Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Favorite Vegan (Plant-Based) Meals & Snacks

Some special people in my life are working on shifting towards eating more plants, fewer animals, and I put together this little list of my favorite meals and snacks, including links to recipes.
I thought it might be helpful to any of you who are shaping up your diets in the New Year!

Here goes!!!

*** Burgers - these are created by mashing cooked sweet potato and brown rice and corn crumbs or bread crumbs together and then coating them with crispy crumbs and baking them or frying them (I've done both and baking is better!)  They get crispy like a chicken filet burger - yum!  I serve them on vegan buns with all the burger fixings and baked beans on the side.
*** Happy Belly Bowls - these are extremely flexible and can be made up of whatever you have in the fridge.  The traditional belly bowl = a GREEN + a BEAN + a GRAIN.  They are the simplest sort of vegan meal and can be topped with any sauce or flavorful spice you like.

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You might choose to cook brown rice, add black beans, and put in shredded frozen spinach, then pile on raw veggies and salad.

You might choose to roast a bunch of tasty veggies and put them over quinoa with wilting kale on top (it wilts when put in a hot bowl).

My very favorite way to arrange this is by frying diced sweet potatoes, zucchini, red bell peppers (and orange/yellow if I have them, but red are my favorite), onion, mushrooms in a little bit of half vegetable broth, half water (not oil) until they're brown and soft, then adding a bunch of chopped frozen spinach to wilt in there.  I like to serve it over brown rice with black beans, smoked paprika, and maybe even super mild salsa (spicy doesn't work for me anymore with Crohn's).  A lot of times I don't even put on any sauce or extra spices because the vegetables get sweet all by themselves and they're delicious.

*** Tacos/Burritos - you can use whatever veggies and beans you'd like, but this recipe is especially great!  Get whole grain tortillas or for a special treat, use oil free corn chips to make nachos!

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*** Casserole - I love casseroles!  Must be my Minnesota upbringing (though I should probably call them hot dishes, then!)  Here are a couple of my favorites.  They're especially good with a side salad or a pile of savory veggies.

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*** Soup - I am not as big on soup as I wish I were.  Most of the time I'd rather eat a casserole.  But here are some that sound really appealing to me in spite of my disinclination to eat soup.

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I'd leave the oil out of this one (add veggie broth or water instead), but other than that, it's delicious-looking! You could serve it with faux-cheese sandwiches, too.  :)
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*** Pasta salad - I make this probably every other week and have it with almost every meal!

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Snack ideas if you don't feel like eating plain fruit or veggies:

*** "nice cream" = whizz 2 bananas and 10 ounces of your favorite frozen fruit in a food processor.  Top with berries or vegan mini chocolate chips - delicious!!!

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*** smoothies - my favorite mix is one banana, a bunch of frozen spinach, a handful of kale, a cup of frozen cherries, 1.5 cups almond milk, cinnamon, dash of ginger, dash of nutmeg, dash of ground cloves.  Mmm!

*** baked spiced potato slices - I slice potatoes about 1/4" thick and place them on a seasoned baking stone.  Then I sprinkle them with turmeric, pepper, and smoked paprika.  I bake them at 425 for 45 minutes and then eat them with ketchup that's been sweetened with agave instead of regular sugar (though use what you have!)

*** baked sweet potato slices/fries are even healthier - they are great with honey or ketchup - they usually need to be baked slightly longer than regular potatoes.  You can also microwave a sweet potato for 4-6 minutes and then mash it up (along with the skin, if possible - it has lots of nutrients!), then eat it with honey and walnuts.

*** unsweetened chocolate almond milk - I like it plain sometimes, but when I'd like to add a little more sweetness, I add a teaspoonful of maple syrup!  This is also great heated in the style of hot chocolate.

*** apples with date drizzle/dip - this adds a tart/sweet mix that's like caramel apples!  I like to boil a cup of dates for about five minutes, then whizz them in the blender with some water until they make a frosting-like texture.  This date paste is GREAT for dipping fruit or it can be drizzled on top of chopped apples/bananas and eaten in a bowl.  If you dip fruit, then freeze it, this date paste hardens - try rolling it in chopped walnuts before freezing and enjoying on a hot day!

*** veggies dipped in hummus or hummus sandwiches - a good hummus recipe can be found here.  I also like hummus in sandwiches with shredded red cabbage, shredded carrots, and pickles!  

*** toast and jam or toast and nut butter - make sure you find fruit only jam that doesn't have added sugars or anything else except fruit.  When you're looking for nut butters, try to find one that has no added sugar or oil.

I hope these ideas are helpful and that your mouth is watering!
Healthy food tastes delicious!

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