Finding palate-pleasing, vegan and healthy dark chocolate snacks has always seemed like a hopelessly tall order!
My unending desire to find good chocolate snacks has deep roots. I’ve had a lifelong, and sometimes complicated, relationship with chocolate.
It was my first love, the thing that I still seek to mitigate emotional angst. Chocolate is the one thing that has never failed to deliver whenever I need to be blissed out in momentary comfort! It’s been my arch enemy when I battled with weight issues, and the warm smile that I needed when I found it in brownie form after a long day.
When I first became vegan, I was thrilled to know that there were vegan-friendly ways to eat it, and that I’d never have to give it up. But finding vegan dark chocolate snacks that lived up to what I was looking for took a lot of trial and error!
Why is it hard to find healthy vegan chocolate bars that also taste great?!
So many healthy vegan chocolate bars are date-based. This means that the purported chocolate snack does NOT deliver on rich chocolate flavor at all since it’s couched in and overpowered by the sweet (but very healthy) date. Instead, it’s like eating a bar-shaped date with some hints of chocolate, which will downright anger a serious chocolate lover like me!
I need that richness of real dark chocolate with no weird aftertastes. Definitely vegan, preferably gluten- and soy-free.
Where would I ever find this unicorn of all snacks??
Well, after searching and testing out many of them – including actual vegan chocolate bars that were not super impressive to me…
I’ve found them!
And they’re big on highlighting the protein content – possibly appealing to those who think that plant-based protein is an anomaly – but I am here to tell you:
The chocolate in these bars is DELICIOUS. Not delicious for snack bars – just delicious, period!
In the realm of healthy vegan chocolate bars, I’ve done the “hard work” of “researching” bars from different brands. Which really means that I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of stuffing my face with different bars in an effort to find the best ones for you – and me!
Other brands I’ve tried in this effort: Enjoy Life, Skout, and Sunwarrior. I’ll try a bar only after I scour their ingredients list and check out their “food philosophy,” so to speak. If a company has too many artificial ingredients, I won’t try them, which is why the list of brands I’ve tried is so short.
While Enjoy Life, Skout, and Sunwarrior didn’t make the cut for most awesome healthy vegan chocolate snack, they definitely have other things going for them. Check out my Skout review, Enjoy Life review, and Sunwarrior review.
No one has sent me any samples or has paid me for any of the reviews I offer here on rawkuseats.com. I seek out and find things that I think might be tasty, then I buy them and I eat them. I genuinely love finding foods that work for me and that I think would benefit a lot of other people too, and then I get to talk about them with you. 🙂
Bonus: All three of the following NUGO bars are on the Food Empowerment Project’s recommended list of chocolates!
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First of all, its quadruple-threat status makes it a powerhouse – Vegan, Gluten-Free, and Soy Free with Probiotics. That’s a LOT of bang for your buck already.
Second, the ingredient list is dominated by rice protein crisp (think Rice Krispies Cereal-type of crunch!), followed by dark chocolate. These two elements intermingle amazingly on your palate upon first bite. The rest of the ingredients include almonds, dried cranberries, chicory root fiber, pumpkin seeds, and flaxseed.
Chicory root is a fantastic source of fiber – read more about its benefits here.
And learn more about the incredible benefits of flaxseed in this post.
The agave syrup and acacia gum (which is sap derived from the acacia tree and also high in fiber – read more about it here!) binds it all together into a solid, chewy and totally satisfying bite. I love the combination of crispy rice mixed with the nuttiness of the almonds and just-right sweetness of the cranberries – and especially so because it’s topped with a generous layer of dark chocolate!
Measuring 3.63″ x 1.5″ x 0.5″, these bars are not teeny like a few other vegan bars I’ve tried.
Here are pics I took for you to see this chocolatey trail mix magnificence up close!
A note about the Nugo Free Dark Chocolate Trail Mix bars – it does contain two ingredients that I want to bring to your attention so you can make an informed decision about what you’re eating.
The first one is the ubiquitous “Natural Flavors”. This ingredient can be found on countless packaged products and is ambiguously defined by the FDA as being any flavor that is extracted from the following plant or animal sources:
- Fruit or fruit juice
- Vegetables or vegetable juice
- Edible yeast, herbs, bark, buds, root leaves or plant material
- Dairy products, including fermented products
- Meat, poultry or seafood
Since Nugo Free Dark Chocolate Trail Mix bars are marked as being Certified Vegan, I’m confident that the natural flavors in these bars are from plant, and not animal, sources.
