Cheap and healthy sweet snacks to satisfy your cravings

If you’re in a constant battle with your sweet tooth, you’re not alone. The average American consumes a whopping 57 pounds of added sugar per year. Boil that down to daily consumption, and it’s about 17 teaspoons (more than 1/3 cup). The American Heart Association’s recommended daily cap? Only six teaspoons. And, remember, you don’t need any added sugar.

It’s easy to mindlessly munch away on a bag of M&Ms or cut that piece of cake just a tiny bit bigger. I’m not here to tell you to give up sweets altogether (I love a great chocolate chip cookie), but we can be mindful of how much we’re consuming. My first book, The Snack Factor Diet, debunks the negativity surrounding small indulgences. Consuming a sweet snack doesn’t have to derail your wellness goals. The trick is to eat healthy sweet snacks slowly so you can savor your mouthfuls and avoid unnecessary overconsumption. It also helps to know which treats will help fuel your body and satisfy a craving.

I’ve rounded up some favorites that will satisfy your sweet craving, without the sugar-induced side effects (see ya, inflammation and headaches).

Stock up on these cheap and healthy sweet treats:

  • Dark chocolate
  • Chocolate chip cookie crisps
  • Coconut cookies
  • Fruit leather
  • Energy balls

1. Dark chocolate

You can indulge in chocolate. Well, the right kind of course. Choose chocolate that is at least 60 percent cacao. The higher the percentage of cacao, the less sugar and more heart healthy flavonoids. When it comes to flavonoids, dark chocolate is a winner. It’s full of antioxidants that are linked to lower blood pressure, improved blood flow and overall heart health. Hu Snacking and Baking Dark Chocolate Gems are made of simple ingredients and 70 percent cacao, so you can still get the heart-healthy benefits along with the sweet chocolate taste. Plus, the bag has 17 servings which nets out to under $1.40—less than a typical chocolate bar. Pair dark chocolate with some almonds for an extra boost in heart health.

Hu Snacking and Baking Dark Chocolate Gems

2. Chocolate chip cookie crisps

Take a glance at most pre-made, packaged cookie labels and you’ll find scary-high sugar and sodium levels. If cookies are your weakness (I’m with you!), go for an upgraded homemade option or try Go Raw Choco Crunch Sprouted Cookie Crisps. They’re made with only four easy-to-understand ingredients and have no added sugar, which is rare to find in a store-bought dessert. With three grams of protein & four grams of fiber, they’re pretty much fuel food dressed up like a cookie. The only thing you’ll want to keep in mind: It’s easy to overeat these if you don’t plate a portion. Trust me.

Go Raw Choco Crunch Sprouted Cookie Crisps

3. Coconut cookies

If cookies are your jam, but chocolate isn’t … this next option may be the one for you. Emmy’s Organic Coconut Cookies are not only heavenly tasting, they’re also vegan, organic and non-GMO. The vanilla bean flavor is a sweet yet low-sugar twist on a vanilla cookie, but if you’re craving something unique and tart, try the lemon ginger flavor. A bag will cost you around $3.50, so with nine servings per bag you’re looking at a sweet treat for under 40 cents — a great option for anyone struggling to find a low-cost, allergy-friendly dessert.

Emmy’s Organic Coconut Cookies

4. Fruit leather

If you’re more of a fruity candy fan, mix it up with some fruit leather. It’ll satisfy your sweet tooth while providing a healthy alternative to the kids’ go-to gummies. I like Stretch Island Fruit Leather. Most candy out there is packed with added sugar and other unnecessary ingredients, but this perfectly portioned snack is made of 100% fruit and contains no added sugar. Try the strawberry — my personal favorite. A box of 48 is $12.00 (25 cents per fruit leather).

Stretch Island Fruit Leather

5. Energy balls

When searching for the perfect snack, you should always look for something that will keep energy levels humming from morning to night. Oat energy balls do just that. When your schedule is jam-packed and you need an on-the-go snack, try Made in Nature Supersnacks for a packaged, portable option. The ’Nana Pops Banana-Rama flavor tastes like fresh banana bread — but much more beneficial for the body. Cranberry Pistachio is another great flavor; the nuts and seeds will fill you up with healthy fats. Looking to save a little? Make some yourself. There are loads of easy DIY recipes, and you can add in your own favorite ingredients for an energizing treat.

Made in Nature ‘Nana Pops Banana-Rama