What I am most nervous about for this 30-day challenge is that veganism often requires long prep and cooking times. I know that after a long day, my patience for 1 hour+ cooking and obscure ingredients will be (very) thin. At the same time, if I have to eat a bowl of rabbit food after a day of running around NYC, I’ll likely have a melt down. Lucky for me (and all of us!), Chef Chloe Coscarelli has made an entire career out of proving being a vegan can be easy, delicious, and filling (!) Her cookbook on vegan Italian cooking is one of my favorites on my shelf. Here Chef Chloe Coscarelli’s shares her advice for vegan snacks and hacks: what to have in your fridge at all times, what to carry in your pocket to make sure you always have a yummy vegan-friendly snack while on the go, and more.
Elettra: Chloe, What are things you have in your fridge at all times to throw together a super easy, fast vegan meal?
Chloe: I always have avocados ripening on my counter for either whipping up some guac or eating it straight off the peel with a sprinkle of sea salt. I always keep a jar of peanut butter, a can of chickpeas, frozen veggies, and soba noodles on hand. You never know when you’re gonna want some quick and easy peanut noodles to nourish your soul! Oh, and I always always always keep pre-scooped cookie dough in my freezer. This comes in handy when you have unexpected guests come to visit or an unexpected craving for hot chocolate chip cookies.
What do you have on hand (or in your purse) for snacks?
I love those little single-serving Justin’s almond butter pouches. I always keep at least one in my purse (vanilla or maple flavor, please!). Honey crisp apples in fall/winter are a must. Lately I’ve also been into making my own chia protein balls. They’re really easy to make: You just throw some pitted medjool dates, chia seeds, and almond butter in the food processor with a pinch of cinnamon and vanilla. Roll it up and you’ve got a hearty snack, or even dessert.
If you’ve been running around in the City all day and you feel like you’re going to faint from hunger, what do you grab at a deli for lasting energy?
If I can find a cup of dairy-free soup, I’m golden. There is nothing like warm soup after a hard day. I usually go for something protein packed like lentil or split pea. And if bread is offered, my answer is always yes.
What are some other wholesome, filling snacks I can rely on?
How about hummus? There are SO many creative varieties now and all so healthful and satisfying. Look for ingredient labels that use pure olive oil rather than canola or sunflower. I’m also a smoothie-aholic. I like to keep frozen bananas and other frozen fruit in my freezer so I can start a smoothie at any time. My go-to is frozen bananas, greens (anything!), almond butter, mango and pineapple. And hemp or pea protein powder are great too! Harmless Harvest coconut water can also give me that mid-day pick me up I’m looking for, especially since I’m not really a coffee drinker.
What are some great vegan desserts that people might not expect? I literally fist pumped in the air when I saw that Newman’s O’s are vegan – YAS!
Ha! Surprisingly, even Oreos are “accidentally vegan” too! Another naturally vegan dessert is sorbet. I love raspberry sorbet and then I usually add Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips on top (also vegan!) to make it a little more decadent. And yes, crushed Newman O’s also make a great crust for a vegan cheesecake.
I have a feeling the thing I am going to miss most is cheese. Not necessarily for the taste, but also for the creamy, satisfying mouth feel. Other than avocado, do you have any thoughts on how to create this?
Elettra my friend, you are not alone! I can’t even count the amount of people that tell me they would be vegan if not for having to give up cheese. Luckily there are SO many ways to get that creamy texture without coming close to an animal! Cashews. These are the perfect base for creamy everything. Throw them in your blender (love my Vitamix) with some water to make an ultra-smooth creamy cheese or cashew cream base. Then flavor it sweet or savory! Nutritional yeast flakes are another excellent cheese ingredient swap. These are made of B vitamins and can be found in the vitamin/supplement aisle of Whole Foods. It lends a yellow color and cheesy, nutty flavor that makes for a killer mac & cheese sauce!