The New Year is always a great time to realign fitness goals and reassess your health. One of my goals for 2017 is to incorporate more veggies into my diet and enjoy more plant based meals. My friend Lotte, who blogs over at www.LotteLee.com, is sharing some new and delicious plant based recipes and how she eats a vegan diet and how it works in her household. Thank you Lotte for sharing this post with me and my readers! Here’s to a healthy, veggie filled 2017!
If you’re a parent you know how halfway through the day you promise yourself that today is going to be the day that you feed your whole family one meal (gasp) that is both healthy and tastes amazing? Or maybe you’ve decided to take on a dietary lifestyle change this year and you’re ready to incorporate the whole family.
But then life happens.
There are sports and music classes to attend. A conference scheduled at the last minute that you cannot miss. If you have a little one in the house you just might be too darn tired to even function at a normal level, much less pull a meal together. Be there, done that…to every situation listed.
I’m human so there are days when mac-n-cheese or pizza is the only thing I serve my kids for dinner while I slurp down a smoothie or dig my way through a bowl of cereal. It happens. The other days though I try hard to give my family a well-balanced meal that fits all our needs and taste buds.
Did I mention that I’m vegan? Let me explain how that works in our house.
I choose to eat a plant-based diet. My husband is a good ol’ Southern boy and enjoys his steak and potatoes. Our kids fall somewhere in the middle. My theory is that just as I could choose, someday they can too. For now though, we have a good mix of all kinds of foods.
There are some nights that I completely forget to cook meat at all. I’ve been eating this way for so long that I know what each meal must include to fulfill all our nutritional needs. (Please note that I am not a nutritionist or dietician. I am merely a mom who reads an insane amount of information.) Even if the meal is a one-pot or four-ingredient meal, I make sure that there is at least a protein and a vegetable in each.
There are always the typical easy meals that you think of when you think of vegan meals: black bean chili, vegetable soup and roasted veggies. All of which are fabulous meals that even I fall back on when needed. Fortunately, there are people out in the blogging community that know their way around a kitchen and have, over the years, inspired me to expand my culinary skills and try new things…if they’re easy and don’t take a lot of time of course.
Here are some of my favorite, easy-to-make plant-based meals for any family to enjoy this new year.
For the working-chauffeuring-homework-helping mom: Coconut Quinoa Curry
I am a HUGE fan of all types of Asian cuisine. Thai, Indian, Chinese. You name it, I probably have at least one vegan meal that I am obsessed over. Alyssa at simplyquinoa.com makes it possible with this meal to be able to throw everything together in the morning before heading out to work, to school, to anywhere that you need to be.
Personally, I like that this meal has a bit of spice to it. However you may want to leave out the chili flakes if someone in your family doesn’t like spicy, like my kids. I just add the heat to my bowl afterwards.
For those of you wondering where the protein is, it can be found in the quinoa and from chickpeas. When cooked, quinoa has roughly 4.4g of protein per serving and chickpeas can have up to 20g of protein in a 100g serving size (that’s roughly 8 tbsp.). Combined, the two pack a mean protein filled punch. If, like me, there are members of your family who must have a meat as part of the meal, grill an Asian inspired breast of chicken. You could use Teriyaki or Soy Sauce for flavoring, but try to grill the meat since it is one of the healthier ways to cook.
TIP: Chop the ingredients the night before and throw them in a bag or container together. I also like to have all the non-perishable ingredients out and ready on the counter when preparing so that when I am getting ready in the morning I can dump everything in, turn the slow cooker on, and not worry about it taking too much of my time or making too big of a mess.
For the one who likes to eat outside after being in all day: Chickpea Veggie Burgers
Oh man, I love “burgers”. Black bean burgers, quinoa burgers, and especially these chickpea veggie burgers. These have two of my favorite ingredients in them, peanut butter and chickpeas, and they are simple to make. Grill these with some roast veggies or sweet potato fries and a side salad and you have a meal everyone in the family will enjoy. Plus, you saw how much protein is in chickpeas, right? And don’t forget that, should you use it, peanut butter has 7g per every two tablespoons.
If there is a peanut allergy in your home, or you’re concerned about a friend with one, you can substitute any of the following: tahini, sunflower butter, or soy nut butter. There are many alternatives in grocery stores today that allow you to avoid nut butters. We are big fans of peanut butter in our house but my son has a friend at school with a nut allergy so he takes a sunflower and jelly sandwich to school instead. He says he can’t tell the difference and we applaud his compassion towards others. So, while we eat peanut butter, literally out of the jar with a spoon in our house, we make every attempt we can to think of others…just in case.
photo via www.runningonrealfood.com
TIP: I’ve found that plant-based burgers do better on the grill when you prepare them in advance and let them spend some time in the refrigerator. When it is time to grill, rub some olive oil on the outside (coconut oil is my favorite but the grill tends to be too hot for it) before cooking. You can also add flax seed to the recipe for added nutrients and for a stronger “hold”.
For the “I’ve only got 30 minutes tonight” person: Sweet Potato, Black Bean & Kale Quesadillas
Black beans are a main source of protein for me. I do eat tofu and drink protein smoothies often but beans have been a staple for me since I became a vegetarian (years before I converted fully to eating plant-based fulltime). Thankfully there are lots of delicious recipes that have black beans as the main source of protein (we are talking 6g per every 100g serving).
I’ve found that my kids become vegetarians when we go out for Mexican food; all they ever want is cheese quesadillas…sigh. I did mention that pizza and mac-n-cheese are huge hits in my family, right? Their love for all things breaded with cheese spills into all cuisine types. They do enjoy black beans though so I can usually talk them into adding those to their plate as well.
Thankfully, everyone in our house loves kale. Okay, maybe love is a bit too strong of a word but there is at least one meal that each person truly enjoys that has kale in it. Having sweet potatoes along with the black beans and kale makes for a hearty and filling meal. Plus they are so delicious!
This recipe does call for cheese and suggests sour cream as a topping but I make mine without and everyone else chooses if they want the cheese or not. (I’m all about choices, within reason.)
photo via www.cooknourishbliss.com
TIP: If you are 100% vegan or would like to maintain a plant-based diet lifestyle you can always go with a cashew nut cheese or a store-bought cheese substitute. I prefer not to eat heavily processed foods so I suggest trying the quesadillas without any cheese or cheese substitute first.
There are so many types of easy to make plant-based meals out there. Don’t make it hard on yourself and be forgiving if you would rather pick up a pizza or order takeout one night. Only you know what your day is like. Treat yourself kindly and fill your belly with some homemade love when you can. You and your family will be so thankful for it.
Lots of Love!
Lotte Lee, a bookworm from the South, is a self-described gym-loving, vegan-eating, business junkie. Besides being a mom to two amazing kids, wife to a loving husband and master (or is it mistress) to an adoring pup, she is a writer/blogger at www.lottelee.com, momtrepreneur, and co-owner of GreenRose Marketing. Lotte Lee is currently devoted to empowering other moms to take control and create the life every woman deserves. It takes some serious grit to do it all but with a little grace and a lot of gratitude Lotte Lee believes anyone can become successful in all aspects of their lives.
Are you trying to eat healthier this year?