Party Snacks & Sweets: Trade-Up Holiday Treats

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Chew on this! Looking for healthier or natural alternatives to your favorite party treats? Mambo wants to help. Check out the top ten best trade-ups for holiday snacks and sweets!

1. Do you usually munch on M&M candies?

You don’t have to give up the melty chocolate coated in a crunchy-sweet shell in order to maintain a natural lifestyle! Try Sunspire’s all-natural SunDrops! Even the colorful candy shells are all-natural, colored with beet juice, beta carotene and caramel. Plus, they’re sweetened with dried cane juice, not sugar. You can find SunDrops in most natural food markets, such as Whole Foods Markets, and in some larger grocery stores. www.sunspire.com.

Cost Comparison:
M&M’s: 1.69 oz. Bag – $1.59
SunDrops: 1.19 oz. Bag – $1.39

2. Most of us like to nibble on salty, cheesy, crunchy Cheez-It Party Mix!

But did you know that it contains corn syrup, maltodextrin and even MSG? Yikes! Luckily, we’ve discovered a natural, tasty alternative. Annie’s Homegrown Organic Snack Mix Bunnies made with simple, organic ingredients and packed with great flavors. As an added bonus they promise that there are no GMOs involved – so it’s great for the Earth, too! www.annies.com.

Cost Comparison:
Cheez-It Party Mix: 13 oz. Box – $5.99
Annie’s Organic Snack Mix: 9 oz. Box – $5.09

3. It’s not delivery, it’s… Modified Food Starch?

While frozen pizza can be a great answer to a small, unplanned get together with friends, we found a long list of ingredients we can’t pronounce on the box of DiGornio! Instead, we picked up an Amy’s Kitchen 3-Cheese Pizza with Cornmeal Crust. Reading those ingredients was like a breath of fresh air! Simple whole wheat flour, real parmesan, goat and mozzarella cheeses and actual onions. And there wasn’t a trace of soy (we’ve yet to find one conventional party food that doesn’t contain soybean oil, soy lecithin or some other form of the common bean). Besides being organic, soy-free, it’s certified kosher, tree-nut free and guaranteed No-GMOs. www.amyskitchen.com.

Cost Comparison
DiGiorno Thin Crispy Crust 4-Cheese Pizza: 12 in. – $3.49
Amy’s Kitchen Organic 3-Cheese Pizza: 8 in. – $6.59

4. Chips and Salsa = the go-to party staple.

But non-organic tortilla chips are often made from GMO corn. The ingredients on a bag of Tostitos lists “Vegetable Oil (Contains one or more of the following: Corn, Sunflower, Canola and/or Soybean Oil)”. Not everyone considers these oils healthy. But on the ingredients label of a bag of Garden of Eatin’ Tortilla Chips, the corn is organic – meaning no GMOs allowed. They’re also made with safflower and sunflower oils only. Now that’s something to crunch about! www.gardenofeatin.com.

Cost Comparison
Tostitos® Restaurant Style Tortilla Chips: 15.12 oz. Bag – $4.49
Garden of Eatin’ White Chips: 9 oz. Bag – $3.79

5. Mmmm… Brownies!

Party guests love a host who presents them with a platter of fresh-baked brownies. But you don’t want to serve your guests (or yourself) with corn syrup, artificial flavor and “partially hydrogenated soybean and/or cottonseed oil”, do you? Let’s keep it simple, instead! Try Arrowhead Mills’ Gluten-Free Organic Brownie Mix – what a nice treat for your gluten-free guests. Organic evaporated cane juice instead of sugar, all natural flavors, and organic white rice flour are a mix you can feel good about! www.arrowheadmills.com

Cost Comparison
Betty Crocker Fudge Brownies Brownie Mix: 18.3 oz. – $2.49
Arrowhead Mills’ Gluten-Free Organic Brownie Mix: 12.9 oz. – $4.65

