Who doesn’t crave a ‘fast-to-make’ as well as ‘good-to-eat’ snack when things get busy? Bonus points if it’s meatless, nutritious and gratifying – all at once.

We asked some of the world’s most passionate plant-based foodie experts to share their favourite quick bites, as well as their secret tips for transitioning from meat to plants.

[Photo at left: Marija Vidal, Rockridge Press]

Crostini With Macadamia Ricotta, Strawberries And Basil
Recipe by Chef Eddie Garza of

“I first developed this recipe as an hors d’oeuvre for the Humane Society of the United States’ ‘To the Rescue’ Gala in 2019. It was one of the most raved-about and easy-to-make starters, and it became a household staple during the lockdown. To date, it remains a family favourite!”

On making the switch from meat to plants, Chef Eddie says:

“Start with familiar favourites: Whether you’re gluten-free or a gluten fiend, everybody loves a good pasta dish. Swapping out meat with a plant-based protein will add heart-healthy fibre and keep you satiated. For a quick fix, try vegan beef or chicken substitute products on the market. For something simpler yet equally satisfying, go for chickpeas or cannellini beans, or grilled tofu or tempeh.

“Stock up on beans and legumes: Pack your pantry with pulses like black beans, lentils, and black-eyed peas. These fibre-rich protein powerhouses will bulk up any stew or casserole, and can serve as the base for a variety of globally inspired meals.

Load up on grains and pseudograins: Grain-based bowls are the new ‘it’ meal of 2022. Fill your bowl with brown rice (fibre), black rice (antioxidants) or pseudograins – i.e. seeds used as grains like quinoa and amaranth – and add a hefty serving of beans, greens and a savoury vegan cream for a healthy and hearty vegan meal.

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Goji Berry Sesame Halva
Recipe by Chef Doug McNish of

“I created this recipe because I always loved halva, but wanted to ditch the cane sugar for something more glycemic-friendly. I love these bites – they are not too sweet, yet fill the sweet tooth craving and pack a nutritious punch as well!”

On making the change to a vegan lifestyle, Chef McNish says:

“Go slow. Changing your diet is like dating – take it slow and get to know your new way of eating. Depending on where you are in your health journey, try to make little changes every day, and eventually these changes will turn into a lifestyle. Start replacing one meat-based meal with a plant-based one every week, then every few days, then every day. Eventually your body, mind and taste will change, and you’ll no longer crave meat or dairy but broccoli, tofu and lentils.”

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Almond Butter Stuffed Dates With Chocolate And Hemp
Recipe by Nazli Develi of Gurmevegan

“This snack is not really a secret, but it had never caught my attention before. One day, while enjoying my morning almond latte, I got thinking about my preference for eating Medjool dates along with a spoonful of almond or hazelnut butter, after heavy work. These two ingredients go incredibly well together, and especially so with latte or coffee. I thought to myself ‘Why not just fill the dates with butter?’ It only took me a few minutes (to come up with the recipe).

“If you want something extra, you can dip them in melted chocolate or just eat along with nut butter. Don’t miss adding a pinch of flaky salt. Salt gives a wonderful taste as it has the ability to enhance flavours and balance desserts that are rich and sweet.”

On incorporating more plant-based foods, Nazli suggests:

“It may seem difficult to cut meat out of your diet, if you have a busy life, but it needn’t be. Start by buying frozen or prepared produce to make the transition easier. Having ready-to-eat snacks (such as stuffed dates, bliss balls and seed crackers) on hand is also helpful. And in case you haven’t already, invest in a high-speed blender, so you can whip up nutritious smoothies, soups and creams in seconds.

“A few plant-based meals to try: Morning oats are pretty easy to make and will keep you full for a long time; for lunch, prepare a mixture of chickpeas, nori, pickles and sunflower seed cream, and spread it on your sandwich bread – so filling and healthy.”

See the recipe

[Photo courtesy Evergreen Kitchen]

Peanut Butter Coconut Power Balls
Recipe by Bri Beaudoin of Evergreen Kitchen

“These delicious and healthy power balls are inspired by a local Vancouver bakery. I used to buy them often as a midday pick-me-up (to go with tea or coffee), before a workout, or anytime I needed an energy boost. Eventually I decided to make my own version.

“What I love most about them is that they’re healthy, easy to make, and still feel like a treat! They’re a great source of plant-based protein, too. We make a batch on the weekend, so we have nourishing snacks on hand for the week. They’re easy to pack into lunches or eat on the go. The protein and healthy fats really satiate my snack cravings – and they taste so good!”

On reducing meat, Bri suggests:

“Start with small, practical steps. If the goal is to reduce meat, it could start with Meatless Monday, or trying to eat 2 out of 3 meatless meals a day. You don’t need to overhaul everything at once. It’s not about ‘perfection’ – it’s about doing your best.

“The more excited you are about eating vegetarian or vegan meals, the more likely you are to stick with it. Find recipes that you and your family love. Start with satisfying mains and comfort foods, because the assumption is that it’s going to be all about salads. We love serving vegetarian shepherd’s pie, mushroom stroganoff, Instant Pot chili, and falafel to our meat-eating friends and family – they love it!

