Selecting nutritious snacks to enjoy throughout the day is a key component of any healthy diet — including vegetarian diets.
Unfortunately, many quick and convenient snack foods offer little in terms of nutrition apart from extra calories, sodium and added sugar.
Still, finding vegetarian snack options that are easy, portable and nutritious doesn't have to be a challenge.
Here are 17 quick and healthy vegetarian snack ideas.
1. Nut Butter with Fruit
Pairing your favorite fruit with nut butter makes for an easy, filling, and quick plant-based snack that you can enjoy anywhere.
Meanwhile, nut butters — like almond, peanut, or cashew butters — deliver a hearty dose of satisfying protein and healthy fats.
2. Cheese Sticks
Cheese sticks are a portable and convenient snack perfect to help curb cravings on the go.
Though the exact nutrient profile varies based on the brand and type of cheese, cheese sticks typically supply 5–7 grams of protein in a 1-ounce (28-gram) serving.
Protein is the most filling macronutrient, making cheese an excellent choice for a satisfying vegetarian snack (2).
This snack is also a good source of calcium, a key mineral that helps strengthen your bones and teeth (3).
3. Bell Peppers with Hummus
Bell peppers with hummus are a healthy, plant-based alternative to traditional chips and dip.
Bell peppers not only provide the same satisfying crunch as chips or crackers but are also lower in calories and contain more fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin A.
Plus, dipping them in hummus can help boost your intake of protein and fiber while keeping your calorie intake low.
4. Roasted Chickpeas
Chickpeas are loaded with protein, fiber, and vitamins and minerals like manganese and folate.
Best of all, roasted chickpeas are easy to make at home by tossing cooked chickpeas with olive oil and your choice of spices or seasonings prior to baking them at 400°F (200°C) for 20–30 minutes.
Cayenne pepper, garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, and nutmeg are all tasty options to help spice up your chickpeas.
Popcorn is a nutritious, low-calorie snack that is a great source of the minerals phosphorus, magnesium, and zinc.
It's also high in manganese — a mineral involved in digestion, immune function, energy production, and brain health (4).
Be sure to select air-popped popcorn rather than pre-packaged or microwave varieties, which are usually packed with extra calories, fat, and sodium.
For extra flavor, try seasoning your air-popped popcorn with paprika, onion powder, vegetarian Parmesan, or parsley.
Nuts — like almonds, walnuts, cashews, and pistachios — provide a wealth of important nutrients, including heart-healthy fats, fiber, protein, magnesium, iron, and calcium.
In addition to being incredibly nutrient-dense, research shows that adding nuts to your diet may reduce your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and certain types of cancer like colorectal cancer (5).
However, keep in mind that nuts are high in calories, so enjoy them in moderation and stick to about 1 ounce (28 grams) at a time as part of a healthy diet.
7. Yogurt with Fruit
Rich in protein, calcium, vitamin B12, and potassium, yogurt is an excellent vegetarian snack option.
Combining yogurt with apples, berries, bananas, grapes, or your favorite type of fruit can also help bump up your intake of fiber, vitamin C, and disease-fighting antioxidants (6).
Look for plain, unsweetened varieties to minimize your intake of added sugars and use a little cinnamon, honey, or maple syrup to naturally enhance the flavor.
8. Kale Chips
Kale chips are an easy and delicious way to squeeze a serving of leafy greens into your daily diet.
Try making kale chips at home by tossing kale with olive oil and sea salt, then baking at 275°F (135°C) for 15–20 minutes until crisp. Watch them closely, as they can easily burn.
9. Cottage Cheese
Made from the curds of cow's milk — which are coagulated milk solids made by adding an acid to milk — cottage cheese is a high-protein dairy product rich in phosphorus, selenium, and vitamin B12.
It's also a great source of calcium, an essential nutrient that plays a central role in bone formation, muscle function, and hormone secretion (9).
Cottage cheese has a mild flavor that can be enjoyed on its own or paired with fruits like bananas, melon, berries, and pineapple.
Alternatively, you can pair cottage cheese with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and black pepper for a vegetarian-friendly savory snack.
