Did you know that snacking now makes up 25% of the daily calorie intake of an average American? People simply love snacking throughout their busy days. So what snacks can you eat on a plant-based diet?
Health experts have been following snacking habits for a while now. The traditional three meals a day approach is now a thing of the past. However, the so-called ‘fourth meal’ is considered a health hazard.
Most snacks are nothing but empty calories. They do not provide essential nutrients, rather result in a surplus of calories and, ultimately, unnecessary weight gain. However, if you’re on a plant-based diet, your snacks can be much healthier than the usual snacks.
Snacking is not all bad. It’s all about taking things in control, like sticking to healthy snacks and keeping a check on your calorie intake.
Snacks You Can Eat on a Plant-based Diet
The good news for vegetarians and vegans is that a lot of the plant-based snacks are quite healthy. This is one of the many benefits of making this big change in your life. It essentially revamps all your eating habits, including snacks.
Here are some plant-based snack ideas:
1. Fresh Fruits
There’s nothing quite like fresh fruits. From sweet strawberries to extremely juicy oranges, all fresh fruits are healthy snacks to eat. These are easy and convenient to eat as well as there’s not much preparation.
Different fruits have different nutritional profiles. For instance, bananas are rich in potassium and can help with digestion. And yes, fruits do contain sugar, but those are natural sugars and in decent amounts.
You can pre-cut and portion your fruits in the morning and take them whenever you get a chance. The USDA recommends eating one to two cups of fruits, at least, depending on your age, sex, and physical activity.
Calories: 20 to 240 kcal per cup (Varies by each fruit)
Keto: Yes (Low-carb fruits like avocado, cantaloupe, and berries)
If you snack because you constantly feel hungry, raw nuts might be a good solution for you. Almonds, pistachios, cashew nuts, walnuts, and peanuts are all great snacks. These can help satiate your unwanted cravings.
While nuts are generally healthy, these can be high in calories and fats. Also, those who have heart disease should consume very little of these, and only occasionally. Similarly, you want to watch out for any nut allergies.
You can choose to eat any of your favorite nut or a mix of several different nuts. However, if you’re thinking of eating the healthiest of them all, then go for walnuts. Walnuts are the richest in antioxidants of all nuts.
Calories: 185 kcal per oz (Walnuts)
Keto: Yes (except pistachios and cashews)
Raisins are rich in antioxidants, keep your heart healthy, and prevent anemia. What’s not to like about a snack like that? These sweet whole-food snacks can satisfy your sweet cravings.
Looking for a healthy snack before bed? You should go for raisins, any kind you like. These dried grapes can help reduce acidity and also help with constipation.
Calories: 85 kcal per oz (Seedless raisins)
Smoothies can be a big part of the plant-based diet. With fresh fruits and vegetables, you can come up with hundreds of combinations. These healthy drinks can give you a boost of energy in between meals.
Some people argue that making smoothies can be time-consuming. It doesn’t have to be, as you can choose simpler recipes. You can even prep your smoothie combinations on weekends for the whole week.
Smoothies can be high in calories and natural sugars. Therefore, it’s important to choose the right type of smoothie, according to your fitness goals. These are also a good alternative for people who are a bit fussy about eating fruits. Make sure to add plenty of whole fruits and veggies, yes veggies. Whole plant-based ingredients add vital fiber to the equation which help to moderate blood sugar spikes. Add a handful of kale or spinach to your smoothies. You’ll get all the benefits and most people don’t even notice their mild flavor profile. Definitely great snacks that you can eat on a plant-based diet.
Keto: Only those high in fat and low in carbs
Vegan: Yes (Only those without dairy)
Gluten-free: Yes, mostly
5. Trail Mix
A combination of nuts, dried fruits, and sometimes sweets, trail mix are highly nutritious plant-based diet snacks that you can eat. In fact, trail mix is the answer when you’re looking for a healthy snack at night. These often come in pre-packaged servings, but you can also make your own.
For those looking for healthy snacks when traveling, trail mix is a good idea. It packs enough energy to get you going, and one serving can fit in your pocket. You can choose the dried fruits and nuts you prefer when making your own.
Calories: 131 kcal per oz
Gluten-free: Premixed and seasoned trail mix could have traces of gluten
6. Plant-based Protein Bars
For those who want to skip preparation, plant-based snack bars are the way to go. You can pack one or two of these for work. These are nutritious, and you also have low-calories options.
Fruit bars are a healthy alternative to candy and other sweet treats with empty calories. Unlike other sweet snacks, these are actually filling. That said, go for something simple, and don’t fall for the marketing gimmicks.
For those who are vegan, finding vegan protein bars can be a little challenging. Most of these contain whey protein, milk, and honey. Therefore, you should only buy those that are clearly marked as vegan.
Calories: Under 100 kcal
Vegan: Only those marked vegan
Gluten-free: Only those marked as gluten-free
Is popcorn a healthy snack? Yes, those that are made at home or air-popped are one of the healthiest snacks you can eat on a plant-based diet. It generally has fewer calories than most traditional snacks like potato chips.
Popcorn is America’s favorite snack, and you can make it even healthier. Toppings like butter sound delicious but can add more calories and fat. Stick to the healthy toppings and flavors, or best, enjoy them plain.
Did you know that popcorn protects your body cells? It contains antioxidants that control damage from free radicals. Besides that, it can also help with weight loss.
Calories: 110 kcal per oz
8. Dried Fruits
Dried fruits or nature’s candy is the perfect plant-based sweet snack to munch on. There’s just so much variety that you will not get bored of them so easily. From sweet dried figs to tangy dried cranberries, there are quite a lot of flavor profiles.
You can eat your favorite dried fruits or go for a mix of several of them. You can also add them to your trail mix. Whatever you choose, beware of the calories, though.
When buying in-store, you can opt for those pre-packaged servings, so you don’t have to guess how much to eat. Dried fruits can have quite a lot of sugars, so you want to eat them in moderation.
Calories: 76 kcal in one pack (0.75 oz)
Gluten-free: Yes (go for those marked gluten-free to avoid contamination)
9. Roasted Chickpeas
Roasted chickpeas can be eaten as a snack on its own or mixed with fresh vegetables. These crunchy snacks can be spicy too, making them a healthy choice for a savory snack. Chickpeas are high in antioxidants.
Looking for a healthy snack from Trader Joes? Try the ranch seasoned roasted chickpeas. Alternatively, you can prepare these from scratch at home, using spices you love most.
Calories: 46 kcal per oz
Potato chips are the de facto popular snacks around the world. Ditch them and eat vegetable chips. While potato chips are plant-based, they are not the most healthy. On the other hand, vegetable chips are healthy and delicious.
Sweet potato, beetroot, parsnip, taro, carrot, spinach, kale, zucchini, and colocasia are all types of vegetable chips. With such different flavor profiles, each chip has is delicious on its own. However, mixed vegetable chips are the most popular.
These are a great way to incorporate more vegetables in your diet. Especially if you’re just starting a plant-based diet, these can help you like vegetables more. Even the texture is so much better than potato chips.
Calories: 134 kcal per oz
10. Oat Cookies and Muffins
Instead of going for regular cookies, go for oatmeal cookies or muffins. As you know, oats are incredibly rich in fiber, so they make a very healthy snack. Also, it’s a great way to balance out the processed carbs in flour (you should ideally use whole-wheat flour).
Nothing really beats the smell, texture, and flavor of freshly baked cookies. However, you can easily find these in the supermarket as well. A lot of the cookies also contain nuts and raisins, adding to the overall calories.
Oatmeal has many scientifically proven benefits, including aiding in digestion, improving heart health, maintaining weight, and improving blood sugar control. You should incorporate more of it into your diet. So what better way to do that than sweet and delicious oatmeal cookies?
Calories: 67 kcal per serving of one cookie
Hummus is a staple snack in the Middle Eastern cuisines, and for good reasons. It’s a great source of plant-based protein. However, to make it even healthier, you can make it without oil.
Made from chickpeas, hummus contains highly beneficial antioxidants. You can find it in your local market, but making your own hummus is also quick and easy.
You get minerals like iron, phosphorus, folate, and Vitamin B from chickpeas. Since hummus also contains lemon, it’s also rich in Vitamin C. All in all, a great snack to shake things a little.
Calories: 166 kcal per 100 g
12. Avocado Toast
Avocado Toast can be one of those healthy snacks post-workout. Yes, avocados are rich in fat, but it’s still quite healthy.
This is a common misconception that you cannot eat any fats after a workout. A study showed that whole milk was better than skim milk for muscle recovery after exercise. It can help with protein synthesis, especially for those looking to gain muscle mass.
The fat from avocado combined with the good carbs from the whole-grain bread makes a filling post-workout snack. You can eat it otherwise too, whenever you’re feeling hungry in between your main meals.
Calories: 189 kcal per serving
Gluten-free: Only with gluten-free bread like rye bread
13. Baked Fries/Potato
What snacks can you eat on a plant-based diet that have potatoes? Well, you can eat most potato snacks on a vegetarian diet. However, some are healthier than others.
People are apprehensive of eating potatoes as they are rich in carbs. However, they are also rich in other nutrients like Potassium, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin C. The skin of potatoes contains fiber.
You can eat baked potato snacks instead. Potato fries and chips are high in fats too, which is something you want to avoid on a plant-based diet. As a result, baked fries or potatoes make a healthy snack with very little oil.
Calories: 93 kcal per 100 g
Edamame is immature soybeans still in pods and is a popular Japanese snack. As a whole-food snack, it provides many surprising benefits. These include lowering cholesterol, maintaining blood sugar, and reducing the risk of breast cancer.
These are green in color, which is different from regular soybeans (brown). You can find these in the frozen aisle. You can boil, steam, or stirfry with a little seasoning.
Calories: 122 kcal per 100 g
Keto: Yes (in small portions)
Snacks are an important part of your diet, simply because they can make or break the outcome. For those trying to lose or even maintain their weight, it’s imperative to watch for the overall snack intake.
So what snacks can you eat on a plant-based diet? Mostly healthy and nutritious with low calories. Unlike other diets, this diet is all about whole foods. As a result, the snacks are healthy too.
If you’re looking for more ideas for healthy snacks, check out these recipes from Forks Over Knives.
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