5 Simple Plant-Based Cooking Strategies
Think plant-based eating is hard and time consuming? Think again! These 5 Simple Plant-Based Cooking Strategies will help you get on the path to creating delicious, healthful meals the easy way.
As a plant-based food and nutrition expert, I am asked on an everyday basis to dole out my best advice on how to cook up more healthy, delicious meals, the easy way. That’s because one the biggest roadblocks to eating a healthful, plant-based diet is lack of time or even know-how for cooking plant-based meals at home. While it’s true that plant-based cooking can take a bit more time and thought than simply picking up takeout on the way home from work, it doesn’t have to be that hard! Really! I get plant-based meals on the table every night in under an hour (often times closer to 30 minutes). Indeed, it’s a common misconception that all plant-based meals are laborious and complicated. And let’s just go ahead and smash the old cliché that plant-forward eating is about as hip and tasty as munching on alfalfa sprouts and granola (though my Lavender Blueberry Granola is quite tasty, thank you very much!). In reality, there is much more choice when it comes to plant-based eating. It’s a road to adventure and discovery. Instead of thinking about all the things you can’t have at a plant-based meal, think of all the things you can have: a rainbow of delicious fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
Try these five simple cooking strategies to power up with plants.
5 Simple Plant-Based Cooking Strategies
1.Unleash Plant-Powered Proteins in Your Meals. Make sure to include easy plant proteins in each meal. Stock your pantry with a variety of canned beans, such as chickpeas, adzuki, kidney, black, cannellini, and pinto beans, for a quick addition to your menu any day of the week. They are perfect in grain bowls, salads, bean patties, and pasta dishes. And don’t forget to try protein-rich soy foods, such as tofu, tempeh, and edamame, too. These are great in stir-fries, curry dishes, and grilled recipes.
2. Cook Up Whole Grain Goodness. Make sure to include whole grains, such as oats, brown rice, farro, quinoa, sorghum, and amaranth, in every meal. Just throw half a cup of uncooked whole grains, such as barley or quinoa into vegetable soup while it’s simmering. Buy a rice cooker, and use it every week to cook up brown rice and other whole grains, such as spelt and bulgur as a side-dish to your meal or to stir into recipes, such as veggie burgers, nut loaf, or grain bowls. Just pour in the grain, add the required amount of water, set the timer, and walk away.
3. Power Up Vegetables. Make vegetables the star eat each meal. Make sure to include them in myriad ways in your culinary style. Include a tossed salad and a veggie soup for dinner. Sauté, grill, or stir-fry a blend of seasonal vegetables as a side to your plate. Mix vegetables into your favorite casseroles; try peas or squash in your macaroni or broccoli and kale or cauliflower in your lasagna. Aim for two servings or more at breakfast and lunch, and try to fit additional servings in for breakfast and snacks, even.
4. Stir In Nature’s Perfect Sweetener, Fruit. Let fruit be your natural sweetener at every single meal. Slice seasonal fruit, such as berries, apples, and pears over your morning porridge. Grab a piece of fruit for your snack. Toss in fruits into salads, grain bowls, and side-dishes. And use the natural sweetness of fruits to sweeten breads, cookies, and desserts, while gaining a serving of antioxidant-rich fruit.
5. Rely on Healthy Plant Fats. Turn to more whole foods, filled with natural, healthy fats, such as avocados, olives, nuts and seeds to power your healthy cooking style. Use avocados in dips, sauces, and even baked goods in place of added fats. And substitute nut and seed butters, such as peanut butter and sunflower seed butter for fats in baked goods and dressings. Use a modest amount of extra virgin olive oil as your number one oil in the kitchen for sautéing, roasting, and grilling foods. And instead of turning to bottled salad dressings, which are often full of added sugars, sodium, and saturated fats, dress your salads with a simple vinaigrette using a basic formula of one part extra virgin olive oil with two parts lemon juice or vinegar, plus herbs and spices as desired.
Here are some of my favorite easy plant-based recipes:
Image: This recipe for Beluga Lentil Bowl will appear in my new book out in 2021.