I'm not one for strict labels, especially related to my diet. My philosophy on food is that it is meant to be pleasurable fuel, to eat intuitively to what tastes good and also makes you FEEL good and OPERATE well. Therefore, I don't subscribe to any diet, only-this-or-that food prescription or elimination of anything (unless said food makes you feel and/or operate like crap). Everybody has a different body, and I think we just gotta tune into what works for our own systems. But, hey, that's me!
Now, as I now step off of my soapbox...
I'll let you know that our household is a mixture of food preferences: I am primarily pescatarian (but if I see a wing that looks tasty, I'm eating it); my husband is a vegetarian pizza lover; and our kids are plant based, egg and salmon lovers. So what do I cook? Primarily plant based meals. They please everyone and keep our systems running well.
When I discuss plant-based meals with my friends, I often get asked these questions:
- How to convince their carnivore family members to eat a plant-based meal on the regular?
- How to be sure to include nutrient-dense meals that are filling?
- How to make the meals interesting and not boring?
- How to make the plant-based meal palatable with the kids?
I think that all of these questions are great material for a few blog posts, but today I will focus on a how to get the rhythm of adding plant based meals to your life in general.
HERE ARE 5 TIPS FOR ADDING PLANT BASED MEALS TO YOUR ROTATION:
Sneak It In
Yes, I said it. Just sneak those suckers into your meal. The less they know, the better right? Now, I do believe in educating our kids on the importance of "eating the rainbow," and embracing vegetables as staples, but if you're behind the 8 ball on this, and sometimes need them to just eat something green and from the Earth, this is an option. A few ways to incorporate sneaky veggies include: Butternut Squash "Mac & Cheese" (butternut squash puree provides the thick, creamy texture + try these Chickpea Pasta options from Banza for a protein and fiber rich, gluten free base); Fine dice or puree any vegetable into your tomato sauce OR burger/meatloaf/meatball base; breakfast smoothies are the best for getting sneaky!
2. Choose A Regular Meat Free Day
This is a great way to get the family accustomed to regular plant based meals. If there is an expectation for a meat-free night, they'll be better prepared and maybe even more open minded to try what you've got in store.
3. Make the Vegetable the Star of the Meal
Like many of us, I grew up with the animal based protein being served as the rockstar of the meal. However, if you choose a plant as the star (and you can still incorporate your meat/fish/poultry if desired), it shifts the mindset at the table, and also adjusts expectations for your kids. Suggestions on plant superstars ready for the spotlight include: Eggplant (healthy eggplant parmigiana for example), Chana Masala (chickpeas turn it up here!), or maybe a Cauliflower Fried Rice.
4. Pick a Meat Free Substitute
There are so many great (and also not so great!) meat-free substitutes out there to replace your animal protein choices. Honestly, you'll have to read labels AND try out a few to see which are more palatable to for you. I can't even begin to tell you how many I've tried! However, a few good go-to's that we eat for the vegetarian sausages, burgers and crumbles include Beyond Meat (we actually like their Beyond Sausages, Beyond Beef Crumbles and Beyond Burgers!); and Amy's Kitchen, an OG in meat alternatives and meals (the California Veggie burger is a hit with my kids).
5. Make A One Pot Meal
A soup, curry, stir fry or casserole are great ways to incorporate a variety of vegetables, beans or other plants into a meal. A hearty vegetable soup with cannellini beans is an easy favorite.
More recipe ideas to come, but hopefully this helps you get the ball rolling with plant based meal planning. If we can change our mindset on seeing it as less about deprivation and more about keeping our diets wholesome and full of variety, maybe we can enjoy food a little more.
Thanks for reading!