I don’t know about you, but I love me a good movie night. Whether snuggled up at home with all sorts of blankets (and possibly a pillow fort 😏), catching a summer flick at the local drive-in, or enjoying a night at the theater watching the big screen, snacks are obviously a must. But since we all know traditional movie snacks can be filled with a lot of junk, I’ve made it my life’s mission to explore some healthy movie snack alternatives and have come up with a pretty exciting assortment. 🙌🏻
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Before we get into the yummy details, though, a few items of note…
Disclaimer #1: What do we mean by “healthy”?
If I’m being honest, I hesitate to use the word “healthy” because it’s one of those words that means different things to different people. What I deem as “healthy” might be detrimental for someone else, so it’s hard to make blanket statements about what is or isn’t.
But since we all use the word in everyday conversations, let’s just get on the same page right quick.
For the purposes of this post (and this entire site), I choose to go with the simplified definition that healthy means “in a good physical or mental condition.” So yes, this will vary from person to person, so you’ll have to use your own judgement on whether or not these alternative movie snack suggestions fit within your personal definition of health and happiness.
For me, a healthy food alternative is one that has clean ingredients that I can pronounce, and doesn’t make me feel tired/bloated/anxious/uncomfortable after I eat it. (I personally try to limit dairy, soy, gluten/grains, eggs, and refined sugar, but that doesn’t mean I don’t ever consume foods with these ingredients. It’s just something I’m aware of, and try my best to avoid as often as possible.) Before deciding to try any of these products, I encourage you to do your own research and look at the nutritional facts and full ingredient list.
Disclaimer #2: How the items on this list were chosen.
I’ve only chosen to highlight brands/items that I’ve personally tried so I can give my honest opinion. Ever since changing my own diet years ago, I’m constantly searching for recipes and foods that remind me of my old faves, but won’t make me feel bad (physically or emotionally.)
I’ve always said that it’s more about the similarity in flavors rather than being an “exact” match, and it turns out this is backed by research. While doing some digging for this list, I read an article featuring Project 7’s CEO, and it noted that “Consumer research showed Project 7 that shoppers purchase candy based first on form factor and flavor. For example, [Project 7 founder and CEO Tyler] Merrick said that consumers may be ‘peanut butter and chocolate fans’ — but that doesn’t mean they’ll always buy Reese’s products. […] ‘It’s a decision tree. Do I want chocolate or do I want sugar? If I want sugar, do I want something sour or do I want sweet? Do I want something chewy or hard,’ Merrick said.”
So while this list of healthy movie snacks will feature a variety of alternatives, each one has been chosen for the similarities it has — in flavor and/or texture — to a popular/traditional counterpart.
Disclaimer #3: Was I paid to say this?
No, I was not paid to share any of this. None of these brands have paid/endorsed/asked me to feature their products. These are 100% things I’ve found on my own over the years. Pinky promise. Some of the items to purchase do contain affiliate links, though, because we all gotta make a living somehow. 💁🏻♀️I hold no responsibility for these products or the brands that represent them, other than sharing my thoughts and experience.
Now that we’ve got all that squared away, let’s get to the goods!
Popcorn (and other savory, crunchy snacks)
Himalayan Gold Dairy Free Popcorn instead of Movie Theater Butter Popcorn
Let’s start with the most quintessential of all movie snacks: popcorn.
All that hot, buttery, salty goodness — while arguably delicious — tends to be, well, not too good for us. As tempting as it is to get the biggest bucket with extra extra “butter” drizzle, the fact it’s made with something called “Flavacol” and has artificial colors to turn it that golden yellow color is pretty much the opposite of nutritious. And let’s not even talk about how the copious amounts of salt make your lips feel all tingly and chapped…
Though it is dairy free, the botanically derived buttery flavor is about as real as it gets.
While there are a variety of non-junky popcorn alternatives out there, this is my #1 movie snack pick for that theater-style butter taste. 🍿
Lesser Evil Grain Free Paleo Puffs or Vegan White Cheddar Hippeas instead of Cheetos
But what if you don’t really want popcorn at all, just something savory and crunchy? Maybe even a little cheesy (dairy-free, of course.)
I’ve found both the Lesser Evil Grain Free “No Cheese” Cheesiness Paleo Puffs* and the Vegan White Cheddar Hippeas chickpea puffs* to be great (and tasty!) options.
Siete Grain Free Tortilla Chips and Mild Nacho Cashew Queso instead of Movie Theater Nachos
Now don’t get me wrong — I love me some nachos. I, however, was never one to get them at the movie theater. I guess I just never understood how to eat them in a dark room without spilling hot cheese all over. Just me? 😂
My lack of coordination aside, when I do get my nacho on (usually at home), Siete is the brand for me!
Chocolate & Candy Bars
Nelly’s Organics Bars instead of Snickers, Reese’s, Mounds, and Twix
Candy bars are no doubt every chocolate-lover’s staple, but what if we wanna skip all the dairy, soy, and sugary chemicals?
Nelly’s Organics are here to save the day! With a variety of whole food “nature’s candy bars,” we have some delicious and nutritious alternatives.
C and I were strolling through Whole Foods recently, and these little gems caught my eye. Boy am I glad we decided to give them a try!
The coconut bars* are perfect for anyone who loves Mounds, the peanut butter bars are a refreshing take on the flavors in a Reese’s peanut butter cup, the nutty nougat tastes like a Snicker’s bar, and the caramel nougat is reminiscent of a Twix bar.
