Plant-Based Snacks That Pack a Lot of Protein
You don't have to be vegan to introduce plant-based snacks into your everyday routine. Nor do plant-based snacks have to be low-protein. Protein helps keep you full (it takes longer to digest) and also supports lots of bodily functions, including muscle growth and hormone synthesis. Whether you're looking to cut down on your meat intake or you need a little more protein to support your plant-based lifestyle, here are a few ideas to get your snack on with a little extra protein (see our picks for the 10 best vegan proteins to eat).
If you haven't yet tried making your own chia pudding, you're in for a treat. Let chia seeds steep in almond milk or another plant-based milk overnight to swell. Stir in the fruit or sweetener of your choice and serve for a sweet snack with a whole lot of protein. If you want something smoother, you can pulse the prepared pudding in the blender. With cocoa powder, it makes a silky chocolate pudding. It's a delightful dessert-like snack that delivers as much as 13 grams of protein per serving.
Don't relegate tofu to sit-down family meals—warm or chilled—tofu can also make a great snack. Cubed, marinated, and roasted, set this out for parties, or munch on it to get you through the afternoon for a snack that packs 19 grams of protein per serving.
You have a lot of choices when it comes to plant-based yogurts. Yogurt can be made with all sorts of nuts and legumes—cashews, almonds, pea milk—but oat, coconut and soy-based yogurt are also options. Because there are so many different types, the protein can really vary. There is some protein in nut and oat milk yogurt (between 3-5 grams of protein per serving), but soy yogurt packs up to 10 grams of protein per serving, just watch out for too much added sugar in flavored varieties. (See what happened when we tried 28 vegan yogurts, and found 5 of our favorites.)
For salty snack cravings, roasted chickpeas can give you the same crunchy satisfaction potato chips offer, but with about double the protein. Roasting them at home takes about 45 minutes in the oven, but if time's not on your side there are plenty of good choices at the grocery store or online.
Nuts (and legumes, like peanuts) can make great sweet or savory snacks whether you want to mix up spices with your nuts at home, or you just have time to stop at the market to pick up snacks with plant-based protein. Curried cashews, spiced pecans, or roasted peanuts are both filling and tasty nuggets of protein. They can contain up to 7 grams of protein per 1-oz serving.
For something really spicy to munch on, wasabi peas turn up the heat on crunchy snacks. They're the little green spheres you usually find in the bulk item section of the grocery store, but there are also bagged peas you can buy online. If you don't like spicy but love crunch, look for "freeze-dried peas." They're all the fun of wasabi peas without the horseradish flavor. Either way, they contain about 7 grams of protein for a half-cup.
Smoothies can be healthy snacks cleverly disguised as desserts. Some recipes use yogurt or milk to thicken smoothies to give them a creamier texture (and bump up the protein), but those ingredients can easily be swapped out for plant-based milk and yogurt, flavored with any of your favorite fruit. The amount of protein a smoothie contains is up to you. EatingWell's Strawberry-Pineapple Smoothie is made with almond milk and almond butter which gives it 5.6 grams of protein per serving, but it (and other smoothie recipes) can be fortified with a plant-based protein powder or if you need more.
Hummus (and bean dips)
Out of a tub from the grocery store or fresh from your blender, black beans, white beans, and chickpeas can be spiced and flavored for creamy dips with a lot of protein. For parties, serve bean dip or hummus with raw veggies, tortilla chips or pita for a complete snack. Hummus and bean dips are a good source of protein, delivering 3 to 5 grams of protein for a quarter-cup serving.
Seeded crackers offer a lot more crunch, satisfaction and nutrition than your average saltine. As part of your party platter, people who follow a plant-based diet and omnivores alike will appreciate the crunch of plant-powered crackers with spreads, dips, or peanut butter. Plant-based seeded crackers are easy to find at the grocery store, but you can make them at home as well. They can contain as much as 3 grams of protein per serving.