Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Healthy Habits Challenge February: Eat Less Sugar, Part 3 - 15 Healthy Sugar-Free Snack Ideas

Welcome to week 3 of February's Healthy Habits Challenge to Eat Less Sugar! Hopefully by now you are committed to finding ways to reduce and eliminate too much sugar from your diet. I know from experience that snacks are what kill me when it comes to sugar cravings. You get to certain points of the day when you feel the urge for a snack, and it is all too easy to reach for something sweet. Often, for me, I find that I don't feel satisfied with my snack unless it was sweet. That has gotten better since I've done my sugar-free goal during the last two months. But, when I'm tired, stressed, bored, or other times that I've historically had a sweet treat (Friday nights watching a movie, for example) I still feel the pull of sugar, and it really helps to have some good snack alternatives to turn to.  I've pulled together a few of my favorite (and soon-to-be favorite) simple, sugar-free snacking options. You're bound to find some favorites here, too!


 Popcorn 

Popcorn is such a great snack food, and can be awesome for filling that sweet tooth craving if you make it with plenty of flavor. Savory popcorn seasonings are fantastic, or you can pretend to make it sweet with coconut oil, cinnamon, cocoa, or other flavors.

Oh yeah, and did you know you can microwave popcorn in a paper bag? Hello! The convenience of microwave popcorn without all the yucky chemicals ... my world has been transformed! It's a piece of cake, but here's a step-by-step to make sure you get it right!)

Here are some seasoned popcorn recipes and ideas to tempt your sweet tooth without reaching for sugar:

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10 Healthy Microwave Popcorn Recipes from The Yummy Life
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Dark chocolate and chili powder - what a fantastic flavor combo! From Cookie+Kate.
This popcorn seasoning recipe is all natural and totally addictive. Everywhere we take it someone asks us for the recipe - so glad I made the mistake I did to come up with this best popcorn recipe!
A surprising spice blend that is bound to entertain your taste buds without any sugar involved! From Whole New Mom.

Roasted Nuts 

Nuts make a filling snack, and when you add in some extra flavors they can be a great sweet tooth saver. A simple and healthy way to roast your own nuts is to soak them for 8-10 hours in water, then drain and place them on a baking sheet. Let them sit in an oven set to 140-150ยบ for another 8-10 hours (I know the hours add up, but it's 99.9% work-free time!). When they taste crispy you can pull them out and season them however you like! Just mix a half teaspoon of oil (to make the seasoning stick) along with your spices of choice with the nuts, and shake it all together in a jar or plastic bag.

Some of my favorites flavor combos these days are coconut oil with cinnamon, coconut oil with cocoa powder, and plain old olive oil with salt. Here are some more ideas to get you going:

Italian Rosemary Garlic Scented Nuts ~ Sumptuous Spoonfuls #spiced #nuts #holiday #gift #recipe
Italian Rosemary Garlic Spiced Nuts at Sumptuous Spoonfuls

Garam Masala Spiced Nuts at All Day I Dream About Food

Fruit Snacks ... (as in real fruit)

Fruit (not gummy fruit snacks ... high sugar there!) is obviously a great way to tame a sweet tooth, especially if your careful not to overdo it and choose fruits that are high fiber and low fructose (for more info on how much sugar is in different fruits, check out this post). Some great choices are apples with nut butter, berries with coconut milk, and grapefruit with shredded coconut. Here are some more amazing (real) fruit snacks to keep it interesting:
  • Toss diced apples with lemon juice and cinnamon. You'll have everyone around you asking where the smell of apple pie is coming from!
 
This fruity treat is sugar-free, but tastes nearly as good as real cheesecake! From Pass the Fresh.

I've been loving grapefruit lately - I can't wait to try it broiled as an extra-special treat! From Alisa Burke: Redefine Creativity.

Veggie Chips

We all know that eating veggies are good for us, but did you know that veggie chips are great for snacking if you have a sweet tooth? The roasting often brings out the natural sweetness in any vegetable. Sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, kale, cauliflower - you name it, it can probably be roasted into a great snack. Need some ideas? Here you go!
Sweet potatoes make my favorite veggie chips - here's one way to make them awesome from Pass the Fresh.

Squash, beets, parsnips, yuca - this blogger tried them all and rates how well they stand up! Can't wait to try the winner! From Girl Meets Bowl.

More great ideas and tips for baking veggie chips at Inspired to Share.

Dips and Sauces

And we all know that a good snack is made that much better when you can smother it in a great sauce or dunk it in an awesome dip. I always look for something that adds flavor and hopefully some protein, without adding in too much fat or sugar. Here are some great ideas that fit the bill perfectly:
If you haven't met tahini sauce, let me introduce you. Great on salads or with veggie snacks. This recipe is my go-to from Whole Living.

Clean Eating Winter Jicama Salsa
Of course, salsa! So many ways to combine fruits and veggies. Try this winter version with jicama from The Gracious Pantry.

And because I can't resist - one more of my personal favorites! Cranberry Salsa from Pass the Fresh.

Now that I've given you some of my favorites, I'd love to know ... What are your favorite healthy snacks when you get a sugar craving?

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