Sometimes I get an urge for ice cream, so I buy a container of it. I take a spoonful or two, put it in the freezer and forget about it for months. It drives my husband crazy since he thinks a pint is a single serving. The truth is that I just don’t have a sweet tooth. I prefer crunchy snacks like chips and pretzels. The problem is that I don’t have a lot of self-control when it comes to these crunchy favorites. You know that slogan about how you can’t eat just one? Yeah, that was written for me and they meant one bag, not one chip. Whether it’s potato chips, tortilla chips, cheesy crackers or nuts – you name it, I want to munch it. That’s why I try to skip the processed snacks from the store and make my own. That way, I choose the quality and quantity of the ingredients. Rather than chomping away on copious amounts of fat, oil, and salt, I can make healthy snacks I don’t have to feel bad about eating. If you’re like me and you love to munch on crunch, here’s how to make your own healthy crunchy snack foods.
1. Potato Chips
Chips were always my weakness. If I opened a bag of chips, there was no closing it until it was empty. I have to admit, though, that I didn’t feel well after eating all the salt and fat that came with the chips. Rather than give up my favorite snacks, I just learned to make them healthier my making them myself. First and foremost, my favorite snack: potato chips. I bake the chips rather than frying them so they have much less fat. When I make my Homemade Baked Potato Chips, I only make 2 or 3 potatoes worth so my husband and I don’t overdo it. When you make your own potato chips, you can choose your favorite seasonings like onion and garlic or salt and vinegar.
2. Veggie Chips
Potatoes aren’t the only vegetable that can be made into chips. Sure, you can buy a bag of veggie chips because it sounds healthier but read the nutritional information on the label. It’s usually no different than a bag of ordinary potato chips. It’s better to make your own. You can make chips out of almost any veggie that you can slice thinly – beets, zucchini, eggplant, sweet potatoes – then just bake or dehydrate them. Learn How to Make Healthy Veggie Chips of All Kinds in 4 Simple Steps and then try these Raw Vegan Nacho Cheese Zucchini Chips, Beet Chips, Corn and Black Bean Chips and these unique Lotus Chips.
Tired of buying tortilla chips to use with your salsa and guacamole? Make your own! It’s easier and less expensive. Make them plain, with a touch of salt or spice them up. To make my Homemade Baked Spiced Tortilla Chips: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a spice mix of ½ tsp. each chile powder, ground cumin and paprika. Cut 6-8 corn, rice or flour tortillas in half, then in half again. Then cut those quarters in half. Now you have 8 triangle-shaped tortilla chips. Or go crazy and just rip the tortillas into free-form shapes. That’s fun too! Lay the chips on a large baking sheet in a single layer. Lightly spray with cooking oil. Sprinkle both sides of the chips with the spice mix. Bake in the oven until the chips are browned and crispy, turning half-way through. Depending on your oven, it should take about 10 minutes or so but you want to watch them so they don’t burn. Serve with your favorite dips like this Sweet and Spicy Salsa.
3. Kale Chips
Technically, kale chips are veggie chips but the process of making them is a bit different since they don’t get sliced. The idea of kale being a yummy, crunchy snack may be hard to imagine but I promise you, once you try them, you’ll be addicted. Kale chips can be made with lots of flavors like these Baked Kale Chips with nutritional yeast, Spicy Kale Chips with cumin and cayenne, Habanero Kale Chips and Sour Cream and Onion Kale Chips.
I prefer mine Italian-style with salt, pepper, garlic and vegan parmesan. To make my Baked Kale Chips: Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Stem a large bunch of kale and then chop or rip the leaves into medium-sized pieces. In a large bowl, add the kale, 2 Tbs. olive oil, 2 Tbs. vegan parmesan, 2 tsp. garlic powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Gently toss so that all the leaves are coated. Cover your baking sheets (you will need more than one) with cooling racks. The reason I do this is so the heat will reach the kale leaves on both sides which makes them crunchier. Let them bake for about 20-30 minutes. The time will really depend on your oven and the kale so be sure to keep an eye on them. You want them crunchy but not burnt. Whey they are crisp, they are ready to eat. For a fun variation, use Lacinato or Dinosaur Kale. Just cut the stems off and bake the leaves whole. It’s like having a big leafy green lollipop.
