When it comes to snacking, Americans don’t mess around! According to the United States Department of Agriculture's “Snacking Patterns of U.S. Adults” report, one-quarter of Americans’ daily calories now come from snacks. This is up considerably from years ago, and a whopping 97 percent of Americans are snacking regularly.
Daily snacking has become an integral part of the American diet. Snacks may be convenient for our increasingly fast-paced, on-the-go lifestyles, but at what cost to our health and wellbeing? That's why we need to look at healthy plant-based vegan snacks!
“Overall, the foods and beverages contributing the most calories at snacks are not the most nutritious options,” according to the USDA. That’s a nice way of saying Americans are snacking on junk foods – foods high in sugar, salt, and fat and low in nutritional value.
These junk foods, such as potato chips, pretzels, fried tortilla chips, cookies, candy, and sugar-laden energy bars, are not what health-conscious plant-based eaters want to consume.
The good news for plant-based vegans is that there are lots of healthy plant-based vegan snacks available. Everything from the simplest on-the-go snacks to more elaborate creations.
If you'd like to go straight to the recipes, which include cookies, ice cream, smoothies, and more, click this link, Plant-Based Snack Recipes, to be taken to the list.
Fruit: Mother Nature’s Candy
Sweet, juicy, and delicious. It can be hard to believe that fruits are nutritional powerhouses loaded with disease-preventing antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber.
Fruit, whether fresh or frozen, makes a great snack. Especially when you need extra energy for exercising or other strenuous activities, it takes just a minute to slice an apple into a sealable plastic bag, and off you go, a portable healthy snack in tow.
At home, enjoy whole apples, bananas, pears, peaches, apricots, nectarines, oranges, and grapefruits. Or bowls filled to the brim with berries, cherries, mangoes, kiwis, or pineapple. Bowls of fruit can be enjoyed on their own or drenched in non-dairy milk, coconut cream, or non-dairy yogurt (see below) for more of a dessert experience.
Craving extra sweetness? Top it off with a pinch of stevia, an herbal sweetener with a glycemic index of zero that looks just like powdered sugar! (While dried fruits are very portable, they tend to have very high sugar levels and are best avoided.)
Plant-based non-dairy soy, coconut, and almond yogurts are increasingly available commercially in single-serving, portable containers that can be enjoyed at home or on the go.
Some varieties also come in larger, more economical multi-serving containers. If you’re curious about what’s out there, check out “The Unofficial Ranking of Non-Dairy Yogurt Brands” online for some taste, texture, and price reviews.
While non-dairy yogurts tend to be lower in protein and calcium than their dairy-based counterparts, you still get all the same healthy gut benefits from live, active probiotics.
But non-dairy yogurt can also be made at home with a fresher taste, higher quality ingredients, and nutritional value, without all those fillers. Be sure to check out my recipe for Soy Yogurt. If you don’t have a yogurt maker, check out this article, “How to Culture Yogurt Without a Yogurt Maker”. It’s easier than you think and so worth that delicious homemade taste.
Always good to know exactly where your food is coming from! And best of all, you can add whatever fruits, nuts, or other flavors, such as cocoa, you like. The only limit is your imagination.
Vegetables, being at the heart and soul of a plant-based diet, of course, make outstanding, low-sugar, fat-free snacks. Try a chilled Corn, Tomato Salad. Or for something quick and portable, chop up carrots, cucumbers, or celery into snacking sticks, or as the French call raw vegetables, crudités.
You can add salt, pepper, garlic or onion powder, or other seasonings to taste, or combine vegetable sticks with nut and seed butter, cheese sauces, dips, or hummus (below).
Chips, Crackers, and Granola
Did you say “healthy chips?” Perhaps, like most people, you didn’t realize there was such a thing. But thankfully for diehard snack lovers, I’m happy to say that there is! And the best news is they pair well with hummus and other healthy vegan sauces, dips, and hummus (below), of which there is something for virtually every taste.
In terms of store-bought snacks, kale chips are the most nutritionally dense. They're high in vitamins A, K, and C, as well as a host of other vitamins and minerals. But they also tend to be pricey.
Whole-grain crackers – and be sure to look for 100 percent whole or sprouted grain with no refined flours – are a less costly but also less nutritious option. However, they can be good sources of fiber.
Check the labels and compare the nutritional and fiber content when purchasing store-bought chips and crackers. These can vary greatly in quality from brand to brand.
But you don’t have to buy chips in the store! You can easily, quickly, and affordably make your own oil and gluten-free tortilla chips at home from whole corn tortillas. I have a simple recipe for these quick chips in my Mango Salsa & Baked Tortilla Chips recipe.
If you’re having serious cravings for salty and crunchy and are ready to invest a little time and energy, you’ll love my Oil-Free Chips recipe for potato, yam, or tortilla chips, complete with an instructional video.
Delicious Kale Chips can also be made at home with minimum effort and are much more affordable than the pre-packaged kind.
Last but not least, what would healthy snacking be without granola, that long-time favorite? Try my delicious and nutritious Low-Fat Cinnamon Nut Granola for a wholesome treat the whole family will enjoy.
Dips and Hummus
Dips and hummus are great for snacking while adding nutrients to vegetable sticks and whole-grain crackers and chips.
And there's the tried and true high-protein vegan standby, hummus, which comes in a version for everybody! Even the fussiest eater: Low-Fat, Oil-Free, Sun-Dried Tomato Basil, Pumpkin, and Roasted Carrot and Garlic.
Let's not forget that plant-based baked goodies are perfect for snacking since they're made without high quantities of salt, sugar, or fat. Healthier sugar substitutes like maple syrup, dates, date sugar, date syrup, and coconut sugar are perfect for plant-based treats and satisfy that craving.
Here are a few suggestions, and take a look at my whole list of snack recipes, as well.
- Carrot Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Chocolate Rice Crispie Bars
- Oil-Free Cherry Almond Muffins
- Blueberry Scones
- Chocolate Muffins
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts, such as almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, filberts, walnuts, and Brazil nuts, and seeds, such as sunflower and pumpkin seeds, make excellent portable snacks, albeit in moderation because they are high in fat and calories.
Nut and seed butter such as almond, cashew, peanut, sesame (tahini), and sunflower butter are delicious on vegetables, crackers, or chips.
Nuts and seeds are high in protein and other nutrients. With their high-fat content, they can give you a full feeling for hours. Enjoy them sparingly roasted or raw and preferably unsalted.
Try my High Protein Trail Mix. A medley of soybeans, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, almonds, oats, and vegan chocolate chips.
While commercially roasted nuts and seeds are generally coated in oil, except for dry-roasted peanuts, you can make your own oil-free roasted nuts and seeds at home in the oven or on the stove.
Healthy Snacking, Healthy Living
So there you have it! Take heart; as you can see, there’s no reason to feel deprived when it comes to snacks. Mother Nature has given us so many healthy and delicious options to choose from.
I’d love to hear which snacks you love, so let me know your thoughts in the comments below.