The 9 Best Vegan Snacks for Weight Loss, Including a Protein-Packed Bean
When maintaining a plant-based or vegan lifestyle—or simply trying to incorporate more plants into your life—having healthy satiating snacks is critical. So what are the healthiest snacks to have on hand to keep you full throughout the day, especially if your New Year’s Resolution is to kick-off a few pounds?
Below we break down those critical snack items to have on hand in order to keep your snacking clean and healthy! Most importantly, plan ahead. If your snack items are prepped and ready to go, you'll be less likely to reach for something like chips, or processed packaged foods where calories can add up fast. Unconscious snacking can easily add hundreds of calories, and at the end of the day, calories in and calories out still matter. Seek the highest nutrients for the least calories you can, to feel full and eat less overall. Here we suggest some of the best foods to snack on to help you achieve your weight loss goals and eat cleaner to feel better all day long.
1. Lupini Beans
This might be the greatest bean ever to exist. It’s shocking that many people in the US still don’t know about them, and that they are not widely available in this country. With one of the highest protein contents for any bean (7.5 grams in 3.5 ounces), and also high in fiber, Lupini beans make for a magical snack when you need protein and something filling, fast. They have a history that dates back to biblical times, but since they require days of soaking and boiling to get rid of the bitter taste, it's understandable that they are not a common nosh. Still, they should be since eating them has many health benefits, including promoting weight loss.
You can find them online, or at local markets, especially ones that specialize in Italian or Spanish items, but you’ll need to cook and prepare them yourself. There are a few companies selling packaged, ready-to-eat lupini beans in the US: Brami sells packed beans, ready to snack on, available online and at Whole Foods and other retailers.
They are delicious when lightly flavored and have only 115 calories per 3.5 ounce serving. Plus for those calories, you're getting 5 grams of fiber and 7.5 grams of protein, which will leave you feeling quite full after a small serving. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better protein-packed plant-based snack.
When cooking, they start out very bitter and require boiling and soaking for up to 4 days before they are ready to eat. So you may be happier buying them pre-cooked at first.
2. Steamed Vegetables with Salt-Free Seasoning
This may seem like a no brainer, but any steamed veggies with zero or low calorie, salt-free seasoning can do wonders as a snack and leave you fuller than you'd imagine. For example, steam a big pot of broccoli, toss in some nutritional yeast and/or other salt-free seasoning. You can eat the stalks warm, or store in the fridge to snack on demand. Once you see the wonders of what seasoning can do, you won’t miss the butter or oil that you might be used to cooking with. Carrots are another great veggie to steam and store away—delicious hot or cold. Let's add snap peas to that list, green beans, brussel sprouts, and asparagus.
3. Roasted Sweet Potato Medallions
Sweet potatoes are a great, nutrient-dense food that can be prepped for an easy snack. Simply, slice a medium-sized sweet potato into medallions, bake and cool. Keep stored in reusable containers or baggies that you can grab and eat on the go.
Sweet potatoes are considered low-glycemic food so they don’t cause an instant spike in blood sugar levels like some starches and carb-heavy foods. This means a more steady blood-sugar after you eat, and keeping you fuller, longer. They are also very high in Vitamin A and deliver Vitamin C, B6, and potassium.
Having simple, plain blueberries on hand are a great thing to reach for, especially if you are craving a sweet treat. One cup is about 84 calories with 4 grams of fibers and high in magnesium, Vitamin K and C. Throw in a glass container or silicone reusable baggie and take to go—they are easy to eat just about anywhere. Once you get used to turning to blueberries as your sweet afternoon snack, you won’t miss the processed foods, cookies or bars you might be used to grabbing in between meals.
5. Zucchini Spiral “Pasta”
If you have not spiralized zucchini, you’ll be amazed how much you can get from one zucchini. While zucchini spirals are a great to sub for pasta, they are also perfect to have ready to go when hunger hits. Keep them in the fridge, and when ready to eat, dress with lemon or balsamic vinegar and salt-free seasoning. Another delicious and nutritious way to dress your spirals up is to blend an avocado with some basil, garlic, lemon juice (and a little water if you are going oil-free) to make a quick avocado mousse.
6. Hummus + Veggies
For a dynamic and filling “dipping” snacking, opt for hummus as a dip, and swap out chips or bread for slices of cucumber, zucchini or carrots for dipping. Try to stick to a hummus under 50 calories per serving like the Fresh n’ Nova brand that makes some good options like their Pine Nut and Thyme flavors (found at Whole Foods and other retailers). You can also make your own oil-free, low-calorie hummus, like this one here. If you are eating out, often hummus and pita is a go-to thing to order for vegetarians/vegans; ditch the bread and ask your server for cucumber slices or carrots instead of the bread.
7. Sauteed or Baked Apple Slices
For a sweet, warm treat, sautee 1-2 large apples, sliced, in a pan adding some cinnamon and a sprinkle of stevia or sugar of choice. You can also top with some blueberries or other fruits. You’ll feel like you got a solid dose of dessert, but you’ll finish satisfied and light. You can do something similar with raw apples: slice and sprinkle a little cinnamon and/or sugar and have ready to go if a sweet tooth hits.
Oatmeal is an incredible high-fiber food; you can eat an entire serving and feel full. Half a cup of uncooked raw oats (which when cooked expands to a larger volume) is extremely satiating and only 150 calories. Add in a little cinnamon, pinch of salt, even top with some fruit and you are good to go!
While this is not a food, it’s worth a mention, since your weight-loss plan likely means cutting out sugary drinks. Having a kombucha drink once in a while can satisfy that need for a sugary beverage, with lower calories and healthy probiotics which promote good gut health. Instead of reaching for a glass of orange juice, soda or any other sugary drink where calories can easily add up, go for a Kombucha that’s 60 calories or less per bottle. Look for those with Ginger or Cayenne flavor since Ginger is good for digestion and Cayenne is a thermogenic chemical that may help speed up your metabolism and decrease appetite. Big Easy Bucha makes a Jammin Ginger and GT Foods makes a Cayenne flavor, so those are two to try.
Bottom Line: One of the keys to healthy snacking is eating nutrient-dense, whole-foods that are high in fiber and give you more grams per calorie. This means you get a larger volume of food for fewer calories helping with satiation (feeling full while eating) and satiety (how long you stay full after eating).
A few final healthy snacking tips to help kick your weight loss or clean eating into gear:
Prep your snacks ahead of time: Convenience is critical to snacking, so having a convenient snack on hand will help you keep in line with your food parameters.
Keep a “clean” kitchen: If you know you have a food that you might overindulge in, don’t keep them in the house. If you have a partner or roommate, ask them to keep it out of view. What you can’t see won’t tempt you.
Eat whole-foods whenever possible: Avoid processed, packaged foods, and if you must, portion them out and avoid packaged foods or snacks that are over 150 calories.
Drink lots of water: Sometimes, you think you are hungry, but really you are just thirsty. Grab a glass of water, and always make sure to have your refillable bottle with you wherever you go.
Do you have a favorite plant-based healthy snack? Leave a comment below and let us know!`