In the last few months, I’ve shared a little about my clean(ish)-eating ventures, and how I’ve stopped eating dairy, meat, alcohol, sugar, caffeine and gluten (for the most part). To which many of you have sent messages asking, “But, what DO you eat, then?!?!”
So, I thought I’d fill in…all six of you who are interested. For those who could care less, feel free to skip this one and stay tuned for future non-food related posts!
This one has taken me a while. I don’t believe I’m destined for food blogging, mostly because when I cook, I never measure ingredients or time anything. All my ingredients are “splashes and dashes” to taste, because that’s just how I cook! So, my hope is that those of you who are interested have at least moderate cooking skills and can follow along with my lack of details. Comment with any questions and I’ll do my best to help!
You can go ahead and scroll to the bottom for some tasty recipes, but for those interested, I want to provide a little background on my decision to try a plant-based diet. Just over a year ago now, I shared this embarrassing confession about my addiction to sugar. It was out of control, you guys. After sharing, a friend reached out to tell me about something that had been working for she and her family. It took me eight more months of denial, weight gain, and being a slave to sugar before I decided to look into it.
(Warning: this is going to sound a little sales pitchy. But I’m not selling anything, I swear, I’m just sharing what’s been working for me!)
I needed to make a big change and I knew I needed help to do it. Sheer willpower alone was not working for me. That’s when I started looking into the product my friend had written about. She studied nutritional sciences at Oklahoma State University, my alma mater, and has seen a lot of personal success with this product, so I felt confident in this decision. I ordered Complete protein powders and fruit/veggie capsules from a company called Juice Plus, which has been essential for me in starting and maintaining a predominantly plant-based lifestyle.
The capsules are meant to fill the nutrition gap from not eating enough fruits and vegetables. I take them once a day.
The protein powders I use daily to make a smoothie or shake. This has been so key for me. I have had a shake every day for breakfast since January 7, and sometimes I have them for dinner, too. As a self-proclaimed sugar addict, these have been a LIFESAVER. I actually crave these now, and find them genuinely appetizing and fulfilling. Also, I love love love the simplicity of having shakes every day. They’re easy to make, enjoyable to drink, easy to consistently track calories (MyFitnessPal is my favorite!), and just overall simplify my daily routine and my grocery shopping.
Alright done. I warned you it would sound like a sales pitch. But it’s also a big part of how I’ve kept this plant-based diet going. I love these shakes.
This week starts month four of eating this way. My exceptions include a morning cup of coffee (I gave it up for a while, but I just enjoy it too much!), an occasional dessert, and an occasional meal where none of it matters, haha. So I’d say I’m living like a 90 percent healthy, 10 percent “whatever I want” lifestyle.
I’ve lost 20 lbs so far, and for the last three weeks, thanks to my darling cluster headaches, I haven’t been able to work out. In spite of that, I still lost 3 lbs. Had I been on my previous diet of 90 percent whatever I want, 10 percent healthy, I would have easily gained 10 lbs. So, I’m sticking with it.
NOW, ON TO THE FOOD!
“Day in the Life” aka “How I Eat a Plant-Based Diet and Never Feel Hangry”
- 8:30 – Make a shake right before I leave for work and enjoy it on my way in to the office
- Drink water
- 10:30 – Eat a prepped bag of shelled pistachios
- Drink water
- 12 – Eat meal-prepped lunch with sparkling water and an apple
- Drink water
- 3 – