Initially, one of the things I found frustrating about keeping a focus on vegan wholefoods was the abrupt removal of 90% of widely available snacking options.
I ♥ snacks.
Supermarket snack foods and I go way, way back. Instant noodles, flavoured potato chips, brightly packaged cookie variations, the candy multiverse ♥, to name a few old favourites. All packed with artificial sweeteners, colours, flavours, additives, preservatives, salt, the MSG family. All of those things we are supposed to ignore. Tasty? Kinda. A good idea? Not so much.
After a couple of months steering clear of heavily processed stuff, I was feeling the unbelievable-unless-experienced difference it makes not piling that kinda stuff into my body every day. Those brightly coloured packets started to look a lot less like food.
It’s like the less junk you eat, the less you crave. It loses a lot of its shiny, neon allure.
When I started getting a little more confident in the kitchen, I realised that backing off of processed food totally doesn’t mean an end to delicious snacks. Now I snack so much better than I have ever snacked before! Fresh, fast & so, so satisfying. There are a heap of options. Think quality over quantity: it’s about whipping up something at home with lush, fresh ingredients instead of ripping open a packet of something pre-made.
One snacking rule I live by: If in doubt, think rad-thing-on-toast! Seasoned with a little sea salt and fresh black pepper. Mmmm. Never underestimate the power of avocado on toast. See also: hummus, sliced tomatoes, panfried mushrooms seasoned with a little chinese 5 spice, caponata, babaganoush (similar to hummus but made from eggplant instead of chickpeas – sooo good!). A quick tomato & basil bruschetta, maybe. Yum. Fast, cheap and amazing.
Here are ten of my favourite snacks to make at home right now:
♥ Smashed avocado on multigrain toast, seasoned with sea salt and fresh black pepper. I have this is on permanent heavy rotation.
♥ Hummus (or babaganoush ♥) and sliced tomato on a toasted wholegrain bagel, seasoned with sea salt and fresh black pepper.
♥ A refreshing berry smoothie. Smoothies are a snack in a glass, and can be made in a minute or two. Try one of these babies.
♥ A folded wholemeal tortilla filled with lightly seasoned refried beans, hummus and salsa, pan-fried for a few minutes on either side. Top with a dollop of simple home-made guacamole if you have a spare avocado & lemon laying around.
♥ A handful or two of Candied Pecans.
♥ Cupcakes or muffins. Hell yeah. A simple recipe can be fresh out of the oven in 30 minutes flat. Make a batch, give a few away*, and dig in over the next couple of days whenever snack o’clock strikes. There are a bunch of cookbooks full of vegan sweet treats for you to dive in to. If you are a cupcake fiend, check out Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World by Isa Moskowitz and Terry Romero. For a little bit of everything, try The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.
♥ Corn chips with home made salsa (try my sweet n sassy Roasted Capsicum & Pineapple Salsa).
♥ Marinated tofu strips (these require a little foresight, but you won’t regret it; make a batch of baked tofu using your favourite marinade – refrigerate in an airtight container and chow down over the next 2-3 days whenever the munchies strike).
♥ Sinful Chocolate Pudding is great for a quick sweet fix. Mmm.
♥ Dark chocolate-pistachio clusters! These are so delicious and super easy. Set aside a few tablespoons of chopped pistachio nuts. Melt 1/2 cup of dark chocolate (at least 60% cocoa) in a double boiler (or one saucepan sitting on top of another) over a very low heat. Remove from heat, stir in pistachios. Dollop spoonfuls onto baking paper and refrigerate for ten minutes or so. For a fruity variation, try dipping strawberries or pineapple slices into the chocolate-pistachio mixture instead of making clusters.
Other go-to snacks at my place include: cranberry, cashew & roasted almond mix; Tonzu** soysages in bread with a little tomato sauce and mustard; oatmeal with dates and raspberries; AntiOx (least sexy name ever, right? But they are dee-licious) acai bars; organic rice crackers and hummus; lightly seasoned roasted asparagus; fresh mango slices; bhuja mix or murukku; miso soup; Annies boysenberry fruit leather rolls; Little Bird raw mexican sundried tomato crackers or chocolate macaroons; samosas from Commonsense Organics; toasted bagels with hummus; caramel cashews; banana date loaf. The list is long.
My new favourites tower above all of the old stuff taste-wise and awesomeness-wise. Caving in to cravings for corn syrup and colourings happens less often, because more and more often when my brain is sleepwalking me towards junk food, my body wakes up and is like “Pffft…. I don’t think so.” The supercravings I used to get, for sugary bling foods and the like, happen way less often now, which was unexpected but makes sense when you think about it.
Now I crave perfectly ripe avocados, dark chocolate and toasted nuts, garlicky hummus on thick slices of soy & linseed bread, juicy pieces of marinaded tofu instead. If you told me a couple of years ago that soon I would think an avocado would look more delicious than a bag of candy, I would never have believed you!
* cupcake karma!
** the only brand in NZ worth buying – perfectly simple, so tasty