Blame boredom, a lackluster lunch, or stress (the culprit for pretty much everything), but it seems like no one is immune to late-afternoon snacking.
Unless you work from home or are blessed with an office that keeps the kitchen impeccably stocked, chances are you’re left with one option: the vending machine. You know everything inside is loaded with artificial ingredients and flavors—”cool ranch” isn’t exactly naturally occurring—but when your brain is battling your stomach, sometimes hanger wins.
The solution? Add snacks to your meal prep. Sure, it may require a bit of extra time in the kitchen, but when 3 p.m. rolls around you’ll be happy that you can reach for your homemade vegan Doritos. (Yes, really!)
Here are six delicious, on-the-go snack recipes that will replacement your vending machine faves.
Instead of a chocolate bar, try homemade chocolate energy bars
Ever go on a date with someone who’s super charming all through dinner and then sours the evening by sticking you with the bill? Vending machine chocolate leaves the same bad taste (no pun intended): At first, it has you buzzed with happiness, but an hour later—boom, goodbye feel-good vibes.
Want to avoid the sugar crash while satisfying your sweet tooth? Opt for these superfood-loaded energy bars (which are sweetened with dates). Also on the ingredients list: almond butter, coconut, maca, and cacao. This one’s a keeper.
Instead of a bag of chips, try baked vegan Doritos
Fun fact: Nutritional yeast has that tangy-cheesy Doritos taste, only it won’t stain your fingers orange. It’s one of the many genius ingredients (hello, whole grain tortillas!) you’ll find in this surprisingly straightforward, 15-minute recipe.
Instead of fruit snacks, try blueberry peach Fruit Roll-Ups
It’s about time that fruit-flavored snacks were replaced with actual fruit. And with delicious in-season produce piling up at the farmers’ market, it’d be a shame to let them go to waste. This recipe combines fresh peach and blueberry purée in these real fruit snacks (read: no refined sugars or artificial flavors or colors).
Instead of cookies try no-bake energy bites
Filling up on wholesome ingredients like oats, flax, and peanut butter will have you powering through the day at a much steadier pace than a sugar crash-and-burn cookie. Bonus points for being packed with protein. Really hankering for something of the Tollhouse variety? Add some dark chocolate chips or cacao nibs to your batter and you’ll be good to go.
Instead of packaged trail mix try lentil trail mix
Real talk: Trail mix may be a traditionally healthy nosh, but the packaged stuff can sneak in added sugars and extra sodium. And while it’s still a lot better than anything with unidentifiable ingredients, making your own trail mix ensures that it’s made solely with foods that are benefiting you.
This nut-free version has uncooked lentils, sunflower seeds, and dried fruit. Sitting at your desk dreaming of a faraway vacation? The dried pineapple and apricots will give you major beach vibes.
Instead of pre-packaged popcorn…try superfood popcorn
Nutritionists are often shouting out popcorn as a healthy snack, but (sadly) they aren’t talking about the stuff you grab from a vending machine, which is often made with syrups and processed flavorings. Luckily popping your own is a cinch—and if you really want an added boost, try this superfood-packed version. It’s made with spirulina (rich in protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants), nutritional yeast (a good source of vitamin B12), and salt. Cheesy, crunchy, salty, and good for you!
Originally published on September 4, 2016; updated on July 28, 2018.
These snacks are great swaps for your favorite junk food, but scientists may have found a supplement to kick those cravings all-together. In the meantime, here are some more genius healthy swaps for any kind of eater.
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