Are you new to a plant-based diet, but not sure what’s healthy to snack on between meals? Or maybe you’ve been vegan for a while but you’re feeling stuck in a rut. Not everybody who finds this cruelty-free lifestyle is experienced in cooking, and finding new ideas can be challenging at first.
We gathered some ideas for the best healthy vegan snacks that are easy to make with low or no added fat, salt and sugar. Check out our top 10 ideas and try them out for yourself!
If you’re already in a hurry to get snacking, these are some of the best healthy vegan snacks.
- Hummus and veggies.
- Vegan nachos and cheese.
- Seed crackers.
- Fruit and nut butter.
- Roasted nuts and seeds.
- Nori rolls.
- Whole grain bruschettas.
- Fruit smoothies.
- Banana ice cream.
- Vegan energy balls.
What Is a Healthy Plant-Based Diet?
Vegans tend to be a healthy population overall, but there are ways to make a plant-based diet unhealthy. Processed foods like plant burgers and vegan ice cream are easier and easier to find, but they’re not necessarily great for your health.
The healthiest vegan diet is whole-foods based, which means it contains minimal amounts of processed or refined grains, low fat and low added sugar. As a general guide, go for real plant ingredients as often as possible and eat fewer foods that come pre-packaged or prepared.
Also, pay attention to cooking methods. Frying is always less healthy than cooking in an oven with minimal oils. And some micronutrients like vitamin C are sensitive to heat, so eating plenty of raw foods is always a good idea.
How To Make Plant-Based Snacks Taste Good
The best healthy vegan snacks don’t need to lack in taste. If you learn how to use these staples of a plant-based kitchen, you can create new flavors that will never cease to surprise you.
Spices and Herbs
While adding more salt to your food is not advisable, spices are a different issue. Spices like garlic and onion powder, paprika, curry add lots of flavor to sauces, crackers and other snack foods.
Turmeric is also a powerful anti-inflammatory. And if you go for fresh herbs, you’ll also get tons of fiber and vitamins to boot.
When buying spice mixes, just remember to make sure to buy quality brands and check that they don’t include added salt.
For sweet snacks and smoothies, fruits like bananas pack a lot of flavor. You can use them to add some sugar, while also keeping the fiber and micronutrient content high.
Some snacks and treats will require even more sweetness. In these cases, try dried dates and figs. They have lots of natural sugar, but they also bring lots of flavor, fiber and micronutrients.
And if you’re looking for a creamy texture, there’s nothing better than avocados. Nut butter and sesame paste, or tahini, are also great for adding some smooth creaminess.
If you want to avoid buying processed cheeses, you can easily make cream cheese at home from cashews. Just leave a handful of cashews in water until they’re soft. Drain nearly all the water out and pour them in a blender, and mix until you get a smooth texture.
Top 10 Healthy Vegan Snack Ideas
These are the best healthy vegan snacks for all ages. Below, you’ll find plenty of gluten, soy and nut-free alternatives, not to mention cruelty-free and environmentally friendly.
1. Hummus and Veggies
Chickpeas are a vegan’s best friend. They’re full of protein and iron, among other essential nutrients, but they’re also versatile for sweet and savory vegan cooking. And hummus is probably the best-known of the chickpea recipes. It’s gluten, soy and nut-free, so it adapts to the toughest dietary restrictions.
Hummus is easy to make in a couple of minutes. Just pour some chickpeas in a blender, add garlic, lemon juice and tahini, or sesame seed paste, and a pinch of salt. You can serve the paste with carrot, cucumber and celery sticks, or any other vegetable of your choice. It’s also delicious on some wholewheat bread or crackers.
And the best part is that hummus is a versatile dish that’s easy to whip up in five minutes. You can prepare it out of different legumes, like lentils or black-eyed peas, or even starchy vegetables like beets and carrots. Just add garlic, lemon and tahini to give it that hummus touch.
Tip: Canned chickpeas are a good solution if you’re in a hurry, but they tend to have a lot of salt. If you want to control your sodium intake, cook a larger batch of dry chickpeas at a time. You can store them in your freezer in small portions, and they’ll remain fresh for months.
2. Vegan Nachos and Cheese Dip
You can make a healthier version of nachos with cheese by preparing them yourself. Skip the fried tortilla chips that are high in fat and sodium, and cut up some whole grain tortillas instead. You can lightly broil them so they’re crunchy for dipping.
You can also buy some baked nachos or gluten-free crackers if you don’t want to prepare them yourself. One great and satiating option is making easy vegan seed crackers, the next recipe on our list.
Buying vegan cheese in a grocery store these days is easy, but not necessarily the best option if you want to keep it healthy. Store-bought vegan cheeses are often processed and have additives, salt and fat, so it’s always best to make your own.
You can make a quick and tasty vegan cheddar from boiled potato and carrot. Blend them together, and add some extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, salt, garlic powder and nutritional yeast. Keep the oil and salt low so this snack is still okay for the health-conscious. The nutritional yeast will give you a cheesy taste.
3. Seed Crackers
For those with gluten sensitivity, you can use linen and other seeds to make crackers. Try making a mix of sunflower, pumpkin, flax, chia and sesame seeds to get the most varied nutritional profile.
