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During the month of love, chocolate is inescapable. Come Valentine’s Day (or let’s be honest, really any day) you can’t go wrong adding some chocolate to the mix — at least for your psychological well-being. But most chocolate-laced products on the market are nutritional duds full of sugar, sketchy fats and mystery ingredients. And that includes virtually any chocolate morsels stuffed into a heart-shaped box.
But here’s some good news: It’s now easier than ever to find chocolate products on store shelves or online that are less likely to steamroll your diet with empty calories.
Here are some of the best nutritionist-approved lower sugar ways to embrace your inner Willy Wonka this Valentine’s Day, or on any other day. And if you think chocolate is only for desserts—think again!
Why not start the day off right by eating chocolate for breakfast? Unlike most granola on the market, which can be a sugar bomb, each bag of these crunchy oats is naturally sweetened with dates instead of added processed sugars. The use of 100% cacao dark chocolate will give you a bigger antioxidant bang (and less sugar) along with a more robust chocolatey flavor.
Since the oats are sourced from farms that practice regenerative agriculture, you can feel even better about dumping this granola on a bowl of yogurt and finishing it off with fresh berries and a few chopped nuts.
Get it at alterecofoods.com
Not only does this toasty hot chocolate contain less than half the sugar of most cocoa drink mixes, but it also provides a jumble of medicinal mushrooms including lion’s mane, reishi and Chaga. There is even some ashwagandha to help soothe any frazzled nerves. And, no, each sip does not taste like soil. Try simmering it with some milk or unsweetened dairy-free milk and a sprinkle of cinnamon to help you feel all cozy inside.
Get it at ommushrooms.com
You don’t have to be going Keto to enjoy spreading this cocoa bean-infused no-added-sugar blend on your toast. Made with almonds, Brazil nuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, flax and chia seeds, think of it as the brethren of peanut butter on steroids. It’s also great slathered on apple slices, blended into smoothies or thinned with warm milk and then strewn over pancakes.
Get it at nuttzo.com
Is it a protein powder, a multivitamin or both? Each scoop of this powder delivers 20 grams of plant-based protein and a range of essential micronutrients including iron, vitamin B 12 and zinc. It’s also laced with an organic fruit and veggie blend for a dose of antioxidants. Sure, you can blend it into your post-workout shake for much-needed muscle-mending protein, but for a stack of Valentine’s chocolate pancakes, try swapping out a third of the flour in your flapjack batter for this powder.
Get it at kos.com
Each delicious bite-sized square is made with an ultra-clean ingredient list including cacao, tart cherries, almonds, cashews and pumpkin seeds. In other words, a healthy snack that actually delivers on good nutrition. These are also great fuel for any of your outdoor pursuits, including skiing and hiking.
Get it at nutsola.com
Verging on a truly guilt-free treat, pre-portioned squares are adorned with crunchy cacao nibs for a one-two chocolate punch. A high cacao content means more of the heart-friendly antioxidants you want and fewer of the added sugars you don’t need. Organic and Rainforest Alliance Certified ups the feel-good factor. A great challenge will be to limit yourself to the adequate serving size – 3 pieces, not the entire bag.
Get it at shopnibmor.com
When you coat a creamy almond butter filling with dark chocolate that’s been bettered with just the right amount of espresso flavor, you have a treat that will melt your heart . This is another perfect excuse to include more chocolate in your breakfast routine.
Get it at justins.com
Finding flavored oatmeal that isn’t loaded with added sugar is a challenge, but these just-add-hot-water oatmeal cups have just the right amount of sweetness from dates and real chocolate with almonds delivering a nice crunch. The clever addition of egg whites ups the protein numbers to give this oatmeal more muscle-building and hunger-taming power. The taste is so decadent, you’ll be less tempted to hit the snooze button. You can also pour milk in and let the oats soak overnight.
Get it at rxbar.com
If you aren’t jonesing to bake up a batch of your very own V-day baked goodies, then these morsels from the direct-to-consumer bakery are your ticket to something that tastes like homemade and is certainly made with love. They’re grain-free, dairy-free and sugar-free, but not free of crave-worthy flavor and texture. Unlike most store-bought baked foods, you won’t need a chemistry dictionary to decipher the ingredient list.
Get it at bougiebakes.com
Crackly chocolate gives way to creamy Greek yogurt…yum! Each subzero bar has 8 grams of protein, only 100 calories and 1 gram sugar. So this treat can help you get through the holiday without sugar-laden regret. The active cultures in the product may also give it some gut-benefiting prowess.
Get it at cliosnacks.com
Get it at itsblume.com
What’s not to adore about dried organic bananas that are coated in a layer of organic dark chocolate? And just a single gram of added sugar, to boot. It could be argued that popping a couple of these is a great way to get energized before a workout.
Get it at thatsitfruit.com