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Healthy Substitutes For When You're Craving Something Sweet

Sometimes we need something to satisfy our sweet tooths. But—especially around the holidays—sticking to just a small, sweet snack is tricky, what with all the leftover pumpkin pie, and apple pie, and pecan pie, and brownies, and … well, you get it.


But let's be honest: anything that seriously satisfies our sweet tooth isn't going to be the epitome of a healthy meal. Though all of these snacks contain (gasp!) sugar, we aimed to find lower-sugar options that offer something beneficial, whether it be a sneaky superfood (like strawberries and grapes) or additional nutrients like fiber or protein. So here are a few less guilty ways to indulge any sweet tooth.

1. Chocolate-Dipped Strawberry

Combat chocolate’s not-so-healthy side by using it as a semi-sweet jacket on superfoods, like strawberries! Dip and let set in the refrigerator until the chocolate coating has hardened.

2. Choco-Nut Popcorn

Pop a small bag of natural popcorn and top with 1 tablespoon melted peanut butter and a dusting of cocoa powder. Crunchy and the perfect amount of sweetness! Not sweet enough? Try swapping peanut butter for Nutella.


3. Frozen Chocolate Banana

This is the perfect frozen sweet treat with some extra nutritional punch! Bananas are a great source of vitamins C and B6, and are also packed with fiber and potassium. Peel a banana, cut into two equal halves, and freeze. Once solid, take out and roll in melted dark chocolate. While the chocolate’s still melty, roll in whichever crunchy topping you like—sprinkles, nuts, and granola all work well! Return to the freezer until the chocolate is set (at least an hour). Enjoy!


4. Yogurt Parfait

Top 1 cup Greek yogurt (plain or vanilla) with your choice of toppings: crumbled graham crackers or granola, nuts, and fruit are all healthy choices. Add some shaved chocolate if you must!


5. Fresh Fruit

Can’t get more simple than this. Any piece of fresh fruit should offer enough natural sugar to fill those cravings. Plus, it’s definitely the healthiest choice and you get added nutrients and fiber!


6. Dark Chocolate

Sorry, friends—not any old chocolate bar will send you to healthful heaven. But dark chocolate (think more than 70 percent cacao), which lacks all the added fat and sugar of classic milk chocolate, can actually be a healthy treat in moderation. Dark chocolate is packed with antioxidants and can even help regulate levels of the stress hormone cortisol.


7. Chocolate Milk

Not only is chocolate milk a great way to fit a hint of sweetness into your day, research shows it’s actually an effective post-workout recovery drink, too!


8. Smoothie

It’s easy to find an easy, healthy smoothie recipe for breakfast, a snack, or dessert. In fact, here are 54 healthy smoothie recipes sweet enough to fill any of those cravings.

9. PB&J

We’ll admit it: A good portion of the Greatist office is addicted to peanut butter and jelly. Half of a classic sandwich on whole wheat bread (grape, strawberry, or whatever type of jelly you like) provides an excellent amount of sweetness with a little dose of protein and fiber to boot.


There’s no added sugar in these sweet and cool treats. Simply purée watermelon chunks and some lime juice, freeze, and enjoy. If it’s not watermelon season, try any other juicy fruit: Pears, peaches, or berries with a touch of apple juice for base will all make great pops.





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