Let’s be real: what’s the best part of a store-bought bag of trail mix? The CHOCOLATE, of course! Unfortunately, the classic chocolate chips or M&M’s in most trail mix aren’t so fuel-filled. Instead, get your sweet fix with these dark chocolate trail mix bites, so you can choose the type of chocolate you’re eating!
Pure dark chocolate (a.k.a. 100% cacao) doesn’t contain any sugar, and is actually rich in nutrients and antioxidants. And, it keeps these trail mix bites dairy-free and paleo-friendly! But, if you didn’t need these to be vegan trail mix bites, 70% cacao or more would make the perfectly indulgent-yet-wholesome base for this recipe.
Just dollop your chocolate, sprinkle with toppings, and refrigerate! Each bite has a cool, crisp crunch and salty-sweet flavor, plus loads of fuel-filled nutrients. So simple, clean, and no baking necessary—an awesome sweet treat for a paleo or vegan meal prep!
Of course, you’re welcome to use good ol’ milk chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips. Or, you could use a variety of sweetened dairy-free chocolate chips for vegan trail mix bites. But, to maximize the nutritional value, choose unsweetened 100% dark, bitter-sweet 85% dark, or even a stevia-sweetened dark chocolate!
It’s not every day that you’ll hear something chocolaty is also ‘low sugar’ and ‘dairy free’—AND made with clean ingredients. But, that’s only because what most of us call ‘chocolate’ today is sweet, sugary milk chocolate.
Actually, pure chocolate itself (cacao) is naturally dairy free and bitter in taste. That’s why darker chocolates aren’t quite as sweet and creamy as milk chocolate, but denser and richer. And, cacao is actually highly nutritious!
In just 1 tablespoon of 70%-85% dark chocolate (and one of these trail mix bites, depending on the chocolate you use) there are 1-2 grams of protein and 2-3 grams of fiber. Since fiber comes from plant matter and cacao beans are part of a plant, dark chocolate is a sweet and sneaky source of fiber!
Cacao’s Antioxidant Power
Plus, one of the biggest benefits of dark chocolate are its antioxidants. Several studies have examined the powerful antioxidants in dark chocolate, and some show that it has more antioxidant activity than some of the highest-antioxidant fruits, like blueberries and acai berries!
And, those antioxidants help to protect us from chronic diseases, like heart disease and cancer. By choosing a purer, cleaner, darker chocolate (with a higher cacao content), you can maximize those disease-fighting benefits. And, your trail mix bites will contain more protein and fiber. Plus, you’ll cut down on added sugars!
Trail Mix Mix-Ins
When it comes to topping your trail mix bites, there are tons of possibilities! I love almond slivers and pumpkin seeds because of their satisfying crunch, and they’re rich in dietary fats and fiber that make this snack more filling. Then, I like to balance things out with some dried fruit for sweetness and chewiness.
But, you can use any sort of nuts, seeds, dried fruit, or other mix-ins you like! I just recommend looking for unsweetened dried fruit to keep these trail mix bites as wholesome as possible.
Prunes and raisins are great dried fruit options for natural sweetness, and they’re easy to find without added sugars. Plus, they pack even more fiber into your trail mix bites! If you can find them, goji berries are a fun addition for a tangy twist.
You could also try coconut shreds or flakes, chia seeds, toasted oats, whole grain cereal—get adventurous and have fun with it!