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    I've Been Vegetarian For Six Years; Here Are The Easiest Snacks & Meals I Always Stock In My Kitchen

    No meat? No problem.

    Hi! I’m Evie, and I stopped eating meat back in 2015.

    Woman eats sandwich on balcony overlooking ocean
    Evie Carrick

    While I identify as a pescatarian, because I’ll eat fish when I go out to eat or go to someone’s house for dinner, at home I follow a vegetarian diet.

    Over the years, I've noticed that having a few staples in my kitchen is key to staying on track and not just defaulting to snacking on candy and chips.

    NBC / Via Giphy /

    If you’re not eating enough protein you might crave simple carbs — especially sugar — more often than most. And since vegetarians have fewer sources of protein to choose from, it can be easier to fall into the trap of under-eating protein and overeating other stuff.

    If you know me, you know I’m no angel when it comes to avoiding simple carbs (sugar, in particular), but I have found that having a few protein-rich snacks and easy-to-make meals on hand make eating well a little easier. Progress, not perfection, right?

    Here are a few of my favorite vegetarian-friendly foods. 🌱

    Lynda Obst Productions / Via Giphy /

    1. Plant-Based Sausage

    Two hot dogs on a plate
    Evie Carrick

    Honestly, the possibilities are endless with this one. I keep a pack of Tofurky’s plant-based sausage (I think the Italian style is the most versatile) in my freezer and defrost one sausage at a time for an easy protein boost to spaghetti or an egg scramble.

    I also love Chicago-style hot dogs. When the craving hits I’ll throw a sausage in a bun and top it with onion, sport peppers, tomato, and yellow mustard for lunch. (Side note: I don't always follow the strict Chicago dog rules, as you'll see above.)

    2. Nut Butter

    A slice of almond butter, banana, and chia seed toast
    Macey Foronda / BuzzFeed

    Nut butters — especially plain ole peanut butter — is one of my main sources of protein. I’ll smear PB on slices of apple, celery, crackers, toast (topped with banana, of course), and pretty much anything else I can think of. It’s a great way to make something healthy and boring (looking at you, celery) taste salty and creamy.

    3. Miso

    When most people think of miso they think of miso soup or spicy miso ramen, but in addition to being a veggie-friendly soup base, miso paste is great on sandwiches and in homemade salad dressings. Plus, if you’re into marinating or glazing stuff (two things I’m too lazy for) miso will give your meal a dose of umami goodness.

    4. Meatless ‘Chicken’ Nuggets

    Meatless nuggets
    Evie Carrick

    Admittedly, meatless nuggets are not the most nutrient-dense meal, but it beats cheese and crackers for dinner (something I’ll do when I’m starving and rushed for time). I did a full-on faux chicken nugget taste test last fall, and Quorn’s nuggets were the easy winner.

    I throw a handful on a cookie sheet and cook at 425˚F for 15 minutes while I put together a spinach salad to feign health consciousness.

    5. Eggs

    6. Beans

    Beans sound boring, but I promise you, if you’re trying to eat less meat (or trying to be a more protein-conscious veg) they will become your best friend. I always keep several cans of black beans and refried beans in my cupboard alongside a bag of lentils. They make it super-easy to add a dose of protein to a meal.

    When I’m in a rush, I’ll smear refried beans in a quesadilla (with green chili, of course), and when I have a bit more time, a lentil-based Indian curry is a total crowdpleaser.

    Read more: 21 Easy Can-To-Pan Dinners That All Start With Beans

    7. Frozen Dumplings

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    This is a new kitchen staple for me, but a good one. I love making ramen, soba, and udon soup, and dumplings are the perfect way to turn a bowl of soup into a meal. So far, I’ve alternated between Wei-Chuan and Nasoya dumplings — Wei-Chuan's are packed with veggies, while Nasoya incorporates tofu, too.

    8. Nuts

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    The solution to that afternoon hunger pang? Nuts! I’m boring and like plain almonds or salted cashews the best, but I also have a soft spot in my heart for pistachio anything (a nut that the folks over at Setton Farms do well). If plain or salted nuts are too bland for you, Setton Farms sells amazing garlic-onion seasoned pistachios (SO good) and pistachio-based mixes that incorporate berries, chocolate, and other nuts.

    9. Cheeses

    10. Energy Bars

    Hand holds power bar
    Evie Carrick

    Just like anyone else, vegetarians need something they can grab when there isn’t time to make or order a meal. For me, that grab-and-go go-to was always the Lärabar, but lately, I've been obsessed with the RXBAR. Both bars only use ingredients you've actually heard of and somehow they make just a few things — egg whites, nuts, and dates on the RXBAR pictured, for example — taste amazing.

    11. Chia Seeds

    Admittedly, I don’t eat these a ton, but I always mean to. I keep a bag of these fiber- and protein-rich seeds around the house so that (when I remember to) I can add them to smoothies — or make chia pudding, which I am truly obsessed with.

    12. Tofu

    13. Nutritional Yeast

    14. Spinach

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    I buy those giant plastic tubs of spinach and try to add the leafy green into anything I can think of: smoothies, stir frys, egg scrambles, and spaghetti sauce, to name a few. Plus, it makes an excellent salad base — just add some blue cheese crumbles, thinly sliced apple, and walnuts and you have a meal!

    15. Quinoa

    16. Dates

    Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

    Ever since I started drinking coffee (a semi-new thing for me) I’ve been obsessed with medjool dates. Not only does their sweetness pair perfectly with a cup of coffee, but they also have a fair amount of protein (2.5 grams per serving) and can be used as a natural fruit-based sweetener when baking.

    Coconut date balls are amazing — and dates stuffed with a soft cheese (like goat cheese) are a super easy appetizer.

    What are some of the go-to vegetarian-friendly snacks and meals that you always keep stocked in your kitchen? Share in the comments!