugar filled. Out of curiosity I picked up the bag and looked at the nutrition label. To my surprise, 1 serving of 2 cookies had 120 calories, 7 grams of sugar, and 7 grams of fat. Not that bad I thought! Sure there were a few ingredients that weren’t super healthy, but as an occasional splurge it wasn’t such a big deal.

“It’s not the calories that are of concern”, says Sarah, “but how those substitute ingredients affect the body.

Then I looked at the Lays potato chips. The ingredients were potatoes and vegetable oil. 1 serving of 15 chips had 160 calories, 10 grams of fat, and 15 grams of carbohydrates – again, not the worst thing, especially when I compared them to the supposedly healthier Baked Lays on the shelf. Yes, those had fewer calories per serving and less fat, BUT they were higher in carbs with long list of ingredients, additives, and SUGAR. I knew there was no way these Baked Lays were better for me than the regular potato chips.

We turned back to Sarah to get her thoughts on the alternatives to popular snack foods and sweet treats that we often assume are better for us, but in many cases are just the opposite. “It’s not calories that are of concern”, says Sarah, “but how those substitute ingredients affect the body. They create an inflammatory response that immediately releases insulin, spikes blood sugar, causes cravings, and shuts down fat burning.”

We asked Sarah to do another side-by-side comparison of original vs. diet or healthy snacks and sweets to highlight what’s a trick and what’s a treat, regardless of whether you’re trying to lose weight or not.

ICE CREAM (2/3 cup serving)


When you look at the list of ingredients in Haggen Dazs below – five real foods and that’s it — as compared to Halo Top and its long list that includes gels, gums, and other mystery ingredients, it’s pretty obvious which is the healthier option. Though Halo Top, and other similar diet ice creams like Enlightened, have roughly 1/3 the calories, sugar, and fat as Haagen Dazs, Sarah says all those fillers trying to create that ice creamy consistency wreak havoc on the body and digestion.

Something strange I’ve noticed with Halo Top and Enlightened is that the extra sweetness from the substitute sugars – even Stevia, which is a natural sweetener from plants – has an addictive affect that makes me want to eat more and more. Haggen Dazs is less sweet, with a nice mix of cold and creamy, and I’m satisfied after a few bites. “The body thinks it’s having sugar because of how sweet it is”, says Sarah of these diet ice creams.“You don’t get that immediate sugar rush with Haagen Dazs. People are fooled by the low calories, but you’re going to eat less of it.”

The carton on Halo Top is also labeled: “290 calories per pint”. The goal with any snack food or dessert is to eat them in moderation, learn portion control, and these products encourage the opposite.


Nutrition: Calories 300; Fat 13g; Carbs 26g; Sugars 24g; Fiber 0g; Protein 5g

Cream, Skim Milk, Cane Sugar, Egg Yolks, Madagascar Vanilla Extract


Nutrition: Calories 100; Fat 2g; Carbs 21g; Sugars 7g; Fiber 6g; Protein 6g

Ultrafiltered Skim Milk*, Skim Milk, Erythritol, Soluble Corn Fiber, Cream, Sugar, Vegetable Glycerine, Egg Yolks, Inulin, Contains 1% or less of Natural Flavors, Ground Vanilla Beans, Cellulose Gel, Cellulose Gum, Sea Salt, Stevia Leaf Extract (Reb M), Caramel Color, Vitamin A Palmitate. *Not an ingredient in regular ice cream


POTATO CHIPS (1 oz. serving about 15 chips)

As discussed in the intro, and similar to the ice cream comparisons above, looking at the ingredients its fairly obvious which Lays is a better choice from a health perspective. Lays Classic potato chips are just potatoes, oil, and salt, whereas Lays Baked are made with dried potatoes, and also contain corn starch, corn oil, and sugars. They may have less fat, but you’re better off just having a few regular potato chips.

However, Sarah says to be mindful of the kind of oil potato chips (or any snack food) are cooked in. Look for potato chips cooked in avocado oil like Good Health Kettle Style, a great source of healthy omega 9 fatty acids, and a snack that’s good for you. While the Lays Classic is a better option than Lays Baked, the vegetable oils used – canola, corn, soybean, and/or safflower – are all inflammatory oils, which can cause indigestion, fatigue, bloating, and lead to chronic health issues by compromising the immune system.


