Eat More Plants with these plant-based meal ideas! Winter is on its way, and this year, it’s more important than ever to ensure that we are eating nutrient-packed foods to keep our immune systems firing on all cylinders. One of the easiest ways to boost our immunity and stock up on health-promoting goodies is to eat more plants!
Plants you say? That won’t satisfy me! Well, I have some plant-based meal ideas up my sleeve that are guaranteed to excite your taste buds and to encourage you to up your intake of plants. I’m also hoping to convince you that following a plant-based diet is the healthiest way to eat!
Plant-Based or Vegan?
When it comes to describing the diet that I follow, I prefer the term plant-based to vegan. Why? Mainly because I really don’t want to label myself or to feel that I’m under pressure all the time, especially if I ‘slip up’ occasionally – and eat an ice cream! Also, not everyone has the discipline to be 100% vegan – and that’s okay. But taking small steps can make a big difference. It’s about being conscious and aware of what we are eating, not about adhering to strict guidelines, or feeling guilty if we have the occasional non-plant-based meal.
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What is a Plant-Based Diet?
As you would expect, a plant-based diet is rich in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. These foods are rich in vitamins and minerals, full of fibre – and another plus point is that they are all low in calories. A plant-based diet doesn’t normally contain meat, fish, or any animal by-products but not all followers of plant-based diets exclude these foods completely, preferring a less prescriptive approach.
Plant-Based Vs Vegan
Many people adopt a vegan diet for ethical and environmental reasons, while others ‘go vegan’ to be healthier. However, it’s important to remember that vegan doesn’t always mean healthy! Plenty of fast food outlets have jumped on the ‘vegan’ bandwagon, introducing so-called vegan options to their menus. Even though it’s great that vegans are now being catered for, these alternatives are not necessarily healthier than any other junk food! A plant-based diet is based on foods that come from plant sources, normally around 90% of your food intake. These foods include fruit, vegetables, grains, pulses, legumes, and nuts. Plant-based also means unprocessed, unrefined, and normally whole foods.
Cons Of A Vegan Diet
One of the downsides of a vegan diet is that it can be deficient in vitamin B12. To compensate, many vegans take a vitamin B12 supplement or add more nutritional yeast to their diet. An excellent natural source of B12, nutritional yeast is a versatile cheese-flavoured powder that can be added to most food including soup and stews, or even as a cheese substitute in pesto. As well as my personal favourite – kale chips!
Why Going Plant-based Is Good for Your Health
“The most ethical diet just so happens to be the most environmentally sound diet and just so happens to be the healthiest.” Dr. Michael Greger
In his best-selling book, How Not To Die Dr Michael Greger explores the foods that have been scientifically proven to prevent and reverse disease. His journey into the therapeutic benefits of a plant-based diet began after his grandmother had been written off by the medical profession after she had several heart bypasses. However, when she switched to a plant-based diet, along with a regular exercise regime, she went on to live for a further 30 years. Dr Greger’s book discusses the scientific evidence behind the foods that can cause disease while highlighting the foods we should eat to keep healthy and to reduce our risk of disease. A real eye-opener, the book has become a global best-seller,
Related – How to Meal Prep the Vegan Way
Showing Kindness to Animals
Eating a mainly plant-based diet not only cuts out or reduces the amount of meat and dairy in our diet but it also really helps us to connect with our food and to know what we’re eating. For that reason, if you do buy meat, dairy or fish, make sure that you know it’s origins. Choose products where you know that the animal has had a good life, and hasn’t been pumped full of unnecessary growth hormones and antibiotics. More importantly, get to know labels and really understand what they mean.
Being more environmentally friendly is not only beneficial to the planet, but it’s also good for our health and wellbeing.
Less Meat = Less Environmental Destruction
We are only too aware that we are destroying our planet, with floods, fires, hurricanes, and storms all on the rise. Sadly, we have no one to blame but ourselves. Industrial-scale farming is one of the worst culprits, with livestock being the single largest contributor of emissions around the world. If we all ate a plant-based diet most of the time, we would cut down greenhouse gas emissions by around 60%. And going completely vegan would mean a whopping 85 percent! So, it really is time to eat differently and think of more plant-based meal ideas!
