Starting a Whole30, or just looking to cut back on sugar? Here’s 22 sugar-free Whole30-friendly snacks to stock your kitchen with. They’ll be your lifesavers whenever hunger hits, and all contain only real, unprocessed whole foods.
The new year is officially here, and if you’ve decided to make this month the one where you renew your holistic wellness vows, today’s post is for you!
We’ve all been told (and science has shown) that sugar is something our bodies are better off with less of. At the same time, I’m sure we’ve all experienced that starting down the path of eating sugary foods can be a slippery slope. One of my best tactics (and something described as part of my Feel Better Sugar Detox Program) for avoiding this altogether and keeping sugar cravings away is to stock my kitchen with plenty of low sugar/sugar-free options.
By this, I mean snacks that…
- Are made of real, unprocessed whole foods
- Are easy to make
- Require very little (or no) prep, or can be made ahead when you do have time
- Have no added sugars or sweeteners – or are completely sugar-free
If you’ve decided to embark on a Whole30 this month, you’re probably well aware that added sugar is a no-go on the Whole30 plan, regardless of whether it’s real or artificial. That means you’ll want to steer clear of stevia, xylitol, maple syrup, honey, agave, plus all your other usual culprits – many of which end in -ose – for the 30 days. It might sound difficult at first, especially since sugar hides in so many of the foods we wouldn’t expect to find it in. But whether you’re doing a full-on Whole30 or just want to cut back on sugar, you’ll be happy to know you can use the list of sugar-free, Whole30-friendly snacks below as your green lit snacking cheat sheet.
1. Toasted seaweed snacks
These are super low in carbohydrates, and typically just contain nori seaweed, oil and sea salt. Sea veggies in general are high in nutrients, especially iodine, iron, vitamin C and antioxidant compounds. You’ll want to ensure you’re using a brand that uses high-quality oils (not vegetable based ones), and be sure to check that no MSG has been added. SeaSnax is one of my favourites, with a wide-range of flavour options. I love to enjoy their crispy seaweed snacks by themselves, crumbled on top of salads or soups, tossed into wraps, and as a vehicle for things like smoked salmon or tuna.
2. DIY seaweed salad
I shared this recipe on Instagram a little while back, but it deserves mentioning here too because it’s so simple and delicious. Many prepared seaweed salads contain vegetable oils and extra sugar (why!?!) whereas this version is one you can feel much better about. (Note: sesame seeds and sesame oil are not strictly off limits for Whole30 – more info here.)
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Presenting… Quick + Easy Seaweed Salad that’s even MORE delicious (and healthier!) than the kind you get in sushi restaurants. ???You might not know it, but restaurants and pre-made seaweed salads are often drenched in dressings made with a lot of sugar, salt and the not-so-good-for-us types of oils. ~ All you need for this cleaner version is: 1 package dehydrated mixed seaweed (I used @seasnax SeaVegi mix) 1/2 avocado, diced 1/2 cup diced cucumber 1 tbsp each lime juice + coconut aminos 1 tsp each toasted sesame oil, extra virgin olive oil and ginger juice (or pureed ginger) sesame seeds ~ Soak the dehydrated seaweed in hot water for about 5 minutes while you prep the remaining ingredients. Drain the water off the seaweed, give it a rinse, and mix it with the other ingredients. Squeeze a little extra lime juice on top and sprinkle with more sesame seeds to garnish. Grab your chopsticks and enjoy!???
3. Sushi-ritos (burritos, but wrapped in nori)
I promise not every item on this list will include seaweed, but let me give you just two more! Since grains are a no-go on Whole30, you can use raw nori sheets as wraps for tuna, chicken, avocado, cucumber, and pretty much any other veggie or filling you’d want to put inside a wrap! In the photo below, I used purple cauliflower rice, bell peppers, tuna, cucumber, carrot, fresh herbs, avocado, pickled ginger and sugar-free sriracha. Of course, if you prefer not to eat seaweed, you can also do the same burrito-style rollup with collard leaves.
4. Rainbow Rolls
These are just the same as above, only downsized like maki sushi rolls. The possibilities for fillings are endless! (Admittedly, these take a little longer to prepare than the other options on this list, but speed comes with practice and the end result is always worth it!) Here’s my paleo sushi tutorial.
5. Low-sugar smoothies
While some smoothies and smoothie bowls can have just as much sugar as a bag of candy, it’s not hard to fix that and create a more nutritious, low-sugar, Whole30 compliant smoothie instead. Whole30 recommends that solid foods be prioritized over liquids, but there’s no denying that smoothies are a quick and easy way to get a whole lot of nutrition in a single glass with minimal effort. So with that in mind, let’s talk options.
