One of the biggest challenges of trying to trim down is to make smart decisions when your sweet tooth strikes at that daily 3 p.m. lull or right after dinner. And I don't know about you, but a piece of fruit—however delicious it may be—doesn't always cut it when what you're really craving is dessert.
So we asked eight top nutrition experts for their favorite healthy treats that actually taste good and satisfy a sweet tooth. Here are their picks. You can thank us later (just not with your mouth full, please).
Urban Remedy Brownies
These yummy, nutritious brownies are only 190 calories and pack in 8 grams of protein. "Our delicious brownies are raw and vegan as well as gluten-, grain-, and white sugar-free,” says Urban Remedy founder Neka Pasquale. “We use only whole food, raw ingredients like sprouted almonds, organic coconut, cacao, unrefined coconut sugar and Himalayan sea salt. Our brownies not only satisfy that sweet and salty craving but being that they’re dehydrated at low temperatures, they’re easy to digest and are rich in vitamins, minerals and enzymes."
Gnu Foods Hi-Fiber Bars in Chocolate Brownie
If you never thought you could love a dessert that’s made with natural whole grains, think again. “Gnu Foods Hi-Fiber Original Bars and Minis are absolutely delicious,” says Heather Bauer, R.D., founder of Bestowed, a monthly service that delivers curated nutritious products to your door. The original bars are 140 calories and have a whopping 12 grams of fiber. “The minis have only 70 calories and 6 grams of fiber per pack,” says Bauer. “That’s 25 percent of your daily fiber intake. These bites of chocolatey goodness will fill you up so that you don’t go to bed hungry, but won’t fill you out like almost any other chocolate dessert.”
Justin's Organic Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
“Just when you thought Reese's couldn't get any better, Justin's Organic Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups came up with a healthier version that will satisfy anyone's diet and sweet tooth,” says Bauer of the 100-calorie treat. “Not only are these cups organic, but they are also dairy-free and vegan. What I like to do is freeze them and then eat them individually in order to stay within calorie limits and have a treat waiting for tomorrow.”
Horizon Organic Low-Fat Chocolate Milk
“If I am craving something sweet after lunch and a piece of fruit isn't going to do the trick, then nothing beats a low-fat chocolate milk,” says Keri Gans, R.D., founder of Keri Gans Nutrition. “Horizon chocolate organic low-fat milk box is only 150 calories, provides 25 percent of my daily needs for calcium and vitamin D, and it has 8 grams of protein. It's hydrating, nutritious and delicious.”
Kind Dark Chocolate Nuts and Sea Salt Bar
Several nutritionists raved about the Kind Dark Chocolate Nuts and Sea Salt bar, as well as KIND Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein bar—both of which have 200 calories—as their go-to picks for taming a sweet tooth. “If my craving for sweet is in the middle of the day, I like to grab a Kind Dark Chocolate Nuts and Sea Salt bar,” says Gans. “To me this is just as good, if not better, than eating a plain chocolate bar.”
Adds Bonnie Taub-Dix, R.D., nutrition expert and author of “Read It Before You Eat It”: “I prefer choosing products that have ingredient lists you can understand. When you look at a Kind bar, you can practically see the exact type of nuts and dried fruit within. They provide that perfect mix of carbs (only 7 grams of sugar), protein (6 grams) and healthy fat (15 grams).”
Kashi Chocolate Soft-Baked Squares
“Try this fiber-filled alternative to the ever-popular brownie,” suggests Keri Glassman, R.D., author of "The New You and Improved Diet." "Kashi Chocolate Soft-Baked Squares have 160 calories, 4 grams of fiber and 300 milligrams of ALA [alpha-linolenic acid] omega-3s. They’re also made from seven whole grains, sweet potatoes and black beans.”
York Peppermint Patty
“This is an easy, on-the-go, chocolate and cooling mint treat,” says Glassman. One regular size, satisfying York Peppermint Patty has 140 calories, and because of the minty flavor, it’s easy to stop at just one.
Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans
“A better treat than chocolate and caffeine, especially a low-calorie version, cannot exist,” says Glassman. Plus, it’s loaded with antioxidants. One ounce of Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans will set you back a mere 120 calories.
Ciao Bella Gelato in Pistachio
Think an ice cream-type treat is out of the question? Guess again! “Gelato, the Italian twist on ice cream, is a creamy delight that is sure to satisfy your ice cream craving,” says Glassman. Ciao Bella Gelato in Pistachio is a waist-friendly 210 calories per serving, which is a half cup.
To satisfy a sweet tooth, Elisa Zied, R.D., author of “Nutrition at Your Fingertips,” suggests grabbing Vitalicious VitaTops in Banana Choco Chip. It only has 100 calories and yet packs in 9 grams of filling fiber and 5 grams of protein with only 1 gram of fat.
BNRG Power Crunch Bar
“The BNRG Power Crunch Bar is a healthy and delicious treat,” says Mark Macdonald, Chelsea Handler’s nutritionist and author of “Body Confidence.” “It reminds me of when my mom would give me wafer cookies as a kid.” The bar has 205 calories, an impressive 14 grams of protein and 12 grams of fat. “No worries on the 12 grams of fat,” adds Macdonald. “It's high quality fat (vegetable based), and the combination with the protein and carbs give the bar an excellent balance.”
So Delicious No Sugar Added Dairy-Free Coconut Milk Ice Cream
A fat-burning frozen treat? “Yes,” says JJ Virgin, author of “The Virgin Diet: Drop 7 Foods, Lose 7 Pounds, Just 7 Days.” “Because So Delicious No Sugar Added Dairy-Free Coconut Milk Ice Cream is made with coconut milk, it doesn't have dairy's reactivity problems and provides fat-burning medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs),” notes Virgin. “Also, monk fruit is a ‘new’ sweetener that's actually been used for thousands of years in Chinese medicine for people with diabetes and other blood sugar issues. You get all the sweetness without the blood sugar roller coaster.” A half-cup serving of vanilla bean contains just 150 calories and 6 grams of fiber.
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