The Benefits of A Plant-Based Diet
Let’s look at the benefits that come from eating a plant-based diet:
Plants are rich in sources of nutrients, like unsaturated fats, vitamins, minerals, fibres, and proteins. All of these compounds are necessary for a fuller, productive day if you want to feel energized and ready for action.
In contrast, large amounts of heavy meats, dairy, and fats not only slow you down, but they also make you sleepy and require more energy for digestion.
It’s no secret that the world is battling an overweight epidemic, which is why it’s important to consider alternatives that promote weight-loss and lower rates of obesity. Studies have shown that plant-based diets help people avoid heart disease, type 2 diabetes, inflammation, and even cancer.
Lower Blood Pressure
In a recent study released by the Harvard School of Public Health, it was found that diets loaded with veggies and fruits can contribute to lower blood pressure. With about one-third of the population suffering from high blood sugar today, that means that 33% of people are at high risk for heart disease or stroke. Switching to a plant-based diet would actually combat the scary effects of high blood pressure.
2 Delicious Plant-Based Meal Ideas To Try
Vegetable and Tahini Bake
A plant based meal idea for all the family
- 1 onion finely sliced
- 1 courgette slice
- 1 red bell peppper sliced
- 1 cup chickpeas
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp tahini
- 1 lemon (juice only)
- 3 tbsp almond milk
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
- handful coriander (chopped)
Preheat oven to 190°C (375°F).
Place the chopped vegetables in a baking tray, drizzle with olive oiland season with salt and pepper. Mix well and cook in the oven for35 minutes or until vegetables are cooked
In a small bowl, mix the tahini, lemon juice, milk, and sesameseeds, then set aside.
Once vegetables are cooked, mix them with the tahini sauce andserve with fresh coriander.
This vegetable and tahini bake is from my vegan recipe book.
Carrot and Coconut Soup
- 500 g carrots peeled and chopped
- 3 tbsp olive oil 2 for roasting, 1 for frying
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/4 tsp coriander
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 cup coconut milk
- sea salt and black pepper to taste
- chopped spring onions and chives to garnish
Preheat your oven to 200 Degrees C (390 F).
Chop carrots into small pieces (approximately 1 inch/2.5 cm).
Place in a roasting dish with 2 teaspoons of oil and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
Roast the carrots for approximately 35 minutes, or until they are tender.
Remove from the oven and set aside.
Add 1 teaspoon of oil to a saucepan.
Chop your onion into half moons. Add the onions and your garlic clove to the oil, and cook until the onion is translucent.
Add your carrots to the onion mixture, along with your spices and vegetable stock.
Bring to a simmer
Blend your mixture to a smooth consistency.
Add the coconut milk and check your seasoning.
Serve with a garnish of spring onion/scallions or chives.
* The recipe serves 4 people as a starter or 2 generous main portions. If served with a toasted sandwich etc. it would easily serve 4 people for dinner.
* This soup freezes well – you can easily make a larger portion and freeze the extras.
* This soup is designed to be thick – if you prefer a thinner consistency, add more vegetable stock or some water.
* Always check the freshness of your dried spices – if they have been in your pantry for a while, they may have lost their intensity. As such, you may need to add a little extra.
Be A ‘Conscious’ Eater
Always remember to be conscious and aware of what you are eating. In short, mindless eating is when your brain is disconnected from your food. You may be watching TV, browsing the internet, or just bored in the office, start eating – and then forget to stop! Normally, we make ‘bad’ food choices when we eat mindlessly, so it’s good practice to only eat when you are consciously aware of what you are eating. Equally important, eat when you’re hungry rather than bored!
Related – Cauliflower Tikka Masala
Mindful Eating Practices
Avoid eating straight out of the packet. Instead, prepare your snacks in a conscious way, putting out the correct portion size – and try to choose healthier snacks too. Try eating your food without doing anything else; chew each mouthful and savour the flavours and tastes. Always drink plenty of water as this makes you feel fuller and reduces the need for snacking on sugar. Find my top tips to quit sugar here.
Finally, thank you to Alex from Its Not Complicated Recipes for the delicious carrot soup recipe! She also gave me this lovely cashew cream recipe which I use all the time, so be sure to check out her site!
If you need more inspiration you can find lots more plant based meal ideas here.
|Natalie Shirlaw is a healthy living expert with 10 years of experience in the field of holistic health, wellbeing, and fitness. If you enjoyed this article be sure to pin or share it!|