The resolve to eat a bit healthier is strong, and we’re swapping our weekly takeout for hearty home-cooked meals, fresh fruits and veggies, and nutritious snacks. Just like adopting a plant-based diet, holistic health isn’t about deprivation, starvation, or the elimination of foods you love—it’s about creating a sustainable lifestyle, and this includes snacks.
What does healthy mean?
Health is a relative term, but generally speaking, enjoying minimally processed foods derived from plants is a solid place to start. While going completely whole food, plant-based is a noble idea, it’s not always easy in a world of craveable snacks and treats. Even doctors and dietitians admit that there is some wiggle room to enjoy some plant-based processed foods. Dr. Joel Fuhrman, founder of the Nutritarian Diet and author of seven New York Times best-selling nutrition books, allows for 10 percent of one’s diet to include processed foods or other foods not considered “whole” (such as produce, nuts and seeds, beans and legumes, and whole grains).
That being said, a healthy diet isn’t a perfect diet. It’s eating whole, plant-based foods most of the time and enjoying a few delicious modern innovations every so often.
If it’s vegan, is it healthy?
As with any diet, vegan food is an incredibly diverse category that falls on the wide spectrum between food is medicine to junk food. Whole foods such as nuts and seeds, fruit and vegetables, legumes, and grains are vegan and nourishing, but when you get into some processed items like chips, packaged baked goods, and frozen appetizers, you fall off the wholesome wagon.
Sugar, processed inflammatory oils, additives, and lab-made ingredients like methylcellulose are all vegan, but one wouldn’t advocate for their health benefits. As Dr. Fuhrman notes, a little every now and then won’t derail your health, but it’s seminal to note that not all vegan food qualifies as health food, and that’s okay.
We’ve made a list of the better-for-you snacks—snacks that provide more satisfaction than crunching on carrot sticks but also keep calories, harmful fats, and processed ingredients in check.
8 healthy vegan snack swaps
From chips to sweets, here’s what to reach for when the snack craving calls.
Made from yucca, mushrooms, and onion powder, these light-as-air, delightfully crispy and grain-free snacks remind us of pork rinds, without the grease or heaviness. Sunflower oil helps to achieve that addictively crunchy texture while keeping fat and calorie content in check—Snacklins contain more than 50 percent less fat and calories than traditional potato chips. Flavors indulge both sweet and savory cravings from Sea Salt & Vinegar to Cinnamon Churro.
2 GoodPop’s frozen treats
Savoring half a pint of ice cream—even a vegan pint—comes with a hefty dose of excess fat, sugar, and processed ingredients. Sure, it feels great in the moment, but less so the next day. That’s where GoodPop provides a solution. What began as a frozen fruit bar brand that eschewed artificial everything, GoodPop now boasts a deliciously natural line of popsicles, creamy frozen treats, and even novelty items like ice cream cookie sandwiches and Klondike-esque treats. The brand stays true to real food ingredients and uses organic when possible. At 130 calories or less, a GoodPop might be just what you need to avoid polishing off that Ben & Jerry’s pint in one go.
3 Maxine’s Heavenly cookies
While not entirely advised, you can eat an entire bag of these soft, crumbly, chocolate-studded cookies and not feel awful afterward. Made with simple ingredients and devoid of gluten and refined sugar, these tender cookies will satisfy your sweet tooth without causing belly bloat the next day. The flavors range from decadent Chocolate Chocolate Chunk to homey Cinnamon Oatmeal Raisin.
4 Dessert spreads
When the craving possesses you to dig into a tub of cookie dough, reach for a satisfying spoonful of dessert cashew spread instead. Vegan brand Hope Hummus offers a divine chocolate spread that doubles as a dip. Best known for its hummus, the brand’s extra sweet spreads are made using a blend of cashews and almonds for the ultimate creamy dessert.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the constant innovation of vegan products—it seems like there is a new tasty temptation every day. Sometimes we forget about one of the original vegan staples: LÄRABARs. The true fruit-and-nut bar, these energizing nibbles are as wholesome as biting into a piece of fruit with a side of nuts. We don’t know how they create dessert-inspired flavors such as Cherry Pie and Cinnamon Roll with nothing but fruit, nuts, and spices, but we’re happy these bars exist to calm our candy bar cravings.
6 UNREAL Dark Chocolate Peanut Gems
Yes, this is still candy and should be enjoyed in moderation, but what qualifies these addictively good chocolate-coated peanuts for this list is the use of real food ingredients and lack of preservatives, natural and artificial flavors, and questionable food colorings. They’re colored with beet juice and spirulina extract, and organic ingredients are used where it counts (like organic cane sugar). Plus, they’re free from animal products, which puts them a league above their inspiration—peanut M&Ms.
Crisps are fine, but some crave more than a dainty light bite—they need some major crunch. These boldly seasoned mushroom chips deliver that and more, using whole mushrooms as the vessel. These snacks do contain some processed ingredients in the flavoring elements, but they also deliver a whopping six grams of fiber and a moderate three grams of protein per serving. Stock up on all three vegan flavors—Rad Rosemary & Salt, Trippin’ Truffle Parm, and Twisted Thai Chili.
8 Simply Delish pudding
Most days, we don’t think about pudding. But when we’re sick or feeling nostalgic for our childhood, it’s all we can think about. Ditch the processed plastic pudding cup and whisk up a batch of smooth chocolate, strawberry, or vanilla Simply Delish. Feeling inventive? Mix up all three flavors and layer them in a tall glass to create a sugar-free Neopolitan treat!
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