Eating plant-based doesn't have to be all-or-nothing. Maybe you’re trying to eat more plants every day but finding it hard. At the end of the day you go over what you ate and can’t believe you weren’t able to get more fruits and vegetables into your meals, even with your sincere intentions.
It’s not just you
Humans are naturally built to prefer high-fat and high-carb foods. It takes some engineering to design and build new eating paths. I find it easiest to plan ahead and put plant foods in unavoidable places, so I almost have no choice but to eat them.
Find your groove
I’ve put together a list of ten tasty ways to fill your day with fruits and vegetables. If you’re new to eating a lot of plants, just pick a couple of these a week and try them out. Pretty soon you’ll find your groove. Your digestive system may need time to adjust as well. But don’t worry – it will.
1. Vegetable and legume soups
From a can or from scratch, soups deliver generous servings of plant-based foods and are easy to make part of a meal. Progresso, Pacific Foods, and Amy’s are the best big brands for plant-based soups if you’re buying. Or make your own and freeze the leftovers! Check out this month’s Fiver on Lentil and Split Pea Soups. Or check out other soups on my site.
2. Spinach salads
Substitute spinach for lettuce in your salads and eat a salad every day. These dark leafy greens have lots of vitamins and minerals as well as antioxidants and other phytonutrients. If you’re looking for a fancy spinach salad (with an oil-free dressing), check out my Spinach Salad with Curry Dressing.
3. Homemade bean burgers
Burgers with all the fixings are just good. So why not find a good brand of bean burgers or make your own and have burger night on a regular basis? It means less meat and more nutritious plant food. Bean burgers are generally less processed and have less fat than other types of store-bought burgers. Amy’s, Gardein, Tofurky, and Engine 2 make bean burgers. To make your own bean burgers, try my Easy, Tasty, Baked Black Bean Burgers.
4. Fruit smoothies with tofu instead of yogurt
Substituting silken tofu for yogurt and non-dairy milk for dairy milk will make your fruit smoothie plant-based and equally delicious. For a nifty twist on smoothies – with raw buckwheat and nuts – see my Have-It-Your-Way Smoothie.
5. Spray-roasted vegetables
Roasting vegetables makes them so much better! And if you have spray-oil from the store or an oil mister, you can make roasted vegetables with less oil and calories than if you pour oil over them. Use interesting spice mixtures (like Montreal Steak Seasoning), use a hot oven (450 degrees), and get roasting!
6. Snack bags of vegetables and fruits
Even if you work at home, but especially if you work away from home, pack a bag or two of carrot, celery, and/or jicama sticks along with mini peppers or whatever else you might have in the fridge. And take an apple or other piece of fruit. You can get 2 or 3 servings of plants this way.
7. Meatless Mexican food
Mexican is one of the easiest cuisines to eat plant-based. Skip the meat, go for beans, and substitute avocado or guacamole for cheese. Many places have vegan options. If you’re cooking at home, try my Gracious Vegan Vegetable Fajitas.
8. Vegetable pizza
Pizza is another food that can easily be made vegetarian. Some places offer vegan cheese, but many don’t. I provide a lot of ideas for homemade pizza, even if you’re a beginning cook, in my post Vegan Pizza Like You Wouldn’t Believe.
9. Meatless stir-fries
Most restaurants have a vegetable or tofu option for their stir-fry dishes. At home you can simply leave out the meat or substitute tofu, tempeh, or seitan. Two of my favorite recipes are Candle-Cafe-Inspired Stir-Fry and Broccoli Rabe or Mustard Greens Stir-Fry.
10. Loaded baked potatoes
Baked potatoes make a great entrée. I provide lots of ideas for toppings in this post: Baked Sweet Potatoes with Easy, Tasty Toppings.