During the semester, finding vegan-friendly options in between classes while on a student’s budget can be difficult. Keeping a healthy vegan diet that maintains brain function through several lectures takes premeditation. Planning and preparing snacks for the upcoming week can help you stay focused and engaged in class longer, improving your grades and helping you become a better student. Here are five of my go-to snacks that are vegan-friendly and help me stay energized throughout the day and maintain focus when I need it most.
- The classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich continues to remain one of my favorite snacks even before I went vegan—I also love packing these when traveling. Not only are they easy to prepare and stow in your bag, they’re packed with lots of macronutrients, meaning lots of yummy calories to ensure you eat enough and have good nutrition for the day.
Use sprouted-grain bread, all-natural peanut butter and natural preserves instead of white bread, over-processed peanut butter and jelly. This will make sure your food is not stripped away of vital nutrients. Preserves that still have the seeds provide more fiber to your diet. While this may not seem like much, over time small menial tasks are done every day beat the efforts of a sporadic Hercules. Every bit counts.
- Rice and beans are a staple in many cultures around the world. These foods are incredibly versatile and can be made to taste anything from salty to sweet.
While many see rice and beans as a side dish, I consider them to be the highlight of a healthy snack. These foods are great because when eaten together they form a complete protein, which means together they give a person every of the nine essential proteins needed to build and maintain many parts that make up the human body, such as hair, tendons, muscles and nails. Packing a small container full of rice and beans makes it easy to store in a bag and take with you.
- Fruits are loaded with carbohydrates, giving people the burst of energy to get in a workout even after you spent listening to your professor ramble about the mitosis for the third time. Peel-able fruits like bananas, mangos and oranges even have their own wrappers, making these excellent choices to store in a backpack or carry with you beside your books (just make sure you don’t squish them!).
Fruits that are generally eaten with their skin, like apples, (most) berries, pears and peaches can be easily packed and washed right before eating. However, when conventionally grown, they can carry lots of pesticides and toxins harmful to health, making it important they are bought organic. Fruits are great choices for snacks because they include a healthy dose of fiber, vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates to stay energized and keep the body functioning at its best. Fruits can also be easy to store and eat by pre-cutting them the night before.
- Vegetable juices are loaded with essential vitamins, phytoplankton and other nutrients that will keep your body and mind in tip-top shape. These are packed with essential nutrients needed to maintain optimal body functioning throughout the day while also having the benefit of helping you lose fat and stay strong. Vegetable juices detoxify the body and make you feel energized.
I generally alternate between three types of vegetable juices every week: a green juice, a pink cabbage juice and a red beet juice. These can easily be stored in a bottle making it convenient to carry.
- A smoothie or shake is another easy-to-make, easy-to-pack snack that many overlook. In the morning, I like to make a shake or smoothie and instead of finishing it all, I pack 12-16 ounces into a thermal to keep it cold for at least four to six hours. This snack is packed with lots of macro and micronutrients that will leave you feeling satisfied and full until your next break.
In my smoothie, I blend together three bananas, a cup and a half of my week’s choice of non-dairy milk, five dates, two tablespoons of chia seeds, two table spoons of flax seeds, a hand full of chopped frozen kale, two tablespoons of chocolate PB2 powder and a dollop of all-natural peanut butter—so yummy!
There are hundreds of different options to pack for snacks and take with you while you study, but these are just my favorites. Now that I work at an office for eight hours a day, these have become my go-to foods when I’m feeling low on energy.