10. Green Smoothies
Green smoothies can be a quick and convenient way to fit a few extra servings of veggies into your diet while ramping up your intake of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Though green smoothies are usually made with leafy greens like kale or spinach, other fruits, veggies, and ingredients can be added as well. For example, try carrots, celery, beets, berries, bananas, chia seeds, or flax meal.
11. Roasted Edamame
Edamame are soybeans that are harvested before they're fully ripe. They can be boiled, steamed, or roasted to create a tasty and nutritious on-the-go snack.
In fact, cooked edamame packs a whopping 8 grams of fiber and 18 grams of plant-based protein into a 1-cup (155-gram) serving and contains a good amount of magnesium, iron, and vitamin C.
Edamame is highly versatile and can be purchased in convenient, ready-to-eat packages or roasted at 400°F (200°C) for 30–40 minutes with vegetarian Parmesan, garlic, pepper, or paprika for a satisfying savory snack at home.
12. Trail Mix
Trail mix is a simple, vegetarian snack typically made with nuts, seeds, and dried fruit.
It's portable, delicious, healthy, and versatile, and you can tailor it to fit your personal preferences.
Nuts, seeds, dried fruit, coconut, and whole grains like puffed rice or popcorn are a few examples of nutritious ingredients that you can use to craft and customize your perfect trail mix
13. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are a great source of many important nutrients, including protein and fiber.
They're also rich in magnesium, a micronutrient necessary for muscle contraction, blood pressure regulation, nerve function, and DNA synthesis (13).
You can easily roast pumpkin seeds at home by tossing them with olive oil, salt, and spices, then baking at 350°F (175°C) for 20–30 minutes or until golden brown.
Although it's often classified as a breakfast food, oatmeal can be enjoyed any time of day as a filling and nutritious snack.
Oats contain a type of fiber called beta-glucan, which is thought to promote weight loss and improve cholesterol levels, blood sugar control, and blood pressure (14).
Bump up the flavor of your oatmeal with toppings like nuts, seeds, dried fruit, berries, cinnamon, or nut butter.
15. Hard-Boiled Eggs
Hard-boiled eggs can be a wholesome and nutritious vegetarian-friendly snack to help keep you feeling full between meals.
In addition to being a great source of protein, hard-boiled eggs are also high in selenium, vitamin A, and B vitamins.
16. Guacamole and Plantain Chips
Pairing plantain chips with guacamole is an easy way to ramp up your intake of healthy fats while satisfying your cravings for a salty snack.
The avocados in guacamole are high in monounsaturated fatty acids, which have been shown to increase HDL (good) cholesterol and reduce triglyceride levels. They're also a great source of potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin B6 (18).
Plus, plantain chips are easy to make at home and can be baked instead of fried for a healthier alternative to store-bought potato chips.
Simply toss thinly sliced plantains with olive oil and seasonings and bake at 400°F (200°C) for 15–20 minutes — or until plantains are browned and crispy.
17. Homemade Energy Balls
Energy balls are a simple snack option that you can make at home and customize with your choice of nutritious ingredients.
To get started, add ingredients to a food processor and pulse until the mixture is smooth. Then roll into balls and place in the refrigerator to set for 10–15 minutes before enjoying.
The Bottom Line
Including a variety of healthy snacks in your diet can help keep you going between meals while squeezing in a few extra nutrients.
Fortunately, there are plenty of vegetarian snacks to choose from — all of which are nutritious, easy to prepare, and delicious.
To get started, simply pick a few of your favorites and enjoy as part of a healthy, well-rounded vegetarian diet.
All nutrition information for the foods listed in this article is from the USDA Foods Database.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Julia Vergin
It is undisputed that vitamin D plays a role everywhere in the body and performs important functions. A severe vitamin D deficiency, which can occur at a level of 12 nanograms per milliliter of blood or less, leads to severe and painful bone deformations known as rickets in infants and young children and osteomalacia in adults. Unfortunately, this is where the scientific consensus ends.