But, natural flavors can and probably do also include any number and mixture of other natural and synthetic chemicals. The FDA is not required to disclose what these chemicals are as long as the original flavor is derived from, in this case, a plant source.
For me, these bars are so delicious and otherwise full of beneficial ingredients – and chocolatey! – that I choose to give a pass to the “natural flavors” listed in this bar. I typically try to avoid “natural flavors,” but this bar has too much to offer. It’s a chocolatey, substantial, delicious, and convenient snack bar for those who have dietary restrictions.
There seems to be a lot of debate over whether sunflower oil can be considered healthy. Some say that because it’s high in omega-6 fatty acids, there are some benefits to consuming sunflower oil. Others say that sunflower oil should be avoided. The sunflower oil used in this bar is strictly for the dried cranberries. This means that it was used in the drying process, which means to me that the amount of sunflower oil in these bars is marginal.
I make it a habit not to eat sunflower oil in any significant amounts, and the sunflower oil in this bar is so minimal that it doesn’t concern me.
This is simple!
I love them and totally recommend them. As long as you don’t live on these and you treat them like a fun snack that should be consumed only occasionally, I think these are a fantastic snack option. Snack bars – even if they’re protein-packed – should always remain a distant second to fresh produce, legumes, nuts, and whole grains in our diets.
Give these Nugo Free Dark Chocolate Trail Mix Bars a try! Especially if you’re a gluten- and soy-free vegan who loves a tasty combo of chocolate-crispy-nuts-berries with a lovely boost of gut-healthy probiotics.
The beautiful thing about this bar is that it tastes so good, no matter what your dietary preferences are. As long as you like a chewy chocolate trail mix bar, you’ll love this too.
This bar is COMPLETELY dipped in dark chocolate with a soy crisp center that has the perfect balance of mint and chocolate flavors. The mint and chocolate are embedded in a chewy base made with tapioca and agave syrups, and gum acacia (see above review for more about gum acacia). Upon first bite, you’ll realize that this is EVERYTHING you’ve ever wanted in a chocolate mint snack.
For me, traditional thin mints were great taste-wise. But the “thin” in thin mint always left me wanting more, which is probably why I could potentially demolish at least half a box in one sitting, lol. No good!
The NUGO DARK Mint Chocolate Chip makes me feel like I’m indulging in a luxuriously naughty treat, and I love this feeling.
It’s a substantial bar – measuring 3.75″ x 1.5″ x 0.5″ – that is fun to sink my teeth into, AND…
it boasts a generous 13 GRAMS of PROTEIN per bar! How’s that for plant-based protein power?! Pretty impressive for a delicious snack bar that isn’t a chore to consume.
The pictures say everything else you’d need to know, so take a look at the pics I was able to snap before I devoured this amazing bar!
We are unable to keep a box of these in the house because my fiancé constantly goes through them like a kid excitedly ravaging his Halloween stash. (Yes, we buy a box, every time. They’re so good and are a strange hybrid of necessary-luxury at this point!)
The combination of dark chocolate and sea salt is addictive, as is the texture and all of the satisfying chewiness I’ve been talking about with all three of these bars.
The NUGO DARK Chocolate Pretzel with Sea Salt bar, like the two others in this post, have actually become comfort food for us! I’ve never met a bar that does this for me. Keeping in mind that these bars are still processed foods and shouldn’t be a nutritional mainstay for anyone, they are on the healthier side of the processed food spectrum. Instead of craving donuts or cupcakes or cookies like I used to, I now turn to these to make my gluttonous chocoholic sweet tooth happy.
And these bars – a hearty size at 3.75″ x 1.5″ x 0.5″ – boast 12 GRAMS of PROTEIN per bar.
Another win for the plant-based protein squad!
Here are some pics I took as I was holding my fiancé back from devouring the subject. 🙂
*NUGO DARK Mint Chocolate Chip and Chocolate Pretzel with Sea Salt both contain “natural flavors”. Please see my comment on “natural flavors” at the top of this post, inside of the review for NUGO FREE Dark Chocolate Trail Mix.
Have you? Would you? Tell me!
Have any other self-professed chocoholics out there tried these?
Would you try these?
I’d love to know whether you would and what you think of them if you have!
And, if none of the above, and you have another favorite vegan chocolate snack, I’d love to know what it is so I can try it!
Please let me know in the comments 🙂