Nutrition: Calories 160; Fat 10g; Carbs 15g; Sugars <1g; Fiber 1g; Protein 2g

Potatoes, Vegetable Oil (Canola, Corn, Soybean, and/or Sunflower Oil), and Salt


Nutrition: Calories 120; Fat 3.5g; Carbs 22g; Sugars 2g; Fiber 1g; Protein 2g

Dried Potatoes, Corn Starch, Corn Oil, Sugar, Sea Salt, Soy Lecithin, Dextrose, And Annatto Extracts. Contains Soy Ingredients.


Nutrition: Calories 113; Fat 7g; Carbs 12g; Sugars 0g; Fiber 1g; Protein 1.5g

Potatoes, Avocado Oil, Sea Salt



There is not much difference in the calorie count between Oreos and their healthy counterpart from Simple Mills. The ingredients in the latter, however, are unquestionably better for you. Simple Mills Sandwich Cookies are made with all-natural, organic ingredients and, have half the sugar – coconut sugar, not high fructose corn syrup. Sarah says two after dinner are a perfect little dessert.


Nutrition: Calories 160; Fat 7g; Carbs 25g; Sugars 14g; Fiber 0.5g; Protein 1g

Unbleached Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate {Vitamin B1}, Riboflavin {Vitamin B2}, Folic Acid), Sugar, Palm And/or Canola Oil, Cocoa (Processed With Alkali), High Fructose Corn Syrup, Leavening (Baking Soda And/or Calcium Phosphate), Salt, Soy Lecithin, Chocolate, Artificial Flavor.


Nutrition: Calories 120; Fat 7g; Carbs 14g; Sugars 6g; Fiber 1g; Protein 2g

Cashews, (Cashew Flour, Cashew Butter), Organic Coconut Sugar, Organic Palm, Shortening, Tapioca Starch, Organic Buckwheat Flour, Alkalized Cocoa Powder, Carrot Fiber, Arrowroot, Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, Sea Salt, Baking Soda, Vanilla Extract, Rosemary Extract



In this case, the original is as bad as it gets, says Sarah, “Cheetos are a bloat bomb, with nothing but artificial, inflammatory ingredients.” I happen to love From The Ground Up Cauliflower Stalks Cheddar Flavor as an alternative, but Sarah prefers Lesser Evil Paleo Puffs which are made with all-natural organic ingredients, and are grain free for those on gluten-free and paleo diets. Cassava is fiber rich and slow-burning, so it doesn’t spike blood sugar. Plus, the MCTS in the coconut oil are said to help to increase energy levels, improve cognitive performance, regulate blood sugar, and boost fat burning.

CHEETOS PUFFS (about 13 puffs)

Nutrition: Calories 160; Fat 10g; Carbs 16g; Sugars 1g; Fiber <1g; Protein 2g

Enriched Corn Meal (Corn Meal, Ferrous Sulfate, Niacin, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Vegetable Oil (Corn, Canola, and/or Sunflower Oil), Cheese Seasoning (Whey, Cheddar Cheese [Milk, Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes], Canola Oil, Maltodextrin [Made from Corn], Natural and Artificial Flavors, Salt, Whey Protein Concentrate, Monosodium Glutamate, Lactic Acid, Citric Acid, Artificial Color [Yellow 6]), and Salt. Contains Milk Ingredients.

LESSER EVIL PALEO PUFFS (about 25 puffs)

Nutrition: Calories 130; Fat 6g; Carbs 19g; Sugars og; Fiber 1g; Protein 0g

Organic Cassava Flour, Organic Coconut Oil, Organic Tapioca Starch, Organic Tapioca Solids, Organic Sweet Potato Powder, Himalayan Crystal Salt, Organic Nutritional Yeast, Organic Coconut Flour, Organic Flavor, Organic Baker’s Yeast Extract, Organic Garlic Powder, Organic Onion Powder, Lactic Acid, Organic Ground Mustard, Organic Spices