It's easy enough to find vegan snacks; after all, things like store-bought hummus, fruit, and some crackers come that way naturally. But when a real craving hits, we tend to want something packed with tons of flavor—like a sweet-and-sour eggplant caponata for dipping, a batch of hearty homemade Wheat Thins, or a piece of avocado toast that's gussied up with sweet baby peas and spicy radishes. Because there's a time and a place for everything, including junky snacks, we also have recipes for saucy Korean-style fried cauliflower and fully loaded nachos covered in a vegan queso-style sauce. Keep reading for 18 of our favorite vegan snacks that will fend off any attack.
According to experts, snacking in between meals wards off hunger and aids weight loss by maintaining blood-sugar levels and reducing blood insulin levels. "When your body produces less insulin, you're much less likely to convert dietary calories into body fat," says weight loss expert Dr. Wayne Scott Andersen. "If we feed the body at regular intervals we send a signal to the body that it doesn't have to store calories," he adds.
We combine everything you love about Chinese takeout—the sweet, savory, spicy sauce; the super-crispy tofu; and the crisp-tender, perfectly caramelized vegetables—into one quick vegetarian main. Celery takes on a leading role rather than a base ingredient here: It maintains its crunch, adds a natural saltiness, and is a nice foil to the more robust flavors in the dish. Szechuan here refers to the stir-fry method rather than a tingling, chile-laden heat. If you want more spice, swap the crushed red pepper for one or two very thinly sliced Thai red chiles.
That same vegan nacho cheese sauce makes for a serious plate of nachos. We use freshly fried tortilla wedges (they're sturdier than store-bought chips) as the base for vegan refried beans and chili, Roasted-Tomato Salsa, guacamole, and tons of fresh and pickled veggies. Layering the chips and toppings for even coverage is a little extra work, but it's worth it for the many more balanced bites you'll get.
This classic Sicilian eggplant dish, terrific as a spread, a dip, or a pasta sauce, is proof positive that vegan food doesn't have to be bland. The sweet-and-sour mixture packs in all sorts of intense flavors, including pine nuts, mint, raisins, capers, and vinegar. Even with the long ingredient list, it's not that hard to make: By cooking the ingredients in a particular order, we've engineered this recipe to use just one skillet.
Making your own raisins at home might sound silly, but these oven-dried grapes are a cut above the sad, shriveled raisins you buy in a box. Plumper and juicier, they have a flavor that's more similar to fresh grapes—just concentrated, and with a little caramelization. Try playing around with different varieties and cooking times to find the flavor and texture that you like.
Freekeh is a cereal made from roasted green wheat. That's the one and only ingredient in this snack's original blend, making it an ideal packaged snack. With zero sodium, four grams of fiber, six grams of protein, and only 130 calories per quarter-cup serving, you can help yourself to an extra-large serving. Try rosemary sage or tamari when you want to mix things up.
Good snacks are also relatively portable and easy to eat while you’re on the go. Search for snack ideas that can be thrown into your purse or bag, giving you the ability to always have food on hand. Additionally, a good snack is one that can be made ahead of time. For example, a trail mix that contains mixed nuts, dried fruits, and a small amount of chocolate provides a great balance of nutrients. You can portion a large bag of trail mix into smaller, snack-sized portions at the beginning of the week. Then, simply stick one in your bag before you head out the door to avoid mid-afternoon cravings.
Sweet, creamy, and filling, this trio feels completely indulgent. The combination of fiber, healthy fats, and protein are sure to get you over any 3pm slump. Plus, the vitamin C in raspberries increases your body's fat-burning ability, according to research in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. Combine a single-serving container of Greek yogurt, a cup of raspberries, and a half-tablespoon of honey.
This portable, affordable protein is a must-eat for anyone looking to lose a few. Why? Canned tuna is a prime source of a specific omega-3 fatty acid, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which has been shown to "turn off" fat genes in the abdomen, preventing belly fat cells from growing larger. To keep calories to a minimum, skip the mayo and instead add a few cranks of ground pepper, a splash of balsamic vinegar and serve the fish over a bed of greens—super filling, yet low-cal.
If you have issues with sodium and salt, this is not a good option for you. However, if you are generally healthy, salt has some health benefits, just make sure you are hydrated adequately. Also, check the ingredients carefully on commercial packets of soup – many may have additives that are derived from animals. This is a vegan snack under 100 calories that you should only enjoy every now and then.
Americans love to snack almost as much as we want to lose weight. But according to research by the USDA, our snacking habits are adding too many calories and too few nutrients to our diets. It doesn't have to be this way, says Susan Bowerman, RD, assistant director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition. "When done right, (snacking) keeps your energy levels up and gives you more opportunities to get in all your nutritional needs."
If you’re looking for a post-workout snack with a little more staying power, try this delicious sweet potato toast recipe. Sweet potatoes provide filling fiber and carbohydrates, and ham and egg offer protein to help build muscle. Spinach is a good source of magnesium, which often gets lost in sweat, and carbohydrates for replenishing glycogen stores. Photo and recipe: Carmen Sturdy / Life by Daily Burn
For a savory snack under 60 calories, spread 1 tablespoon of low-fat cream cheese onto a slice of smoked salmon (lox) and roll it up. This salmon pinwheel is high in protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, though the salt used to cure the salmon boosts the sodium content. Use a little less cream cheese and you can have two pinwheels for under 100 calories.
But first, a bit of definition: "Free foods," in my opinion, are those that have 25 calories or less per reasonable serving. "Almost free foods" have 25 to 60 calories per reasonable serving. Portion control is key here. While 2 cups of popped, 94% fat-free microwave popcorn may contain only 40 calories, if you eat the entire bag you'll end up with closer to 200 calories -- definitely not an "almost free" food situation.
“Crackers do not stave off hunger well,” Culbertson says. Low in fiber and high in sodium, this snack does not provide the energy boost most people are looking for during the afternoon, and you’re not likely to feel satisfied. (However, some crackers are high in fiber and low in sodium; and topping them with low-fat cheese takes them from a bad snack to a healthy one.) And if they’re not single-serving packages, Culbertson says, it's easy to eat too many.