The majority of my smoothie recipes (including the low sugar smoothies) use protein powder, and on Whole30, this is a no-go because the intention is to get all the nutrients that a protein powder provides through real food. That might mean that your smoothies are no longer the most protein-dense meal options, but it doesn’t mean they need to be ruled out. For many of mine, you can just omit the protein powder. If you want to maintain the protein content and are not vegan or vegetarian, you can swap in 100% grass-fed unsweetened collagen peptides.
A few recommendations (simply omit any protein powder mentioned, and optionally, swap for collagen peptides):
- Super simple almond butter + banana: 1 frozen banana + 1 cup unsweetened almond milk + 1 tbsp almond butter + 1 tsp chia seeds.
- Low Sugar Pink Grapefruit Green Smoothie
- Green Start Smoothie, ABC Green Smoothie, Powerplant Pineapple Smoothie
- Vitamin C Booster Smoothie Bowl, Immunity-Boosting Pineapple Kiwi Coconut Smoothie Bowl, Vanilla Clementine Green Smoothie
- Blackberry Açai Hemp Smoothie, Raspberry Peach Sunrise Smoothie, Lean Green Apple Smoothie
6. Veggies and bean-free dip or guacamole
Note: Coconut aminos are the Whole30-approved alternative to soy sauce and tamari, and anywhere peanut butter is mentioned, swap for almond or cashew butter.
7. Whole fruit
It doesn’t get much easier than grabbing an apple, does it? Fruit is one of my favourite convenience foods and there’s a lot of it “allowed” on Whole30.
8. Chia pudding
As long as you enjoy them in small quantities, chia seeds are Whole30 compliant. You can toss a quick chia pudding together (even days in advance) by combining 1 cup of non-dairy milk of your choice, 3-4 tbsp chia seeds, and whatever fruit you’d like to sweeten. Stir it really well, then let it sit long enough to gel (15 minutes if you’re really short on time, but ideally 1 hour or longer). Voila!
As we know, artificial sweeteners and added sweeteners aren’t Whole30 compliant, but fruit is. The idea is to limit sugar overall though, so berries are a great low-sugar, high-fiber option. Their juices work perfectly to sweeten chia pudding, especially if you let frozen berries defrost in your chia pudding mixture overnight. If you’d like an even more satiating snack, you could also add chopped nuts (but not peanuts) or toasted flaked coconut on top.
9. Wild caught canned salmon, sardines and tuna
Grab some salmon or sardines and say hello to omega-3 healthy fats, vitamin D, and protein – all in one little can! I love mixing up quick sardine or salmon salads just like you’d do with canned tuna, using smashed avocado and lemon or lime juice for moisture. Just like fresh or frozen seafood, you’ll want to look for brands that use sustainable fishing practices. Thrive Market and Wild Planet are my go-tos, and the fact that both have salmon that is boneless, skinless, and in a ring pull can makes this an incredibly convenient option!
10. Avocado Tuna Boats
No grains = no problem. For some healthy fat, B vitamins, potassium and protein, fill up half of a ripe avocado with wild caught tuna. Or, if you have a bit more time, mix up your tuna salad by adding minced veggies, spices, and sugar-free condiments of choice. Rice vinegar or lime juice, coconut aminos and sriracha are my usual Asian-inspired picks.
11. Hard boiled eggs
Eggs are often called the perfect protein, and it’s for good reason: They’re full of vitamins A, B, D and E, as well as iron, choline, and other valuable nutrients. With about 6 grams of protein each, they’re a cheap and easy way to stay satiated on the go and making them couldn’t be easier. I like to boil mine for 6-7 minutes for a yolk that’s perfectly set-but-soft. If you prefer a very solid yolk, boil 10-12 mins.
12. Pickled veggies, sauerkraut and kimchi
I’ve found that these are lifesavers for killing a sugar craving almost immediately! If you read Whole30 forums you’ll find a lot of questions about fermented foods, so I recommend reading this to learn more. Long story short, fermented foods show promising benefits for gut health and sauerkraut, kimchi and pickled veggies can be enjoyed on Whole30.
Controversy comes up because sugar is needed in order for fermentation to happen, but the bacteria in whatever you’re fermenting eat that sugar during the process. As long as sugar isn’t used to add flavour after fermentation has happened (as is the case with MANY kombuchas out there), it’s a-ok. You can find one of my DIY kimchi recipes here.
13. Sugar free jerky and biltong
One thing I’ve learned since moving to the US is that jerky of all kinds is a BIG freaking deal! Definitely be sure to read your labels here. Ideally you want grass-fed and pasture raised, and absolutely look for products that are free of hormones and antibiotics because you don’t want to be eating either! Watch out for maple syrup, honey, and other sweeteners on ingredient lists. A few great brands with 100% sugar-free options include EPIC, Mission Meats, Chomps, and Ayoba-Yo (which is not actually jerky, it’s biltong, and it’s delicious!)
