Sustainability goes beyond ethical design and what I wear, it has seeped into other areas of my life including what I eat. For the past 4 years I have been a vegetarian, moving towards the vegan lifestyle (although the latter has been and still is a struggle for me) – overall cutting back on animal products and incorporating plant-based foods becomes even more challenging when I am trying to snack.
If you wander into any newsagents 9/10 times you will find that every sweet or chocolate bar contains dairy or animal extracts and whilst carrying around fruit, crackers or a pot of hummus is one way to play it, variety is the spice of life when a sweet craving hits! Don’t be disheartened and take note, there is a world to discover beyond grapes and carrots, and it includes activated nuts and raw food snacks amongst other delights. On the hunt for healthy substitutes, I am shortlisting options below for anyone else struggling to snack healthily (as I have before) and keen to find tasty alternative to fruits and crackers.
Activated and Raw
Handmade in the UK, the dehydrated snacks of Saf Life foods follow SALSA and Soil Association procedures, delivering a range of meat, dairy and gluten-free snacks. For example, their activated crackers are a great source of protein and fibre that’s packed full of nutrients and minerals (coming in at or below 150 calories per serving). Saf snacks are activated through a very simple process – soaked in cool filtered water overnight and thoroughly cleansed afterwards. This process removes substances like phytic acid, enzyme inhibitors which consequently makes the seeds and nuts easier to digest and giving our body the chance to soak up more nutrition. Raw food snacks are prepared by by ‘cooking’ the food at a low temperature, thus keeping the products raw to preserve the key nutrients and enzymes.
Their new range has been developed to create unique flavour combinations, you can choose from Chewy Protein Bites, Organic Pudding Bites, Organic Raw Choc Trail Mixes and Organic Coconut chips. The fresh fruit and vegetables packed in and combined with seeds or/and nuts really give you a flavour punch. SAF’s activated crackers are a great source of protein and fibre loaded with nutrients and minerals (my personal favourite were SAF’s salted caramel pudding bites).
Dairy Free Multi Purpose
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Beneficial to the immune system and high in antibacterial properties, coconuts are nature’s richest source of medium chain fatty acids For me, dairy has started to be problematic over the past few years so discovering tasty lactose-free options in the form of COYO was refreshing. I use coconut milk which is high in fat, but cholesterol-free and rich in many nutrients. Founded by Bethany Eaton, a former police officer turned food entrepreneur COYO makes coconut milk yoghurts and ice creams with natural vegan cultures to create a range of silky smooth breakfast, lunch or dessert solutions.
After studying Nutritional Medicine at Thames Valley University Eaton became keen to create tasty dairy and soya free alternatives. Alchemy is king and years later, containing 99% pure coconut the resulting yoghurts come in a range of flavours including salted caramel, raw chocolate and vanilla. Also free from lactose and gluten COYO provides spoonfuls of magnesium, fibre, protein and the good vitamins. I found it versatile – topping cereals or desserts or adding a creamy texture to soups and stews. My only advice is don’t overeat! COYO has a recommended smallish serving size of only 100gram – way less than most yoghurts at 150g tubs or even 175g cartons. RRP is £1.99 for 125g or £4.99 for 400g it can be found in Whole Foods Market, Planet Organic and As Nature Intended.
According to the Worldwatch Institute, over 50% of global greenhouse-gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture, for many statistics like this drive the desire for a transition to a more plant-based diet. On the hunt for desserts for this category, I discovered Freaks of Nature, a company delivering tasty puddings made entirely from plants. Removing the guilt element of any post-dinner dessert binge – a welcome relief – Freaks of Nature pudding pots taste super indulgent, rich and frankly, delicious.
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Cocoa Loco has been made using cacoa, then sweetened with dates and topped with caramelised hazelnut clusters, whereas passionfruit has been used to make the coulis found in Mando Fangango which is topped with tasty chopped pistachios. Made in Yorkshire under the steer of founder Peter Ahye, Freaks of Nature pots are crammed with fruits, nuts, coconut, cacao and nectars – all natural and delicious whilst free from dairy, gluten, egg, soya, refined white sugar and artificial additives and preservatives. Freaks of Nature have cleverly nailed the texture, taste, balance and quality of ingredients without a ludicrous price tag (RRP £2.29 – stocked at Tesco, Waitrose and Planet Organic.
An underserved sector of the market coeliacs can enjoy these too, stocked at Tesco, Waitrose and Planet Organic.
Made in the UK, Little Moons are something of a taste anomaly and the brainchild of siblings Vivien and Howard Wong. Made from pounded and steamed rice flour, Mochi is traditionally eaten at Japanese New Year and stuffed with fillings such as red bean paste. Giving the popular delicacy a fresh twist, Little Moons encase fillings such as gelato ice cream or within the chewy, expertly pounding steamed rice flour to deliver expert results.
Coming in a range of six different favours – coconut and toasted sesame were my personal favourites – these ice creams hit the spot for anyone on the hunt for a gluten-free post dinner treat, and it doesn’t hurt that they are made in the UK whilst containing no artificial flavourings, colours or preservatives. Little Moons, the ice-cream filled mochi balls retail for £5.99 for six.
Guilt Free Couch Snacks
Nom’s refined-sugar-free popcorn is rammed with surprising flavour combinations – salted maple, simply salted, cinnamon maple and tomato pesto – you just don’t often get when it comes to this category of snack. For me, these unique combinations of superfood ingredients, creating tastes and textures which can be lacking from other free-from and healthy snacks. With its undeniable link to childhood obesity, tooth decay and type 2 diabetes, the brand no longer uses refined sugar, instead providing the sweetness with amino-acid rich coconut palm nectar, cinnamon (natural antibacterial) and anti-oxidant loaded maple syrup.
For those interested in brands who support more conscious business practises, the Vegan Society and the Ethical Company logos displayed on the brands’ organic products nod towards the plant-based philosophy, namely snacks made without people, animal or planet exploitation. For some, purchasing products registered with the Vegan Trademark is a way of investing in the future of a market which is free from animal products. Fairtrade ingredients include fair trade cacao powder, cacao nibs, coconut palm sugar, coconut oil, raspberries and bananas.