Plant Based Eating 101:
While plant based eating certainly requires the introduction of more fruits and vegetables, it’s also important to remember to include a healthy range of micro and macronutrients. For healthy, nourishing fats, we incorporate foods like coconut, avocado, nuts and seeds, olive oil. For protein, it’s important to consciously consume legumes, quinoa, soy-based products like tofu, nuts and seeds. For plant based athletes, it’s especially important to consume foods high in iron and B12. If you’re worried about getting enough of these nutrients, consider high quality supplements.
Once you have an understanding of what kinds of nutrients your body needs on a plant based diet, spend some time finding recipes and products that will make you look forward to eating! With the increasing popularity of vegan / vegetarian / dairy free recipes and a plethora of high quality, delicious plant based products in many stores, there’s no reason to feel restricted on a plant based diet. In other words, plant based eating does not mean salads for every meal. There are so many amazing ways to satisfy even your most indulgent cravings with plant based foods. (Hello, cashew cheesecake!)
It seems like the biggest challenges people face in eating more plants is: accessibility, cost, and how to make things that taste good and fill you up. What are your thoughts on this and what advice do you have on how to conquer these challenges?
Lexi: In my experience, eating more plants has actually helped reduce my grocery bill, especially when I take the extra time to make some of my pantry staples homemade. There are plenty of affordable plant based ingredients; brown rice, beans, lentils, coconut, nuts, seeds & more are often available to buy in bulk. If fresh berries are breaking your budget, buy them frozen. (They’re still perfect for smoothies, homemade chia jams & just snacking!) Sometimes when my budget is extra tight for the month, I simply look for sales in the produce section and then plan my meals around what I find. It’s also important to think seasonally – seasonal ingredients will generally be more affordable, (and often more local!).
While it’s easier to buy products like hummus, protein bars, jams, and other snacks, consider making them at home instead. Not only will they taste fresher and contain fewer preservatives, but they will also likely save you money in the long run.
What are a few tips and tricks that you have that have helped you be successful in eating more plants?
Trying new recipes has definitely helped us maintain a plant focused diet. It’s important to eat things you truly enjoy eating. If you don’t like salad, try roasting or sautéing vegetables instead. If you’re really in need of some comfort food, give homemade vegan mac & cheese a try.
Additionally, when you start moving towards a plant based diet, be sure to stick it out for a few weeks before deciding whether or not it’s right for you. If you start to notice changes in your energy levels, mood, digestion, etc. over time, you’ll be more likely to want to continue eating more plants simply because they make you feel good.
For people on the go, what are your favorite easy plant based snacks?
Smoothies are always a great option. There are endless ways to vary smoothie recipes, so you’ll be less likely to get bored! (Our current fave combo: Banana, almond milk, cold brew coffee, cacao powder & a bit of almond or peanut butter. YUM!)
Dates stuffed with nut butter (and maybe a few chocolate chips) are an excellent and easy choice for pre and/or post workout. We also love homemade protein bars and hummus with veggies or seed crackers.
Mixed Berry Oat Crumble Bars
- 1 1/2 cup fresh mixed berries
Oat Crust & Topping:
- 3 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
- 3/4 oat flour
- 3/4 cup rice flour
- 18 tbsp (1 cup + 2 tbsp) cold vegan butter
- 1/2 cup coconut sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 3 tblsp hemp seeds
- 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
Berry Chia Jam
- 2 1/2 cups fresh mixed berries
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp tart cherry extract
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp orange zest
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp goji berries-optional
- 1/3 cup chia seeds
Berry Chia Jam:
- Heat a saucepan to medium-low and add berries, lemon juice, cinnamon, and vanilla. Let simmer for 15 minutes, occasionally stirring gently with back of a wooden spoon until broken down.
- Remove from stove. Add chia and stir well. Stir again after 5 minutes so chia doesn’t clump together. Let sit for 30-40 min until thickened and liquid is absorbed.
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- In a food processor, add all ingredients except butter. Pulse a few times to combine.
- Cut cold butter into small pieces and add to mixture. Pulse until mixture starts to form together (you can test by pinching between your fingers). Keep cold/cool until ready to use.
- Press half of the mixture into the bottom of an 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 pan that is lined with parchment paper.
- Spread berry chia jam evenly across crust, leaving a half inch border around the edges.
- Cover jam with 1 1/2 cups fresh berries.
- Sprinkle remaining half of oat crumble over the top.
- Bake for 35-40 min, or until the topping is golden brown.
- Let cool completely before cutting into squares.
- Enjoy for breakfast with a cup of tea or coffee, or enjoy for dessert with a heaping scoop of vegan ice cream!
Avocado Boats with Quinoa Tabbouleh and Spicy Tahini Sauce
Spicy Tahini Sauce:
- 1/4 cup tahini
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 3 tbsp water
- 1/4 plus 1/8 tsp Berbere spice
- 1/4 plus 1/8 tsp sea salt
Blend until well combined. Taste & adjust salt if necessary.
- 2 cups cooked quinoa
- 1 cucumber diced
- 1 1/2 cups tomatoes, diced
- 3 green onions chopped
- 1/2 cup finely chopped kale
- 1 1/2 cups parsley, finely chopped 3 tbsp chopped mint
- 3 tbsp hemp seed
- 1/4 cup lemon juice 1 clove garlic minced 1/3 cup olive oil
- 11/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/8 tsp berbere
Cook quinoa according to directions on package. Whisk together dressing ingredients in a small bowl and pour over quinoa. Stir well. Add the rest of the chopped ingredients and mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Slice avocados in half (remove pit) and spoon the mixture into the center. Drizzle with tahini sauce and enjoy!
Mac & Cheeze
- 2 cups, presoaked cashews (soak for 1-2 hours)
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 2 tbsp + 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 pinches cayenne
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 4 cups gluten free pasta
- 1/4 cup chopped almonds
- 2 tsp nutritional yeast
- 2 tsp gomasio
- pinch of sea salt
- Cook gluten free pasta according to directions on packaging.
- Drain soaked cashews.
- While pasta is cooking, blend soaked cashews, water, olive oil, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, paprika, salt, cayenne, pepper and turmeric until completely smooth and creamy.
- Drain pasta and gently fold sauce into pasta until well coated.
- In a small pan, lightly toast chopped almonds, nutritional yeast, gomasio and sea salt on stove over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
- Spoon pasta into separate bowls.
- Sprinkle topping over pasta and enjoy!