I have been plant-based for several years and I can't imagine going back to eating meat every single day. I started eating plant-based for my health. I was reading experts who were discussing the health benefits of eating mostly vegetables. It made sense to me that eating more vegetables would give me health benefits and I started seeing a difference when I went to Doctor appointments. My blood pressure readings were lower and my cholesterol levels dropped 20 points (it wasn't even high). Also, I gained so much energy I couldn't believe it. I felt lighter and better overall.
What I didn't know is that the variety of options I would have to cook and eat expanded significantly. Think about it, when meat is the center of your meal, choices are pretty limited. Chicken, pork, ground beef, steak, sausage, turkey, ham and fish are the core of any meat focused meal. I know there are different cuts within each choice to keep things exciting, but the world of vegetables gives us so many options. Also, I like how plant-based dinner options change with each season.
Frozen vegetables help to extend the season of a few staples like broccoli, cauliflower, green beans and corn. I use frozen veggies all the time. They are a fast option for getting dinner ready and on the table fast. But there is nothing like a fresh acorn squash stuffed with quinoa, vegetables and cranberries. Or fresh broccoli rabe served with a gluten-free pasta. Another benefit of eating a plant-based diet is the amount of daily fiber you get. Only about 5% of people get an adequate amount of fiber daily. Fiber is important because it helps ensure a healthy digestive system and reduces the risk for heart disease, stroke, hypertension, certain gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers. (Source: National Institutes of Health)
The most common question I get when someone asks me about being plant-based is if I get enough protein. The answer is I do! Vegetables, legumes and grains contain protein. Also, I enjoy tempeh and nuts in meals which increases total protein in any recipe. Below is a table with protein content for core ingredients used in plant-based meals.
The recipes I share below are affordable and easy to make. If someone in the house must have meat, you can add sauteed chicken or ground beef or turkey tenderloins to most recipes as a side dish. I would challenge you to pick one night a week to be a meat-free night. Starting to help others in the house to start eating more vegetables will positively impact their health. They may protest the first couple of times but once it becomes part of the routine, they'll know what to expect. I find that most people simply can't imagine meals without meat so they are resistant to making a change. But if you feed them some of the below, they will understand that eating plant-based can be satisfying.
Start the day with plant-based breakfasts to get in some extra fruit and veggies in a fun and fast way:
Overnight Oats 8 Ways from Life Made Sweeter
14 Smoothie Freezer Packs from A Sweet Pea Chef
Healthy Digestion Green Smoothie Packs from Making Thyme for Health
SALADS & SANDWICHES
You can eat these for lunch or dinner since they are hearty. Plus, when you eat lighter meals at the end of the day, it is easier to sleep and digest. Just because you want to eat more veggies doesn't mean you have to give up sandwiches. Sandwiches can be just as filling only using veggies. Below are some great ideas.
Chickpea Salad Sandwich from A Couple Cooks
Avocado Chickpea Salad from Hurry the Food Up
Vegetarian Cobb Salad from Detoxinista
Southwest Vegetable Quinoa Salad from The Creative Bite
The Vegan Veggie Sandwich that even Meat Eaters Love from The Kitchen Girl
Loaded Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich from Layers of Happiness
During the week, getting dinner on the table quickly is a necessity. Below are dinners that take from 15 - 30 minutes.
Skinny Broccoli and Mixed Vegetable Stir Fry from Averie Cooks
Vegetable Asian Stir Fry Noodles from The Endless Meal
15 Minute Lo Mein from Pinch of Yum
Easy Baked BBQ Tempeh from Yummy Mummy Kitchen
Rigatoni with broccoli pesto from Olive Magazine
One Pot Vegetable Pasta from Recipe Tin Eats
Easy Meatless Spaghetti Sauce from Build Your Bite
Garlic Teriyaki Tempeh and Broccoli from Eating Bird Food
Vegetarian Tortilla Casserole from Love and Zest
Vegan Potato Casserole from Contentedness Cooking
Mushroom Cauliflower Rice Skillet from Primavera Kitchen
WHEN YOU HAVE MORE TIME
Sometimes, we find we have more time to devote to making dinner. I love using my crock pot for meals that take several hours to cook but let me do other things (like work) and not worry about having to get dinner on the table. Also, the meals below can be made on the weekend and reheated during the week.
Creamy Enchilada Crockpot Vegetarian Chili from The Wanderlust Kitchen
Slow Cooker Veggie Pot Pie from Slow Cooker Gourmet
Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili Mac from Kristine's Kitchen
Root Veggie Barley Risotto from Healthy Slow Cooking
Best Portobello Mushroom Burgers from Skinny Taste
Easy Vegetable Lasagna from Inspired Taste
Roasted Fennel, Mushroom, White Bean and Wild Rice Gratin from Vanilla and Bean
Vegan Stuffed Shells with Kale from Love & Lemons
Easy Vegan Meatballs from Karissa's Kitchen
Vegan Meatloaf with Gravy from A Virtual Vegan
I hope you enjoyed this post on how plant-based meals can be easy and affordable. If you make any of the recipes I shared, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram as @heather_lee_donahue and use the #heathershealthhabits hashtag. I love seeing how you customize recipes for your house!
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