Do you know you need to eat better, but you are sick of eating just salads?
No one will argue that the way to long-lasting health, weight loss, increased energy, and disease-fighting strength is to eat more whole plants. But it is easy to visualize eating more plants as just sticking your fork into boring salad after boring salad—you know, a sad salad with iceberg lettuce, a few shreds of carrots, and some hidden chunks of tomato. No thanks!
Don’t get me wrong. I love salads. Big, incredible, flavor-packed, juicy bowls of nutrient-dense goodness that look nothing like the sad salad I described above.
But only thinking of salads is giving nature a slap in the face. There are so many more plant-based options!
Adding plant-based dishes that go beyond salads into your diet can be very simple—if you can let go of habits and old ideas. Start by seeing your diet with the eyes of an adventurer who is open and excited to discover fresh, whole food dishes to love.
We usually have old habits and thinking processes for meal planning. We habitually only eat certain foods at certain meals. We plan meals around meat—especially since many of us grow up with meat and potatoes as a staple meal combo that’s cemented into our way of life. (Can I get an “Oh, Yeah!” from any other Midwesterners out there?!)
But if you focus on filling your plate with plant foods first—zucchini, peas, kale, fresh greens—and then build around that base, it opens the door to amazing, plant-based dishes.
Here are seven tips for creating plant-based plates:
1. Break breakfast ruts.
It is amazing to me that the first meal of the day is so traditionally devoid of fruits and/or vegetables. But it doesn’t have to be! Start your day out right with a plant-based breakfast. It might sound crazy at first because we are so ingrained in our food habits, but try fun, low-sugar, green plant-based smoothies (or smoothie bowls!); oatmeal with cinnamon, walnuts, and berries; bean and veggie burritos; or omelets loaded with organic onions, broccoli, and peppers. This not only increases your vegetable intake, but naturally reduces your animal-based protein (meat, milk, or cheese) consumption as well.
2. Keep it simple.
Not everything needs to be complicated or involve hours of prepping. Dinner can be as simple as a veggie chili made in the crockpot, a hummus-and-nuts topped salad, or a black-bean, veggie-loaded burrito. Don’t try something completely new on the most stressful day of the week. Instead, play around with different food choices and recipes on the weekends or whatever days you have more time so as not to stress about it.
3. Have plant-based choices in your pantry.
If your pantry has it, you will cook it. But if you have to constantly run out to the store because you don’t have an ingredient, your plant-based changes will never take root (pun intended!). Many plant-based foods including beans, lentils, quinoa, millet, olive oil, spices, and canned tomatoes or artichokes are shelf stable, convenient, and economical.
4. Mix up the spices.
Take home tricks from your favorite ethnic restaurants. They know how to make veggie-based meals that taste amazing! The combos of vegetables, spices, and sauces can make any meal delicious. Start paying attention to flavors you love and try recreating these at home. Just be sure to buy organic, additive-free spices as you are restocking your pantry.
5. Get adventurous, this is your treasure hunt.
There is a whole rainbow of plants out there with different flavors, textures, colors, varieties—all with endless health benefits. Find what plant foods make you excited to eat. Don’t stop after trying something once; keep playing with spices and different varieties to find what you enjoy.
6. Find new twists for your favorite dishes.
Keep the discoveries coming with this simple trick: flip your favorite dinner to a veggie-focused meal, while still keeping the qualities you love. Want tacos? Try using beans instead of beef—same seasonings, one simple swap. Love pizza? Try my favorite pizza recipe. Want pasta? Cut the noodles in half, and add extra veggies and nuts in place of the meat. Love the cheesy creaminess of fettucine alfredo? Cut the cheese yet keep the comfort with my vegan recipe.
7. Ask your closest friends and family for their favorite recipes.
This may seem obvious, but many people don’t seek help or ideas when they are first trying something new. Don’t be afraid to ask—you will be amazed at the wonderful ideas you can get from other people. Plus, you gain a support system for new and creative ideas when your food choices have become stale and boring. Head to the ALOHA Recipe Center for a fresh dose of inspiration!
Sounds simple enough, right? Keep an open mind and never settle for boring!
If you want a big assist in finding options for delicious plant-based meals that are convenient and fast, then check out my SuperLife 10-Day Nutrition Plan. It is 40+ recipes of flavorful, plant-based goodness! I have created these options for you so you can kick ass on your own health, eat healthy, but not be bored with food!
Photo Credit: Pexels