Nutrition Wellness

14 Healthy Alternatives to Candy

You don’t have to deny your cravings for sweets to live a healthy lifestyle.
Just commit to changing the way you “do” sweet.

Put down the processed candy, the rich bakery cakes, and the packaged cookies, and start getting your fix of healthy sweet snacks from wholesome foods like fruits, nuts, and dark chocolate.

Here’s a list of healthy snacks to get you started.


1. FRESH FRUIT

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Fresh fruit is naturally sweet and packed with nutrients like fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It may also provide anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Try: Fresh pears with honey and Greek yogurt or Mandarin Oranges and Cottage Cheese with a drizzle of honey on top.

 2. FRUIT & VEGGIE CHIPS

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Fruit and veggie chips are cut into thin slices before being baked, which gives them their characteristic crunchy texture. They can boost your daily fruit and vegetable intake, which may help lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and certain cancers.

Instead of choosing store-bought options that may harbor added sugar and preservatives, make your own fruit and veggie chips by following one of these recipes.

3. HOMEMADE POPSICLES

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Homemade popsicles give you all the benefits of fruit without the extra sugar and artificial ingredients of packaged varieties.

To prepare them, simply blend your choice of fruit with water, milk, or yogurt. Pour the mixture into popsicle molds or plastic cups, place a popsicle stick in the center of each and freeze overnight.

* For a quick snack, simply insert a popsicle straight into a yogurt cup and freeze.

4. FROZEN FRUIT

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Contrary to popular belief, frozen fruit preserves the nutrients of fresh fruit because it’s fully ripened before being frozen.

At home, you can freeze fruit with yogurt for a simple snack.

Frozen-yogurt-covered blueberries
Directions:

  1. Cover a baking tray with parchment paper
  2. Using a toothpick, dip a blueberry into low-fat Greek
    yogurt making sure it gets fully coated
  3. Place the yogurt-covered blueberry on the baking sheet
  4. Repeat with the rest of the berries and freeze overnight

* Frozen grapes are also a great quick snack, packed with disease-fighting antioxidants, potassium, and manganese. For easiest eating, it’s best to freeze seedless grapes – simply remove the stems before washing, allow them to dry, place them in a Ziploc bag and leave in the freezer.  

5. ENERGY BALLS

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Energy balls are typically made with wholesome ingredients that provide enough fiber, protein, and healthy fats to keep you feeling full.

Oats, nut butter, flax seeds and dried fruits are the most common ingredients. However, you can mix in almost anything you want, from protein powder to chocolate chips.

Be mindful though, because they do pack a lot of calories so try to limit yourself to one or two at a time.

This 10-minute recipe from The Girl Who Ate Everything makes easy no-bake Energy Balls that are filled with oats, honey, flaxseed, peanut butter, and a few chocolate chips. You can also add raisins and dried cranberries.

Dried fruit, while associated with lower body weight, is highly concentrated in nutrients and sugar, making it even sweeter and calorie-denser than fresh fruit – so again, be mindful of your portions.

6. COCONUT

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Coconut is an excellent source of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), a type of fat that may boost weight loss, fat metabolism, and gut health.

Pack all the flavors of a pina colada in a sweet snack stick you don’t even have to bake. Hemsley and Hemsley’s recipe uses dried pineapple pieces, a splash of rum and a sprinkle of nutmeg to make a tropical tasting, high-energy, low-sugar stock with plenty of protein and nourishing fats.

7. DARK CHOCOLATE

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Dark chocolate is known for its high levels of antioxidants, which may improve heart health, brain function, and insulin sensitivity.

Dark-chocolate-covered strawberries are a great way to reap dark chocolate’s benefits.
To prepare them, dip these berries in melted dark chocolate. Place on wax paper and freeze for 15-20 minutes.

* Another quick snack option is the salty-sweet combo of dark chocolate covered pretzels. Microwave 1 square of dark chocolate and 1 teaspoon of natural peanut butter until melted, and dip 1 large or 10 mini pretzel rods. Use healthier whole-grain pretzels without sugar.

8. FRUIT LEATHER

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Fruit-only dried fruit leather can be a great way to satisfy a sweet tooth.

It’s a sweet and chewy treat loaded with nutrients. You can use any fruit you want, but choosing high-sugar options, like mangoes, ensures you won’t have to add too much sweetener.

