Snack foods are often higher in added sugar. Indulging in your favorite sugary snack foods can fit into a balanced diet. If cravings hit daily (or more), it can negatively affect your health and blood sugar. Ideally, excess sugar should be limited for the best health, but that is sometimes more challenging to do than planned.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend a balanced eating pattern that limits added sugars to less than 10% of daily intake (about 50 g or twelve teaspoons).1 The American Heart Association further reduces this daily limit for women to 100 calories, 25 g, or six teaspoons of added sugar. The limit is 150 calories, 36 g or nine teaspoons of added sugar for men.2
American adults eat 17 teaspoons of added sugar daily, over double the American Heart Association limit.3 When sugar cravings hit, choosing a healthier, low-calorie option that still tastes good can help you stay on track with your nutrition and health goals.
Fruit and no added sugar dairy products like yogurt or milk are naturally sweetened snacks that replace your sugary snacks with a healthier choice. Pairing protein and healthy fats with your snacks will provide sustained energy and stabilizes blood sugar levels.
12 Healthy Sweet Snack Recipes for Weight Loss to Make at Home
- Instant frozen berry yogurt
This fruity, frozen healthy sweet treat can help you cool off on hot days without spiking your blood sugar. Try this frozen yogurt recipe instead of ice cream or a shake from your favorite ice cream shop.
Just blend one cup of frozen berries with one cup of Greek yogurt and up to one tablespoon of honey or agave syrup, if desired, for sweetness. This mixture provides three to four servings.
The vitamin-packed berries add 2 g of fiber, and the Greek yogurt provides 8 g of protein.4 The protein and berries help to keep you full.
- Almond, raisin & popcorn trail mix
Making homemade trail mix will save money and remove any added sugar. Many commercial trail mixes have sugar-sweetened dried fruit or candy incorporated into them.
Purchase nuts that are no-added salt or lightly salted and unsweetened dried fruit to use in your mix. You can pair your preferred nuts (almonds or cashews are a great choice!) and dried fruit with whole-grain popcorn. Combine equal parts of the three components in an air-tight container.
Trail mix provides protein, fiber, and whole-grain carbs for sustained energy levels compared to crashing after higher-sugar snacks.
- Pineapple orange smoothie
The refreshing taste of this smoothie will curb your sweet tooth and help you to meet your recommended daily fruit servings.
The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 1.5 to 2 cups of fruit daily to prevent heart disease and diabetes. Surprisingly, only 12% of Americans meet that goal.5 Whole fruit (and blended) can satisfy your sweet tooth in a nutritious way.
For this recipe, blend ½ cup of frozen pineapple with one orange and 1 cup of Greek or plain yogurt. Choose a no-added-sugar yogurt that limits added sugars to 5g per serving. You can ice to thicken it if desired.
- No-bake energy bites
No-bake oatmeal bites6 are easy to make, can be prepared beforehand, and contain delicious ingredients. They satisfy all ages and meet many dietary restrictions.
Combine one cup of old-fashioned oats, 2/3 cup of unsweetened toasted coconut, ½ cup of preferred nut butter, ½ cup ground flaxseed, ½ cup of dark chocolate chips, 1/3 cup of honey, and one teaspoon of vanilla extract. Then roll them into balls or use a cookie scoop. You can freeze them for up to three months or use them within a week stored in the refrigerator.
Two energy balls make an excellent snack providing about 200 calories, 3.5 g of fiber, and 5 g of protein. Nuts, nut butter, and flax provide heart-healthy fats, fiber, and protein.
- Healthy oatmeal cookies
These cookies have similar ingredients to the no-bake energy bites. Using recipes with similar ingredients can be an excellent strategy to save money and time with pantry staples on-hand.
This recipe7 calls for unsweetened applesauce and honey to add sweetness with less added sugar. The fiber from the raisins, applesauce, whole wheat flour, and oatmeal help stabilize your blood sugar levels. Research has shown that oatmeal reduces after-meal blood sugar and insulin responses.8
- Yogurt with fruit
Yogurt and fruit that is fresh or frozen provide a simple and satisfying snack. Keeping frozen blueberries or strawberries on hand ensures you have a nutrient and fiber-rich option when you haven’t been to the grocery store or have eaten all your fresh fruit.
Greek and regular unsweetened or lightly sweetened yogurt keeps longer in the refrigerator. Yogurt provides about 8g of protein per serving.4 The fiber in berries will help to stabilize blood sugars; plus, they are packed with antioxidants. You don’t have to thaw the berries. Just pop it on top of your yogurt.
- Sugar-free apple sauce
Apple sauce is surprisingly simple and healthy to make at home. Plus, it’s gluten-free!
Core and chop two apples. Leaving the peel on increases the nutrients and fiber. Place apples, ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon, three tablespoons of water, and one teaspoon of lemon juice in a saucepan on medium heat. Cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes and mash occasionally. This recipe makes about three to four servings.9
This naturally sweet treat tastes good warm or cold. Use your favorite variety of apples.
- Almond date truffles
So many versions of almond date truffles exist, and most are lower in sugar. This version has no added sugar and uses naturally sweet dates.10
To make these, blend 20 Medjool dates and vanilla extract in a food processor. Add almond butter, cinnamon, unsweetened shredded coconut, and cocoa powder. Roll into balls or use a cookie scoop. Then roll each truffle into chopped almonds and chill. They will stay good in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.
