The vegetarian snack has evolved tremendously over time, and anyone deciding not to eat meat has far more choices than just a few short years ago. Even meat lovers are jumping on the bandwagon, choosing plant-based proteins as a healthy part of their routine diets. Meatless snacks are oftentimes higher in fiber and lower in fat, so it’s no wonder why no-meat treats aren’t just for vegetarians anymore. Cotton Candy Magazine® asked NYC nutrition expert Kristin Greenspan to divulge her top picks for delicious snacks, the meatless way.
Edamame is not just a popular side dish at Japanese restaurants but can also make for a great snack. These young soybeans are rich in fiber and protein. They can be boiled or steamed, and served either hot or cold. Just sprinkle some coarse sea salt on them and enjoy.
Hummus is a Middle Eastern spread that is rich in fiber, protein and monounsaturated fat. Serve it with raw veggies, pita, baked chips or pretzels.
Stuffed portobello mushrooms are known for their “meaty” texture and can be used as a substitute for burgers. Also they can be stuffed with low-fat cheese for a surprisingly satisfying snack.
Greek yogurt is an excellent source of protein and calcium. Compared to traditional yogurts or soy yogurts, it is more than double the amount of protein. For a quick snack, couple Greek yogurt with a cup of fresh fruit, or use it as a dip with some vegetables.
Tofu is a soy-based protein that has a subtle flavor and can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. A unique way to eat tofu is to make tofu baked bites. Just bake extra firm tofu with soy sauce and seasonings. Then cut the tofu into bite-sized pieces. Four ounces equal 115 calories and 12 grams of protein.
Nut butters, such as peanut butter, are rich in protein, fiber and unsaturated fats. Many nuts and seeds can be ground to form nut butters. Spread them on crackers or celery for a snack. If you are looking for variety, remember there’s lots of nut butters to choose from: almond butter, cashew butter, hazelnut butter, macadamia butter, pecan butter, pistachio butter and even walnut butter. The list goes on.
Trail mix is an easy make at home. Mix a handful of raw nuts with a handful of dried fruit for a snack that is high in protein and fiber.
Kale chips make for a great alternative to the standard potato chip. Kale is a very nutrient-rich leafy green vegetable. Baked with a little olive oil and salt, kale chips are healthy and low in calories.
Vegetarian burgers sliders are made from beans or quinoa, a seed that’s rich in protein.
Chili can be changed to fit a vegetarian’s diet with ease. Instead of beef, your chili can include at least two types of beans and three to four veggies such as mushrooms, carrots, spinach and zucchini. Chili is served well as a stand-alone meal or as a protein-rich dip alternative with baked tortilla chips.
Written by: Kristin Greenspan, MS, RD, CDE, CDN.
Greenspan is a Registered Dietitian at Nutrition Energy, a private nutrition practice in New York City. She has extensive experience as a nutrition counselor and helps her clients focus on the health benefits of making good food choices.