Mango fruit leather
Ingredients:

  • 2–3 cups (330–495 grams) of mangoes
  • 2–3 tablespoons (15–30 ml) of honey
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of lemon juice

Directions:

  1. Blend the mangoes in a blender or food processor until smooth.
  2. Add honey and lemon juice and blend a little more.
  3. Pour the mixture into a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and spread to
    1/8–1/4-inch (0.3–0.6-cm) thickness.
  4. Bake at 140–170°F (60–77°C) or the lowest temperature on your oven for 4–6 hours.
  5. Allow to cool, then remove from the tray.
  6. Cut into 1-inch (2.5-cm) strips and wrap with parchment paper before rolling them up.

9. SUGAR-BAKED CHICKPEAS

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Chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, are rich in protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. One cup (164 grams) of uncooked chickpeas pack 15 grams of high-quality protein and 13 grams of fiber. Moreover, they may boost heart health and reduce your risk of certain conditions, including type 2 diabetes.

For a chickpea-based treat, try this simple recipe

Cinnamon-roasted chickpeas
Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (164 grams) of cooked chickpeas
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons (30 grams) of brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (8 grams) of ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon (5 grams) of salt

Preheat your oven to 400°F (204°C) and bake the chickpeas for 15 minutes. In a bowl, mix the sugar, cinnamon, and salt.

Remove chickpeas from the oven, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with the cinnamon topping. Stir until fully coated and bake for another 15 minutes.

10. TRAIL MIX

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Trail mix typically combines nuts, seeds, grains, dried fruit and chocolate, providing you with fiber, protein and many beneficial plant compounds. However, store-bought options may be loaded with added sugar, so it’s best to make your own.

For a healthy, homemade version, mix cashews, cranberries, pretzels, pumpkin seeds, and dark chocolate chips.

11. BAKED APPLES

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Baked Apples are a great fall treat, and are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other plant compounds. Studies show that people who eat apples regularly have a reduced risk of cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and weight gain.

To make baked apples, cut the apples in halves, and add a bit of melted coconut oil and cinnamon. Top the apples with oats, nuts, and just a little honey for natural sweetness and bake them for 30-40 minutes at 350°F (176°C), until the apples are softened. 

ALSO, TRYRAW CARAMEL APPLE NACHOS. Sliced apples and raw caramel sauce make a healthy sweet snack with zero guilt. Experiment with all the different apple varieties out there until you find your favorite caramel-and-apple pairing.

12. AVOCADO-CHOCOLATE PUDDING 

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Avocados are a great source of healthy fats, fiber, and beneficial plant compounds. They provide vitamins and minerals like Vitamin C, folate, and potassium. Research shows that the fat and fiber in avocados may help reduce appetite, which is essential for weight control.

You can make a creamy pudding by blending this fruit with cocoa powder and a sweetener of your choice. For example, this recipe uses maple syrup.

13. HOMEMADE GUMMIES

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Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body. Its main purpose is to help tissues resist stretching. It offers multiple health benefits and is found in most animals.

It’s also found in gelatin, a common food additive made by cooking collagen. This ingredient is often used to make gummies. Store-bought versions usually contain added sugar, but you can make your own at home using fruit juice and honey.

Check out this recipe for gut-healing gummies in three different flavors.

14. CHIA PUDDING

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Since iron deficiency presents itself as anxiety, depression, irritability, and even poor concentration and general restlessness, it’s a good idea to incorporate more chia seeds into your diet.

Chia seeds are a good source of iron.

Chia pudding is simple to make. All you need to do is stir some chia seeds into some flavorful liquid and let it sit until the seeds plump up. When everything’s ready, you have a concoction with the creamy texture of your favorite pudding or yogurt.

This layered recipe from Kale me Maybe will spice up your chia pudding game.

 

Since completing my undergraduate studies, I've dedicated my time to supporting and empowering individuals with behavioral health issues. This blog is to be a platform for the behavioral health community; examining the history of behavioral health and the progressions made within the field while providing information and resources to those who need it.

4 comments on “14 Healthy Alternatives to Candy

  1. Pingback: How Sugar May Be Impacting Your Mental Health – h e a l t h f u l m i n d

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