05 March 2021 at 15:36
Easy plant-based 1, 2, 3
There are so many great reasons to move towards a more plant-based diet – from helping the environment to the amazing health benefits. If you're reading this you are probably already convinced it’s a good thing to do! We know that drastic dietary changes are really hard to stick to, but rest assured eating plant-based even just a couple of days a week will help you pack in extra nutrients and fibre and help keep you healthy and happy.
Creating plant based meals is easy and really fun! Just start with a selection of steamed, roasted or raw vegetables and the rest of the meal can be devised with a simple 1, 2, 3:
1. Plant based proteins
Proteins provide the building blocks for your body – including skin, muscle, blood, and all the enzymes and hormones that keep your body ticking along. So start your plant-based meal by choosing from things like beans, lentils, peas, corn, quinoa, nuts and seeds. These items can be used to make the basis of a meal - think nut loaf, bean burger or lentil bolognaise – or added to veggies, e.g. to make chili.
Don’t forget: nut milks like almond or cashew milk – these are useful as they are fortified with calcium to replace that which you would normally get from dairy.
While the protein sources above do contain some carbohydrate, we also need to add a complex carbohydrate to ensure the body is getting all of the fibre and essential amino acids it needs. Wholegrain rice complements plant-based proteins perfectly, but also experiment with millet, buckwheat, polenta, barley, wholegrain pasta and potatoes.
Don’t forget: oats - which are great with berries at breakfast time!
3. Plant-based fats
The final component to your meal is fat, and there are loads to choose from. Coconut and rapeseed oil are the most stable at high temperatures, and therefore are the only ones you should cook with. Olive oil is sometimes cooked with for short periods (e.g. a quick stir fry) and ideal to drizzle onto a dish at the end, or use cold in a dressing. Nut and seed oils like flaxseed and walnut oil are fabulous sources of Omega 3 fats but are very delicate and should only ever be used cold.
Don’t forget: Olives – a rich source of Omega 9 and a wonderful tasty addition to give your plant based dish both texture and flavour.
Now get creative!
Plant-based cooking doesn’t have to be all about stir-fry with a side of rice. There are tons of interesting ways to prepare plant based foods so you will never get bored of your new diet!
- Grate cauliflower and broccoli then fry in oil and spices to create a side of veggie rice
- Whizz up your own hummus and bean type dips with garlic, tahini and olive oil
- Toss some beans in oil and salt, and roast for 20 minutes for a tasty snack
- Shred or spiral colourful raw veggies and drizzle with lemon and herby oil for a delicious crunch
- Cook up some puy lentils then mash with minced onion, carrot and a little flour to form ‘meatballs’ which can then be baked in a tomato based sauce
- Make vegan pancakes from chickpea flour and rice milk, served with roasted veggies and refried beans – you can also stuff tacos or tortillas with the same mixture
- A basic lentil ragu can be turned into bolognese, chili or vegan lasagne
- Ground almonds add texture and flavour to vegetable curries, while coconut milk adds creaminess and mellows the spices
- Mix sweet potatoes and white potatoes for home-baked wedges or mash
- Don’t be afraid to throw some fruit into your savoury dishes – apricots, tangerine, pear and apple can complement spicy dishes and are all great in salads.