Let me clear up one thing, being plant-based does not mean you are vegetarian or vegan. Most people think that if you focus on eating plant-based foods, you do not eat meat. This is simply not true! When you are eating plant-based, it means you are reducing how much meat you eat and replacing it with fruits, vegetables and healthy grains.
For me, I like to eat plant-based Monday through Wednesday, sometimes on Thursday, but the remaining days I will eat meat or fish. I find eating plant-based during the week is easier than on the weekends. The weekends may not allow for plant-based eating when visiting family or friends or going out. The weekdays are easier for me to stay on a routine. Why do eat plant-based?
1) For my health. When I decided to go plant-based, I had no idea the healthy effects on my body. One year after following a plant-based lifestyle, my cholesterol dropped 10 points. It wasn't even high! This measurable effect of choosing to eat more plants blew my mind. Plus, my energy levels have soared and I've been able to maintain my weight for at least 5 years.
2) For the variety. When I was eating a meat-based diet, it was very routine. Same type of poultry, beef, fish and pork dishes. But when I went plant-based, I couldn't believe the variety of meals that were out there and the amount of different vegetables I now routinely eat. Turnips, parsnips, Brussels sprouts, zucchini, mushrooms, peppers, avocado, cauliflower rice and red onions to name a few. When I ate meat 7 days a week, I would stick to the basic vegetable sides like green beans and corn. A whole new world opened up to me when I went plant-based.
3) For the environment. By eating plant-based, we can help reduce global warming and climate change. The World Resource Institute calculated that beef, lamb and goat have the largest impact on greenhouse gas emissions. Poultry and pork have a medium impact. Beans, fish and nuts have the lowest impact. Even if you only eat one night a week as a meatless dinner, you are helping the environment.
4) For better gut health. When you have gut health issues, life can be miserable and embarrassing. Symptoms include gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation and abdominal pain. Eating a plant-based diet helps to reduce inflammation in the body and feeds the good bacteria we have in our gut to help us stay healthy. When eating plant-based, we naturally eat more fiber. Fiber helps our gut move food through our digestive system so we can absorb the nutrients we need and expel those we don't.
When I look for plant-based recipes to try, they need to be fast and contain ingredients that are easily accessible. I have a very hectic schedule during the week so meal-planning breakfast, lunch and dinner is an absolute necessity. I need dinners that are easy to cook and can be made on the weekend then simply reheated during the week.
Below are some of my favorite plant-based dinners. Not only do I eat them, but so does my meat-eating significant other.
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Now, here are the recipes!
Chickpea Quinoa Stir-Fry by My Plant Based Family. This recipe would need meal-prep over the weekend to make it a fast dinner. Quinoa takes 25 minutes to cook and is gluten-free, which is important for gut health. I chop all the veggies and use frozen vegetables as well to finish the meal. By prepping on the weekend, this meal can come together in 15 minutes. Click here for the recipe.
Sweet Potato Veggie Lasagna by Plant Based Cooking. This lasagna is a hearty meal. It can be made on the weekend for a quick and nutritious heat and eat dinner. Plus, there will be left-overs for lunches. I love it when left-overs become lunch! Makes my life so much easier. The recipe calls for tofu but you can skip it if you don't care for it. There are plenty of other ingredients in this dish so I promise, you won't miss it Click here for the recipe.
Middle Eastern Salad Tacos by Feasting at Home. What I love about this recipe is that you can make this really quickly and have it on the table in 30 minutes or less. Also, you can make this anytime of the year and simply substitute whatever veggies are in season. Click here for the recipe.
Vegan & Gluten-Free Green Falafel by Elephantastic Vegan. This recipe can substitute spinach instead of using collard greens. Don't let the word vegan scare you. It is simply because the recipe doesn't need an egg as a binder. The chickpeas are moist enough to make the falafel. Pair this with steamed broccoli or sauteed zucchini or eat on top of salad as shown in the picture below. Click here for the recipe.
Zucchini Noodle Cashew Stir-Fry by Table for Two Blog. I love my spiralizer. It makes veggies into noodles which reduce our intake of pasta. Also, zucchini noodles make a great addition for any dinner recipe. This recipe uses peppers and carrots but you can put any veggies you like in this. I would add frozen broccoli florets because we love broccoli in my house! Click here for the recipe.
I hope this post with plant-based dinner recipes inspires you to try a plant-based dinner at least once per week. It will help you and your family infuse healthy options that aren't boring into your routine. Do you think you can try going plant-based? Let me know what you think!