Okay, so new vegans (and plant curious friends) often ask me what the heck I eat as a vegan, and while my first tip is to explore new foods, especially ethnic foods…
My next tip would be to make bowls, or rather get familiar with the composition of a plant based plate!
Here I’m breaking out how you can create plant based, nutritionally sound, and ultimately delicious meals, in the easiest way!
Note, these also work great for meal prepping, if that’s your jam, because you can pre-cook things (or use leftovers) and then compile your plate when you’re ready to eat throughout the week!
The Composition of a Perfect Plant Based Plate:
The perfect plant based plate consists of four key components, and an optional fifth if you’re wanting to take your meals to the next level.
Step One: Veggies
In the cooler months I often roast up an assortment of veggies from my fridge and use them throughout the week. But I also pile up greens by way of spinach or kale, or sautéed veggies in the moment. There’s really no wrong way to do this and you can also totally incorporate both raw & cooked veggies depending on what you’re in the mood for. Regardless, use what you’ve got and start with your vegetables as a base!
Step Two: Complex Carb
Your complex carb or starch is going to be the real substance of your meal. Complex carbohydrates turn into glucose (blood sugar) in the body, and are then used as energy. If you are trying to eat low carb or want something lighter, I suggest you seriously increase your veggie portion, to ensure you’re still getting some carbohydrates.
I love brown rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes & oats for breakfast bowls, and if you’re doing a plate (Or sandwich or toast) you can also incorporate some whole grain breads (I love Ezekiel Toast!)!
Here are a handful of Complex Carb suggestions:
- Brown Rice
- Sweet Potato
Step Three: Protein
The body needs protein to build and repair tissues. It’s an essential building block for our bones, muscles, cartilage, skin & blood. But unlike fat and carbohydrates, the body doesn’t store protein, so our bodies don’t have a reservoir to draw on when it needs a new supply. As a vegan, I’m sure you’ve been given a hard time about your protein intake, but I promise it’s easy to ensure we get enough!
These are my go-to plant based proteins:
- Tofu (I’m also a big fan of smoked tofu)
- Hemp Seeds
- Soy based vegan meats (Gardein chicken tenders make for a great treat atop a bowl or salad)
- Plant Based Patties & Sausages (I love a good veggie burger or field roast sausage)
Step Four: Healthy Fats
A small amount of fat is an essential part of a healthy, balanced diet. It keeps us full and slows the digestion of food, helping us to feel fueled for longer. Good fats include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats as they regulate both insulin and blood sugar. And Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids also help us to maintain healthy skin and hair and both have also been linked to the prevention of heart disease. Moral of the story? Fats are friends!
Here are my favorite plant-based fats:
- Olive oil
- Peanut Butter
- Almonds or Almond Butter
- Sunflower or Sunflower Seed Butter
- Hemp Seeds
*Optional Step Five: Add Sauce
Lastly, you can add any number of sauces or dressings, pending what you’re making, whether it’s a salad, plate or bowl, sauce & dressings can really be game changers when it comes to plant based eating!
My plant based sauce favorites are:
I hope these little tips help guide you in the kitchen, and encourage you to have fun & be creative while making plant based meals!
Would love to know what your favorite flavours & combinations are, or any creations you come up with!