The combination of high-fiber dates, nuts, and nut butter helps you to balance your fiber with protein and satisfy your sweet tooth. Make ahead for a grab-and-go weekday snack.
- Cookie dough Greek yogurt
This healthy alternative recipe11 is easy to make and won’t spike your blood sugar with the protein from Greek yogurt.4
Choose a container of plain Greek yogurt or a minimally sweetened option like Chobani Lesser Sugar Greek Yogurt – Madagascar Vanilla & Cinnamon and mix in one tablespoon of peanut or almond butter and 5 to 10 dark chocolate chips.
If you use plain Greek yogurt, you may need to add vanilla extract and a touch of honey to sweeten it.
- Overnight chocolate chia pudding
Prep-ahead snacks are great for staving off an afternoon sweet tooth. This pudding contains 9 g of protein and a whopping 16 g of fiber (over half of your daily needs)!12
Mix three tablespoons of chia seeds with 2/3 cup preferred milk in a glass jar or container. Add 1 ½ tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder, one teaspoon of maple syrup, and a pinch of salt. Shake with a lid or use a spoon to stir well.
Cover and refrigerate for at least two to three hours (or overnight). Stir before eating, and add raspberries on top if you like.
- Apple with nut butter
This simple stand-by works for a reason. One apple provides 5 g of fiber and no added sugar.13 Two tablespoons of natural unsweetened peanut butter adds another 3 g of fiber and 7g of protein, and 13 g of heart-healthy fats.14
You can switch this up by thinly slicing the apple, melting the peanut butter, and drizzling it on top for apple nachos. Apple slices with nut butter is a filling and healthy sweet snack.
- Nut butter banana roll-ups
When those bananas start to ripen, and you need to have a plan before they become overripe, consider banana roll-ups. A banana is a good source of potassium and 2 g of fiber.15 Whole grain tortillas and nut butter provide more fiber and protein.
Spread a thin layer of nut butter on one side of a whole wheat tortilla, place a peeled banana in the center, fold in the end, and roll up like a burrito. You can cut it in half to serve or eat it as is.16 Sprinkle ground flax or granola before rolling for added crunch and fiber.
3 Healthy Sweet Snacks to Buy
Keeping ready-to-go or shelf-stable lower-sugar snack options can help save the day. A stressful or busy day with no time for a balanced meal is a sugary snack attack waiting to happen.
Consider these healthy sweet snacks to prevent excessive sugar intake and keep you on track with your health goals. Limit these to once weekly and use the recipes above or similar ones for regular snacks. Whole fruits, nuts, nut butter, and Greek yogurt contain other health benefits, nutrients, and variety to your weekly routine.
- Skinny Dipped Dark Chocolate Cocoa Almonds
These almonds are dipped in a thin layer of dark chocolate, which is lower in sugar than milk chocolate. One serving (or 16 almonds) provides 140 calories, 10g of heart-healthy fat, 4g of protein, 13g of carbohydrates, 5g of fiber, and 3g of added sugars.17
The mixture of protein, fiber, fat, and carbohydrates will keep you full, and the sweetness should satisfy your sweet craving.
- KIND Bar – Dark Chocolate Mocha Almond
Keeping portable snacks in your car, office, or bag can be a lifesaver from snack attacks. Many KIND bars fit into a lower-sugar diet to balance blood sugar levels. The almonds and hint of chocolate provide a sweet and crunchy snack and satisfy your cravings for chocolate treats like brownies or candy bars.
The Dark Chocolate Mocha Almond flavor provides 170 calories, 15 g of primarily heart-healthy fats, 5 g of protein, 16g of carbohydrates, 7g of fiber, and 4g of added sugars.18
- Enjoy Life Seed Chewy Bar – Caramel Apple
Enjoy Life creates food options free from gluten and the top 14 allergens. Finding a healthy, sweet treat is hard enough without adding in food intolerances or allergies.
One bar provides 140 calories, 4 g of fat, 2 g of protein, 26 g of carbohydrates, 1g of fiber, and 5 g of added sugars.19 This mix is lower in protein and fiber than other options but is allergen-friendly and low in sugar. You might add some protein or fruit options to this snack. Try some Enjoy Life snack options to balance your blood sugar and food allergies.
Are these snacks suitable for kids?
Many of these snacks are suitable for kids. All of the snacks to make at home are suitable or could easily be altered for kids. The Enjoy Life Bar is the only packaged snack appropriate for children under four.
For children under four, avoid chips and popcorn. Serve ground nuts or nut butter, quarter grapes, cherry tomatoes, and cherries lengthwise, and soften or shred apples, pears, or other hard fruits. This prevents any choking hazards for young children.
What is a healthy sweet snack for after dinner?
Any of these snacks would be a healthy sweet snack after dinner. Each has protein, fiber, and lower added sugar to reduce blood sugar spikes and keep you full longer.
If you want a higher-sugar sweet treat, pair it with a high protein and vegetable dinner to reduce your blood sugar response. Waiting to eat it later in the evening may cause higher blood sugar spikes as the snack may be low in fiber and protein.
Learn More About Nutrition and Healthy Habits with Signos’ Expert Advice.
Swapping your snacks for lower sugar options is one way to change your diet and lifestyle. Incorporating new foods and recipes can take time and experimentation. A continuous glucose monitor (CGM) can help you know how your body responds to different foods and help you see how your body responds to sugar and other nutrients.
Get more information about weight loss, glucose monitors, and living a healthier life
Topics discussed in this article: