When you’re hungry during the day, it might be easy to grab some greasy chips or a sugar-riddled granola bar from a vending machine or convenience store. These food choices might seem like a suitable choice, but over time the effects of highly processed food can be detrimental to your body. Eating healthy during the day can be easier than you may think. How can you make the most of your snacks, while still keeping your body healthy and your wallet in the green? Read on to find out my top fast and healthy vegan snacks and meals.
WHAT MAKES A SNACK “HEALTHY”?
Knowing what makes one snack healthy and another unhealthy can seem overwhelming, but what it really comes down to is how the food affects your body. Eating wholesome, fresh, unprocessed foods helps you feel fueled up and ready to go. Also, remember eating as many *raw* fruits and veggies as possible is best!
Here are three key features to look for when choosing a healthy snack in a pinch, bonus if it’s vegan:
- Low in added sugar – to prevent weight gain and heart disease (Plus a host of other issues) Note: sugars naturally occurring in fresh fruits and veggies are A-OK!
- Low in saturated fats/fats in general – to prevent heart disease
- High in fiber, vitamins, and minerals — to provide your body with the energy it needs while keeping you full (fiber!) for longer
WHAT TO PACK FROM HOME
If you want to save money and time by packing food from home, here are some easily transportable snack ideas.
Frozen Grapes (or peas)
Yes, you read that correctly. On Sunday, fill a reusable container with freshly washed grapes (peas work, too!) and freeze them. Not only will they keep your other food cold, but they are hydrating and filled with fiber.
Wrap It Up
Roll up a sandwich with sliced veggies, hummus or avocado and kimchee on a grain-free or gluten-free tortilla wrap. A sweeter option could be an nut butter, sliced banana, raspberry and a drizzle of maple syrup on the wrap instead. Make sure your nut butter is organic and free from any added sugars or salt. The ingredients should also be just the nuts.
DIY Your Own Trail Mix
Toss in some nuts, grain-free granola, dairy-free dark chocolate chips, and dried organic fruit (such as dates!) into a single-serving container (be wary of the amount of fat in the nuts, if you choose to eat them). If you don’t have a big sweet tooth, you can always pre-portion small containers of mixed nuts or just one type of nut, such as pistachios, cashews, pecans, walnuts, or almonds.
Homemade Grain-Free Muffins
Prepare pumpkin, zucchini, banana or cornbread muffins at home so you can control what ingredients go into them. Then, take one or two on-the-go with you for a stress-free breakfast or snack. I like Simple Mills grain-free muffin mix. I just use applesauce to replace the eggs.
- Prepare your gluten-free oatmeal (I like Bob’s Red Mill “Quick Oats”)
- Scoop your cooked oats into a jar, layer with fresh or frozen berries, sliced banana
- Top with nut butter and maple syrup for sweetner
Fresh Fruit + Veggies
Pack your fruit and vegetables in a small container to take with you. You can never go wrong when you’re eating raw, organic produce.
MAKE A MASON JAR MEAL TO-GO
Option #1: For the sweet-tooth. Spread some nut butter or hummus on the bottom of a mason jar. Then slice up celery, apples, cucumbers or carrots and fill the jar for an easy and mess-free meal. Or, try layering no sugar added coconut yogurt, nuts, fruit and no-sugar added grain-free granola for an easy take-along breakfast.
Option #2: Savory. Another creative way to use mason jars is to pack salads in them. Mason jar salads are easily transportable and convenient. When it comes to mason jar salads, start with the heaviest and most non-absorbent ingredients with the dressing on the bottom of the jar. Work your way up through the lighter ingredients until you end up with the salad greens themselves on top. Select a dairy-free dressing, such as balsamic vinaigrette, or go oil-free by combining fresh squeezed lime (or other citrus), a dash of maple syrup, organic mustard, or tahini.
- Your first drink of choice should always be water, water and water. Filtered or spring water is best. I use a Berkey filter to make sure with the PF2 filters to remove fluoride, arsenic, etc.
- If you want a variety, you could also bring along unsweetened, organic herbal tea. Steep your own unsweetened tea the night before work and bottle it in a travel container, such as a canteen or reusable stainless steel water bottle (say no to plastic). Another option is to infuse your water with fresh fruit or vegetables, such as strawberries or cucumber.
- Blend it up. Depending on your ingredients and your access to a refrigerator, you could also prepare a fruit-based smoothie at home and bottle it up for a mid-morning meal or snack. I’ve got a great recipe you can view by clicking here.
TIPS + TRICKS
- Pack snacks in single-serving glass or stainless steel reusable containers. No matter what snack you pack, try pre-portioning your snacks into single-serving containers to maintain healthy serving sizes and prevent over-eating.
- Freeze it. If you have a busy week coming up and want to cook a big batch of something in advance, portion out your meals and freeze them. This way your meals are easy to grab and go.
- If your snack is processed or contains high levels of fat, sodium or sugar — look for another option.
- Read the ingredients. If you are unsure of what to choose or want to know what is really in your food, read the ingredients. Packaged food should always be a last option, but when purchased prepared food, take heed: if there is something on the package that you don’t recognize, look it up. It is your right to know what you are putting into your body. Knowledge is power.