A Beginner's Guide to a Plant Based Diet

A plant-based diet is an amazing way to cut out processed foods, added sugar, and refined grains from your diet. It can also reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. Another aspect of the plant-based diet that I love is that it’s not so much a diet as it is a lifestyle. So, there are no strict rules tying you down to what you can and cannot eat. And most importantly, this is not a diet where all you can eat is salad. Trust me, I would not eat a plant-based diet if that was the case.  

The Basics 

The main focus on the plant-based diet is cutting out meat. Yet, this isn’t a vegan or vegetarian diet so it’s okay to have pizza or even a piece of meat every now and then. But if you do, you want to ensure that you are consuming a quality and organic product. Giving into cravings is a normal and healthy thing to do, just in moderation. 

What Will I Eat at Restaurants? 

With vegan and vegetarian diets becoming more popular, many restaurants now have a ton of options for those who are meat-free. Take chipotle for example, they have veggie options (guac comes free with veggies FYI) and sofritas. Sofritas are a spicy tofu which is so yummy and my absolute favorite. Even Jimmy Johns has a veggie sandwich to pick from. So eating out is still totally possible and can still be just as good. 

Get Inspired 

To help me find plant-based recipes, I have started following a lot of different vegetarian/vegan food pages on Instagram, twitter, etc. I also love going on Pinterest to find new recipes to try. Find recipes that sound good to you and try them. It may take a while to find a lot of recipes you like but it is so worth it when you do. 

My Favorite Recipes

To help you get started, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite plant-based recipes. These are recipes I have made over and over again and they aren’t too time consuming either. Perfect for making on a school night or the weekend. 

 

Balsamic Roasted Veggie and White Bean Pasta 

By: skinnytaste.com 

I love skinny taste recipes and this one is especially great. I use this recipe often to make myself lunch for a few days at a time. 

INGREDIENTS:

For balsamic vegetables:

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 8 ounces sliced mushrooms
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1” pieces
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4” thick rounds
  • 1 medium yellow squash, cut into 1/4” thick rounds
  • 1 dry pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 red onion, cut into 1” pieces

For pasta:

  • 1/3 cup Delallo pesto or homemade skinny Basil Pesto
  • ½ pound Delallo fusilli, gluten-free or whole wheat
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • Drizzle balsamic vinegar
  • Red pepper flakes, for serving (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

1.Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

2.Spray 2 sheet pans with cooking spray. Set aside.

3.In a small bowl, whisk together balsamic vinegar, mustard, garlic, Italian herbs, and 1 teaspoon salt.  Add 2 tablespoons oil and whisk until emulsified.

4.In a large bowl, add vegetables (from broccoli to onion), and dressing and toss to evenly coat.  Spread vegetables out in an even layer onto prepared sheet pans.  Roast for 30 minutes, tossing halfway through.

5.Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add pasta and cook according to the package directions, reserving a little water before draining.

6.To assemble: Combine the cooked pasta, pesto and beans adding 2 tablespoons of the reserved water as needed, toss with the roasted veggies, ¼ cup parmesan and toss well to coat.  Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and top with red pepper flakes, if using. Serve hot, cold or at room temperature.

Spicy vegan black bean soup

By: theglowingfridge.com 

I like this recipe so much that I actually made it again for dinner tonight. This is quick, easy, and so filling. I like to add avocado and tortilla chips in mine. 

 

ingredients

                         3/4 cup water (or 2 tablespoons olive oil; if not oil-free)

                         1 red onion, chopped

                         1 clove garlic, minced

                         1/3-1/2 jalapeño, finely chopped, to taste (optional)

                         2 medium-sized carrots, chopped

                         1 red bell pepper, chopped (or any color)

                         4 teaspoons ground cumin

                         2 teaspoons chili powder

                         1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, to taste (optional)

                         1 15 oz. can organic sweet corn, drained and rinsed

                         3 15 oz. cans organic black beans, drained and rinsed

                         4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

                         1/2 lime, juiced

                         1/4 cup cilantro

                         sea salt & pepper, to taste

                         toppings: avocado, crushed tortilla chips, jalapeño, cilantro, dairy-free cheese

 

instructions

  1. Heat the water (or oil, if preferred) in a soup pot or large dutch oven over medium heat. Stir in the onions and garlic, with a pinch of sea salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent.
  2. Stir in the jalapeño, carrot, red bell pepper, cumin, chili powder and red pepper flakes. Cook until vegetable are soft, about 7-9 minutes.
  3. Pour in the beans, corn and broth. Bring to a slow boil over medium-high heat then reduce to a gentle simmer. Cook until the beans are soft and the broth has lots of flavor, about 20 minutes. Turn off heat.
  4. Using a hand immersion blender, blend about half of the soup, still leaving whole beans in tact. Blend more for a smoother texture or less for a chunkier texture, depending on preference (this step is optional; you can also blend half in a regular blender, making sure to let out the steam, to prevent a soup explosion as it gets very hot. Pour it back into the soup pot).
  5. Stir in lime juice and cilantro and taste test to see if it needs more salt or pepper. Adjust accordingly.

Serve with your favorite toppings!