Where Does the Deficiency Begin?<p>Nobody knows exactly how much vitamin D a person actually needs. The question of when a deficiency starts is correspondingly controversial. However, vitamin D is becoming increasingly popular.Not only is the pseudo-scientific literature on the "sun vitamin" experiencing an upswing, but the number of published studies has also increased enormously in recent years. For example, in 2019 <a href="https://academic.oup.com/edrv/article/40/4/1109/5126915" target="_blank">a study found that</a> Vitamin D is responsible for keeping the skeleton functional and is associated with cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and various types of cancer. <br></p>
An All-Rounder<p>Vitamin D levels in the body rise and fall according to sun exposure. If sufficient UV rays reach the skin, the body is able to produce the vitamin itself. However, the human body only derives an estimated 10 to 20 percent of its daily requirement from food.</p><p>The vitamin D that we synthesize from sunlight or food is not biologically active at first. Before the kidneys can produce the biologically active form of the vitamin, known as calcitriol, and release it into the blood, some metabolic processes must take place beforehand.</p><p>In addition, many organs have receptors to which the precursor of calcitriol binds. Further, this substance is also present in blood.</p><p>From this precursor, the organs then produce calcitriol themselves, which the body then uses for countless other processes in the body. This form of vitamin D thus regulates insulin secretion, inhibits tumor growth, and promotes the formation of red blood cells as well as the survival and activity of macrophages, which are important for the <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/5/7/2502/htm" target="_blank">immune system.</a></p>
Low Vitamin D, Severe COVID-19 Disease?<p>A research study carried out <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352364620300067?via%3Dihub" target="_blank">at the University of Hohenheim</a> has now established a link between vitamin D deficiency, certain previous diseases, and severe cases of COVID-19.</p><p>According to the study, "there is a lot of evidence that several non-communicable diseases (high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome) are associated with low vitamin D plasma levels. These comorbidities, together with the often accompanying vitamin D deficiency, increase the risk of severe COVID-19 events."</p><p>"This statement is completely correct," said Martin Fassnacht, head of endocrinology at the University Hospital of Würzburg. However, he qualifies that it is a pure association, "i.e. a mere observation that these events occur together.</p><p>Dr. Fassnacht is very critical of the hype surrounding vitamin D, but not because he denies the vitamin serves important functions. However, studies on humans have not been able to show that vitamin D has the healing powers many often propagate.</p><p>Fassnacht says, "If you take a closer look, the hopes that the administration of vitamin D has a healing effect have not been confirmed so far."</p>
Association Versus Intervention Studies<p>Many studies on the vitamin are association or observational studies. "By definition, these studies cannot prove the causal relationship, but only point to mere correlations," said Fassnacht. The physician tries to illustrate this with an example:</p><p>"Imagine two groups of 80-year-olds. One group is spry, active and does sports. If you compare them with another group living in nursing homes, the difference in vitamin D levels will be dramatic. Life expectancy would also be extremely different."</p><p>But to try to explain the difference in fitness by vitamin D status alone is far too simplistic. "Vitamin D levels are a good measure of how sick someone is. But not more," says Fassnacht. </p><p>According to Fassnacht, none of the intervention studies carried out to date -- that specifically examined the effect of vitamin D on various diseases -- has been able to confirm the previous association and laboratory studies or the presumed positive effect of vitamin D.</p>
Further Research Is Needed<p>"If a coronavirus infection is suspected, it is therefore absolutely necessary to check the vitamin D status and quickly correct any possible deficit," said the recommendation of the paper published by the University of Hohenheim.</p><p>"Studies are underway to see whether vitamin D helps in COVID-19 infection, but I personally do not believe that this is really the case," says endocrinologist Fassnacht. Nevertheless, he says it is of course useful to carry out these studies.<br></p><p>"I don't want to rule out that there are actually subgroups of people who benefit from an additional vitamin D dose," he says. After all, this has been proven to be the case with a severe deficit.</p><p>In view of the study situation, Fassnacht does not think much of preventive, nationwide vitamin D substitutes. "My belief that the vitamin helps somewhere is very low. But, of course, I can be wrong."</p>
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