4. Cheesy Crackers
Crackers made out of refined white flour and covered with artificial cheese-flavored powder may not sound appetizing but you know we loved them. I used to buy the red box of cheesy crackers and the bags of fishy crackers all the time and I really missed them. Luckily, vegan cooks are a creative bunch and accept the challenge to veganize anything and everything. Case in point: Vegan Goldfish Crackers with nutritional yeast for the cheesy flavor. How adorable are they? There is also a vegan version of my other favorite cheesy cracker, Healthy Vegan Cheeze-It Crackers. Get Italian flavors with these Italian Herb-Onion Cheese Crackers and enjoy some peanut butter between these Raw Cheez Crackers. Yum!
Crackers are much more exciting than they sound. Whether you want plain crackers you can spread vegan cheese on or crackers made with bold flavors, you can make them easily and healthfully. Homemade crackers can be raw or baked, made with seeds, whole grains or vegetables, flavored with herbs and spices or even given a touch of sweetness. Get your omega-3-fatty acids when you munch on these Flax and Chia Seed Crackers, Quinoa and Mixed Seed Crackers and Healthy Nut-Free Spirulina Sesame Bars. Add veggies like these Raw Carrot and Flaxseed Crackers or legumes like these Herbed Chickpea and Sesame Crackers. Tickle your taste buds with these Raw Habanero Pepper Crackers that have cashews, almonds and sunflower seeds. If you prefer your crackers to have a sweet side, try these Raw Vegan Granola Bar Crackers, The World’s Healthiest Graham Crackers, Vegan Chin Chin and these Raw Chocolate Chia Crackers.
Popcorn isn’t just for the movies. Besides, you don’t want theater popcorn with that fake butter. Snuggle up on the couch with your sweetie and munch on some homemade popcorn prepared simply or outrageously. Gourmet popcorn is all the rage with people adding unexpected and exciting flavors to their kernels. My favorite way to eat popcorn is Italian-style. Whenever I eat popcorn, I add garlic, red pepper flakes or hot sauce and vegan grated parmesan. It’s like making my favorite pasta dish but with popcorn. You can simply toss popcorn with garlic powder, hot sauce and red pepper flakes or take a few minutes to make delectable garlic butter. In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat 3 or 4 Tbs. of vegan butter. Add 3 minced garlic cloves, ½ tsp. dried oregano and a pinch of red pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute, stirring. Remove from the heat and pour over fresh popcorn. Toss to coat and then sprinkle ¼ cup vegan parmesan. Season with kosher salt, toss again and serve.
Other popcorn varieties you definitely want to try include Curry Coconut Popcorn, Bourbon Caramel Popcorn, Peanut Butter Caramel Popcorn with Bourbon and Peanut Butter Popcorn Fudge. For something completely different, try using cauliflower instead of corn like this Cheesy Cauliflower Popcorn. Check out these Exciting Hacks to Upgrade Your Popcorn for lots more recipes and ideas.
7. Roasted Chickpeas
This section comes with a warning: only read this if you accept the risk of becoming addicted to this snack. Chips are great, nuts are yummy and popcorn is fun but if you have never tasted roasted chickpeas, you are in for a pleasant surprise. Chickpeas are delicious in any form but when you roast them, they become hard and crunchy and delicious. Flavor them with your favorite herbs, spices and sauces and you will find yourself making room in the pantry for all the chickpeas you’ll be stocking up on. I love making spiced roasted chickpeas; they are the perfect snack or party food.
To make my Spiced Roasted Chickpeas: Set oven to 400 degrees. Drain and rinse 2 cans of chickpeas. Roll them around in a kitchen towel to dry them. They won’t get crunchy if they are still wet. Mix 1 Tbs. oil, 1 tsp. smoked paprika, 1 tsp. cumin, ½ tsp. salt and a pinch of cayenne in a bowl. Add chickpeas to the bowl and toss until well coated. Transfer them to a parchment lined baking sheet in a single layer and put in the oven. After 15 minutes, shake the tray to toss them. Roast another 10-15 minutes until they are crisp and crunchy. Watch them at the end so they don’t burn. Serve warm or at room temperature. For more recipes, try these Oven-Roasted Chickpeas, Roasted Chickpeas with Chipotle and Lime and of course, Buffalo Roasted Chickpeas.
Why would you ever buy store-bought crunchy snacks again when it’s so easy to make your own? The next time you get the munchies, try these healthy, crunchy snacks instead.
Hungry for more? Check out The Ultimate Guide to Vegan Snacks!
Lead Image Photo: Healthy Vegan Cheeze-It Crackers