Remember when snacking was reaching into your office desk drawer for that bag of almonds? Or noshing on an apple after you got back from yoga class before you headed to the library to pick up your holds? Nowadays, as we all spend endless minutes, hours, weeks, months, or our lives at home, the world of snacking has become a bit too accessible for comfort—all we have to do is walk a few strides into our kitchen and look around. Or observe our waistlines.
It’s no surprise many of us have put some extra weight while staying mostly indoors. But here’s the good news: Good-for-you snacking doesn’t have to be bland, and there are countless exciting options to boost your snacking game with hardly any grunt work. Below, we tapped RDs for their favorite waistline-friendly snacks. Snack o’clock has never looked better. (Looking for more healthy eating inspiration? Check out these six vegan dessert recipes for weight loss and the best plant-based breakfast recipes for weight loss.
1. No-Bake Chickpea Protein Energy Balls from Theresa Gentile, MS, RD, Media Spokesperson for New York State Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
How to make it: Drain and rinse a 15-ounce can of chickpeas. In a food processor, combine chickpeas, one cup rolled oats, ½ -cup all-natural smooth peanut butter, ⅓-cup maple syrup or agave syrup (Gentile recommends honey if you’re not strictly vegan), and one teaspoon vanilla extract. Blend until almost smooth. Then, remove, mix in ¼ -cup mini chocolate chips and shape into two-inch balls.
Why it helps with weight loss: There’s good reason this is Gentile’s favorite filling snack that doesn’t make the scale tip upwards. “The fiber in the chickpeas and oats provide a slow rise in blood sugar levels, along with keeping you feeling full. The protein in the peanut butter keeps you feeling satisfied thanks to preventing swings in blood sugar,” says Gentile. Worth keeping in mind: “To ward off mindless munching or overeating at the next meal when you’re trying to lose weight, it’s important not to go too long in between meals,” adds Gentile.
2. Corn and Bean Vegetable Dip from Talia Hauser, RD, LDN, a dietitian in The Colony, Texas
How to make it: Mix one can each of drained and rinsed corn and black beans, then add two seeded and chopped red bell peppers, half a chopped red onion, one diced avocado, and the juice of a whole lime. Add salt and pepper to taste. For extra heat, you can also add a chopped and seeded jalapeño pepper. Mix gently to combine. Have about ½ a cup with six or seven large tortilla chips per serving.
Why it helps with weight loss: “This is a fantastic snack because it provides great satiety. The beans and vegetables have filling fiber and the avocado is full of monounsaturated fat which is good for your heart but also keeps you feeling full,” offers Hauser.In lieu of tortilla chips, have it with jicama sticks for a refreshing taste that still delivers a satisfying crunch.
3. Easy Vegan Breakfast Cookie from Talia Hauser
How to make it: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Peel four very ripe bananas and mash in a large mixing bowl until smooth with a potato masher or fork. Add three cups of old fashioned or quick oats (not instant), ⅔ -cup of your favorite nut butter like peanut butter or sunflower butter, one teaspoon of ground cinnamon, and one teaspoon of pure vanilla extract. Mix well with a spatula until well combined, and let sit for about 10 minutes so the oats can soak in the moisture. Scoop the mixture into two tablespoon-sized scoops and place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 12-to-14 minutes. Note: These cookies keep well at room temperature for one-to-two days in an airtight container. After two days, put them in the refrigerator and finish in a few days.The serving size for this recipe is two cookies.
Why it helps with weight loss: “My favorite vegan homemade snack for weight loss is what is often called a breakfast cookie. It’s a cookie made of oats, bananas, and nut butter. It’s a great snack for weight loss (and everyone) because it is balanced, meaning it has all three macronutrients of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fat. This balance helps with satiety,” says Hauser. “They’re sweet enough on their own to make you feel like you’re having a treat,” she adds, noting that you can also place additional mix-ins like a ½-cup of dried fruit such as raisins or unsweetened dried cranberries, seeds or chopped nuts, or dairy-free mini chocolate chips.
4. PB on Bread from Jinan Banna, PhD, RD
How to make it: We weren’t lying when we said these recipes were easy: Spread peanut butter on a slice of whole-wheat bread. Cut bread into four to enjoy bite-sized treats. Sprinkle cinnamon, turmeric, or ginger on top if desired.
Why it helps with weight loss: “This idea provides fiber, protein, and heart-healthy fat to help you stay full while trying to lose weight,” says Banna. “It’s important to focus on foods that provide a sense of satisfaction and don’t have a lot of empty calories to
leave you hungry again quickly.” If you prefer almond butter to peanut butter, go ahead and substitute it.
5. Mock Tuna Salad from Trista K. Best, MPH, RD at Balance One
How to make it: Drain and rinse two cans of chickpeas. Dice half a red onion, a celerity stick and two sheets (or desired amount) of seaweed. Lightly run chickpeas through the food processor until slightly chunky consistency or mash with a fork. You can also place in a blender for two-to-three pulses. Add two tablespoons of lemon juice and mix to combine. Place all ingredients in a bowl, add two tablespoons of lemon juice and mix to combine. Add in two tablespoons of Tahini at a time and mix until you reach your preferred consistency. Note: This makes four servings.
Why it helps with weight loss: A savory salad that will fast become your go-to. “This recipe makes a great option for a low-fat and low-carbohydrate snack.The protein and fiber in this recipe will keep you feeling full for longer, which will help prevent overeating,” says Best. “It can easily be paired with celery or carrots to amp up the nutrients without adding refined carbs through chips or bread.”
6. Homemade Salsa with Bell Pepper Strips from Bansari Acharya, MA, RD
How to make it: In a blender, blend three blanched and peeled tomatoes, ½ habanero pepper,¼ onion, and two cloves garlic until chunky smooth consistency forms. Add in ½ cup cilantro, chopped, ½ teaspoon cumin, ½ teaspoon oregano, salt to taste, and lime juice on top. Serve with some cut up bell pepper strips of any color for dipping into salsa. Note: This makes two servings.
Why it helps with weight loss: “This snack is the perfect snack for individuals wanting to lose weight! It is less than 100 calories total, however, filled with tons of vitamins and minerals. It is also completely fat-free and low-calorie so one can eat it in large portions without feeling guilty,” shares Acharya. “Due to its high fiber content, this snack also will keep you feeling fuller for longer without the calories or heaviness.” Pro tip: Swap in radishes, carrots, cucumbers, or another crispy veggie instead of bell peppers to mix things up.