Image Source: Raw Apple Sandwiches with Date Caramel + Almond Butter
However you and your family might feel about starting the school year again, be it excitement, or lamentation of the loss of vacation time, there is certainly an energy that comes with starting things anew. Give it a few weeks, though, and the surge of energy from that feeling of newness will fade, and everyday schedules will undoubtably come with colder weather.
Not to sound too depressing, though. This is something that happens every year, and from kindergarteners to college students, we all face the reality of packing lunches again. Fuel for long school days is important, and as you settle in to a schedule for the year, it’s important to consider sugar free ways of providing light, on-the-go food sources, and what kind of ingredients you can have stored in your cupboards.
Sugar is a fuel that burns quickly, and with its “high” comes a subsequent “low”. As a vegan, you don’t want to cave in and end up buying french fries or sugary sweets just because it is all that is available close to your class room or in a vending machine. So, here are some ideas for protein-rich, fibrous snacks that can be prepared the night before to keep you energized for whatever kind of studies you (or your kids) need to do:
1. Hummus and crackers. Hummus is a super easy to make, or relatively cheap buy, and a nice light snack. It can be paired with veggies for a snack, or with grains for a light meal. Here is a link detailing more hummus ideas.
2. Nut butters with apples and/or celery. Apples dipped in peanut or almond butter are a nutritious, easy to make, protein hit. Fill celery sticks with peanut butter, or pack apple slices for dipping. If you’re buying peanut butter, be careful that it’s a natural brand, and not one with added oils and sugars.
3. Trail mixes. Making your own nut mixtures at home isn’t just tasty, it’s cheaper than buying trail mix, and ensures no added sweeteners or dairy-containing chocolate products in the bag. Buying nuts and seeds in bulk is the economical way to go, and then storing them in cool, dry locations. A good approximation of proportions is 3 parts nuts (such as peanuts, cashews, almonds, hazelnuts) to 1 part seeds (flax, pumpkin, sunflower) to 1 part sweet things (such as dried bananas, dates, apricots, raisons, or even chocolate chips). Coconut flakes are also a yummy addition to the mix.
4. Popcorn. Given the rise of nut related allergies, many school kids are discouraged, or not permitted, to bring varieties of nuts to school. This one is useful if that is the case, and at a natural food story, an organic kind of kernels should be available. Air popping your own corn is much healthier than microwaving it, and that way you can be sure of every ingredient that you are consuming. Nutritional yeast is a great topping to add to this fibre-rich snack, or consider other spices and herbs to add a bit of kick.
5. Fruit. This one seems kind of obvious, but having fresh food on hand is always a good idea! To mix things up, slice your favourite fruit combination into a container the night before, and sprinkle lemon juice on it so that it retains its freshness. Fruit salad can be so much more exciting than just fruit if you put your mind to it, too. A small amount of ginger is a great idea, as is adding dried fruits, such as dates, to a fresh fruit mix. Topping fruit salads with soy yoghurt makes the snack feel like more of a dessert too.
6. Smoothies. This one’s more of a morning-of snack rather than a night-before, but making a smoothie on your way out the door is a great idea for a before lunch snack, or something a kid could eat on their way to class. Here are three to try out.
7. Mexican inspired beans and avocado. Avocados are a super healthy snack, and combining them with some baked beans (careful, canned ones may contain lard!) and some tortilla chips (careful to buy organic, otherwise they’ll probably contain GMO corn) is an easy, light meal or snack. If you’re feeling ambitious, avocados can quite quickly be made into guacamole, but are, of course, delicious on their, or with a bit of salt.
The list goes on! As the school year continues, remember that there are always more ways to make food interesting, and if you ever need any help, or would like to know what there is out there to purchase, this is a list of vegan items to add to your grocery list.