Cut cravings and boost energy with low-sugar options you can whip up in a minute or less.
America has a snacking problem: The vast majority of convenient, between-meal bites are packed with added sugar.
And we’re not just talking about candies, granola bars, and other vending machine staples. Even seemingly healthy foods sneak in the sweet stuff, like some nut butters, low-fat yogurt, and bread.
That’s why it’s always a good idea to check the list of ingredients before you buy. If you see terms like brown sugar, corn syrup, cane juice, honey, agave, or any word that ends in “ose” (sucrose, fructose, maltose), that means there’s added sugar. (Learn more in our guide to six simple ways to eat less sugar.)
An even better solution: Prepare simple, no-sugar-added snacks at home. You’ll not only cut extra sugar and calories from your diet, but the right kind of snack can do wonders for your energy, mood, and overall quality of your diet.
What exactly is the “right kind” of snack? Experts recommend combining a fiber-rich carb with a source of protein or healthy fat. This powerhouse combo delivers steady, sustained energy that’ll keep you satisfied for hours. Plus, when your fiber-rich carb is a piece of fruit, you’ll still get that sweet flavor you love from natural sugar.
Try one of these nutritionist-approved snacks the next time you’re craving a treat. They’re satisfying and easy to throw together—most you can whip up in a minute without any equipment at all. Unless otherwise noted, the recipes below make a single serving.
No-Sugar-Added Snack #1: Peanut Butter and Banana Toast
In the mood for something nostalgic? Seattle-based dietitian Miho Hatanaka, R.D.N., loves combining peanut butter and banana in place of the classic PB&J. “I like to use banana instead of jelly, since bananas are more nutritious than jelly and have no added sugar,” she says.
It’s also a well-balanced combo that will hold you over for hours, with healthy fats, fiber-packed carbs, and some plant-based protein.
- 1 slice whole wheat bread
- 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter (no sugar added)
- ½ medium banana
- Sprinkle of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice (optional)
What to do: Toast bread, and spread with peanut butter. Slice banana, and lay slices over toast. Top with a little spice (if using).
No-Sugar-Added Snack #2: Almond Pistachio Cocoa Bites
“These energy bites are easy to make and naturally sweet, thanks to cocoa powder, vanilla extract, and almond butter,” says Amy Gorin, R.D.N., owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in the New York City area. “They’ll satisfy your sweet tooth while also keeping you fuller for longer, thanks to protein and fiber.”
Each batch makes 14 snack-size energy bites, so store them in the fridge or freezer for quick on-the-go snacking.
- 1½ cup oats
- 1 cup almond butter (no sugar added)
- ⅓ cup chia seeds
- ¼ cup pistachios, chopped
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder, divided
What to do: In a medium bowl, mix oats, almond butter, chia seeds, pistachios, vanilla extract, and 1 tablespoon cocoa powder with a spoon until well combined. Roll into 14 balls with your hands, then place on parchment paper in an air-tight container. Dust with remaining cocoa powder. Refrigerate or freeze for a few hours or overnight.
No-Sugar-Added Snack #3: Mango with Cottage Cheese and Coconut
“I always recommend my clients snack on a combination of protein, healthy fat, and fiber,” says Ha Nguyen, R.D.N., of Yummy Body Nutrition in the Philadelphia area. “Fiber-rich foods take a little longer to digest and absorb water in your belly, giving you the feeling of fullness.”
This sweet and creamy combo gets a ton of extra flavor from just a little bit of shredded coconut.
- 6 ounces low-fat cottage cheese
- 1 small mango, peeled, cored, and diced
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut flakes (or shredded coconut)
What to do: In a bowl or jar, layer cottage cheese and mango. Top with coconut.
No-Sugar-Added Snack #4: Plain Greek Yogurt with Raisins and Sunflower Seeds
“Greek yogurt is a great source of protein, and you can get an individual Greek yogurt cup at any supermarket,” Hatanaka says. Raisins and sunflower seeds add sweetness and some crunch, but any combination of dried fruit and nuts will work here. Dried cranberries and cherries are often sold with sugar added, so just be sure to check.
- 1 container (6 ounces) plain low-fat Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons raisins
- 1 tablespoon roasted sunflower seeds
What to do: Sprinkle yogurt with raisins and sunflower seeds. Stir together, and eat up.
No-Sugar-Added Snack #5: Wedged Apples with Almond Butter and Chia Seeds
“The natural sweetness of the apple and salty peanut butter are a match made in heaven,” Hatanaka says. Fat and protein from the almond butter and chia seeds give this snack staying power, and the natural sugar and fiber in an apple provide a steady stream of energy.
- 1 medium apple
- 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter (no sugar added)
- 1 teaspoon chia seeds
What to do: Core and slice apple. Dip wedges in almond butter. Sprinkle with chia seeds.
No-Sugar-Added Snack #6: Frozen Mochaccino
Looking for a sippable on-the-go snack that’s a little more fun than your typical fruit smoothie? This Frappuccino-esque drink is the perfect pick-me-up.
“It has the taste and texture of the coffee shop version but with no added sugar,” Gorin says. “You get plenty of natural sweetness from the banana and other ingredients—and it’s energizing, thanks to the espresso, and protein and fiber from the yogurt, soy milk, nut butter, and fruit.”
- ⅓ cup unsweetened soy milk
- 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 shot espresso
- 1 banana, frozen
- 6 ounces plain low-fat Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon almond butter
What to do: Blend ingredients together and enjoy!
No-Sugar-Added Snack #7: Crispy Pumpkin Spice Chickpeas and Raisins
“I’m a big fan of chickpea-based snacks,” says Jackie Newgent, R.D.N., culinary nutritionist and author of The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook. “I find these so satisfying because chickpeas provide a duo of protein and fiber.”
The recipe below is perfect for fall, and the warm flavor of pumpkin pie spice (with a little help from some raisins) can satisfy your sweet craving without any added sugar. Each batch makes about three servings.
- 1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¾ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup raisins
What to do: Heat oven to 400˚F. Toss chickpeas, olive oil, pumpkin pie spice, and salt together on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Roast 30 to 35 minutes, tossing halfway through. Chickpeas should be lightly browned and crispy on the outside. Cool completely before tossing with raisins. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
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