Today I wanted to share how we made the switched over to eating a predominantly whole food, plant based diet. It’s been something my husband and I have discussed a few times in the name of our health mostly and me, being a Cancerian sun sign am very black or white. I just decided during our last conversation that as of tomorrow, we are plant based. That was last October. I say we predominantly eat a plant based diet because it has been difficult at times (in social settings or even eating out), to stick to zero dairy, meat or eggs. At home however, I cook 100% plant based everyday.
Whether you’re planning on making the change to plant based, vegetarian or just looking to introduce a healthier meal plan, there are a few ingredients that are great to have in your panty. Ingredients that make it easy to whip up a quick salad dressing or make a healthy smoothie. The first thing I had to get used to was changing the way I buy. Learning easy alternatives to ingredients I’ve always used like butter or cream. The following list are the things I always have in my pantry and fridge, including snacks. I will share a few meal ideas and comfort food recipes as well. I’m still learning so if you have any ideas, I’d love to hear them.
Stocking A Plant Based Pantry
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil (for salad dressings – I don’t cook with it).
- Coconut oil (to pan fry and sautee veggies or tofu).
- Sesame oil (gives a wonderful flavour to Asian inspired dishes)
- Apple Cider Vinegar (for everything from vinaigrettes to cold/flu teas)
- Red Wine Vinegar (for salad dressing and cleaning counters and cutting boards)
- Rice Wine Vinegar (for Asian dressings and marinades)
- Balsamic Vinegar (for Italian vinaigrettes)
- Nutritional Yeast (for Vitamin B and a substitute for cheese)
- Maple Syrup (if you are 100% vegan and don’t want to use honey)
- Dried Herbs and Spices (this is how I mainly flavour dishes. Curries, Garam Masala, Sweet Paprika, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Cumin, tumeric)
- Coconut Milk (for curries and to thicken creamy soups like my tumeric cauliflower soup)
- Canned Fire Roasted tomatoes (up the flavour in any dish that need crushed tomatoes)
- Almond or Cashew Milk (for smoothies, I used cashew milk as a substitute to cream in my cream of mushroom soup because it’s thicker and creamier than almond milk)
- Legumes ( a wonderful source of protein. I love making lentil dahl’s with green and red lentils, kidney bean chilli, edamami, split peas for soups, chick peas for flafel and salads & black beans for tostadas and soups)
- Nuts (another form of protein: raw unsalted almonds, soaked cashews for cheese sauce replacement, raw organic walnuts and pecans for salads and snacking)
- Brown rice and Wild rice (I can’t live without rice. I am Colombian after all)
- Oranice non-gmo Tofu (we don’t eat a lot of Tofu but it’s delicious marinaded in Asian inspired dishes)
- Tempeh (makes a great substitute for ground beef. See my vegan shepherds pie recipe in past blogs)
- Flax Seeds (a source of omegas. I use them ground on salads and in my morning smoothie every day).
- Organic Oats (for breakfast oatmeal and my Banana, oatmeal & dark chocolate chip cookies).
- Raw cacao powder (I can’t live without chocolate. I add raw cacao to my smoothie every morning).
- Almond Butter (for smoothies, baking and I like a dollop with my oatmeal)
- Hemp based Protein Powder (for smoothies)
- almond or chickpea flour (for baking – I don’t do much baking)
- Vegetable Stock (for soup bases)
- Unsweetened Apple Sauce (a good baking substitute and I love it as a sweet snack)
- Fresh herbs (give wonderful flavour to soups, pestos and salads. Cilantro, Parsley and fresh basil are a must)
- Frozen Bananas (I can’t live without bananas. I put one in my post-workout smoothie almost every day).
- Lemon & Lime Juice (I use lemon juice for so many recipes)
- Quinoa (can be served as a side, in salads, even as a morning cereal)
- Hummus (it’s a perfect snack. check out my loaded hummus recipe in past blogs)
Plant based doesn’t have to mean boring. I refuse to eat raw cold salads for eternity and it’s totally not necessary. When I’m feeling like a snack, I have hummus with veggies or rice crackers, apple sauce, berries, olives, nuts. I bake vegan banana bread (see my recipe in a past blog) or have a cup of my 5 Mushroom Cacao in warm cashew milk. I found a brand of organic oven baked yam chips recently- for movie night!
A word of caution:
There are a lot of packaged substitutes for things like ground beef but keep in mind that these are still (although plant based or vegetarian) highly processed foods. I’ve included some recipes with sriracha or hoisin sauce but these still contain sugars, high sodium, GMO and nitrates so just because something is “vegan”, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily healthy. Some of these ingredients are very high in calories as well which defeats any purpose of weight maintenance. The recipes I’ve shared are in line with my blog theme which is “comfort food”. I use these ingredients sparingly and in fact after my vegan shepherds pie recipe, haven’t purchased the ground round again nor do I plan to. I will not be trying the plant based burger at A&W either. Wholesome clean simple ingredients are the best to stick to on a daily basis.
