By Tyana Smith, Contributing Blogger
Days are longer, school is ending, and we're ready to get outside! Take the opportunity to shut down the laptop, put away the smartphone, and enjoy the outdoors! Hiking, kayaking, or just a long walk around the neighborhood are great ways to unplug and appreciate this amazing planet of ours.
While you’re out exploring nature, you’re going to need some snacks. Instead of reaching for a pre-packaged energy bar, why not put those pandemic cooking skills to use and whip up delicious and sustainable snacks in your own kitchen?
I’ve put together four tasty, adventure-friendly snack recipes that are good for you and good for the planet. Each one of these recipes is bursting with healthy nutrients, and because they’re all vegan, they’re more sustainable, too. Plant-based foods have lower carbon footprints, produce less waste, and use less water than animal products.
And for what it’s worth, they’ve also been deemed “ridiculously tasty” by my snack-loving husband and our two-year-old son.
What more could you ask for?
TAHINI MAPLE ENERGY BITES
Makes about 12 energy bites
These little bites of flavor require zero cooking skills-–just mix it all up, shape into balls, roll them in coconut, and throw them in the fridge. They’re also loaded with omega-3 essential fatty acids, fiber, calcium, and protein thanks to the flax and chia seeds.
1 cup old-fashioned oats
½ cup ground flaxseed
1 tablespoon chia seed
3 tablespoons maple syrup
¼ cup creamy peanut butter (I used natural, no-stir peanut butter)
¼ cup tahini, stirred well
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
⅓ cup shredded unsweetened coconut (toasting optional)
- If toasting the coconut, preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Toast for 5-10 minutes or until golden brown.
- In a medium-sized bowl, combine the oats, flaxseed, chia seed, maple syrup, peanut butter, tahini, and vanilla extract.
- Roll mixture into 1-inch balls, then roll the balls in the shredded coconut. Place on a cookie sheet and let set in the fridge until firm, about 45 minutes.
LEMON BLUEBERRY OAT SQUARES
Makes about 12 squares
Texturally, these squares fall somewhere between cake and banana bread, making it a great breakfast, snack, or dessert. But unlike most cakes, these squares contain only 9 grams of sugar. To increase the protein and overall yumminess, try drizzling melted natural peanut butter on top.
1 flax “egg,” recipe below
3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
3 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
1 ripe banana, mashed
½ cup unsweetened dairy-free cashew yogurt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cup almond flour
1 ¼ cup old-fashioned oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh blueberries
For serving: ¼ cup smooth natural peanut butter (optional)
- To make the flax egg, combine 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed with 2 ½ tablespoons of water in a small bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes until it becomes gelatinous and egg-like.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flax egg, grapeseed oil, applesauce, mashed banana, cashew yogurt, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla extract.
- In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, oats, baking powder, and salt.
- Gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Fold in the blueberries.
- Pour the batter into an 8x8 inch pan and bake for 25-35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean and the edges are golden brown.
- Once cool, melt the peanut butter and drizzle on top, if desired.
SRIRACHA & SOY ROASTED CHICKPEAS
Makes about four (½ cup) servings
Roasted chickpeas are a popular snack–for good reason. They taste good with just about any seasoning, plus they’re high in protein and fiber, meaning they’ll actually fill you up (unlike a bag of potato chips). Feel free to reduce the sriracha or omit it entirely if you’re spice averse. If you want crunchier chickpeas, you can peel the skins, but I never bother. I think they’re still great even if they’re a bit soft.
1 (15 oz) can chickpeas
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons sesame oil
½ tablespoon soy sauce (to taste)
1 tablespoon sriracha sauce (to taste)
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Drain the chickpeas and dry really well with a towel.
- Combine the garlic powder, onion powder, and ground ginger in a small bowl.
- In a medium bowl, toss the chickpeas with the sesame oil. Add the spice mixture and mix well until evenly coated.
- Spread the chickpeas in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Roast for 30 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes to stir.
- Toss the chickpeas with soy sauce and sriracha. Bake the chickpeas for 5-10 minutes longer until they look a bit dry.
SMOKY SUNDRIED TOMATO ROASTED NUTS
Makes about five (¼ cup) servings
These smokey roasted nuts are a savory alternative to trail mix. It’s completely customizable-–use any combination of nuts and seeds your heart desires. Nuts are high in healthy fats which lower cholesterol and are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
2 cups raw, unsalted nuts (I used ½ cup almonds, ¼ cup cashews, and ¼ cup pecans)
½ cup raw, unsalted seeds (I used pumpkin seeds)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt (to taste)
⅓ cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a small bowl, combine the chili powder, smoked paprika, oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, and kosher salt.
- In a medium bowl, combine the nuts, seeds, and olive oil. Add the spice mixture and toss until well-coated.
- Spread the nuts and seeds in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Roast in the oven until the nuts smell toasty and begin to brown, about 12 minutes.
- Once the nuts are cool enough to handle, mix in the sun-dried tomatoes.
I hope these recipes inspire you to create your own healthy snacks before your next outdoor adventure. Whether you celebrate the summer by conquering mountains or relaxing in the yard, these vegan treats make it easy to be kind to yourself and the planet.