We all know that fresh fruit is the healthiest way to end a meal but sometimes it just doesn’t cut it. Your body sends out signals for something decadent and sweet to finish off your dinner. Just enough to satisfy without blowing the whole day’s intake. Just enough to rein in a craving. When a sweet craving strikes, try ONE of these 20 treats that range from healthy to semi-healthy and then indulgent – depending on your mood and what’s on offer.
I’ve done the hard work and counted the kilojoules for you so here are 20 sweet treats that are all under 600 kilojoules (145 calories), the official snack cut-off figure. So now you have a pleasant way to finish off a meal in a divinely tasteful, guilt-free way.
If you’re trying to lose weight, one small treat each day makes good sense. It will keep you on track and stop you breaking the diet with a wild binge. The trick is to keep it small - 600 kJ or less.
Use my Snack Limiter Rule: serve up your treat - on a small plate or in a bowl - in the quantity you’re going to eat, no more or less.
Close up the pack and put it away. That way, there’s no temptation and no endless treats facing you for mindless eating.
We’ve all experienced the Tim Tam Trap – treats so delicious that you can’t stop at just one. And distracted by TV or a magazine, you don’t notice your hand going back and back for a second and a third. Until – horror – you notice that half the pack has been eaten. Select one treat that you like from below so you’ve got something to look forward to.
Serving: Small punnet of blueberries
Weight: 120 g
Nothing beats the sweetness, lightness and ease of blueberries. Pop into your mouth and crunch. Figures also apply to a medium-sized mango, or a small bunch of grapes, or a punnet of strawberries, or an average piece of any fresh fruit. Choose what’s in season and within your budget. Read why berries are one of my favourite super foods, thanks to their vitamins and antioxidants.
Serving: 6 prunes, pitted
Weight: 72 g
I must confess a weakness for the dried plum. Prunes are always in my cupboard ready to be popped into my mouth when I need a pick-me-up. They’re not overly sweet but have that complimentary tartness. A handy snack that can always be there in your cupboard. And of course they’re famous for keeping your insides regular!
Serving: 1 slice raisin bread or toast with 1 tablespoon ricotta
Quick, warming and satisfying on a cold day. Fruit loaf warms you up without sending your blood sugars into a spike as it’s low GI. It’s got around the same kilojoule and fat count as regular white bread but with a little more sugar due to the sultanas or raisins. Wholemeal fruit loaf is healthier and gutsy but not always available. Store in freezer and defrost a slice as needed. Spreading ricotta instead of butter also cuts the fat content of this snack.
Serving: 1 small tub from the supermarket
Weight: 120 g
Keep a tub of these fruit pieces in your desk drawer and you’ve always got a sweet fruity snack on hand. At almost 15 grams carb per serve, it represents one standard carb portion if you’re on a diabetic diet. Yes it contains added sugar but don’t slurp the syrup; just lift the fruit pieces up and out and you’ll be ahead. Or look out for the no-added-sugar types.
Serving: 7 dates, pitted
Weight: 45 g
Yes they’re sweet and sugary but I find snacking on dates cuts a sugar craving dead. And you get a bonus: lots of bowel-beneficial fibre plus potassium, an essential mineral that keeps blood pressure in check. I love ‘em!
Serving: 1 pouch of SPC Power Pulp
Weight: 150 g
Pouches of puree aren’t to my liking but they’re popular with kids, sweet, quick to pack and convenient. Just open and squeeze into your mouth! They’re all fruit but remember that there’s nothing to chew and little fibre, so they don’t satisfy as long as real fruit.
Serving: 4 liquorice twists
Weight: 50 g
Compact. Long-life with a unique flavour. I’m partial to the odd chew on liquorice but it has to be the firm twist or strap, not the soft eating type. Despite liquorice’s herbal angles, let’s not kid ourselves – this is STILL confectionery with its load of sugar, colours and flavours. If you eat slowly, four twists can go a long way …
Serving: 1 tub fruit set in jelly
Weight: 40 g
Keep a couple of tubs of fruit set in jelly for those cravings for something sweet and soft with that childhood nursery-nostalgia of Aeroplane jelly sweets. At 348kJ, it’s not going to blow the diet and you get to dream in peach, apricot, pineapple or mango.