14. Egg muffins
Another great make-ahead option, these are basically bite-sized frittatas and work for breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner. Here’s the game plan:
- Preheat the oven to 350F and spray a muffin tin with avocado oil,
- Chop some bell peppers, greens, mushrooms, tomatoes, fresh herbs, or whatever you have on hand into small pieces and distribute them amongst the muffin tin spaces. If you like, you can add bits of shredded cooked chicken or smoked salmon to the mix.
- Whisk together 12 eggs and about 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk, then pour it into each cavity.
- Bake for 25 mins or until set in the middle. Serve with your choice of avocado, or sugar-free salsa/hot sauce.
15. Roasted sweet potatoes
Dress these up however you like – sweet or savoury. After coating the peeled diced potatoes in a light layer of coconut or avocado oil, try tossing in the following:
- Sweet: cinnamon, all-spice, ground ginger, or your favourite blend (pumpkin pie spice, apple pie spice, etc.)
- Indian-inspired: Any of the following – curry powder, garam masala, turmeric, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, chili powder, garlic powder
- Zesty Thai: lime juice, basil, cumin, ginger, cardamom, Thai seasoning blends
- Cajun: lime juice, cayenne, garlic powder, oregano, paprika, thyme
- Mexican: chili powder (ancho, chipotle etc), garlic powder, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, oregano
- Middle Eastern: lemon, za’atar, garlic, oregano, coriander, garlic powder, cinnamon, cardamom
16. Sweet potato with almond butter + cinnamon
Same as above, only a slightly faster option. If you’re short on time, simply boil or steam the sweet potato, then sprinkle with cinnamon and drizzle with almond butter. This is also delicious when mashed, and if you want to make it extra tasty, try a drizzle of melted 100% dark chocolate (see below). I’m warning you, it’s addictive!
17. 100% cacao dark chocolate
I know that dark chocolate can be something you’re either totally into or totally not, but I fall in the former camp and love a little bit of dark chocolate after a meal. Eating Evolved makes a 100% cacao dark chocolate bar with coconut (and yes, dark chocolate must be 100% cacao to be Whole30 compliant), and while some may find it slightly bitter, it totally satisfies my chocolate fix needs!
18. Homemade trail mix
Store-bought versions often come loaded with sugar, but DIY ones are super simple – and you can add more of the ingredients you like best! Peanuts aren’t Whole30 compliant as they’re technically legumes, but nuts and seeds are ok and recommended in limited quantities. Take your pick from options like raw almonds, cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, Brazil nuts, pecans, pistachios, pepitas, sesame and sunflower seeds and pine nuts.
For non-nut/seed options, try coconut chips, 100% cacao nibs (unsweetened) or 100% dark chocolate chunks, and small amounts of chopped pitted dates if you really want a sweeter ingredient in the mix. Similar to the roasted sweet potatoes above, try using any combo of spices to keep things interesting. If you really want to, you can toast your nuts, seeds and coconut chips to enhance their flavours. Note that Whole30 guidelines recommend limiting dried fruit because again, you’re trying to limit overall sugar intake.
19. Smoked salmon + cucumber
No prep needed here, aside from slicing your cucumbers. If you want to get a little fancy after topping your cucumber slices with salmon, add a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of fresh dill.
20. Cinnamon baked apple chips
Ok, not the speediest of recipes but the ease of prep wins on this one! Slice your apples as thin as you can, lightly toss in coconut oil, and sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake them on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 2 hours at 200F, flipping half way.
21. Veggie fries/chips (sweet potato, carrot, turnip, jicama, beets, kale, etc)
With the exception of kale chips, the process is pretty standard for these: Toss equal-size pieces in avocado oil, dust with whatever spices you fancy, and roast on a parchment-lined baking sheet. I’m impatient and like to get this done ASAP, so I usually roast at 400-425F for about 20 minutes, flipping half way.
For kale chips, you definitely don’t want to roast at 400 for 20 minutes or else you’ll have nothing but black ashes remaining. Instead, massage the leaves really well with the avocado oil and ensure they’re not overlapping on your parchment paper. Aim for 300F and 15-20 mins, flipping 2-3 times for even crispiness.
22. Crispy roasted cauliflower
Same as above for the veggie fries!
So tell me… do you have any favourite sugar-free, Whole30 snacks to add to the list? Anyone doing Whole30 this month?
Psst! Even if you’re not doing Whole30 but still want to reduce your added/overall sugar intake, the Feel Better Sugar Detox can help! You can get all the details and download it here.