Tana Amen’s Go-To High-Protein, Plant-Based Snacks
In The Omni Diet, I created a nutrition plan that combines the ideal 70-to-30 ratio of plant foods and protein, in order to boost energy, restore health, lose weight, optimize brain and hormone function, and protect against chronic and deadly diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. This book was a result of years of research, consulting with medical professionals, and trying to reverse my own genetics and personal history of health troubles. I’m living proof that we don’t have to fall in line with the ingrained patterns of our family, our culture, or our past.
But even with so much more knowledge today around healthier eating, I find that many Americans have weaknesses when it comes to snacking. Not only do they often snack without thinking—say, taking bites or “tastes” while preparing meals for the family—but they are prone to reaching for so many unhealthy foods when they want a quick nibble between meals. That’s a shame, because snacking does fulfill many purposes. It can help stabilize blood sugar, prevent mindless indulgence or overeating at meal times, maintain metabolism throughout the day, and fuel your brain to accomplish daily tasks.
Unhealthy Snacks to Avoid
In a nutshell, here’s what you want to avoid: salty processed snacks like potato chips, popcorn, pretzels, or crackers; soy-based foods (which can include many mass-produced protein bars and powders, plus packaged snack foods); and sugar bombs such as cakes, cookies, and candy. When you’ve wisely ditched ultra-processed foods like these, you’ll find that there are many more delicious options to fill your snacking needs—they just require more mindfulness and a little pre-planning. I want to share with you some of the most delicious choices I reach for when I need a between-meal bite, including both ready-to-go options and easy recipes for when you have a little more time to enjoy some healthy snacking.
Snacking fulfills many purposes: It can help stabilize blood sugar, prevent mindless indulgence or overeating at meal times, maintain metabolism throughout the day, and fuel your brain to accomplish daily tasks. – Tana Amen, BSN, RN
Tana’s Favorite Plant-Based, High-Protein Snacks
Plant Based Protein Bars
BrainMD’s Brain Boost Bar is the perfect healthy protein bar, combining delicious taste, texture, and nutrition. This plant-powered wonder has a long list of benefits for the brain and body: 12 grams of protein (derived from almond butter, plus a blend of pea, brown rice, and pumpkin proteins), no sugar or artificial sweeteners, and 11 grams of gut-friendly prebiotic fibers, which equals more than 1/3 of your suggested daily intake. They’re also great for special diets—keto-friendly with 6 net carbs, vegan, and gluten-free. I love grabbing one as quick snack between meals, or for when I’m eating on the go or refueling after a workout.
Guacamole features one of my favorite fruits and healthy fat sources: avocados. They’ve been called “the world’s most perfect food” thanks to their numerous health benefits, such as promoting lower weight, lessening risk of metabolic syndrome, and improving levels of both good and bad (HDL and LDL) cholesterol levels. In our house, we call avocados “God’s butter.” They can be enjoyed in so many ways, but guac is a wonderful option. You can make 8 servings by simply mashing 2 avocados and tossing in fresh additions, like lime juice, red onion, cilantro, tomato, and a small amount of sea salt if desired. Serve with fresh veggies for dipping. It’s as easy (and delicious) as it gets.
Hummus is another great dipping option, and you can also customize it in so many ways, according to the flavors and ingredients you love. The traditional version blends chickpeas (garbanzo beans) with garlic, tahini paste, extra-virgin olive oil, and lemon juice. But you can add greens like spinach for an extra nutrient boost, or you can substitute cooked dried split peas for the garbanzos (since too many legumes can irritate the intestinal lining). You can also throw in fresh herbs, spices like curry powder, or other vegetables to add flavor, color, and nutrition.
Trail Mix is the perfect option when you’re on the go. Plus, you can make a big batch ahead of time so that you’re never caught without a healthy snack option. There are endless combinations of possible ingredients to keep you excited about experimenting, but my Go Well Trail Mix recipe, which I included in The Omni Diet, is a classic. Its base ingredient is raw cashews, tossed with raw slivered almonds, raw walnuts, raw cacao nibs, unsweetened goji berries, and unsweetened shaved coconut. You simply combine the ingredients and store in an airtight container for when you need a between-meal energy boost.
Tana’s 6 Tips for Healthier Snacking
Snacks are straightforward, right? Not always. As I’ve noted, when many Americans think of snacking, they imagine a bunch of foods that should be avoided at all costs. Others want to make healthier choices, but they haven’t done the preparation to make those selections easier. Here are some of my top tips when it comes to creating healthier snacks—and snacking habits:
- Learn your protein needs. As an example, a person who weighs 150 pounds and who’s eating 3 meals and 2 snacks daily should aim to consume about 14 grams of protein per snack.
- Pre-plan and prepare. If you’re traveling or going out for the day, don’t get caught without healthy snacks—in many environments, the chances of finding suitable options are slim. Write down your favorites and make sure you keep them on hand. And, when you’re making snacks ahead of time, make extra so you can just grab and go throughout the week.
- Time it right. I recommend planning for 2 to 3 snacks per day. Mid-morning, mid-afternoon, and late afternoon are ideal times to enjoy them.
- Balance out. You’ll want to include protein, healthy fats, and complex carbs in your snacks. For example, combine 1 to 2 ounces protein (about 2 tablespoons hummus or guacamole, a slice of turkey, or 2 tablespoons whole, raw nuts), 3 to 15 grams healthy fats, and complex carbs in the form of 2 to 3 cups of raw or lightly steamed veggies.
- Log your snack consumption. We know that food journaling boosts the results of any diet—people benefit from seeing what they’re eating in black and white. It’s a great tool for accountability and staying on track.
- Beware of pre-made options. Some protein bars are as full of sugar as any candy—so make sure you read labels of anything you buy pre-made. I like certain store bought items, like Flax Snax by Go Raw, Kale Krunch by Alive & Radiant, Steve’s Original grass-fed beef jerky, and crackers from Wild Mountain Raw Foods. But, with any packaged food, we have to be mindful about what we’re buying.
More Plant-Based High-Protein Snacks
Looking for more inspiration? In addition to the many recipes in The Omni Diet book, check out my snack recipes online, where I have tons of choices that are delicious and nutritious. Some of my favorites include:
Celery Sticks With Tahini Cheese give me a hydrating energy boost, and the tahini cheese can be made in advance, then stored up to 2 weeks for use in a variety of recipes. Slathered into celery sticks, it’s a great vegan snack and requires just a few ingredients to make. I also love it stuffed into Campari or Roma tomatoes—another great recipe you can find on my blog.
Got a sweet-tooth craving? You don’t have to go without—just reach for sugar-free, dairy-free chocolate to whip up my Chocolate Cashew Protein Bars. They combine BrainMD protein powder (you can use either chocolate or vanilla), cashew butter, a sweetener like stevia or honey, flax meal, vanilla, cinnamon, and Brain in Love Chocolate from BrainMD. This decadent chocolate is also free of cholesterol and gluten, with non-GMO ingredients, so you can feel great even while indulging.
- How to Get More Omega 3s in Your Diet - November 28, 2023
- What is Dynamic Stretching? Here are 6 Dynamic Stretching Exercises to Start Your Day - November 27, 2023
- Holiday Happiness Checklist: Try These Tips to Feel Happier This Holiday Season - November 8, 2023