With all the great taste and about 1/3 less sugar than traditional candy bars, these are a must-have snack! 🍫
UnReal Chocolate Snacks instead of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Peanut M&Ms
UnReal has a few different chocolatey snack alternatives, my favorite being their Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Cups* and Dark Chocolate Peanut Gems*. Both are vegan and have no artificial colors or ingredients, which is a win in my book for some good, wholesome treats. (You can also get Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups*!)
They also have a dark chocolate coconut bar*, with even less ingredients than Nelly’s, so if you’re a coconut fiend, it’s another one to try out! 🥥
Enjoy Life Chocolate Chunks + Raisins instead of Raisinets
When I asked y’all on Instagram Stories (follow @theconfettibar!) what your favorite movie snacks were, a bunch of you said Raisinets, which I’ll be honest was not even on my movie snack radar! (The shame, I know. ) While not a personal favorite of mine, I didn’t want to leave you guys hanging!
I scoured the aisles of my favorite shopping spots, researched online, and to be honest, came up pretty short on a dairy free, lower sugar, clean ingredient option for chocolate covered raisins. (Someone corner this market, quick!)
BUT I do have a suggestion — while not an “all-in-one” solution, you can simply get some dairy free chocolate chips (Enjoy Life Chocolate Chunks* are usually most readily available, though Hu Kitchen also has chocolate gems that are about as clean as it gets) and mix them with raisins (read ingredients so there is no added junk!) and voila — the same flavor combo in more of a trail mix presentation.
And while certainly a side-step from the sweetness of raisins, if you’re into sour + chocolate, Hu Kitchen also has chocolate covered goldenberries*, which I have tried, and definitely have a bit of a super tangy kick!
Emmy’s Organics Chocolate Covered Mint Coconut Cookie Bites instead of York Peppermint Patties/Thin Mints
This is another one that came up in my stories poll — chocolate + mint.
Emmy’s brand has these minty, coconut bites that are covered in chocolate and definitely remind me of a peppermint patty.
While I do love me some chocolate and mint flavors, I personally find the mint in these fairly strong, but really depends on my mood.
Fruity Candies & Gummies
Smart Sweets instead of Gummy Bears, Swedish Fish, and Sour Patch Kids
If you’re any type of candy lover and don’t yet know about Smart Sweets, please do yourself a favor and look ’em up asap! A definite win for a variety of healthy movie snacks.
On a mission to #KickSugar, their assortment of fruity gummy snacks are incredibly delicious, FULL of fiber, and the best part? You can eat an entire bag for only 3g of sugar. (And the colorful packaging makes me happy, so bonus points there, too. )
If you’re a Sour Patch Kids addict, go for the Sour Blast Buddies*. Swedish Fish more your style? Snag the Sweet Fish*. And if you’re feeling peachy, the Peach Rings* are delightfully tangy. Bonus: These three varieties are also plant-based and contain no gelatin. 🌱
Project 7 Gourmet Chewies instead of Skittles
These might have a slightly longer list of ingredients than a lot of the healthy movie snack alternatives mentioned so far, but when compared to their popular counterparts (Skittles), it still seems to be a safer bet. There are no artificial colors, the consistency is spot-on, and the flavors are refreshingly tangy. 🌈
Bear Strawberry Real Fruit Yoyos instead of Twizzlers
While these Strawberry Fruit Yoyos* don’t really taste super duper close to a traditional Twizzler, the sentiment is still there in texture and basic flavor profile.
With only 4 ingredients (apples, pears, strawberries, and a little black carrot extract), it’s a super clean option for healthy movie snacks that also helps get in a serving of fruit for the day. 🍓
Zevia instead of Name-Brand Soda
While I’m not a huge soda person to begin with (for a funny/weird reason…go ahead and ask me in the comments if you’re curious 😅), every now and again I get a craving for a nice cold can.
While this desire is not strong enough to make me want to drink the liquid, sugary chemicals of most name brand options, Zevia* offers a refreshing splurge.
There are a bunch of flavors ranging from Ginger-Ale to Cola to Dr. Zevia (a la Dr. Pepper), but I will offer this one piece of advice: if you’re used to drinking the “real” stuff, these probably won’t taste like exact dupes.
But, if you’re used to a cleaner diet and don’t drink much soda to begin with, they should do the trick to satisfy with their variety of carbonated flavors.
While I personally don’t think it’s something to drink everyday, and Stevia can come with some controversy, it can be a once-in-a-while treat that’s pretty darn close to the real thing.
GT’s Kombucha instead of Soda
I’ll be the first to admit that Kombucha is pretty darn far from soda, other than the fact they both have bubbles. (Which, in my book, is as close as I need it to get.)
If you need to keep an open mind with Zevia, then you definitely need to keep an extra open mind when choosing kombucha over soda. If you’re not already used to drinking it, then I don’t suggest trying it out for the first time on movie night, but if you’ve already got the booch bug, I say go for it rather than a Coke.
I can go on and on about kombucha (and maybe in the future I will), but for now I’ll just say that GT’s brand is my favorite (and only) choice, and is my personal go-to for a movie night drink.
(Also, while definitely not the same, their Pu-erh Root adaptogenic tea does have a somewhat reminiscent taste of root beer. Again, open mind! lol)
So there you have it — a bunch of healthy movie snacks that might just become your new favorite treats!
Now it’s your turn — feel free to chime in below with your thoughts and feelings.
Have you tried any of these products? Are there any other healthy movie snacks you’ve discovered or are there some traditional treats you’re looking for an alternative to?
Are you local to central CT (like me!) and want to know what stores I find these at?
Also, what’s your favorite movie?! That’s über important to this conversation, too! I’ll share a few of my favorite movies below. 👇🏻