The Plant-Based Diet: What Is It and How To Start

The Plant-Based Diet: What Is It and How To Start

Whether you’re vegetarian, vegan or a meat eater interested in integrating more plant-based foods into your diet, there’s no question that plant-based has gone mainstream. But it’s more than just fruits and vegetables. A plant-based diet can include nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes and beans also. And it is not synonymous with being a vegan. Technically, a plant-based diet contains proportionately more foods from plant sources.

In AFN’s podcast about plant-based eating, the stories and health struggles of Fay Knights and Ashley Swanson are revealed. After consulting with healthcare professionals and doing their own research on plant-based eating, they each decided to incorporate more plant-based foods into their diet and achieved positive results.

One criticism of a plant-based diet is that it is too expensive for the average income-earner. However, both Fay and Ashley agree that cooking plant-based at home is not expensive. Ashley can do it for less that $3 per meal!

If you’re thinking of adding more plant-based foods to your diet or are looking for more plant-based recipes, here are some breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes:

BREAKFAST

PEANUT BUTTER BANANA SMOOTHIE (Courtesy of Fay Knights)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cup organic unsweetened coconut milk or preferred milk alternative
  • 1 tbsp coconut milk powder
  • 2 tbsp organic smooth peanut butter
  • 1 small banana
  • 1 tbsp hemp hearts
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • ¼ tsp organic ground cinnamon

Optional

  • 1 tbsp unflavoured collagen powder
  • 1 scoop vanilla vegan protein powder unsweetened

Instructions:

  1. Add all ingredients to blender, blend on high until smooth and enjoy!

Notes:

  • This smoothie also works well with any other type of nut butter, i.e.: almond, cashew, Brazilian nut, and hazelnut.
  • You can also substitute the maple syrup for coconut nectar
  • If you don’t have coconut milk powder, add a spoon of organic coconut oil or coconut cream.

 

BLUEBERRY-GREEN SMOOTHIE (Courtesy of Fay Knights)

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cup organic coconut milk or preferred milk alternative
  • 1 tbsp coconut milk powder
  • ½ teaspoon grated ginger
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 2 handfuls of fresh baby spinach or kale or both
  • ½-¾ cup organic blueberries
  • ½ a banana, frozen or regular

Optional:

  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 1 serving unflavoured collagen powder
  • ½ scoop vanilla vegan protein powder (look for no sugar added)

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients to blender, blend on high until smooth and enjoy!

 

BAKED PUMPKIN STEEL CUT OATS (Courtesy of Ashley Swanson)

Ingredients

  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup or coconut sugar or brown sugar
  • 1 (15 oz) can pure pumpkin puree
  • 1 (14 oz) can full fat coconut milk
  • 4 ½ cups water or plant milk
  • 2 cups steel cut oats

Toppings: pecans, pepitas, hemp seeds, sliced apples, maple syrup, plant milk

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients, except steel cut oats, in a large pot on the stove. Over med-high heat, bring to a soft boil.
  2. Stir in steel cut oats. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20-25 minutes (stirring every 5-10 minutes) or until oats are tender.
  3. Remove from heat and let sit covered for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Serve immediately or portion out into your meal prep containers for the week. Top with your favorite toppings, a drizzle of maple syrup, and a splash of plant milk.

Recipe Notes

You can try making this in the oven for a more hands-free approach. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, mix well. Pour mixture into oven safe dish. Bake for 45-55 minutes. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before serving or portioning out into meal prep containers.

LUNCH

CREAMY CARROT-GINGER SOUP (Courtesy of Fay Knights)

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion roughly chopped
  • 2 -3 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 3 cups organic low-sodium chicken broth or veggie broth works well too
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 lb bag of organic baby carrots this is usually the small bag, the big bags are 2lbs
  • 1 cup frozen butternut squash
  • ½ can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Pinch of fresh or dried thyme
  • Sea salt & ground pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In a medium-large pot, heat olive oil on medium-high and add in chopped onion. Sautee for 2-3 minutes. Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper and then add in the ginger and sautée for 1 more minute.
  2. Add in carrots then pour in broth and water, ensuring all ingredients are covered with liquid. Bring to a boil and let boil for 10 minutes.
  3. Add in garlic powder, thyme, coconut milk, and squash. Boil for another 10 minutes.
  4. Poke carrots with fork, they should be tender and easy to fork – that’s when you know it’s ready.
  5. Remove from heat and then with a handheld blender, blend until creamy (about 3 minutes).

