The new year is a difficult time for many of us. And with difficult times often comes food habits that make us feel less than our best. I’m not here to guilt you into tossing your favorite bag of chips in the trash or shame you into some fad diet—just here to say that there are alternative means of enjoying some crunchy, salty goodness as you hunker down under a blanket that won’t leave you feeling as empty and unsatisfied as you might after you’ve downed every last spec of Extra Flamin’ Hot Cheeto dust. As more and more people become conscious of what they eat and why they eat it, more and more purveyors of tasty treats are developing ways to snack that can help you feel better when you indulge.
This time of year, there’s so much pressure to make resolutions. A lot of the time, they end up being lofty, unrealistic goals that don’t take the self or the mind into account. This most gloomy time of year is challenging, especially for those of us who struggle with mental health issues, and it’s easy to fall back into habits that leave us feeling unhappy with ourselves.
Personally, I always feel kind of unsatisfied after I polish off a bag of snacks. The crunch and flavor disappear, leaving hollowness where I wish satisfaction would be. Some of the following snacks are heavier and fill that hole, while others are equally light and tasty but leave me feeling less empty afterwards.
12 Tides Kelp Chips
This is the snack that got me thinking about this article. Crunchy, slightly umami, salty and light, 12 Tides Kelp Chips are the closest analog on this list to your garden-variety snack. The difference? The process of growing and harvesting the kelp used in these snacks is beneficial for the environment that it’s grown in. Kelp is a zero-input crop, meaning it doesn’t require resources like land, fresh water or fertilizers. It’s also beneficial for the ocean’s ecosystem because it can help cleanse water of harmful substances. From compostable packaging to environmentally conscious farming, 12 Tides’ kelp chips aren’t just a snack I enjoy, they’re a snack I’m happy to eat. You can find all three flavors at some brick-and-mortar grocery stores and online at 12 Tides’ website.
Klimon Vegan Ice Cream
Even during inhospitably cold Midwestern winters, I’m no stranger to a blanket and a nice pint of ice cream. The problem? Like many, I’m lactose-intolerant. Again, like many, that doesn’t stop me from enjoying Purple Door Ice Cream’s luscious, velvety peppermint or whiskey flavors. Nor does it stop me from regretting that not long after. I’ve had plenty of vegan ice creams and enjoy sherbet well enough, but what sets Klimon apart is that it’s one of the few vegan ice cream brands that’s “fooled” me.
Generally, I don’t care when a vegan food substitute convinces me that it is something it isn’t as long as it tastes good. Dairy products tend to be the exception to that rule. I think Klimon’s almond milk base is key. Most of the dairy-free ice cream I’ve had is oat-milk based. To me, oat milk tastes like cement, and ice cream made from it is only so much better. The almond milk base works really well with each individual flavor, lending some flavors an ever-so-slight amaretto-like quality. You can pick up a pint of Klimon’s Ice Cream at select brick-and-mortar stores.
Tochi Salmon Chips
Salmon skin is rich in nutrients, but it’s also frequently thrown away. Tochi’s goal is to cut down on food waste by turning that salmon skin into a crunchy snack that’s chock-full of umami. Available in five flavors, I would liken these snacks to dried salmon bacon that’s dusted with flavors, like salted egg and Korean barbecue, that you won’t find in your average snack aisle. These protein-dense, crunchy, flavorful snacks are a must-buy for anyone looking to fit a little more protein and vitamins into their diet. They’re also a lot more filling than other snacks, so munching on Tochi’s salmon crisps won’t leave you feeling as unsatisfied as others might. You can buy Tochi Salmon Chips through the brand’s online store.
Seedlip Non-Alcoholic Spirits
Whether you’re taking a crack at dry January and getting tired of bitters and soda or you want a tasty adult beverage to enjoy on a work night, Seedlip has become the de-facto non-alcoholic spirit for many. Instead of simply attempting to nail the flavor profiles of specific base spirits like gin or whiskey, Seedlip’s non-alcoholic spirits also exist on their own as liquid refreshments that have their own unique flavors. Like any standard alcoholic spirit, they mix well into cocktails and sip well by themselves. I’m friends with a number of people who don’t drink for health or religious reasons, so having a bottle of Seedlip on-hand at home is a must for me. You can find Seedlip’s various flavors at liquor stores or at their online store.
Popadelics’ unabashed branding plays into exactly what you’d expect. Make no mistake, though: These dried mushroom snacks are more than just psychedelic bait. Even as someone who isn’t the biggest fan of mushrooms, these protein-rich snacks are hard to resist. They’re satisfying and absolutely brimming with flavor. As a spice fiend, I often find most “spicy” snacks to be disappointing, but Popadelics’ chili lime flavor hits a solid benchmark for me. Each flavor of Popadelics is complex and well-developed enough to work well with the dried shiitakes’ background of umami. They’re not very widely available yet, but thankfully, you can buy them at the company’s online store.