Putting together vegan meals is so overwhelming, even when you have all of the right ingredients on hand.
You open the fridge, and see all these beautiful ingredients that you were so inspired to purchase after watching an incredible documentary that made you want to go plant-based asap.
But you have no idea what to do with them.
After a few days, the spinach begins to wilt. The berries develop mold, and the asparagus is soft and mushy.
All that wasted money and effort leads to one conclusion: stop buying these beautiful ingredients.
I’m here to salvage you from this mess! Of course you should keep investing your money, time and soul into good-quality ingredients, and I want to give you a giant pat on the back for doing so!
The next step is really simple: it’s about learning how to use all of these gorgeous ingredients in one delicious, healthy meal. And it’s so much easier than you think.
Creating vegan meals feels so daunting, I get it. And that’s only because you don’t know how to put together these ingredients into a nutrient-dense, easy and un-stressful meal.
In this post, I want to reduce your stress around vegan meals and I want to take you through exactly how to put together the perfect vegan meal that you’ve been looking for! Because food should not cause stress – it should actually be the base from which you learn to manage your stress and live your healthiest life!
Center Your Vegan Meals around Carbs
Do you feel like fainting when I tell you that carbohydrates are the best foods for your body?
If so, then you’re not alone. Most people have learned to avoid carbs like the plague. In fact, the first thing people say when I ask them what changes they want to make in their diet is: “I want to stop eating so many carbs”.
So the first thing I want you to do, even before planning your meals, is to change your mindset around carbs.
Healthy carbohydrates are incredibly powerful for preventing and even reversing many diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer, according to many studies. I highly recommend this awesome read by Dr. Michelle McMacken about why she recommends carb-rich diets to her diabetes patients.
You may be asking yourself: what does “healthy carbs” actually mean?
Great question! What I mean is that you should center your vegan meals on either high-calorie fruits or starches.
Some wonderful, high-calorie fruits include bananas, melons, mango, grapefruits, apples, figs, and more. If you have a fruit-based meal, remember that fruits are very water-rich, so you need more to be full – even more than starches.
Some great starches for your vegan meals include whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, amaranth, millet, barley and more. In addition, starches also include sweet potatoes, pumpkin, potatoes, corn, and legumes like all kinds of beans, lentils and peas.
Educate Yourself about Plant Based Nutrition and Release Myths
Now that we are all squared away with the carb thing, let’s focus on getting educated about nutrition more generally.
There are many myths about nutrition. A common one is that all carbs are bad (in reality, carbs encompass both foods like sweet potatoes and French fries, so clearly, there are way too many foods in this category to call it either healthy or unhealthy). Some carbs are unhealthy, and many are very nutrient dense and wonderful for weight loss, too. Check out this post all about that in more detail.
There are many more myths about plant-based eating, including myths about protein, iron, calcium, and more. The most important thing you can do is learn about evidence-based nutrition, and keep an open mind. Remember that you grew up in a world that was very animal-products heavy, not one that encouraged eating plant-based.
Educate yourself about the nutrients you must include on your plant-based diet, and know that much of the information will be very different from what you heard most of your life.
Be sure to watch the series I did on plant-based nutrition, discussing all the important nutrients that you should include in your vegan meals so that you cover all your bases when it comes to plant-based nutrition:
How to Make the Best Healthy Vegan Meals
So far we have let go of myths around plant-based eating, had some education on the nutrients and foods that should go into our meals, and learned that vegan meals should be structured around starches and fruits.
Now, onto structuring the actual meals. Here are my suggestions:
Breakfast: I recommend structuring breakfast around fruit. This can be a smoothie bowl, a smoothie, or just a plain fruit mono meal or fruit bowl, fueling up on the proper amount of calories that you need. In this case, the majority of your calories will come from carbs in the form of fruit.
If you want to go the starch route for breakfast, you can also make overnight oats. Oats are a great and very nutrient-dense source of starch.
Smoothie bowls on the blog:
Oats on the blog:
Lunch: I personally prefer copying my breakfast for lunch (one of the above listed options), but you can also copy dinner – your choice!
Snack: always go with fruits. They are easy, take no time to prepare, and full of nutrients!
Dinner: for a stress-free dinner that covers almost every nutrient you need on a plant-based diet, I highly recommend making Buddha bowls. You are going to absolutely love all the flavors, textures and colors on your plate when you make Buddha bowls.
Buddha bowls are a bowl of foods from each of these categories: greens, spices, seaweed, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, fermented foods, and a creamy dressing.
Most of your calories will come from the starchy vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, and squashes), whole grains and legumes.
Buddha bowls on the blog:
Bonus: Vegan Meals for a Party or Cookout
You can also put together delicious vegan meals for a party that are just as easy to prepare! In this case, still base your meals around starches – but convert junk foods you love into their healthy vegan versions.
Some of my favorites are pizza, pasta, chili or soup, chips and dip; bliss balls, nachos, stuffed veg (mushrooms, bell peppers, squashes). Here are some examples from the blog:
Bliss balls: https://www.soulintheraw.com/healthy-halloween-snacks/
Spaghetti squash: https://www.soulintheraw.com/spaghetti-squash-moroccan-style/
Have any questions on planning vegan meals? Are you getting stuck anywhere? Post your questions below