10 Healthy alternatives to chocolate this Christmas
Family-sized tins of Cadbury's Roses and Quality Street, gifts from well-meaning friends and neighbours, not to mention chocolate selection boxes - it seems like chocolate is everywhere during the festive season. We're not saying there's anything wrong with treating yourself a little, in fact, we recommend you do! But if you're looking for some healthier alternatives to chocolate to ensure you don't fall off the healthy eating wagon completely this year, we're coming to the rescue! Check out these 10 healthier options that you can stock up on now, to make your holidays healthier.
#1. Nakd bars
Here at Expertrain HQ, Nakd Bars are our go-to if we're craving something sweet - particularly the chocolate flavour (we're all fighting over the chocolate orange bars lately). Packed with fruit, nuts and cocoa, these healthy raw bars are naturally sweet thanks to dates and raisins and they have a fudgy, cake-like texture that makes them feel more like a dessert than a healthy snack. They come in a huge range of flavours too - last time we checked there was even a Christmas Pudding flavour, so you can celebrate the festive season whilst staying healthy too!
Popcorn doesn't have to be savoury - and it doesn't have to be loaded with calories either. In fact, popcorn is naturally low in calories; it's the toppings that can often be unhealthy. All those Christmas movie nights with the whole family can leave you reaching into the Roses tin again and again. So replace your chocolates with a bowl of freshly-popped corn. You can pick up popcorn seasonings at many major supermarkets (check they don't contain any E-numbers or artificial additives) or make your own at home. We have a few great ideas here!
#3. Fruit jelly
Forget chocolate brownies and After Eights for dessert - jelly with fruit in it is the way to go! Low-sugar jelly (you'll find healthier versions in many health food stores) made with added fresh or tinned fruit is a great way to get your five-a-day whilst satisfying your sweet tooth. If you're feeling really cheeky, you could even add a splash of gin or vodka to your fruit jelly before putting it in the fridge to set. We love lemon jelly with gin and berries, or strawberry jelly with vodka and blueberries - but the non-alcoholic versions are just as tasty with added fruit!
#4. Cacao Nibs
A less processed form of chocolate, cacao nibs are simply roasted cocoa beans that have been removed from their husks and broken into tiny pieces. These crunchy, tasty nibs have a similar flavour to unsweetened cocoa and can be added to brownies, used to top yoghurt or eaten alone as a snack to curb your chocolate cravings. Packed with antioxidants, cacao nibs contain around 130 calories per 1oz serving and are a good source of dietary fibre!
The pulp of the carob pod is roasted and then usually ground to a powder that tastes similar to cocoa, although you'll find carob nibs in some health food stores too. Carob contains no caffeine, and it's naturally low in fat yet high in fibre. Because it's less bitter than cocoa, no sweetener is needed, and you can use it as a topping for yoghurt or in your festive baked goods!
#6. Chocolate soy milk
Bear with us - we know that chocolate milk isn't going to kill your urge to sneak another Quality Street from the tub. But making a rich, thick chocolate milkshake with soy milk is at least a healthier way to get your chocolate fix this Christmas. Dairy free and low in calories, it's definitely a great alternative to chocolate this festive season.
#7. Chocolate rice cakes
Yes, they still contain chocolate. But dark chocolate covered rice cakes are definitely a better way to curb cravings for the sweet stuff over the Christmas break. Dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants and contains less sugar than milk chocolate (it's less processed too) and rice cakes are naturally low in fat - a great snack!
#8. Chocolate-dipped strawberries
If you absolutely must have chocolate, why not combine it with something that's amazingly good for you? Strawberries are a powerhouse of vitamin C, great for boosting your immune system and warding off seasonal colds and flu, and dipped in chocolate (leave them in the fridge to harden) they make a great snack or dessert. Yum!
#9. Chocolate chia pudding
Chia seeds are packed with protein and by now we're sure you know just how healthy they are! Chia pudding will fill you up whilst satisfying your sweet tooth - and the best part is you can prepare it the night before and leave it in the fridge. Use the best cocoa powder you can find when making chocolate chia pudding for a rich, dark flavour - and top with your favourite fruit, or even some cacao nibs, if you're a serious chocoholic!
#10. Hot chocolate
One of the best things about the chilly winter weather? Steaming mugs of hot chocolate. Use a high-quality cocoa powder and use almond or soy milk for a healthier option - don't add too much sugar either. We love a mug of cocoa in the Expertrain office when we're hard at work!