How’s that for a post title?! This post was actually inspired by a recent post on One green planet about vegan snacks that are available on the market. But, unfortunately, none of them can be found in Egypt!!! So, we humbly present the first in a series of posts about vegan snacks that you can find in Egypt.
Later we’ll write about snacks that you can make at home, but for now, these are snacks available in shops or from street vendors. We have tried to choose snacks that are as close to their whole state, retaining as much of their nutrition as possible.
1. SEEDS (or ‘lib’)
Brown Egyptian seeds (watermelon seeds)
These beautiful babies can be found in almost any nut vendor’s shop in Cairo. Egyptians love to eat them by cracking the shell open with their teeth and pulling the seed itself out with their tongue. It’s kind of a complicated technique and you might have to be a real Egyptian to eat them properly 🙂 . There are two common varieties : larger white seeds (what my research says are pumpkin seeds), and smaller brown seeds (which are watermelon seeds). Both are easy to find, relatively inexpensive, fun to eat, and full of nutrients.
White Egyptian seeds (pumpkin seeds)
For the watermelon seeds, 1 cup of seeds will give you a whopping 602 calories – so go SLOW!!!! But, it also provides 31 g of protein, 44 % of your daily recommended intake of iron, and is a good source of phosphorous, zinc, manganese, and magnesium!
As for the pumpkin seeds, they are only 285 calories for a whole cup. With 12 g of protein, a cup of these cuties provides 12 % of your daily intake of iron, and a good helping of magnesium and zinc.
For the record, I love the white ones most – I guess because they’re larger and easier to manipulate!!! But, if you’re in the mood for a challenge, try the brown ones!!! Oh, and if you’re watching your weight, just take no more than two tablespoons because these are high in fat! [images from http://www.taw9eel.com/]
Termis, also known as lupin or lupin beans, is another type of seed very common in Egypt. You can buy them in their dried state in any small grocery. Find the already-prepared version (soaked, cooked, seasoned with salt, lemon, red pepper!!!) in larger markets. It is especially popular in the spring during the Sham El Nessim holiday, but you can find the prepared version year-round. Eat the yellow lupin seed with the skin, if you like, but I like to bite about half-way down and remove the skin before I eat it.
And here’s the nutritional info on the yellow lupin:
Yellow lupin seeds
1 cup will provide you will only 193 calories and – hold on to your hats! – 26 grams of protein!!! That’s right, folks – here’s a high protein, low-calorie food you can snack on without a guilty conscience! But wait, you also get 5 g of fiber and 8% of your daily recommended intake of calcium from these plump yellow cuties. In fact, our source for this nutrient information, nutritiondata.com lists them as being a good snack if you want to lose weight! So dig in!!! [image from el-baraka.net]
3. Dried Figs
A favorite especially around Ramadan, these nutritious and naturally sweet goodies are also easy to find. In small groceries or larger supermarkets, they are commonly sold in 250 gram packets or in air-tight circular packages. Their very sweet taste will satisfy even the most troublesome sweet tooth – while you get some nutritional value! Eat them right out of the bag – or soak them in some water for a softer treat!
As for their nutritional punch, here’s the low-down:
For 1 cup, you get 371 calories, 15 g of fiber (!), and 5 g of protein. Not to mention 24% of your daily recommended intake of calcium and 17 % of your need for iron!!! [image from all-creatures.org]
4. Grilled Corn on the Cob (especially in the summer!)
Can you smell it? Yes, the man with the cart on the corner has a grill and is smoking up some corn!!! MMMMMMM!!! Usually grilled in its husk, it can obtain a smoky taste, but if you like corn, you’ll love this!
This snack is quite nutritious, with one large ear providing 123 calories, 4 g of fiber, and 5 grams of protein! With 16% of your daily recommended intake of Vitamin C covered, you’ll be protecting yourself from illness with just one ear! It’s also a good source of thiamin, folate, magnesium, and phosphorous. [image from wikitravel.org]
5. And now, the best for last: Dried dates stuffed with nuts
We actually already wrote about this in a post during the Vegan MoFo last November. You can find these in most small groceries and larger supermarkets. In fact, you can even find them organic! Try Isis Sekem. I love these little jewels. They are the perfect combination of sweet and savory. You can find many variations – including dates stuffed with almonds, peanuts, and I have even seen cashews!
Our dried dates with peanuts are not too bad on the nutritional scale. For one ounce (about 28 grams) – which I’m thinking would be around 3 of these babies – you get about 140 calories, 3 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein, and about 4 % of your daily need for calcium. Not bad!
What other vegan snacks do you readily find in Cairo? Please share!