Photo Courtesy of Time Inc. Books

The Handheld Treat That Exceeds Expectations
If anyone could pull off a vegan, low-sugar yet still sweet, salty and even spicy cookie, it's chef Sam Talbot, whose new book is 100% Real. Talbot, who has Type 1 diabetes, is a pro at swapping high-sugar, high-carb ingredients for healthier ones, and these treats are a terrific example. They include coconut sugar and date sugar in lieu of regular white sugar, and then there's smoky ancho chili powder for a little kick and dark chocolate chips for a deep, rich chocolaty flavor. Fine sea salt, in the batter and on top of each cookie, is the unexpected finishing touch.

Get the recipe: Vegan Chocolate Chip and Salted Chili Cookies

Photo: Sang An

The Energy Jolt Without the Crash
Keep a few of these addictive bars handy and you won't be tempted by a vending machine, cookie jar or convenience-store sweet. Dried cherries, sesame seeds and walnuts make for a perfect sweet-savory mix and stay bound together with coconut butter and either agave nectar or dark honey (which has a richer flavor than light honey).

Get the recipe: Sesame Fruit-and-Nut Bars

Photo: Sarah Ashley Schiear

The Luxurious (and Insanely Easy) Spoonable Treat
If you like rice or tapioca pudding, we can pretty much guarantee you will love its lighter cousin: This dish uses chia seeds to turn almond milk into a thick and rich custard. You simply combine the two ingredients along with a couple of flavorings (vanilla, maple syrup, cinnamon) and let the mixture sit for two hours (or overnight), stirring occasionally. A topping of diced persimmons and pomegranate seeds lends vibrant color and flavor.

Get the recipe: Chia-Seed Pudding with Persimmons and Pomegranate

Photo: Thinkstock

The Holiday Indulgence for Any Time of Year
This healthy take on fruitcake is just as flavorful as the traditional version, despite its lack of butter, sugar and rum (a common ingredient in the classic). The recipe calls for dried cherries, raisins, apricots, figs and dates, but you can use any dried fruits you like. It also includes brewed tea and orange zest, which give the cake a pleasantly bright note.

Get the recipe: Fruity Spiced Tea Cake

Photo: violleta/iStock

A Nutritious Spin on a Cookie-Jar Staple
We've always told ourselves that oatmeal cookies are practically a health food, with all those oats and that dried fruit. Truth is, though, they're often loaded with white sugar. This healthier twist on the classic recipe includes a dash of molasses, plus one-third cup each of maple syrup and maple sugar, which is prepared from the sap of the sugar maple tree and pours like granulated sugar. And just to change things up, it uses dried plums (aka prunes) instead of raisins.

Get the recipe: Oatmeal, Walnut and Dried Plum Cookies