A sweet tooth can be a diet downfall. Especially in the middle of the afternoon when a snack craving kicks in and you want to run to the vending machine or pantry and grab the nearest cookie or candy bar. That is the particularly the case when we tell ourselves we “can’t” have something. “Dietary restrictions definitely make cravings worse,” Adam Drewnowski, PhD, of the University of Washington told WebMD. Drewnowski says when hit with the need for something sweet, we should go ahead — as long as it is in moderation. To help keep you on the right path, but while still indulging that sweet tooth, here are six snacks with a few healthy ingredients thrown in.
1. Cinnamon Cocoa Dusted Almonds
Flavored almonds are easy to pack, easy to make, and totally addicting. Anyone with a sweet tooth who is looking for a new way to enjoy protein-filled, antioxidant rich almonds needs to try this recipe from The Pescetarian and the Pig.
- 1 cup raw unsalted almonds
- 2 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon honey or agave nectar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tiny pinch sea salt
Directions: Mix cocoa powder, cinnamon, and sea salt together in a food processor. Pour into a gallon-sized Ziploc bag. Set aside. In a deep saucepan over very low heat, stir almonds, honey, and vanilla until just coated. Remove from heat (the almonds should not be heated, the very low heat is just to make the honey liquify better to easily coat the almonds). Pour almonds into the baggy with the cocoa powder. Seal the baggy and shake until almonds are well coated. Store in a Ziploc or other airtight container.
2. Black Bean Brownies
According to World’s Healthiest Foods, black beans support digestive health, are a good source of fiber, and don’t lose their health benefits when canned. That said, chomping on black beans themselves in the middle of the day won’t provide the sweet treat you’re craving — but Taste of Home‘s flourless black bean brownies most certainly will. At only 167 calories per serving, they won’t wreck your diet either; the recipe makes twelve brownies.
- 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
- ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips, divided
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- 3 eggs
- ⅔ cup packed brown sugar
- ½ cup baking cocoa
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the beans, ¼ cup chocolate chips and oil in a food processor; cover and process until blended. Add the eggs, brown sugar, cocoa, vanilla, baking powder and salt; cover and process until smooth.
Transfer to a 9-inch square baking pan coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into bars.
3. Banana “Ice Cream”
Skip the added sugar of fro-yo, and the next time you want something cold and sweet, try Rachel Ray’s (relatively) guilt-free way of eating “ice cream.” Instead of the real deal, frozen bananas and milk are combined in a blender to make a naturally sugared, creamy snack. Top with chopped nuts for a bit of crunch, caramel or chocolate sauce, or any of your favorite ice cream toppings.
- 3 bananas, peeled and cut into chunks, then frozen
- ¼ cup milk
Directions: In the bowl of a food processor or blender, puree the frozen bananas until whipped, about 2 minutes, adding the milk in small increments as needed to loosen the mixture up. Serve the “ice cream” immediately with your favorite toppings.
4. Peanut Butter Protein Fudge
Don’t reach for that Reese’s Cup the next time a peanut butter snack attack hits. Instead go for the peanut butter protein fudge from Heidi Powell. In exchange for the preservatives and added sugars, you’ll be getting a healthy dose of protein (5.5 grams per serving), which will help you stay fuller longer.
- 1 (16 ounce) jar creamy peanut butter
- 1¼ cup honey
- 2 scoops 100 percent natural whey protein powder
- 3 cups oats (gluten free if desired)
Directions: Heat peanut butter in the microwave for 90 seconds. Add in honey, stir. Mix in protein powder. Combine oats with peanut butter mixture. Spread evenly in 9 × 13 inch pan, and refrigerate for at least an hour. Cut into 1½ inch squares, and enjoy!
5. Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans
Want a little pick me up with your sweet snack? Try chocolate covered espresso beans, and as Life Your Way points out, you can use any kind of chocolate you want. They aren’t as unhealthy as they appear either. Livestrong explains that both coffee and chocolate have antioxidants, and if you use dark chocolate, you could benefit from mood-boosting serotonin. Just don’t eat too many, since the espresso beans are loaded with caffeine.
- 4 ounces milk, white, or dark chocolate
- 1½ cups roasted espresso beans
Directions: Line the counter with parchment paper. Heat chocolate in a double boiler until melted, stirring frequently. It’s important to use a dry bowl and spoon and avoid getting any water in your chocolate. Even a single drop will mess up your chocolate!
Add espresso beans to the melted chocolate, a handful at a time, stirring until the beans are well-coated. Scoop up the beans with a wooden spoon and use a fork to drop them onto the parchment paper one at a time so that they’re not touching. Let the chocolate harden completely and then transfer to a tightly sealed container.
6. Watermelon-Blueberry Popsicles
With only a dash of sugar, and plenty of fruit, Eating Well‘s fruit popsicles will keep you cool in the middle of the day and stomp out any snack cravings. Based on the molds used, the recipe made about ten popsicles, at around 30 calories per serving.
- 3¾ cups chopped seedless watermelon
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1-2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
Directions: Puree watermelon, lime juice and sugar to taste in a food processor or blender until smooth. Divide blueberries among freezer-pop molds. Top with the watermelon mixture. Insert the sticks and freeze until completely firm, about 6 hours. Dip the molds briefly in hot water before unmolding.