Whether you're vegan or not, snacking is a part of life. It's healthy snacking, however, which can prove to be a challenge, especially if you get tired of the same piece of fruit or handful of nuts each day.
Apart from tasting delicious and helping us stay full of energy between main meals, healthy snacking can also help out our metabolism.
What Are The Benefits Of Snacking?
"Part of the theory around snacking being useful is because when you're eating regularly, it actually stimulates your metabolism," Chloe McLeod, accredited practising dietitian and sports dietitian, told HuffPost Australia.
This theory is called the thermic effect of food, which essentially means your body uses energy to digest food. Therefore appropriate snacking may help you burn more calories.
"When you're ingesting food your body will actually burn calories in order to digest the food. The theory around eating every couple of hours, or eating six small meals a day, came about because if you're eating more frequently that's going to help with burning more calories," McLeod said.
However, this theory's success depends on how large your main meals and snacks are.
"If you're just eating extra food in order to be eating more frequently, then that's not going to give you the result you're after. It depends on how large your main meals and snacks are.
"Look at the whole picture and ask, 'if I snack, am I going to be able to fit that into how much my body really needs per day, or am I just snacking because I feel like I have to?' If you don't want to snack, you don't have to."
Essentially, listen to your hunger cues. If you're not hungry, don't snack. If you are, choose a healthy snack to tide you over until the next mealtime.
How Big Should Snacks Be?
"Whether you're vegan or not, snacking provides an opportunity to get different nutrients in, whether it's protein, healthy fats or veggies," McLeod said.
Not sure how big your snack should be? Aim for your snack to be 150 calories (600 kilojoules) or at least under 200 calories (830 kilojoules).
"A few factors to keep in mind when it comes to healthy snacking include looking at overall energy content of the snack. A lot of the time people think just because a food is vegan it's healthy, but it's just not the case.
"If you look at many raw vegan desserts around, they might be somewhat healthier than the cooked non-vegan alternative, but not necessarily. Some raw desserts are extremely high in sugar. If your goal is weight loss, maybe think twice about whether these treats fit into your day in terms of energy intake.
"I'd be choosing foods which are as minimally processed as possible and looking at the overall calories, protein, sugar and fibre."
Healthy Vegan Snacks
"All these snacks are healthy and great for everybody, not just vegans," McLeod said.
- Coconut or almond yogurt with berries, nuts and seeds
- Healthy banana split with tahini, dates and cinnamon
- Roasted chickpeas (store-bought or homemade)
- Whole grain crackers with natural peanut butter or almond butter
- Homemade low-sugar vegan banana bread or muffins
- Rainbow chia pudding with fruit purée
- Whole grain crackers with hummus and tomato
- Apple slices with peanut butter and cinnamon
- Whole grain crackers with avocado and strawberry slices
- Celery sticks with natural peanut butter
- Veggies sticks with guacamole or hummus
- Seasonal fruit salad with a dollop of vegan yoghurt
- Homemade vegan energy balls
"If you wanted to have something a bit more portable or for more of a treat, there are a few different vegan bars and protein balls on the market. You can find these at most cafes now at the counter, but do be aware they can be really high in calories," McLeod said.
"Or you can make your own. I love making energy balls with dates, pumpkin seeds, almonds and cacao, blending it all up, rolling the mixture into balls and into shredded coconut or chia seeds. They usually keep in the fridge for about a week."