Healthy Homemade Take 5 Candy Bites
These no-bake homemade Take 5 Candy Bites are a lightened-up take on my favorite candy bar with pretzels! They’re easy to make at home with just a handful of ingredients. Plus, they’re low in added sugar and can be made gluten-free.
Healthy Take 5 Candy Bars
Let me just start by saying the Take 5 candy bar is the most underrated candy in America. Which is a HUGE shame, because what’s tastier than a combo of chocolate, peanuts, peanut butter, caramel, and pretzels?! I mean seriously, how can you go wrong with a candy bar with pretzels in it? I digress…
The sweet and salty combo of the Take 5 is definitely great for your taste buds, but not so much for your waistline. I mean come on, it is candy after all. And well, candy is one of those things that should be enjoyed in moderation.
But I’m such a huge fan of Take 5’s that I could eat them daily. So, I set out to create a healthier version that incorporated the core flavors of the original (remember, chocolate, peanuts, peanut butter, caramel, and pretzels?!) but that could be treated as more of a frequent snack than an occasional treat.
What Makes a Healthy Candy Recipe?
Okay I’ll admit, calling these “candy” is going a little overboard on my part. It feels weird even having the words “healthy” and “candy” in the same sentence. However, this is a recipe for a version of the Take 5 candy bar, so using the word was inevitable!
When it came to creating a healthier version, here was my thought process:
- Limit the added sugar: If there’s one thing candy is known for, it’s being high in sugar (well, duh Charlotte). I wanted to make sure these would still satisfy even the biggest sweet tooth, while somehow lowering added sugar content (more on added sugar versus natural sugar here). So, I relied on the power of fruit (yes, fruit!) to help me out here. Stick with me, I promise they’re good!
- Add some fiber: Fiber helps slow the absorption of sugar into the blood stream, meaning you’re less likely to end up on the blood sugar roller coaster. You know what I’m talking about here – it’s that quick burst of energy followed by a steep crash, which you’ve probably experienced before with real candy.
- Pack with some protein: Interestingly enough, the actual Take 5 candy bar has a good amount of protein in it from the peanuts and peanut butter. Protein is satiating, so I wanted to make sure my version had as much, if not more, protein as the original.
How to Make These Take 5 Candy Bites
You only need a handful of ingredients to whip up these healthy homemade take 5 candy bites:
- Medjool dates: Dates are rich in fiber and natural sugars. They also have a caramel-like flavor to them, which is why I used them as caramel substitute in this recipe. Be sure to buy pitted dates (or remove the pits yourself).
- Peanuts: Peanuts are a great source of protein, and a key ingredient in Take 5 candy bars. If you have a peanut allergy, you can swap them out for another nut of your choice (cashews work best as a substitute here).
- Peanut butter: Peanut butter can be a sneaky source of added sugar. Be sure to find one with just “peanuts” listed in the ingredient list. Don’t worry, most grocery stores carry no-sugar-added peanut butter.
- Chocolate bar: I use Lily’s Sweets Caramel Milk Chocolate Bar in this recipe because it adds a little extra caramel flavor to this recipe and is sweetened with stevia and erythritol (so no added sugar). If you can’t find this bar, you can use another one of their bars or whatever kind of chocolate bar you have on hand.
- Pretzels: These Take 5’s wouldn’t be complete without pretzels! You’ll want to buy mini ones for this recipe. See substitutions section below if gluten-free or grain-free.
To make, you’ll start by by processing the bottom layer. Pulse the dates, peanuts, peanut butter and vanilla in a food processor.
Press around a half-tablespoon of the mixture into the bottom of 16 slots of a mini muffin pan. Don’t make this more work than it needs to be! They don’t have to be perfectly even.
Next, melt your chocolate with a little bit of coconut oil. The coconut oil isn’t essential, but I do find that it helps smooth it out. Use a half-teaspoon measuring spoon to pour the chocolate into each slot.
I like to add a pretzel immediately after pouring the chocolate into each slot because some chocolates harden faster than others. Then freeze, and pop ’em out with a knife (be careful, please!).
To store your healthy homemade take 5 candy bites:
Store them in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to a week (I promise you you’ll eat them all way before a week is up).
- Peanut allergy: Use cashews (and cashew butter) or almonds (and almond butter) instead.
- Gluten-free: Use gluten-free pretzels! Most big name pretzel manufacturers (like Snyder’s) make a gluten-free version.
- Paleo/grain-free: You can now buy grain-free mini pretzels! FitJoy is one of my favorite grain-free brands and Savor Street is another.
Let’s get cooking! If you make this recipe, I’d love it if you shared your thoughts in the comments section below and if you tagged me (@shapedbycharlotte) on the ‘gram!
- 8 pitted medjool dates*
- 1 oz. dry-roasted, unsalted peanuts (or cashews)
- 1/4 cup regular or crunchy peanut butter
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Pinch salt
- 1, ~3-oz. bar Lily's Sweets Milk or Dark Chocolate Bar (I like using the regular or caramel flavors, or you can use another brand), broken into small pieces*
- 1 tsp coconut oil
- 16 mini regular or gluten-free pretzels
- Add dates to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until broken up.
- Add nuts, peanut butter, vanilla, and salt, and process until dates and nuts are completely broken apart and you have a crumbly, sticky mixture.
- Press ~half-tablespoon of mixture into the bottom of 16 slots of a mini muffin pan.
- Place chocolate and coconut oil in a small, microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted, about 45 to 60 seconds. Stir until smooth.
- Add one scant teaspoon melted chocolate to each slot, spreading with the back of the measuring spoon (if necessary) until the date mixture is completely covered.
- Top each chocolate layer with a mini pretzel, and press lightly. If you use a different chocolate bar (that isn't salted), sprinkle a tiny pinch of salt on the tops. Freeze muffin pan until the chocolate is completely hardened, about 20 to 30 minutes.
- Use a knife to gently remove each bite. Store in the fridge for up to one week.
* Use soft, squishy dates. It won't work as well if they are old and very dried out.
**Lily's Sweets chocolate bars are sweetened with stevia and therefore contain no added sugar. If you use a different chocolate bar brand (which is completely fine), these will no longer be added sugar free.