Maintaining a plant based lifestyle offers a multitude of benefits, from improved health to reduced environmental impact. While embracing a diet centered around plants, it’s essential to ensure that your healthy snacking choices align with your principles and nutritional needs. As the seasons are changing, it is good to take a look at some aspects of our snacking routines to make sure that it is going in the direction that is fueling our bodies instead of adding needlessly to our waistlines.
In this topic of the week, we’ll explore the reasons behind healthy snacking in a plant based lifestyle, provide some creative snacking ideas, offer suggestions for school-age children, and share organizational tips to make healthy snacks easily accessible and fresh.
The Importance of Mindful Healthy Snacking
Snacking is not just about satisfying hunger between meals; it’s an opportunity to infuse your body with essential nutrients and keep your energy levels steady throughout the day. For those following a plant based diet, snacking can be a powerful tool to meet your nutritional requirements, especially when certain nutrients might be lacking. It’s also a way to prevent overindulgence during main meals by keeping your appetite in check.
Sustained Energy: Fueling Your Body’s Furnace by Snacking
Embracing a plant based lifestyle involves recognizing the importance of consistent nourishment, akin to fueling a furnace to maintain optimal function. Rather than adhering to intermittent fasting trends, which might not align seamlessly with plant based eating due to the unique breakdown of whole foods, a focus on healthful snacking between meals can provide a continuous supply of nutrients. Renowned nutritionist Dr. Michael Greger emphasizes in his book “HOW NOT TO DIET” that regular, plant based snacking supports metabolism, sustains energy levels, and contributes to overall well-being, underscoring the significance of mindful eating patterns for those embracing plant-powered nutrition. So you can think of snacking in a more positive light, as long as you are selecting items that are better for your body than items more commonly considered “treats.”
Creative Plant Based Snacking Ideas
Here are some creative ideas to add to your healthy snacking routine. Additionally, we have compiled our “SNACKS” PRINTABLE MEAL GUIDE with ten simple ideas for everyday snacking ease. Print and keep handy so you always have something easy to grab when those hunger pangs hit.
1. Fruit Medley: Slice up an assortment of fresh fruits like apples, oranges, berries, and melons. The natural sugars and fiber in fruits provide a quick energy boost.
2. Nut Butter Dips: Pair carrot sticks, celery, or whole-grain crackers with almond, peanut, or cashew butter. These provide a mix of healthy fats and protein.
3. Roasted Chickpeas: Spice up chickpeas with your favorite seasonings and roast them in the oven until crispy. A crunchy and protein-packed option.
4. Homemade Trail Mix: Create your own mix with nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and dark chocolate chips. This mix offers a balance of protein, healthy fats, and a touch of sweetness.
5. Hummus and Veggie Sticks: Dip cucumber, bell pepper, and zucchini slices into hummus for a satisfying blend of textures and flavors.
6. Rice Cakes with Avocado: Spread mashed avocado on whole-grain rice cakes, topped with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast or a drizzle of olive oil.
7. Smoothie Popsicles: Blend your favorite fruits, plant based milk, and a touch of natural sweetener, then freeze in popsicle molds for a refreshing treat.
8. Yogurt Parfait: Layer dairy-free yogurt with granola, fresh fruits, and a drizzle of maple syrup for a delightful and nutritious parfait.
With that said, there is also the time for occasional less healthy snacking that is a little more indulgent. We call these foods treats and they do have their time and place. We have compiled a “TREAT” PRINTABLE MEAL GUIDE for just those occasions.
Plant Based Snacks for School-Age Children
When it comes to kids, snacks need to be appealing, convenient, and nutrient-dense. Here are some easy but fun kid-friendly ideas:
1. Mini Sandwiches: Use whole-grain bread, hummus, sliced veggies, and plant based cheese to create mini sandwiches.
2. Apple “Donuts”: Slice apples horizontally, remove the core, and spread nut butter on the rings. Top with raisins, seeds, or granola for a fun twist.
3. Colorful Veggie Cups: Pack small containers with colorful bell pepper, carrot, and cucumber sticks. Include a tasty dip like guacamole or salsa.
4. Fruit Kebabs: Thread chunks of watermelon, pineapple, grapes, and berries onto skewers for a playful snack.
5. Energy Bites: Make bite-sized energy balls using oats, nut butter, seeds, and dried fruits. These are perfect for on-the-go snacking.
Organizational Tips for Easy Snacking
Let’s face it, sometimes we grab the first thing that we see – and that might not always be the best thing. So a smidge of planning can help tremendously. Here are a few easy prep things you can do to help you make the right choices at the hardest times.
1. Prep Ahead: Wash, cut, and portion fruits and vegetables as soon as you bring them home. Store them in clear containers in the fridge for easy access.
2. Snack Stations: Designate a shelf or drawer in your pantry and fridge for ready-to-eat snacks. This makes it simple for both you and your kids to find nutritious options quickly.
3. Batch Cooking: Prepare larger quantities of roasted chickpeas, trail mix, or energy bites, and store them in airtight containers for a week’s worth of convenient snacks.
4. Portable Snack Bags: Create individual snack bags with pre-portioned nuts, seeds, or dried fruits. These are great for throwing into lunch boxes or grabbing on the way out.
5. Chill Out: Invest in a small cooler or insulated lunch bag for times when you’re on the go. This will help keep perishable snacks fresh and safe to eat.
Incorporating mindful and nutritious healthy snacking into your plant based lifestyle can enhance your overall well-being and keep you energized throughout the day. With these creative snack ideas and organizational tips, you’ll be well-equipped to embrace the art of wholesome healthy snacking for yourself and your family.