At this point, there’s lots of evidence that going plant-based (if that’s your thing) can come with lots of perks. Not only is eating fewer animal products like meat and dairy better for the environment, “plant-based diets have been linked to numerous health benefits, like improved blood sugar control and reduced risk of heart disease,” says Charlotte Martin, MS, RDN, CSOWM, CPT. Plus, eating a wide variety of plant foods has been shown to be beneficial for gut health.
However, if you’re a plant-based eater, it might be a bit harder to find healthy, plant-based snacks that are high in protein, fats, and fiber. There’s only so many times one can eat hummus before getting totally sick of it, amirite? And that’s a problem in these quarantine times, when really one of the few pleasures left to us stuck at home (besides binging whatever wild reality dating show Netflix comes up with next) is, well, snacking.
Thankfully, this is a problem that has an easy solution. We talked to dietitians (including Martin) to get their suggestions for some of their favorite plant-based snacks. Feel free to add these all to your regular rotation.
Keep reading for 6 plant-based snacks that are easy and delicious:
1. Air-fried chickpeas
The uber-trendy chickpea is the star of the show in this easy three-ingredient snack. “Chickpeas are rich in fiber and protein, so this snack will help fill you up and keep you full until your next meal,” says Martin. Simply toss your rinsed and drained canned chickpeas in a little olive oil and a seasoning (or two) of your choice for flavor, then air fry them until they’re crunchy. “I love using Trader Joe’s Everything but the Bagel Seasoning and then I air fry till golden and crispy, about 12 – 15 minutes at 350 degrees,” says Martin.
The best part: Any leftover chickpeas you have (unlikely, but) can be used to add crunch and extra protein to salad and grain bowls. Win win.
2. Plant-based energy bites
You can never go wrong with an energy ball, even if you’re plant-based. Martin suggesting using pitted dates as a base; they’re full of natural sugar and fiber. “The fiber in the dates—and the rest of the ingredients for these bites—will help slow the absorption of the sugar in to your bloodstream to give you more sustained energy levels,” she says.
For a peanut butter cup energy bite, add a cup of pitted dates, a half-cup almond flour, a quarter-cup peanut butter, two tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, and some salt and vanilla extract to a food processor. Pulse until the ingredients are combined and a smooth “dough” forms. Shape into balls, refrigerate, and enjoy.
3. Sweet quesadilla
Quesadillas don’t need to packed with dense cheese and meat to be delicious. “My favorite plant-based snack lately is a sweet quesadilla,” says Martin. “I spread some almond butter onto half of a Siete Foods Cassava and Coconut Tortilla, top with sliced banana and cinnamon, fold in half, and cook in a skillet with a little bit of coconut oil.” Feel free to play around with flavors and swap around for other kinds of fruit or even nut butters.
4. Nut butter and blueberry toast
Swap out avocado toast for a slice with nut butter and blueberries, instead. Grab a piece of whole grain bread and toast it. Then spread 1 tbsp of your favorite nut butter on before topping with fresh blueberries. “This offers a variety of textures and balance of carbohydrates, fat and protein, and whole grain bread can provide at least 5 grams of protein and fiber per slice as well as a variety of vitamins and minerals,” says Kelly Jones, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN.
What’s more, nut and seed butters offer a few grams of additional fiber and protein, as well as a creamy texture and healthy fats to make it oh-so satisfying and indulgent. “Blueberries offer a satisfying flavor that’s sweet and tart as well as over 3 grams of fiber per serving,” she says. They are also a good source of vitamin C, which is an antioxidant that boosts immunity, so you can fight the sniffles.
5. Healthy trail mix
What would a plant-based snacks list be without trail mix? DIY it with this easy combo from Jones. “For a quick and easy snack that satisfies, I often recommend pistachios and dried fruit,” she suggests. “Pistachios provide six grams of plant-based protein and three grams of fiber, which both help improve feelings of fullness.” Plus, the majority of fat in pistachios are the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated kind that are beneficial for heart health. Get an extra dose of fiber and antioxidants from dried fruit and you have a winner of a plant-based snack. Dates, raisins, and mango are all great options.
6. Green pea guacamole
What if you could have regular guac but with a ton more protein and fiber? Enter this idea from Jones. “Green pea guacamole is a great dip to prep in advance to boost protein content and fiber. Just blend a cup of cooked peas from frozen with your favorite guacamole recipe or store-bought version,” she says. Then pair it with your favorite bean chips, carrots, jicama, or other pre-cut vegetables. “The addition of peas and use of bean chips will also provide B-vitamins as well as iron and zinc,” she explains, as well as that excellent source of protein and fiber.
Looking for more delicious, easy snack ideas? Try these dietitian-approved options:
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