Slightly Healthier S’mores
When I was young, my family was all about summer camping. And if I’m camping, there’s definitely going to be s’mores. I’m still camping these days; camping in Wisconsin on rivers via canoe, in the mountains of Washington while weaving in day hikes, or at the ocean or the beach on Kitsap Peninsula…there are memories to be made by camping even as an adult. One of my favorite camping treats was and still is s’mores but now that I’m an “RD”…I wanted to make Slightly Healthier S’mores to keep the nostalgia but make them a little healthier.
S’mores and camping remind me of warm summer night, mosquito bites, falling asleep with sand on your feet and dirt in your hair to the smell of campfire. Breakfast smells like coffee and bacon (I don’t even eat bacon but it smells like that) and pancakes that might not quite be done in the middle but you don’t even care. But I recently found out that s’mores are novel to some people. Most people, actually…because it’s a bit of an American thing. It’s kind of like trying to find peanut butter on a trip abroad: it’s not always gonna happen depending on where you are. On a recent trip to Eastern Germany, my friend’s sister who lives there requested that we bring the traditional marshmallows, graham crackers and Hershey’s so that she could make s’mores at home. We packed them in our suitcases and it was then that I realized: we’re quite lucky to have s’mores ingredients at our fingertips at all times.
Classic s’mores have a few problems, nutritionally speaking. And I do want to be clear that you should absolutely be able to enjoy the classic version whenever you want. No guilt. I’m a bit obsessed with spinning off classics for the better so these are my issues…like if you ate s’mores a lot:
- marshmallows are full of gelatin and corn syrup
- milk chocolate is packed with saturated fat and added sugar
- graham crackers are an enriched flour product.
I wanted to make a slightly healthier version by choosing (admittedly more expensive) vegan marshmallows, darker and higher quality chocolate and adding in some fruit in the form of strawberries – another summer food. I created my Slightly Healthier S’mores and I’m going to break them down for you!
Yes, you read that correctly! In these Slightly Healthier S’mores, I’m choosing to replace traditional marshmallows that are full of gelatin and corn syrup with their vegan alternative. Traditional marshmallows are made by mixing together gelatin, sugar syrup (typically corn syrup), granulated sugar, confectioner’s sugar, and vanilla extract. That’s a whole lot of sugar if you ask me. Not that vegan means low sugar…that’s not the case (Oreos are vegan!)….but when you add sugar on top of other factors, you can really move into an unhealthy dietary pattern.
And just FYI, gelatin is made from boiled down animal carcasses. Traditional marshmallows contain gelatin, which comes from collagen found in animals, restricting those who follow a vegan diet from eating them. It just doesn’t fit into the diet or the lifestyle but you can still enjoy them if you can find the vegan type!
If gelatin freaks you out a bit, I’ve got other vegan replacement recipes including my very famous vegan jello shots – one of my most popular recipes of all time.
Making the Slightly Healthier S’mores
Use Vegan Marshmallows
As mentioned before, substituting traditional marshmallows with vegan marshmallows is a great way to make s’mores a little healthier while still tasting great. Vegan marshmallows aren’t quite as loaded with sugar but still have the same light, fluffy texture as traditional marshmallows. Plus, they make s’mores enjoyable and more accessible to people of all diets and eating habits.
Best of all? They toast up the same so you can light them on fire and fling them, watch them drip into the fire or perfectly toast them and add them to your s’more.
Switch to Dark Chocolate
I chose Newman’s Own Organics dark chocolate to maximize antioxidant level from the cocoa. Milk chocolate is loaded with added sugars while dark chocolate is more natural and contains a lot more nutrients. Not only is dark chocolate packed with antioxidants to help reduce inflammation, it can also help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. Overall, switching out milk chocolate for dark chocolate not only gives these Slightly Healthier S’mores a richer flavor, but more health benefits as well!
I am personally a milk chocolate fan and I find that the bolder flavor (more antioxidants!) in dark chocolate slows me down a bit and allows me to really savory the delicious taste.
Choose Whole-Wheat Graham Crackers
I always like to choose whole wheat products to increase my fiber intake. Annie’s Honey Grahams are made with whole wheat flour and are a perfect addition to this recipe. Regular graham crackers are an enriched products so they really don’t have the fiber that’s useful for your health. Using whole-wheat graham crackers increases the fiber of these s’mores and overall increasing their nutritional value.
Add some Fruit!
I love adding unique ingredients to my s’mores and lately I have been loving adding fresh fruit. I’ve added sliced seasonal strawberries or apples to help balance the flavors of the sweet chocolate and marshmallow. Strawberries really are the best here but you could also consider smashing in some blackberries, raspberries or blueberries. Let me know what you try!
Hey, s’mores aren’t a health food – they’re a treat! But if you want a bit more nutrition and a more natural product, you can certainly achieve that in a really delicious way with these Slightly Healthier S’mores.
If s’mores aren’t your thing, check out some of my other summertime desserts like Champagne Cupcakes with Vanilla Glaze or Vegan Strawberry Rhubarb Mini Mason Jar Cheesecakes!
What’s your favorite s’mores recipe for summer?
- 6 vegan marshmallows
- 1 Newman's Own Organics dark chocolate bar (or your favorite dark chocolate bar)
- 1 package Annie's Organic Honey Grahams
- 6 ripe strawberries (sliced thinly)
- Roast a marshmallow to the level of your preference (slightly toasted or burnt, up to you!). Assemble s'more by layering chocolate, hot marshmallow, and strawberry slices between 2 square graham cracker pieces. Smush together and enjoy!
Ginger Hultin,MS, RD, CSO
Thanks for visiting! If you’re like me: obsessed with eating, wine, going out and traveling, you’re in the right place. Champagne Nutrition® LLC is a Registered Dietitian-run concierge virtual practice helping clients look and feel better. On this blog, you’ll ﬁnd cocktails, mocktails, and plant-based recipes that are easy to make quickly at home and pack for leftovers on your adventures.