“Nowadays, there are a lot of tasty store-bought meat and dairy alternatives. We love using plant-based ground and sausages as a quick way to bulk up a meal and add protein. Barista-style oat milks are our favourite dairy milk replacement. Also, check out the plant-based options at your favourite restaurants – there’s no harm in ordering takeout when you need a break from cooking.”

See the recipe

Banana Bread Breakfast Cookies
Recipe by Heidi Richter of The Simple Green

“As a recipe developer, I spend a fair amount of time experimenting in the kitchen and finding ways to make foods healthier. I’ve always wanted to create a vegan cookie that’s low in refined sugar for my young children. I also knew that mashed bananas are often used as a substitute for both sugar and eggs in several recipes.

“My first test was surprisingly successful and resulted in a vegan cookie with a texture and taste like banana bread. It wasn’t unique, as a subsequent internet search quickly revealed; nevertheless, it’s loved by my family and readers. The cookies are vegan, made with nutritious spelt flour, naturally sweetened and can be made ahead for a quick breakfast or snack on the go.”

On going meatless, Heidi says:

“Try setting smaller goals – look at it as steps to achieving a larger one. Being a parent to young kids and with a busy lifestyle to boot, I can empathise with the feeling of having no time or patience to make big changes. But the key is to take it slow.

“Start by setting aside one day a week where you eat one or more plant-based meals and then build from there at your own pace. Another option is to simply replace one animal product with a plant-based alternative; dairy can be an easy place to start because there are so many quality, dairy-free alternatives available, unlike 15 years ago when I first made the switch. Bottom line, make changes at your own pace, and don’t sweat being perfect about it.”

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Salted Caramel Coconut Bliss Balls
Recipe by Jessica Hoffman of Choosing Chia

“I’ve had energy balls before made with blended dried fruits and nuts, but I wanted to create my own version. I decided to use Medjool dates that inherently have a very rich and caramel-like flavour. I personally love the combination of sweet and salt, so I added a pinch of salt to the recipe – it helped balance the sweetness of the dates.

“I love how easy the recipe is: it uses simple ingredients, and everything’s ready in just 15 minutes. I like to keep a batch of bliss balls stored in my fridge so I can grab a quick snack any time of day when I need a little boost of energy.”

On making the switch from meat to veggies, Jess offers:

“Start by eating vegetarian or vegan for just one day a week. It can feel very overwhelming to jump in and cut out food groups that you’re used to eating, especially when you have a busy schedule. By choosing one day a week to start with, you’ll not only be setting yourself up for success, but also be able to incorporate more vegetarian foods into your diet. Then add in a second day, a third and so on.

“If you love a certain type of snack, try and look up a delicious plant-based recipe to replace its meat equivalent. For example, find a veggie burger recipe if you love burgers, or a veggie “meatballs” recipe if you love spaghetti and meatballs. There are tons of great vegetarian and vegan recipes that you can make that’ll give you the same satisfaction as recipes with meat in them, so you won’t miss the real thing.”

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Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
Recipe by Brandi Doming of The Vegan 8

“I created this recipe because it’s healthy, high in protein and is great served with either fresh vegetables, crackers or toast. It’s filling, easy to make and absolutely delicious with so many layers of flavour!

On cutting out meat and animal products, Brandi says:

“Remember to focus on whole foods. So many foods are vegan in their natural state. Think potatoes, vegetables, fruits, grains like rice, oats and quinoa. Of course, legumes and beans are high in protein and very filling. You can make delicious and satisfying meals using a combo of these ingredients along with spices, marinades and sauces for flavour.

“Keep it simple. Easy meals can be thrown together using any grain, some beans, veggies and a delicious sauce drizzled on top. Mexican burrito bowls, for example, are so easy and quick to throw together. Just add rice, black beans, corn, fresh greens, salsa and top with a delicious vegan queso cheese drizzled on top.”

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Lentil NEATballs
Recipe by Teri-Ann Carty of

“This dish was created out of a craving. I usually make pasta at least twice a week, and when I was craving meatballs, the NEATball was born. I love the fact that even though I cook vegan I don’t have to miss out on anything. Recipes can almost always be modified to be cruelty-free and plant-based.”

On going vegan, Teri-Ann advises:

“Take baby steps! Eliminating foods can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Start small and work up to going fully plant-based. Look up simple recipes: try pastas, soups and loaded bowls or salads. Work your way up to more complex ones in time. Instagram is also a great place for vegan inspiration. If some accounts feel too preachy, move on to the next.”

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Maple Spiced Candied Cashews
Recipe by Laurel Perry of Darn Good Veggies

“I came across this snack when I was craving fair-style candied nuts, but I wanted something healthier that I could make at home. It’s a quick 15-minute snack made with maple syrup instead of refined sugar, giving you a boost of energy without a sugar crash. The spices add complexity and warmth, rounding out this perfect snack.”

On her secret tips for skipping meat, Laurel shares:

“Start incorporating filling, nutrient-dense plant foods like nuts and beans. They are incredibly satisfying and crowd out any cravings for animal products. When you’re full, you won’t crave any of the foods you are trying to cut out of your diet.”

See the recipe

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