Plant-based cooking at home is easy, delicious, and fun.
If you’ve mastered Meatless Mondays, you may be ready to bring more plant-forward meals into your week. Plant-forward refers to meals that are at least two-thirds plant-based foods, including vegetables, fruits, legumes, and grains.
“Just visualize over half your plate being fruits and veggies, and meat as a condiment or side dish,” says Beth Winthrop, MS, RD, CNSC; National Director for Wellness, Sodexo Campus Services.
The good news is that adding in delicious, plant-based foods has never been easier.
Find the flavor. Plant-forward is all about adding in more plants, while keeping all the flavor and satiety you’re looking for. Love a smoky flavor? Try smoked seasoning in a veggie burger. Like to load up your pasta with cheese? Add in some vegan nutritional yeast that can deliver that cheesy, nutty flavor, while packing in vitamin B and protein.
Build a better salad. If you like the salads you get at your favorite salad bar, but struggle to recreate them at home, Winthrop says to remember these rules:
- Look for crisp, delicious greens. When possible, go local and in-season.
- Add some crunch. Think nuts, shaved carrots, or seeds. Don’t be afraid to include fruit!
- Give it an acid punch. Stock up on flavorful vinegars and experiment with citrus juices.
- Pack it with protein. Toss in some beans, pumpkin seeds, or a hard-boiled egg to make it a meal.
- Make it decadent. Think cheese, sliced avocado, or olives, or add a little sweetness with fresh or dried fruit.
Grab some grains. Whether quinoa, farro, or millet, grains make a great base for a hearty meal. Many cook very quickly and are fairly inexpensive. Top with a rotating cast of veggies and condiments to keep it interesting all week long.
Embrace beans. Beans are also an inexpensive and great source of protein. You can buy them uncooked or canned, but Winthrop suggests trying cooked, frozen beans. Try out different beans to change up your hummus, such as swapping garbanzos for white beans or swapping tahini for almond butter. You can also create a simple bean salad with chopped onions, pepper, and herbs to use throughout the week in salads, wraps, eggs, or even soup.
Go global. Many cuisines from around the world are already plant forward, so whether you fall in love with a Korean bibimbap or an Indian curry, seek out new flavors that make plant-forward eating exciting. Better yet, once you find a favorite, learn how to make it at home.