6. Bring on the wings.

Out of the bag and into the oven, ready-to-go chicken wings are a lifesaver when party guests are hungrier than anticipated. But the differences between conventional and organic chicken are huge! We all know that organic chicken is raised in more natural ways and eats only organic, vegetarian feed. But the chicken isn’t the only thing to consider. In a package of Tyson Any’tizers Buffalo-Style Hot Wings, we found the ingredients listing modified food starch, soybean oil, cellulose gum and modified corn starch. We’re not even sure what some of those are! But a package of Coleman Organic Chicken Wings – Buffalo Style included all organic ingredients that we recognize, including organic rice starch, organic spices, and natural flavor. www.colemannatural.com

Cost Comparison
Tyson Any’tizers Buffalo-Style Hot Wings: 32 oz. – $7.99
Coleman Organic Chicken Wings – Buffalo Style: 16 oz. – $8.49

7. Don’t forget the salsa!

We checked out the chips, now we’ll check out the salsa. Can salsa ever be unhealthy? Well, we didn’t find any weird ingredients in the conventional salsa, but considering how many thin-skinned veggies are involved, we know that going organic will cut out a ton of pesticides! Plus, as we’ve said before, organic means no GMOs. Muir Glen Organic Salsa contains a lot more variety than the Chi-Chi’s brand; about twice as many veggies, including herbs and lime juice (all organic, of course). We also noticed that the conventional brand included many dehydrated items in the ingredients. Don’t forget buying organic also saves the planet too!

Cost Comparison
Chi-Chi’s Salsa Medium: 16 oz. – $3.49
Muir Glen Organic Medium Salsa: 16 oz. – $4.99

8. Pop up the fun.

The staple snack of popcorn at parties is easy to make and fills the room with a savory aroma. But we’ve heard horror stories about the ingredients in a typical bag of microwave popcorn – toxic ingredients and unhealthy packaging. We found that Act II microwave popcorn included a strange-sounding ingredient calledTBHQ, as well as artificial flavors and “color added”. We also know that non-organic corn may be GMO, and non-organic butter and oil are less healthy than organic. In fact, ten years ago, the FDA reported that non-organic popcorn is one of the most pesticide-contaminated foods. On top of all that, microwaving is considered an unnatural choice by many green, health-conscious folks. So what to do? We’ve found Eden Organic Popcorn to be safe, healthy and delicious. With real, organic butter and a sprinkling of sea salt, it’s a light and tasty treat without a care in the world. You can pop it yourself with a sturdy pan and lid – which is fun for the whole family. www.edenfoods.com

Cost Comparison
Act II Microwave Popcorn Light Butter Flavored: 2.9 oz. – $1.50
Eden Organic Yellow Popcorn: 20 oz. – $3.05

9. Crackers and cheese:First, the crackers.

It’s a classic, because everyone loves to nibble on crackers and cheese at parties. No one, however, wants to bite into a mouthful of partially hydrogenated soybean oil and high fructose corn syrup, which are in popular Ritz Crackers! Instead, we picked a healthy snack made of pure, organic evaporated cane juice and organic expeller-pressed vegetable oil – like Annie’s Homegrown Bunny Classics Buttery Rich. Try it and decide for yourself. www.annies.com

Cost Comparison
Nabisco Ritz Crackers (Original): 12 oz. – $3.00
Annie’s Homegrown Bunny Classics (Buttery Rich): 6.5 oz. – $3.59

10. Don’t forget the cheese with those crackers

Cheese can make or break a party snack! But conventional cheese often comes from cows who have never seen the sun or eaten a blade of grass. That’s not all – non-organic cows could be given hormones that hurt the cows and cause infections and the infections affect the milk. Leaves a bad taste in your mouth, doesn’t it? It’s a big sigh of relief to know that organic certification means that cows are eating a healthier diet with no GMO grains, soy or corn in their feed. All organic cows mean all organic cheese. This makes a richer, tastier cheese. We love Organic Valley’s Raw Cheddar. It’s sharp, delicious and perfect on crackers! www.organicvalley.coop

Cost Comparison
Cracker Barrel Extra Sharp Cheddar Stick: 10 oz. $5.00
Organic Valley Raw Sharp Cheddar Cheese: 8 oz. $4.00

Print out this handy guide to take on your next shopping trip so you’ll be ready to feed your party guests healthy, natural snacks and treats.

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