As I mentioned in my little note to you in your UK Vegan Food Swap parcel, I thought I would share with the world my reasons for choosing the snacks that went into your food box.
When you told me you were trying to eat healthily, I actually got really excited about the challenge of finding you healthier vegan treats instead of just throwing in as many sugary snacks as I could get my hands on. Personally I appreciate my treats so much more when I have thought about them and feel like I have “earnt” them, but even more importantly I love showing people that they can still enjoy their food even when trying to be a bit more sensible.
I know a lot of people are in the same boat as you, especially at this time of year when have no real justification for our excesses yet desperately need a pick-me-up or three, so I thought everyone could enjoy this example of a collection of treats which you needn’t feel too guilty about enjoying, and which only cost £10.
Most people I speak to about diet and healthy eating allude to the fact that everything falls apart when on the go – you’re hungry, there is no healthy convenient food available, and your mind, very cleverly wired up to push you to maximise calorie intake, stamps out any thoughts of carrot sticks and apple wedges. So I have focussed on putting together some convenient snack foods, so that you always have something with you on the go.
- Clif Builder’s Bar: If you don’t know my feelings on these by now, you just have to try them for yourself! Not a snack to be taken lightly at almost 300kcal, but probably one that you won’t just wolf down without noticing anyway. And if you do, at least the 20g of protein (not to mention the amount of chewing you will have to put it through!) should keep you full and satisfied enough time to get yourself to a healthier, more substantial meal. And if you’re exercising as well, it’ll help you develop your muscle mass which in turn will help increase your metabolic rate.
- Ombar Probiotic Coconut: Sometimes you just need a hit of chocolate – for me this is usually after a meal, and just a little bit will do. If I don’t, I will continue eating and snacking in search of final satisfaction – often eating several pieces of fruit and/or nuts and/or fruit soy yoghurt, adding up to way more calories than if I had just had one little satisfying piece of chocolate. I find this bar particularly satisfying, subtly sweet, with no refined sugar, full of antioxidants to keep your body repair the trials and tribulations of daily life, and the added benefit of probiotics to help your digestive system do its job swiftly and comfortably. Plus even if you eat the whole thing in one go it’s only 200kcal.
- Wheaty Spacebar Chorizo: There are times you just don’t want sugar, but you still want something rich and intense. Salty, smokey, and spicy, this tiny little sausage-shaped snack really hits the spot for me. So small and easily portable, at about 120kcal but almost 15g of protein, it is surprisingly satisfying. Alternatively, you could slice it into a salad to jazz it up a bit and up the protein count, whilst keeping calories and bulk relatively low.
- A couple of Nakd Bars: Not overly original, I know, but so easily portable and surprisingly satisfying they can’t be overlooked. Yes they’re high in sugar so you may not want them as a bedtime snack, but at least the nuts will add fat and protein to keep you satisfied for a little longer, and the ingredients are wholesome and nutritious.
- Two Cofresh Peanut Bars: Probably the least healthy product in the box, but there’s nothing wrong with a bit of straight up sugar every now and then. I quite often just crave a bit of crunch, but plain nuts won’t do it, and fresh fruit or veg definitely won’t! Enter the peanut bars – slightly sweet, slightly savoury, crunchy – conveniently packaged up into 140kcal servings. Again, not really a bedtime snack due to the high sugar content, but you could do worse for an afternoon snack with a cup of (green, white or oolong) tea!
- Meridian Organic Blackstrap Molasses: I hesitated a bit with this one as it is an acquired taste, and as far as I know I am the only one who enjoys it! I like a teaspoonful drizzled onto some porridge and topped with ground flax seed, or swirled into plain soy yoghurt with some chopped nuts. The reason I included it is that it is very sweet, but relatively light in calories, so you only need a tiny bit of it and your daily calorie intake shouldn’t suffer too much. As one of the most unrefined sugar sources you can get, it shouldn’t give you any sugar spikes and subsequent lows. Plus, it is a good source of iron so if you are dropping weight (especially if you are exercising) it may help guard against low iron levels. If you can’t handle it straight up as a topping, try using it in baking – it works really well in gingerbread-type recipes! (Ben would like to add that it is not a good idea to eat the last three quarters of a jar with a teaspoon as part of a food challenge…)
- Chipotle Tabasco: A mistake that so many people make when trying to eat healthily is that they make their food really bland. Don’t. Enjoy your food, and chances are you will take more time over eating it, appreciate it more, and be less likely to overeat. Make a nice, healthy meal, and drizzle it with some smokey rich chipotle Tabasco, and watch it transform! I go nuts for this stuff on an avocado, but it goes with just about anything (especially grilled veggies). You’ll only need a little so won’t add too many calories, and you’ll benefit from the thermogenic effect of chili speeding up your metabolism.
- Dragonfly Pu’er Tea: I never finish off a meal without a cup of tea these days. I will confess to never having tried Pu’er tea, and wanted to get you some white tea, oolong tea, or a nice green tea, which have fairly well-documented effects on weight maintenance. However, I fell for the packaging of this and thought as it was called “Skinny”, you might appreciate it. Truth is, whatever scientific evidence there is to back up the effects of tea on weight and metabolism, most of them will aid your digestion which is always a good thing. Pu’er tea is semi-fermented, so should have benefits somewhere between green tea and black tea, so relatively low in caffeine but with some thermogenic effect to keep everything ticking along nicely.
So there’s just one example of the sorts of things you could add to your kitchen cupboard (or handbag, or jacket pocket) for just a tenner. I hope you enjoy it all Anna, and I hope that this can help inspire more people to seek out foods that they enjoy but which also make them feel good. Let us know how you get on – and if anyone has any other suggestions, please do post them on here as I’m always on the lookout for more healthy treats!