7 Healthier Vegan Treats That Will Curb Any Sweet Craving
When you're vegan and looking for a sweet treat, it can be hard to come by storebought candy or desserts containing no animal ingredients. Gelatin, collagen, whey, milk solids, and more tend to sneak their way into candies and confections, even ones we consider to be healthy-ish.
Below, you’ll find seven better-for-you treats that will satisfy your sugar cravings without compromising your plant-based diet. Just know that these still pack on the calories so while you are enjoying a sweet treat, don't go crazy.
1. Smart Sweets
Smart Sweets pay homage to the candy of our youth without excessive added sugar. By using stevia, monk fruit extract, and a lot of plant fiber, Smart Sweets has managed to create believable, plant-based versions of Sour Patch Kids, Swedish Fish, Peach Rings, and, most recently, Starburst. Their texture is surprisingly similar (and dare I say, better?) than the original versions, and you can sleep soundly knowing you didn’t ingest corn syrup today. With less than 130 calories per bag (most are in the 80 to 100 range), half your daily fiber intake, and only a few grams of actual sugar, Smart Sweets are a blessing for fruity and sour candy lovers alike. Just watch out for the gummy bears—those have gelatin.
2. Simple Mills Brownies
Simple Mills has released quite a few SKUs over the past couple of years, but in my opinion, none shine brighter than their baking mixes—specifically their brownies. Their brownie mix is the only gluten-free, dairy-free, and refined sugar-free one on the market that actually tastes like something you want to eat. The recipe calls for three eggs, which you can replace with chia eggs, avocado, mashed banana, applesauce, or your favorite egg replacement to keep them vegan. The same goes for the oil or butter—I’ve had success with coconut oil, but vegan butter should work, too. Also, the box says to use an 8x8 pan, but I insist that you use a muffin tin so every brownie gets those crispy, tasty edges. We all live for crispy edges, and frankly, we deserve them.
3. Aloha Chocolate Mint Bar
It’s commonplace for plant-based eaters to be poked and prodded about protein—whether or not they’re getting enough of it, and where exactly they’re getting it from. If you’ve been a plant-based eater for years, you might be used to it, but what if I told you there was a sweet protein-packed treat that would send naysayers running? (It won’t actually do that, but it might stop the questions.)
To you, I present ALOHA protein bars, specifically the Chocolate Mint bar. It’s the closest you’ll get to eating a Thin Mint without eating a Thin Mint. Each bar earns you 14 grams of plant-based protein and 12 grams of fiber, making it a marvelous on-the-go breakfast, mid-afternoon hold-me-over, pre or post-workout snack, or healthy take on dessert.
4. Healing Home Foods Graham Bites
Too often companies are so focused on churning out gluten-free or vegan products that they skimp on taste. That’s why Healing Home Foods is one of my favorite health food brands of all time. This family-run company makes organic gluten-free, vegan treats like graham crackers, biscotti, granola, and nut butters that have divine flavor, texture, and a shortlist of stellar ingredients. Their Graham Bites are my go-to when I want a light afternoon snack, sans sugar rush. They come in Classic (think traditional graham cracker), Maple Cinnamon, and Lemon Chia, and they’re all fantastic. So are all the savory crackers, but we’re talking about sweets here.
5. Theo Sea Salt 70% Dark Chocolate Bar
Real talk: I dislike 99 percent of healthy chocolate bars. And I’ve tried many, many bars. I can’t get behind raw chocolate, coconut sugar-sweetened chocolate, any of it—and that’s because I don’t eat chocolate for the benefits of cacao. I eat it because I want to indulge a little. Fortunately for me (and now you), Theo Chocolate has created a dark chocolate bar that is luxurious, but not tooth-achingly sweet. It’s the only dark chocolate I genuinely enjoy. Vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, and organic are a few of the labels this bar touts, but my favorite label has to be its price tag. $4 a bar for premium, organic, vegan chocolate? Some might turn up their noses, but I’ll take one, or ten.
6. Very Berry Raw Bliss Balls
Cards on the table—energy balls typically aren’t very good. They’re cute and convenient, but they’re usually dry, thanks to protein or superfood powders, or flavorless. These Raw Bliss Balls, though, are a rare exception to my rule. The combination of cashews, coconut, tart cherries, raspberries, and goji berries make these a fruity and delectable treat that doesn’t just taste like dates (as energy balls do). They also contain no added sweeteners—whole fruits and nuts are the only ingredients. Grab a bag before your next flight (they’re TSA-friendly!) or stash them in your bag for a quick energy boost. And if you’re not into berries, don’t fret—they have cacao, lemon, and salty caramel flavors, too.
7. Cocomels Sea Salt Coconut Milk Caramels
Cocomels are downright delicious—there’s no denying that. A solution for the caramel lovers among us who don’t eat dairy, Cocomels coconut milk caramels have the same pull, chew, and melt-in-your-mouth characteristics as their cream-based ancestor. They also happen to be gluten-free, vegan, and organic. It’s a wonderful world, I know. Tied up like tiny pieces of taffy, you only need a few Cocomels to curb your sugar lust (and I’m not saying that to be healthy, I’m saying that because they’re so rich and luscious that you get the satisfaction you were craving). And hey, it doesn’t hurt to save some for later. Trust me, you’ll want them later.