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High Protein Vegetarian Snacks

Jennifer Hanes MS, RDN, LD

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Vegetarian snacks tend to be a carb-fest.  French fries, crackers, chips, and fruit are common snacks but don’t have much staying power. Instead, base your snack on a protein source and pair it with some fruit or veggies for a snack that won’t have you raiding the vending machine in 30 minutes.

Snacks can be a polarizing topic. People seem to swear by them or hate them. One source will tell you to eat 5-6 mini meals or snacks per day, and another will say to avoid snacking because it adds excess calories to our overall caloric intake.

The reason for the conflicting advice is that studies show conflicting results and (I suspect) that everyone responds to food a little differently.  Think about the people you know and how they time their meals.

Chances are you know people that eat “3 squares,” and you know people who snack constantly but rarely sit down to a big meal.  I would be willing to state that you see healthy and unhealthy people in both styles of eating.

The difference lies in the food choices they make as well as their individual lifestyles, metabolisms, and health conditions.

Whether you’re a vegetarian looking to increase your protein intake or simply seeking some tasty high-protein vegetarian snack ideas, this post is for you.

I like to snack. What should I choose?

I am a firm believer that all snacks should include a protein source.  So what’s a vegetarian to do?

The Importance of Protein in a Balanced Diet

Protein plays a wide variety of roles in our body.

To keep it simple here, when we include protein, we get greater satiety from that meal. That means that we get full and stay satisfied for a longer time.

Protein is a key player in our immune system and is needed to maintain both our muscle and our bone mass. 

Some health conditions, such as injuries, burns, and some cancers, greatly increase the protein you need. And anyone that wants to get stronger and build muscle needs some more protein as well.

Many people believe that vegetarians can’t get enough protein. But remember that beans, nuts, seeds, cheese, eggs, and yogurt all contain lots of protein. In smaller amounts, but still, good sources are whole grains and some vegetables.

The problem is that knowing what contains protein doesn’t always translate into coming up with fun ideas for snacking!  Read on for my ideas

Nuts and Seeds

All of them, any of them… What’s not to love about these? You can get them salted, unsalted, flavored, raw, roasted, mixed, or individually. Nuts and seeds not only offer us protein but also heart-healthy fats and fiber.

For a simple recipe, try whipping up some Sweet and Hot Pecans.

Other options include trail mix, chia seed pudding, or simply chopped and sprinkled over other foods.

Peanut/Almond Butter with Apple Slices

Not only do you get the benefits of nuts, but you add some sweet, yummy fruit as well.

Apples are my favorite with peanut butter, but any other fruit will do, or try celery.

The inclusion of protein, fat, and fiber will power you through any meeting coming your way!

If you want to amp this up a bit, try making a fruit dip with peanut butter, Greek yogurt, and a drizzle of honey. But it’s totally not necessary.

Cottage Cheese

You can get cottage cheese in individual servings or buy a bigger container and spread it out.

Add some mashed, fresh berries or jam for sweetness or some sundried tomatoes and basil for a savory treat.

Some cottage cheeses even still have their live, active cultures, making it great for your gut!

Greek Yogurt

Just like cottage cheese, Greek yogurt can be enjoyed as either a sweet or savory treat. No-sugar-added Greek yogurt with fruit is ready to go as is. There are so many brands and flavors available.

I tend to buy it plain and then add to it, so I don’t have to buy a whole bunch of different types.  In addition to the fruit dip linked above, I’ve used Greek yogurt to make fruit parfaits, smoothies, tzatziki (my favorite), muffins, and in place of sour cream in some recipes.

Smoothie

Smoothies are great because they are so customizable. You can mix and match different fruits, veggies, proteins, and add-ins for different flavors and colors. 

My son likes spinach in smoothies and pretty much nowhere else, mostly because green is his favorite color. I usually use frozen fruits and veggies for smoothies because it eliminates the need for extra ice, which could water my smoothie down.  

Try flavored protein powder, flavored or plain Greek yogurt, silken tofu, or nut butters for protein and a variety of textures and flavors to keep you from getting bored.

Egg

Eggs may seem like a weird choice for a snack, but you can do what you want, right? 

Many people keep boiled eggs on hand for this purpose.  But you can take it a step further and make egg muffins complete with whatever veggies you have left over!

Roasted Chickpeas or Green Peas

Toss in olive oil and your favorite spices, then bake at 450 for about 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes to prevent burning.

Alternately, you can usually find already roasted, wasabi-flavored green peas in the store, ready to eat!

Edamame

These little beans are so good and easy to prep for a quick snack. You can buy them frozen or refrigerated and already seasoned. Just microwave, then enjoy!

You could also roast them just like you would chickpeas or green peas. My former student shared a great air fryer edamame recipe a while back.

Cheese and Crackers

Super easy, right?  Make it easier by buying sliced cheese. Sometimes I like to buy those little cheese trays with a few different cheeses sliced up for variety.

Bean Dip

Make it or buy it already prepared. Dip bread, chips, or vegetables to complete this easy snack.

Meatless Jerky (some of them)

A small but rapidly rising category of foods, meatless jerky can be an easily portable snack for vegetarians and vegans.

Any of them are fine, but if you’re looking to add some protein, find a product that is made with soy, such as It’s Jerky Y’all.

But what about hummus?

Hummus may not be the protein powerhouse it’s been made out to be. Commercially produced hummus only has about 2 grams of protein per serving. Consider making it yourself (it’ll taste better!) or add protein powder for a boost. Dip cucumber slices, celery, baby carrots, or bell pepper strips for added fiber and crispy texture.

More Tips for Snacking

2If you’re anything like me, the food in between meals doesn’t always get accounted for when planning a grocery store visit. This makes the occasional hunger between meals a bit of a problem, and when I’m most likely to stop somewhere quick for a bite to eat.

When I am functioning the best, I have a list in my head of my favorite snacks and make sure I have options on hand. During the summer, that usually includes grape tomatoes and cucumbers. I always keep fruit on hand, but options that are easy to prep, such as grapes and berries. I add apples in the fall.

Keep your snacks as simple as possible so you don’t burn out on food prep. As delicious as pineapples are, grapes are easy to get ready to eat.  Pineapples and watermelon are saved for when I have more time to prep.

Consider getting the kids in on the prep.  My son can rinse berries, grapes, and cherries, but I wouldn’t trust him to cut a melon. He can open a bag of baby carrots, but I wouldn’t want him slicing cucumbers. Plan snacks according to the prep ability of those that will help you.

In conclusion, incorporating high-protein snacks into your diet is important.

The snack ideas provided in this post are not only vegetarian-friendly but also packed with protein and nutrients to help you feel fuller for longer, keep your blood sugar stable, and support muscle growth and recovery.

Remember to read nutrition labels and plan ahead to ensure you have healthy and satisfying snacks on hand. We hope this post has inspired you to try some of these delicious high-protein vegetarian snacks and make them a regular part of your diet.

What do you think of this list? Know any meat eaters that would chow down on these vegetarian snacks?  Feel free to give us more suggestions in the comments!

For more ideas on healthy eating, click here

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