Seemingly healthy snacks often harbor a ton of hidden sugar. If you’re looking to steer clear of added sugars in your snacks, turn instead to the more satisfying complex carbohydrates naturally found in wholesome foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, certain types of dairy, and nuts, seeds and legumes. Here are six satisfying snack recipes that don’t contain any added sugars. Sweet deals without being empty calories!
Popcorn: this is one of the most underappreciated and underutilized whole grains. As a whole-grain carbohydrate, it’s a great way to consume fiber. You can air pop it for a lighter offering, or pop it in your favorite healthy fat (avocado oil, peanut oil, olive oil).
Try topping your popcorn with brewer’s yeast, nutritional yeast, chili powder or even a spicy curry seasoning mix. If you want to skimp on sugar, skip over the kettle-corn varieties that derive their sweetness from added sugars.
Yogurt: One of the biggest food fallacies is that yogurt is good for you. Certain types of yogurt are, but not all yogurts are created equal; in fact, most commercial yogurt offerings are nothing more than a lot of sugar and a little yogurt. Also, if your “fruited yogurt” has 0 grams of fiber and added sugars, you can rest assured there’s no real fruit or much nutrition in there.
But if you yearn for yogurt, why not make your own fruit and yogurt parfait using plain (no sugar added) yogurt and adding fresh fruit? Another option is to buy the yogurt culture and make yogurt at home! Its a little tricky at first, but worth the unique taste. In fact, I use soy milk and a vegan culture to make soy yogurt (which avoids the use of dairy for those who prefer to stay away from it for various reasons). You’ll get the vitamin, mineral and fiber benefits of fruit—plus its natural sweetness—on top of the calcium, protein and better-for-you-carbs that yogurt has to offer. Sprinkle with some whole-grain cereal or hemp, sunflower or pumpkin seeds and you’ve got a satisfying snack without all the sugar.
Nut butters: When it comes to nut butters, you’ve got to be a sugar sleuth. Many commercial nut butters have added sugars and sometimes added oils like palm oil, so be sure to search for a brand with an ingredient list that lists only nuts and, if desired, a little salt.
Now take that natural nut butter and put it atop a whole-grain cracker for a great no-added sugar snack. Or whip some some cocoa nibs or raw cocoa powder into the nut butter, add a teaspoon of raw honey and dip some strawberries in there for a deliciously decadent but healthy snack, low in added sugars but high in nutrition value.
Dips: When it comes to snacks, do you dig dips? You can spice up your standard hummus recipe by adding edamame (soybeans), which provide a boost of nutrition and flavor without any added sugar. Simply puree a handful of cooked edamame, one can of garbanzo beans and some garlic, lemon juice and olive oil together.
Dip your favorite chips or veggie sticks and you’ve got a nutritionally enhanced hummus that steers clear of added sugar.
Roasted legumes: If you crave a little crunch in your snacks, try roasting your own chickpeas. The key here is to rinse your chickpeas first and then pat completely dry.
Roll the garbanzos in some olive oil, add salt and pepper or your favorite seasoning mix (I use home-made garam masala or a middle-eastern spice blend called z’aatar), and bake at 400 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until crunchy.