Optional:

  1. Top with toasted walnuts, sunflower or pumpkin seeds.

Notes

Serve hot or let cool and store in the fridge for up to three days. You can also store in an air-tight container in the freezer and thaw out 8-12 hours prior to using.

 

SAVOURY JACKFRUIT BOWLS (Courtesy of Ashley Swanson)

Serving: 3-4

Creamy Cashew Butter Sauce (Makes enough for one (14.5 oz) can jackfruit)

Ingredients

  • 2 heaping tbsp cashew butter (or any combination of nut/seed butters)
  • 1 tbsp tamari
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 2-6 tbsp hot water (add 2 tbsp at a time to thin)

Instructions

  1. Add ingredients to a small bowl (except water) and whisk well to combine.
  2. Add water, 2 tbsp at a time, to thin.
  3. Taste test. If too savory, add a little maple syrup (1-3 tsp). If too thin, add more nut/seed butter. Add mixture to jackfruit (see below).

Jackfruit Mixture

Ingredients

  • ½ yellow onion
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can jackfruit
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Sautée ½ diced, yellow onion until translucent, about 5 min.
  2. Add 1 (14.5 oz) canned jackfruit, shredding it with your fingers as you do so, and cook for another 3-5 min.
  3. Pour sauce over jackfruit mixture and stir well to combine, cooking for another 3-5 min.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with cooked quinoa, greens or broccolini, cooked butternut squash or sweet potatoes, and a lemon tahini dressing.

 

DINNER

CHICKPEA MASALA (Courtesy of Fay Knights)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1 can organic cooked chickpeas
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup frozen cubed carrots
  • 1 small diced onion
  • 1 small crushed garlic glove or ½ tsp organic garlic powder
  • 1 ½ cups organic tomato sauce
  • ½-1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ tsp each salt & ground pepper

Optional

  • handful of finely chopped parsley
  • pinch of cumin or coriander

Instructions

  1. Prepare basmati rice as per package instructions.
  2. Wash and strain chickpeas.
  3. While rice is cooking, in a media pot, sauté diced onions and garlic on medium-high until slightly golden (2-3 minutes).
  4. Add in all remaining ingredients to pot, pour water in last.
  5. The amount of water to add can vary slightly.  You want to make sure all ingredients are covered with liquid (not swimming in it but just enough to cover). If the tomato sauce you use is more runny, you will need less water. I typically need around ½-1 cup of water.
  6. Stir all ingredients well then put the lid on.
  7. Once the sauce starts to simmer, turn heat down to medium and let cook for 10 minutes.
  8. If after 10 minutes you find the masala too watery for your liking, remove lid and cook for an additional 5 minutes or add 1 tsp of cornstarch.
  9. Plate desired amount of rice and top with chickpea masala and enjoy!

 

INSTANT POT LASAGNA SOUP (Courtesy of Ashley Swanson)

Servings: 6-8

Ingredients

  • 20 oz frozen veggies (I used 10 oz mirepoix & 10 oz carrots)
  • ½ cup split lentils
  • 5 oz diced tomatoes (I used fire roasted)
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • Italian herbs (1 tsp dried basil, 1 tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp dried sage, 1 tsp dried thyme plus 1/2 tsp garlic powder and ½ tsp onion powder)
  • 4 cups veggie broth (add more to thin, mine is more stew-like)
  • 6-10 no boil lasagna noodles
  • 1 cup chopped frozen greens

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients (except lasagna noodles and greens) to an Instant Pot and stir well to combine. Add lasagna noodles, making sure they’re submerged in liquid.
  2. Place lid on securely with quick release valve closed and manually set Instant Pot to 3 minutes.
  3. Once cooking is complete, use quick release valve to release pressure fully, then carefully remove lid.
  4. Mix in 1 cup chopped frozen greens.
  5. Dish out into meal prep containers and store in fridge for 5-6 days.
  6. Reheat portions daily and top with nutritional yeast and red pepper flakes.

 

All content or opinions expressed in this blog are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please seek advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare practitioner.

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