Being a vegan means paying attention to your diet, not just in what you avoid, but in planning a daily menu that is both nutritious and enjoyable.
Choosing snacks is no different; there are an increasing range of commercially produced vegan snacks from brands such as Kallo, Suma, Doves, Clearspring and the leading supermarkets.
If you, like many vegans, choose to start your snack with raw ingredients then here are some suggestions:
A healthy handful of nuts is a great snack and is just the right portion, here is a quick guide to commonly available nuts:
Almonds: these are high in protein, iron, calcium, vitamin E, zinc, vitamin B2, and rich in mono and polyunsaturated fats
Brazils: these are high in protein, fat, iron, calcium and zinc
Plain cashews: these are high in protein and carbohydrate, a good source of iron, Zinc, folate, vitamin A
Hazelnut: a good source of protein, high in monounsaturated fat, calcium, copper, selenium, iodine, vitamin E and folate
Macadamia: very difficult to extract from their shells, they are expensive but have a delicious creamy flavour and crunchy texture. Macadamia nuts are rich in monounsaturates
Peanuts: a good source of protein, iron and zinc
Pecans: a good source of vitamin A, iron, calcium and high in poly and monounsaturated fat
Pine nuts: best stored in the fridge vital for pesto sauce. Pine nuts are rich in mono and polyunsaturated fats, iron, magnesium and vitamin E
Pistachio: a good source of protein, iron, folate, and calcium
Walnuts: best stored in the fridge, walnuts are a good source of iron, folate and iodine
Nuts and seeds should be stored in cool dry conditions using an airtight container, preferably away from the light. You could also consider storing them in the fridge because this can help preserve the natural oils contained within them. Remember, nuts are rich in natural oils, so are a great source of the healthy fats our body needs to be at its best. And all have a good dose of fibre.
Like nuts, seeds are rich in natural oils and fibre, and can be a good source of carbohydrate:
Pumpkin: rich in protein, iron, zinc, phosphorous, copper and selenium
Sesame: high in protein, mono- and polyunsaturated fats, low in carbohydrate a rich source of calcium, phosphorous, iron, zinc, copper, folate, vitamin E and vitamin K
Sunflower: high in protein and carbohydrate as well as polyunsaturated fat, sunflower is a good source of calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, selenium, vitamin A and vitamin E
Flax Seeds: contain a good balance of protein, fat and carbohydrate. They are an excellent source of Omega-3, often difficult to get in a vegan diet, and are also a good source of Thiamine. Pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, calcium, iron, zinc and fibre.
There are lots of other seeds available; experiment to find the ones you like best.
Dried fruit is produced by removing the water from fully ripened fresh fruit by circulating air round it, either naturally with sunshine and wind or by drying with hot air. Drying reduces the moisture content to around 20-25% of the original fruit.
Dried fruit does not contain vitamin D, and vitamin C content is minimal – all other nutrient values are unaffected. So dried fruit is rich in vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6 and pantothenic acid, along with the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, copper and manganese. With the water removed, dried fruit is a concentrated source of natural fruit sugars, which will give you a quick burst of energy as well as being high in fibre.
All fruit is naturally rich in anti-oxidants, and berries are a particularly concentrated source. Don’t be fooled into paying extra for ‘super-foods’ – a healthy vegan diet is already rich in anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals.
Liquorice is low in fat and protein but high in carbohydrate, good for a quick burst of energy, it is also a good source of both iron and calcium.
Don’t forget to mix up your nuts, seeds, dried fruit and liquorice to keep your snacks tasty and interesting!
Take a look at our vegan and vegetarian meal plans if you need more help in that area.