When someone discovers I’m vegan, I can see their brain working overtime with all those questions people feel obliged to seek answers to when faced with this anomaly. Along with ‘Where Do You Get Your Protein?’ ‘Where Do You Get Your Calcium?’ best of all, ‘You Mean You Just Eat Fish??!’ and more recently What Do You Eat If You Can’t Have Anything Naughty? (includes links for dessert recipes), the next question is often plain, simple and to the point: ‘So What Do You Eat?’
It’s really not that complicated. I’ve posted several vegan dinner recipes in the Menu: curries, soups, salads, stir-fries, rice and quinoa salads for example. But I snack like everyone else, I just don’t eat cheese, or bacon sarnies, or anything processed to within an inch of its life!
For anyone wondering how aliens – I mean vegans! – keep going, I thought I would put together a post with a few of my favourite savoury, vegan and gluten-free snacks or light lunches: nothing too ‘weird’ like kale chips, or fancy or time-consuming if you already have the ingredients in the cupboard or fridge.
These are foods I often have for a late afternoon snack when I generally feel that energy dip and dinner is too far away to wait. Sometimes all I need is a juice, others I feel the need for something more solid. There are lots of recipes for healthy raw sweet treats in the Menu too, but the following suggestions are for when you want something savoury and quick and perhaps a little more substantial.
They all have protein and healthy fats to fill you up and provide energy.
First up is my favourite: Celery and Apple with peanut butter and a couple of Nairns gluten-free oatcakes, either plain or herb and seed, or with my version of Camilla’s Homemade Crispbread. I love the fruity savoury contrast of the flavours as well as the crisp crunchy texture. It satisfies on all levels. Any nut butter works, of course, and corn cakes or rice cakes are another option. Also, homemade gluten-free bread (click the link for my recipe, which includes two earlier versions as well). Apple and peanut butter or celery boats with nut butter are great snacks for children too, especially when they come home from school tired and hungry, providing more slow-releasing energy than a packet of crisps or sweets.
(There’s a recipe for Sweet Apricot Kernel Butter here).
Next is another frequent flyer in our household, lightly toasted seeds with Tamari. This is usually a combination of pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds, amd perhaps some buckwheat, which are lightly toasted under the grill – you have to keep your eye on them and keep stirring them about, nothing happens for quite a while but if you go away to do something else they will be black when you return! Don’t overbrown them, it damages the oils, keep them light. Then remove from the grill and splash Tamari over them. It will sizzle and you need to mix up the seeds quickly to coat them all before it dries up. Love the salty crunch! You can eat them on their own for a protein pick-me-up or sprinkle on stir-fries and salads.
Humous is an old standby and there is always some in our fridge. The whole family loves it, even the babies and teenagers! I love it with crudités and oatcakes. Or with a salad. Plain and simple.
There are so many recipes out there to make your own, it’s so easy and you can vary the flavours and textures by adding chilli, paprika or cayenne, lemon juice or lime. Most of the time though, I confess we have ready-made (always organic) because inevitably I get the urge too late and need something right here, right now! We don’t always have time or the forethought to prepare ahead of time, and to be honest I am one of those people who never knows what they’re going to want to eat several hours in advance. It drives my husband crazy as he is the opposite and likes to have a week’s menu set up, but I can’t do it. That’s why we favour simple, quick, thrown-together meals.
Open sandwiches are always good for a more substantial snack or light lunch. These are made in my case with home-made gluten-free bread, topped with avocado and green salad, or peanut butter and banana, or even made with sliced and toasted sweet potato!
(Yes, you read that right, Sweet Potato Toast. But more on that in a minute).
My grandchildren would have added strawberry jam to this combination, but I’m not a fan of PB&J.
We recently made a loaf with organic cornflour, tiger nut flour* and chickpea flour (recipe here). We sliced it up and put some in the freezer for afternon snacks or light lunch for me, when it is lightly toasted and, in this photo, spread with tahini and topped with romaine, ridge cucumber, spring onions, green olives and black pepper. Very satisfying.
But my pièce de résistance is Sweet Potato Toast!
A young woman had a hankering for avocado on toast but discovered she had no bread. Not to be done out of having her beloved avocado, she sliced up a sweet potato and put them in the toaster! Ta-da! A new snack was born.
We experimented one weekend and discovered they need to be thinly sliced and need two full goes in a basic toaster, about 10 minutes or so, depending on the thickness of the slices and whether you want them soft or with a little bite.
In this photo, we have banana and peanut butter, tahini topped with lightly toasted sesame seeds sprinkled with Tamari, Natex low salt yeast extract – which didn’t work too well, the flavour was fine but it melted and ran off the sweet potato when it was picked up to eat – and most ingenious of all: whole-fruit, sugar-free strawberry jam! And it was so filling, I could only eat two of them. I saved the others for later, they were fine cold as well.
Speaking of sweet potatoes: There is no better comfort food than Sweet Potato Oven Chips! We scrub the sweet potatoes (organic), leave the skin on and slice very thinly. Melt some coconut oil, add any seasoning you like – salt, chilli powder, black pepper, cumin seeds etc – and toss the chips in it. Spread them on a tray and cook for about 20 minutes at about 180C in a fan oven. Turn them over occasionally. Good on their own, with humous or any other dip. This one is Cheesy Cashew Dip with Paprika and Onion (recipe here).
Of course, for convenience, nutrition and portability, you can’t really beat plain cashews, almonds and walnuts with raisins, dried apricots, some shredded coconut and mixed seeds to create your own trail mix.
Hope that’s enough to keep you going! You see, I’m really not just sitting here nibbling on a lettuce leaf with a carrot on the side 😉
Copyright: Chris McGowan