Winter Wellness Staples – Snacks and Sweets

It’s the final stretch of winter. Punxsutawney Phil may have predicted an early spring, but with another Nor’easter in the forecast, I can barely dream of seeing bright sunny days for the perpetually overcast ones. In other words, I’m stretched thin and need a treat or two. For the New Year, to make up for the excesses of the holiday season, I’ve been prioritizing wellness. More and better-quality sleep thanks to the Helight Red Light Sleep therapy, taking my supplements regularly, getting a daily dose of matcha and my favorite greens powder Broc Shots, prioritizing clean eating by ruling out seed oils, refined sugars, excess carbs with an emphasis on protein, collagen, antioxidants, and a nod to sustainability in the ingredients or packaging. It’s a strict-ish regimen, but satisfying indulgences abound with the right curation of wellness-minded treats, sweets, and snacks.

The indulgence of all indulgences is number one on the list. Though often laden with excess refined sugars and seed oils,  chocolate – the right kind – can be a wellness bonanza, especially gluten-free, vegan, kosher and non-GMO dark chocolate. The ethically-sourced Truffle Bars from Seattle Chocolate offer several culinary-satisfying, seasonally-themed bars that can be enjoyed year round by all palettes. The romantics, still in the halo of Valentine’s Day, will love the Berry in Love Dark Chocolate Truffle Bar. Cane sugar-sweetened with cacao sourced sustainably from West Africa and Rainforest Alliance Certified, it’s a portable twist on chocolate dipped strawberries.

For coffee fanatics, the Pike Place Espresso Truffle Bar combines chocolate with freshly roasted, espresso powder. My favorite is Mexican Hot Chocolate Truffle Bar, a spicy blend of dark chocolate, cinnamon, vanilla and cayenne. With closed eyes, each decadent bite reminds me of a spicy chocolate Margarita that warms up the cold winter blahs. Other faves from the female-owned company include Rainier Cherry Truffle Bar, Crème Brûlée Crackle Truffle Bar, and Peanut Butter Crisp. Added bonus, Seattle Chocolate is carbon-neutral and donates 10% of net profits from every purchase to Girls Inc., a non-profit in 350 cities in the US & Canada, focused on inspiring all girls to be strong, smart, and bold.

When craving a more indulgent form of chocolate, only a brownie will do  – with the requirement that it be plant-based. The Dark Chocolate Fudgy Brownie Plant-Based Baking Mix from Bake Me Healthy is all that, nutrient dense and sustainable. It checks all the boxes while being super indulgent. A blend of gluten-free, vegan and plant-based ingredients, including Organic (Rainforest Alliance Certified) chocolate chips, protein-rich Mochiko Sweet Rice and Upcycled Coffee Cherry Flours, make this a winter wellness powerhouse. The proverbial icing on the brownie – it’s free of refined sugar and sweetened with low-glycemic coconut sugar.

The mix only requires the addition of water and oil – I used avocado –  and 40 minutes in the oven to yield delicious, fudgy brownies as decadent as the more traditional gluten-based, sugary versions. Not so sweet you feel guilty and free of the most common allergens, Bake Me Healthy Mixes, created by female found Kimberle after developing postpartum allergies, are also available in Banana Bread & Muffin and Carrot Cake & Cupcakes Baking Mixes.

If craving crunch and salt, Spirit Almonds will satisfy with Japanese flavors and aesthetics. The California-based snack company roasts our favorite nuts and seasons them for foodie-ready palettes with the wellness-based ingredients one finds in scrumptious sushi bento boxes. From the sweet and savory Miso, Curry, Seaweed, Koji and the dynamite Black Garlic, the umami, spicy crunchiness wrapped in matching Japanese-inspired patterns are super portable, fiber-rich, under 200 calorie per packet, and available in variety packs for a taste of all six addictive flavors.

For the purists, who want their indulgence to provide more functional nutrition with a nod to rich desserts for breakfast and snacks on the go, Unite’s award-winning protein bars come in exotic, global flavors that are as satisfying as they are nutrient dense. Inspired by some of the richest deserts worldwide, Churros and Baklava flavors are chock full of almond butter, whey protein – 10 grams per 180 calorie serving –  and taste like the real thing.

The two beverage-based options – Bubble Tea and Mexican Hot Chocolate – are sweetened with dates for a delicious portion of protein. Unite Bars are available in a variety pack to sample all the ingenious flavors.

 

Gesha-Marie Bland

STAFF WRITER & SENIOR EDITOR

Not bland at all. Gesha-Marie Bland is an essayist, Vanity Fair-published film and television writer, and unrepentant beauty junkie who jumpstarted her career at NYU’s Master’s Program in Cinema Studies. In homage to her beauty icons Jeanne Moreau, Dolly Parton, and Grace Jones, she is forever in search of the perfect cat-eye liner, a killer pair of heels, and unforgettable statement accessories. Currently NYC-based, this dual American-French citizen still wears all-black and has a soft spot for clean beauty, pharmaceutical-grade actives, and most ingredients sourced from vineyards in the south of France. She loves New Wave cinema, Mary Gaitskill’s fiction, Spain, and matcha double-shots. After selling "The Ripper," her Alexander McQueen-Issie Blow biopic to the Cannes-winning production company Maven Pictures, she remains convinced fashion and couture are the next frontiers for edgy cinematic stories.