10 healthier alternatives to your favorite snacks - including cookies, chips, and gummy bears

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  • It's perfectly acceptable to snack during the day, but there are probably healthier ways you can be doing it.
  • Traditional snack foods contain long lists of artificial, questionable ingredients and tend to be too sugary, salty, or fatty.
  • These better-for-you alternatives still taste pretty close to, if not better than, unhealthy snacks. Instead of chips (or cookies, or candy), reach for these options.

Whether I'm at school, at work, or traveling, I've never been one to go from breakfast to lunch to dinner without snacking on something in between.

It's a good idea to keep your stomach occupied in order to maintain energy levels throughout the day. Snacking is also understandable if you simply love food. However, it's still important to be mindful of what you graze on because many traditional snack foods - chips, cookies, candy, and trail mixes - are filled with excessive amounts of sugar, salt, oils, and artificial ingredients.

I love indulging in that junk as much as the next person, but it's not a sustainable dietary option that will help me become an octogenarian. To enjoy the same flavors and textures of my favorite snack foods while treating my body to healthier ingredients, I fill my office filing cabinet and apartment pantry with the following alternatives.

There's no need to vilify the habit of snacking when you're enjoying these 10 better-for-you alternatives to chips, cookies, candy, and more:

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Chips: Food Should Taste Good

Chips: Food Should Taste Good
Shop Food Should Taste Good chips at Amazon, Walmart, and Thrive Market

Let's not go so far as to think celery and carrots will ever be proper replacements for crunchy, salty chips. Instead, snack on Food Should Taste Good's multigrain, blue corn, sweet potato, and black bean tortilla chips, which are all gluten-free and made with a simple selection of natural ingredients.

They're also low in fat, sodium, and carbs, but so packed with flavor you wouldn't be able to tell. In no time, you'll find yourself preferring these over traditional junk food chips.

Marshmallows: Smashmallow

Marshmallows: Smashmallow
Shop Smashmallow marshmallows at Amazon, Target, Thrive Market, and Boxed

These indulgent marshmallows come in fun, creative flavors like Mint Chocolate Chip (one of our favorites) and Cinnamon Churro. The indulgence comes with fewer consequences for you because they're made with certified kosher, non-GMO gelatin and organic cane sugar, and they have less than one gram of fat per serving (which includes four marshmallows).

Use them any time you would normally — for s'mores and hot cocoa, for example — or as a substitute for heavier treats like ice cream and cookies.

Cheese puffs: Hippeas

Cheese puffs: Hippeas
Shop Hippeas puffs at Amazon, Target, and Thrive Market

From its age-old use in hummus and falafel to more recent incorporations into alternative pasta, the chickpea is truly a versatile legume. Yet another way to consume them is in a Hippeas puff — try it in a vegan White Cheddar or spicy Sriracha Sunshine.

The light and crunchy snacks are USDA-certified organic and gluten-free, plus they contain three grams of fiber and four grams of protein per one-ounce serving.

Gummy candy: SmartSweets

Gummy candy: SmartSweets
Shop SmartSweets gummy candy at Amazon and Thrive Market

Containing only three grams of sugar and 80 to 90 calories per bag, SmartSweets satisfy your sweet tooth without the excessive sugar and calories. The chewy candies don't contain any sugar alcohols, artificial colors, or artificial flavors but taste just as good as your favorite Haribo and Trolli bears.

If you accidentally eat the entire bag (we don't blame you), you won't feel guilty. There are two types of bears, Sour and Fruity, as well as a Sour Patch Kid-style and Swedish Fish-style alternatives.

Granola: gr8nola

Granola: gr8nola
Shop gr8nola granola at Amazon

I have bags of this delicious granola stashed under my desk for any time I'm feeling peckish or want to add a satisfying crunch to my morning yogurt. It's widely assumed that granola is healthy, but a closer look at ingredient labels reveals otherwise: they often contain a lot of sugar or use artificial sweeteners.

Gr8nola, the better-for-you granola that fuels Silicon Valley offices, uses coconut oil and coconut sugar and is free of dairy, soy, and refined sugar. Superfoods and ingredients like matcha, chia, charcoal, and turmeric provide extra boosts of energy and antioxidants.

Cookies: Lenny & Larry's

Cookies: Lenny & Larry's
Shop Lenny & Larry's cookies at Amazon, Target, and Vitamin Shoppe

The soft-baked cookies from Lenny & Larry's won't only satisfy your hunger and sweet tooth — with 16 grams of plant-based protein, each cookie also energizes you for physical activity.

After trying any one of the many flavors, including Birthday Cake and White Chocolate Macadamia Nut, you'll shed your preconceptions about vegan treats. On top of the vegan label, the cookies contain no cholesterol, artificial sweeteners, or sugar alcohols.

Candy bars: Larabar

Candy bars: Larabar
Shop Larabar bars at Amazon, Target, Thrive Market, and Boxed

You can find the rainbow variety of Larabar bars all over grocery store shelves. The surprising thing is that none of these many flavors, ranging from Cinnamon Roll to Apple Pie, contain more than nine ingredients. And, all the ingredients are whole foods such as dates and walnuts — these vegan and gluten-free bars are as pure as they can get.

Flavored popcorn: Angie's Boomchickapop

Flavored popcorn: Angie's Boomchickapop
Shop Angie's Boomchickapop popcorn at Amazon, Target, Thrive Market, and Boxed

If you're settling into a movie marathon or contributing to a party spread, make sure to have a bag of Boomchickapop on hand. The whole-grain, non-GMO popcorn is only 35 to 70 calories per cup and made with only the necessary ingredients. The bestselling Kettle Corn, for example, contains just popcorn, sunflower oil, cane sugar, and sea salt. Meanwhile, its Cheddar Corn is made with real cheddar cheese, not a mysteriously bright powder.

Trail mix: Sahale Snacks

Trail mix: Sahale Snacks
Shop Sahale Snacks at Amazon, Target, and Thrive Market

Trail mixes seem to run on two ends of the spectrum: dry and boring, or disproportionately packed with M&Ms. While you probably won't say no to the occasional piece of chocolate, you also want to treat your body a little better as you hike, study, and travel.

Sahale Snacks' fruit and nut blends perfectly balance the extremes. They have the right ratio of salty to sweet, tart dried fruits to nutritious nuts, and are sweetened with organic tapioca syrup and organic cane sugar. The preserved fruits are sulfite-free while the entire mix is preservative-free.

Chocolate covered nuts: Skinny Dipped

Chocolate covered nuts: Skinny Dipped
Shop Skinny Dipped almonds at Amazon, Target, and Thrive Market

Sometimes the chocolate layer on a chocolate-covered almond can be as thick as the almond itself. Skinny Dipped, however, takes a more restrained approach by lightly encasing the almond in a layer just thin enough to satisfy your chocolate craving. As a result, they contain 70% less sugar than traditional chocolate-covered almonds.

The ethically sourced dark chocolate is also combined with organic raspberries or espresso for a gourmet twist.

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