What makes these crackers excellent is that you really don’t need anything else but some spices. The chia and flax seeds form a jelly when you add some water, and it makes them stick together. You don’t even have to grind them, but you can if you prefer the texture to be a little finer.
Then, you can just pour the mix on an oven tray and leave it in the oven until they’re crisp. You can also remove them from the oven about halfway through if you prefer to cut your crackers into neat squares.
These crackers taste great on their own or with just about any dip, including guacamole or hummus. And while seeds are relatively high in calories, they’re extremely satiating so it’s hard to overeat them.
4. Fruit with Nut Butters
Serving some fruit with the nut butter of your choice is a quick snack that keeps you full between meals. It also gives you some necessary vitamins, carbs and protein for a mid-afternoon energy boost.
Try spreading some peanut or almond butter on apple slices, or cashew butter on a banana.
5. Roasted Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are full of heart-healthy fats and plenty of protein. If you roast or toast them, they become an irresistible snack or party treat.
Try some sunflower and pumpkin seeds with a mix of raw almonds, pistachios and cashews. Mix them together with spices, a tiny bit of olive oil, and put them in the oven or prepare in a pan on the stovetop.
The most important thing is not leaving them in for long because they will burn easily, especially the seeds. Make sure you move the seeds and nuts around on the pan and you remove them from the heat before they start popping.
For spices, try some herbs together with garlic powder for a Mediterranean vibe, or spicy paprika. Curry powder is also a good alternative for those who prefer a more Indian vibe.
6. Nori Rolls
Seaweed is packed with essential nutrients like iodine that are tough to find on a vegan diet. It should be a part of your regular diet, but it can be tough to think of uses for it outside of sushi.
Try cutting up a sheet of nori in three to four slices, and using them to make bite-sized rolls. You can put in some carrots, cucumber and avocado, or your favorite veggies.
Or how about making vegan smoked tomato ‘salmon’ to fill the rolls? Peel some ripe tomatoes, remove the seeds and cut the outer parts into small pieces. Leave the pieces in a bowl with soy sauce, liquid smoke and bits of nori for a few hours. Then add them to your rolls with some creamy vegan cheese.
7. Whole Grain Bruschettas
Prepare small bruschettas with tomato and basil. Cut up a ripe tomato or two in small cubes and mix with fresh basil leaves, and apply over toasted whole-grain bread. You can add a pinch of salt and a dash of extra virgin olive oil to supercharge the taste.
You can make this snack healthier by leaving out the oil and salt, or pick a gluten-free bread if you have celiac disease or gluten intolerance.
8. Fruit Smoothies
Smoothies are great at any time of the day when you want to quickly get in a bite but don’t have the time for a meal. You can add veggies, fruit and berries, and use water or plant-based milk or yogurt depending on what you have at hand. The fruits provide plenty of natural sugar, so you don’t need to add any extra.
A smoothie is also a fantastic way of getting your kids to eat their daily leafy greens. Spinach, kale or even basil blend perfectly with fruit to supercharge the nutrition profile, but you won’t notice it in the taste.
Ground chia, flax and hemp seeds can also add healthy fiber to your smoothies to nurture your gut health.
You can also turn your favorite smoothie into a nutrition-packed ice cream pop. You’ll just need some molds to pour it in, with some ice cream sticks. It’s perfect for hot summer days or as a treat for kids.
9. Banana Ice Cream
If you have a serious sweet tooth, there’s nothing better than a bowl of ice cream you can eat with a clear conscience. And for this one, you don’t need any added sugar or fat, because the fruit already packs a lot of flavor.
Peel some bananas and leave them in the fridge for a couple of hours until they’re frozen. Blend them together and add other fruit, berries or some cocoa, depending on your preference.
Sprinkle some crushed nuts on top, and you’ll be surprised with how much your snack resembles real ice cream. But it’s much healthier than a pint of vegan Ben & Jerry’s.
10. Vegan Energy Balls
For a supercharged, simple snack that takes away your hunger in a couple of bites, make vegan energy balls from oats, dates, peanut butter and maple syrup. Raisins, seeds, dried cranberries and nuts also add some flavor to this vegan snack.
Pour your ingredients into a bowl and mix them together, and then form small balls with your hands. You don’t need a food processor, but you’ll need to get your hands a little dirty. When you’re done, you can store them in the fridge for up to two weeks, or in the freezer.
Popcorn might not sound like a revolutionary vegan treat, or even healthy. Ready-made or microwave popcorn tends to have a lot of salt and oil, so it’s not ideal. But you can keep the unhealthy additives to a minimum by popping your corn at home, in a kettle or an air popper.
And why not experiment with flavor? Popcorn tastes great with a touch of spice, from curry to hot paprika.
Contrary to popular belief, vegan food can actually be simple and tasty at the same time. You just need to learn how to keep the right ingredients at home and be ready to think outside of the box.
Take some of these ideas and implement them in your kitchen. You’ll quickly notice that your diet grows more varied because you’ll start adding more fruits and veggies of all colors into your diet.
You’ll also feel more satiated because you’re eating so much healthy fiber. And even if you feel like snacking on something sweet, you can take advantage of fruit and fill up with natural sugars.