Let's just be honest: Healthy girls (and guys) need snacks, too! No matter how great you are at meal prep, no matter how many plant-based cookbooks you purchase, no matter how totally awesome you are at creating the most healthy vegan meals three times a day, a few simple words could be all it takes to have you chowing down on some unhealthy, greasy, completely processed, grub: "Netflix and Chill."
Who doesn't love to cozy up on the sofa and binge watch your favorite series while also binging on some Doritos? It's pretty easy to become a "junk food vegan" these days because, yes, some of the Doritos flavors are actually considered vegan. But if you're a serious health geek, or a yogi inclined to compassionately treat your body like a temple, then you'll want to upgrade your snacking for optimal health.
Here are 6 ways to health hack your snacks:
1. Chips - We all love them! However, even when buying the organic varieties, they are often laden with sunflower, canola, or processed oils. If you're on a mission to eat the most healthy anti-inflammatory diet possible, you'll want to avoid this. The solution: opt for organic chips prepared in olive oil, as this is the only oil that isn't inflammatory. Trader Joes makes three ingredient "Kettle-Cooked Olive Oil Potato Chips”, for example. But better yet, switch to kale chips!! You can make your own in a dehydrator or an air fryer, however if you just want the convenience of buying something ready-made, I recommend Rhythm Superfoods Kale Chips! They are organic and non-gmo, and come in a variety of delicious flavors, like Spicy Jalapeno, Zesty Nacho, and Cool Ranch. You can purchase them at your local grocery store, or for even more convenience, find them on Thrive Market here , and have them shipped to your door for a fraction of the price.
2. Nachos & Salsa - Again, it's the same problem. It can be hard to find nachos without the added fat of processed oils. Making your own from soft corn tortillas is a quick fix. Just cut them into wedges, spritz with water, and bake at 350 degrees until crisp. It's pretty easy to find a healthy salsa to accompany them. Look for organic varieties with no added sugar/sweetener. Alternatively, it's also pretty quick to whip up your own; just throw some tomatoes, garlic, lime, onion, cilantro, and a few spices, like cumin, chili powder, and cayenne pepper into your mini food processer and voila - you've got a super healthy, raw vegan, snack hack all ready to eat and enjoy.
3. Hummus & ??? - Simply switching to celery sticks or even sliced zucchini chips instead of pita or crackers is the perfect way to get more raw vegetables into your diet. Making your own hummus is so easy, but if you're short on time and just want to pop open a container and start dipping, look for organic varieties that use extra virgin olive oil. My personal favorite is HOPE Hummus, available at Walmart and Whole Foods.
4. Protein Bars - The classic fruit and nut bar with a super-small list of ingredients is the only way to go. If you haven't tried a LARABAR yet, you're welcome! No matter what flavor you pick, it's guaranteed to be made with less than nine all-natural ingredients. Using dates as the primary base, this is an ideal snack and great energy food. Once you give them a try, you'll definitely want to stock up. You can buy them by the box for 44% off the MSRP at Thrive Market here.
5. Carbonated Beverages - An extremely healthy alternative to extremely unhealthy soft drinks is Kombucha! Kombucha is a naturally fizzy beverage, produced by fermenting tea and sugar, that's used as functional, probiotic food. The fermentation process takes place using a SCOBY (a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) which transforms the tea into a nutrient-rich beverage. If sugar being listed as a primary ingredient instantly raised a red flag, not to worry. The SCOBY consumes over 90% of the sugar during fermentation, resulting in a low-sugar finished product. In addition to being tasty, it may also improve the health of your intestinal cells, boost your immune function, and aid in digestion. Once a very obscure drink, Kombucha is now readily available at most local grocery stores, and offered in a variety of flavors. I recommend GTS's Raspberry Chia flavor. The addition of chia seeds means the addition of fiber, omega 3's, and anti-inflammatory properties.
6. Popcorn - If it's a movie marathon kind of night, it's just not complete without the traditional tub of popcorn to share. Upgrade that by leaving the slathering of oil and butter off the menu, and opting for the healthiest variety possible. Thrive Market offers an amazing organic, non-gmo, "sprouted popcorn" (available here). What is sprouting, you ask? A regular grain is essentially a seed that you could put into the ground and it will become a plant. Sprouting allows these grain seeds to germinate, but then harvests them well before they bloom. In order for a shoot to grow, it digests starch from the seed, using it as energy to break through the outer shell. Therefore sprouted grains are lower in starch, and higher in nutrients like proteins, vitamins, and minerals. For best results, cook on a stovetop, sprinkle with some "Nooch" (aka Nutritional Yeast) for a cheesy flavor (also available here) and you're in for the long haul, or at least until you fall asleep on the couch.
Happy & Healthy Snacking!