By now, the first few crazy crazy days of back to school and work are behind us and we’re ready to settle into our routine and give ourselves a little check in to see if we’re filling our bodies with very healthy and nutrient dense foods. Nothing powers the brain better than clean, real, whole foods that make us feel light and energized. Don’t get me wrong, you know I’m a huge fan of chocolate cake, but for that mid-afternoon work or study slump, no matter how much your brain screams for the cupcake, it will not have a lasting effect on your energy. A little glucose to the brain can do wonders, but by making a snack that contains healthy carbs with some protein and as many nutrients as we can, we’ll be giving ourselves a total fresh start for the rest of the day.
Before I give you my little list of healthy vegan snacks, I have to tell you about my history with snacking.
As a child, as it happens in most families, snacking is a given. You know that when you come home from school, some milk and cookies will be waiting for you (or cookies and lemonade in my case, since I was allergic to milk almost all my life). We really do think of it as fuel when we’re kids. Or rather, we don’t think about it at all! We eat it because we’re hungry, and if you were anything like me growing up, you wanted to eat it fast so you could run out and play with the neighbor’s kids. Snacking takes on an ugly turn as adults in my opinion.
With the stress of life and work, we either forget to eat and then overeat later on, or we eat to soothe and we rely on that little plate of food to get us through the day. No wonder we’ve become addicted to unhealthy foods, we skip meals and then overcompensate and reach for the bad stuff.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you probably know by now that I love food and that I have cookie monster genes and a bottomless stomach. If it wasn’t for the fact that I gain weight very easily, I would probably have food in my hand at all hours of the day and have seconds and thirds at dinner time. For this reason, I stayed far away from snacking for many years, erroneously thinking that if I had more opportunities to eat, I would probably overdo it at every meal. So now the cookie monster would make an appearance at 4 or 5 meals a day instead of 3. Wrong! Boy was I wrong! Thanks to an eye opening conversation I had with my friend and fellow blogger Verena one day (you’ve read her meditation posts in our blog), I was going about all of this the wrong way. By eating so many meals a day, and feeling like I had to stay full until the next meal often many hours away, I was overeating at meal times and it was adding a whole lot of stress to my day. When it comes to portion sizes, hours, number of meals and things of that sort, I honestly believe that for each person there is a perfect and right way to eat that is specific for them. There is no such thing as one size fits all, and although many people who tend to overdo portions (like me) have great success in only eating at mealtime, I found the best solution for me, in incorporating two, small, healthy snacks into my day.
After years of trying many different ways of eating, eating at regular intervals and every few hours completely changed my day! Long gone were the days of afternoon slumps, moodiness, lack of energy and overdoing it at mealtimes. However, it was also about the nature of these snacks that I was eating. Cookies and cakes were not going to cut it, at least not on a regular basis.
Here are my healthy and delicious snack ideas, perfect for this back to school season:
I was always someone who said I’d rather eat my calories than drink them, but I had no idea how satisfying and nutritious getting into the habit of smoothie making really was! I make mine with a combination of almond milk and water, I add plenty of fruit, always half a banana for the perfect creamy texture, and I love adding greens like kale or spinach which are remarkably sweet! I do a lot of strength training and running, so I love to also add some raw vegan protein powder or hemp hearts to the blender.
Overnight oats or warm oatmeal with toppings
I’m not talking about a second breakfast here, just a small snack sized bowl of overnight oats or oatmeal and some fruit, nuts and seeds as a topping.
Veggies and dip
Sometimes all you need is some cut up veggies and a dip. Use hummus, guacamole, a freshly made bean dip with any leftover beans you have in the fridge, vegetable patés (shiitake mushrooms are great for making these), or avocado hummus, a hybrid between guac and hummus. You can also take this to the sweet side with some nut butters, pumpkin butter or apple butter.
The amazing author, vegan cook, activist and yogi Sharon Gannon was once asked in an interview what her favorite thing to eat was. To which she replied “tea and toast”. The truth is that nothing is as satisfying as a simple piece of warm toast with something on top and a cup of coffee or tea. If you’re thinking I’m going to tell you to slather on that vegan nutella think again. The vegan nutella is fine for special occasions, but there are so many healthy toppings for toast including: mashed avocado, tossed tomatoes and basil in a little olive oil, olive tapenade, peanut butter and fruit, bean spreads, veggie patés, and even just some seasoned greens like arugula and some sun dried tomatoes. Yum!
Energy bars and balls (especially homemade!)
Yes, there are many bars in the market that are very healthy for you and perfect for on the go, but making your own is so easy! They usually require little to no baking and in minutes, with the help of a food processor, you can have a huge batch of bars or balls that will last you all week. I make a batch every Monday! You can also add a little protein powder to these for an extra energy boost. My favorites include a base of cashews or oats and some dates, plus many added goodies like cacao, hemp hearts, berries and coconut. They are perfect for that afternoon sweet tooth as well. Check out our latest board in our Brownble pinterest account for lots of yummy recipes.
It doesn’t get any easier than this my friends! Nature gave us these little sweet gems all packed and ready to go!
Non-Dairy yogurt and your favorite toppings
I love buying unsweetened plain vegan yogurt and adding a little drizzle of maple syrup and a small amount of healthy toppings like rolled oats, chopped dates, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, dried fruit (especially coconut!), goji berries and even a little fresh fruit. If you find a very natural and not highly sweetened granola, that alone is a match made in heaven.
Tofu scramble with veggies
I know, weird one as a snack right? Think again! Whenever you make a tofu scramble for breakfast make some extra and keep it on hand. In a pinch it is a yummy savory snack filled with protein, low in starches and a total treat for those savory cravings.
My number one snack: Pb&j roll ups!
I’ve saved the best for last! This is by far my favorite snack and perfect for sweet cravings but much healthier than having a pastry. It involves of course our favorite childhood combo, which happens to be full of protein (peanuts are actually legumes, just like beans). I’m so excited because for this one, I’m not going to tell you how to make it, I’m going to show you! Here’s one of our latest sneak peeks for our new project Brownble. Brownble is going live soon, and remember we’ll be moving over there soon and blogging from our new ‘home’! Click the image below for the video on how to make these yummy roll ups.
These are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to healthy snacks, but they are my go to’s, which is why I wanted to share them with you today. Do you have any yummy and healthy snacks to share with us? Leave them in the comments below! Remember we’ll be moving over to the new blog soon, so make sure you’re signed up to our new email list by clicking the image below, we’ll send you a little free welcome gift so you get a taste of what’s to come. You can also watch more sneak peeks in our new youtube channel! Brownble is going live very soon, we’re so excited!