Plant Based And Vegetarian Meal Ideas
Tostadas topped with refried beans, homemade guacamole (my husband makes a killer guac), fresh tomato pico de gallo, black beans and lettuce. For vegetarian, add a sprinkle of goat or feta cheese.
Falafel Board with pita, warm hummus, green salad, raw veggies, olives, pickles and feta (we’ve cut out cheese since I took this photo a few months ago). For the recipe:
Pumpkin Risotto, oven broiled Brussels Sprouts with Kale sauteed with garlic and lemon juice (so simple and so delicious). For my pumpkin risotto and Brussels sprout recipe:
Lemon Garlic Kale
- 1 large bunch of kale, any variety de-stemmed and chopped coarsely. Leave it somewhat wet after washing. This will help it cook better.
- 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
- 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper (use black pepper if you prefer)
- Juice of 1 small lemon
Heat the oil in large, wide, high-sided sauté pan over medium heat until simmering. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes (optional), and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute (do not let the garlic burn).
Add the kale a few handfuls at a time, stirring after each addition so that it starts to wilt, until all of the kale is added. Stir in the salt and pepper. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the kale is just tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the lemon juice, and serve.
Clockwise from Left to Right
- Morning Oatmeal with berries, banana, shaved coconut and almonds.
- Asian Sesame Galic tofu with vegetable stirfry
- Spiced Roasted Cauliflower soup with coconut milk
- Slowcooker Split pea soup
Creamy Macaroni with cheesy Nutritional Yeast, Butternut Squash and Cashew sauce. Topped with oven broiled tomatoes. There are a variety of brown rice and vegan pasta options.
Deconstructed Sushi Nourish Bowls. For the recipe:
Left: Indian Lentil Dahl with roasted spiced cauliflower. For the recipe:
Right: Veggie Chilli
Smoothies and fresh pressed juices. Top left is The Green Monster Smoothie with Almond milk, kale and dates. An ABC+G Juice is one of my favourite juices (apples, beets, carrots and lots of ginger). My post workout smoothie includes a banana, almond milk, almond butter, flaxseed powder, raw cacao powder and a dash of cinnamon.
I made this meal last night because we were in the mood for “fast food”.
Thai Green Curry Soup with Rice Noodles. Crispy Honey Sriracha Tofu and Garlic Baby Bok Choy Recipes.
For the Soup:
- 1 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 1-inch cube of ginger
- 1–2 tbsp of Thai Green Curry paste
- 2 tsp curry powder
- 1/2 tsp tumeric powder
- 1 Litre low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 2–3 tbsp soy sauce (*gf if needed)
- 2 tbsp maple syrup or agave.
- juice of 1/2 lime
- Rice noodles (about 1/2 a pack)
- cilantro to top
- Heat the oil in a large pot on medium-high heat.
- Add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes until translucent. Next, add the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute.
- Add the Green Thai curry paste, curry powder, turmeric powder, vegetable broth, and coconut milk. Bring to a boil stirring everything together, then lower the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 5 minutes.
- Next add the rice noodles followed by the soy sauce, maple syrup, and lime juice and stir together. Reduce heat to low and let the soup simmer for another 5 minutes or until noodles are fully cooked.
- Serve with fresh cilantro and a lime wedge.
Crispy Honey Sriracha Tofu
Marinade tofu at least 1 hour before making. I marinated it with soy sauce and a little hoisin sauce.
2 Tblsp soy sauce + 1 tsp Hoisin for marinade
- 1 block medium firm tofu
- 1 clove garlic (minced)
- 2 tablespoons Sriracha sauce (less if you don’t like spicy food)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons of corn starch
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 1 scallion, finely chopped
- Drain the tofu from the package and wrap the tofu in paper towel or tea towel. Place on a plate and put another plat overtop to remove excess water. Let tofu drain for about 30 minutes before marinating
- Place tofu in a bowl and marinade in soy sauce and hoisin turning the block over every 10 minutes.
- Whisk garlic, sriracha, soy sauce, honey and rice vinegar in a bowl and set aside.
- Dust tofu with cornstarch until all sides are coated.
- Use a medium large pan and turn the heat to high. Add oil and when the oil is hot, add tofu cubes. Pan fry on each side for 2-3 minutes without touching or tossing too much, until golden brown.
- Add sauce and gently coat tofu cubes. Cook for 2 minutes.
- Turn the heat off and add sesame oil and sesame seeds.
- Stir once more to evenly coat tofu cubes and serve topped with scallions.
Garlic Baby Bok Choy
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 5 cloves garlic – minced
- 2 large shallots – minced
- 2 pounds baby bok choy – halved or quartered
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper – optional
Add the oil to a large wok or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and shallots, stirring continuously for 1-2 minutes, or until fragrant.
Add the bok choy, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Toss to coat and cover. Cook for 1-2 minutes, uncover and toss, and then cover and continue to cook until bok choy is cooked to desired doneness (approximately 3-5 minutes more).
Sprinkle with crushed red pepper (optional) and serve immediately. Enjoy!
This brings us to the end of this entry. I hope you’ve enjoyed it, might try some of my recipes or even learned something new!
Stay Happy and Healthy.
Until next time.