Serving: 2 sesame snaps (half a small packet)
Weight: 20 g
This sesame honey treat suits a craving for something crisp and crunchy along the lines of hard sweets. They take a while to chew your way through so they’re quite satisfying. They give your mouth a good workout.
Serving: 8 marshmallows
Weight: 40 g
You don’t have to toast them over a campfire or wait 15 minutes before consuming. Marshmallows with their soft mousse-like interior are a common treat food. With no fat, only sugar, you can bite into 8 and still say under 600.
Serving: 5 snakes
Weight: 64 g
Don’t know about you but soft jellies such as snakes or jelly babies are a big weakness for me. So I have to put them out on a plate to save myself heading back for more and more. These definitely give you a sweet hit of pure sugar but are a real taste experience.
Serving: 2 small treat-size chocolate bars, dark or milk
(individually wrapped) or about 5 squares
Weight: 25 g
Yes you can eat chocolate if that’s what you’re craving but it’s only a small amount – two snack bars or about 5 squares or any other combo that adds to 25 grams (just under one ounce). Make sure you sit down, close your eyes and eat it slowly. Really make this bit last.
Serving: 2 Smarties snack boxes or about 20 smarties
Weight: 26 g
If you have a weakness for Smarties, then aim for two of their snack boxes (about 20 in total) to get you through that chocolate craving. It gives you that Smartie hit without blowing the whole thing.
Serving: 1 Tim Tam
Weight: 18 g
Yikes! At 400 kJ each, I can only have one of these decadent biscuits, or more accurately 1 ½ biscuits - which is ridiculous as I'd eat TWO of them. I know and you know! Chocolate is the most concentrated of foods so only a little fits under the 600 kJ cap so you can only have ONE. Three mouthfuls - which hopefully is enough to satisfy without sending you screaming for more.
Serving: 3 Dove Promises
Weight: 21 g
With their antioxidant polyphenols, small amounts of dark chocolate have more than taste to recommend them. You can find out more about it in my post Dark chocolate - health food or guiltless treat?
Dove have been around for years but their latest wrapped “bites” of chocolate offer a handy advantage over the large slab blocks. You have to unwrap each one which slows down your eating and you can count them out on a plate so you don’t go back for more – without getting your fingers all sticky!
Serving: 1 Nestle Mint Pattie
Weight: 20 g
I’m a sucker for mint combined with chocolate, so I thought of this old favourite. It’s also good as it is individually wrapped and sold as just one, so you can’t demolish the whole pack as you could with chocolate mint biscuits.
Serving: Nestle Aero Bar (1/2 bar or 3 pieces)
Weight: 20 g
Another popular chocolate treat that tempts you at train stations and newsagent sweets counters everywhere. Sadly it’s only half a 40 g bar so eat half now, half tomorrow. See my post on How a whipped chocolate can give you more volume for fewer kilojoules in Light chocolate.
These treats will help you out when only ice-cream will do.
Serving: 1 Weis Mango and Cream bar
Weight: 80 g
Single serve means portion control is done for you. And these mango bars really hit the spot with their luscious taste and smoothness.
Serving: 1 scoop regular vanilla ice cream
Weight: 70 g
Ice cream really hits the spots when it’s hot and humid outside. Or you’ve been working hard physically.
Plus you get a bit of calcium (yes!) and protein. OK, so I’m justifying already.
Serving: 2 scoops low-fat or light vanilla ice cream
Weight: 80 g
You get roughly two scoops compared to one of regular ice cream but there is a trade-off with less flavour and mouthfeel so it’s up to you. If you love LOTS on your plate and don’t mind the drop, a low-fat ice cream can make you feel content and satisfy that sweet craving. You can throw over a handful of fresh blueberries or sliced strawberries or the pulp of a passionfruit. Negligible kilojoules.
Photography by Georgia Saxelby. Thank you to Airlie Lacy, Dietitian, for assistance with calculations (and eating the yummy leftovers!).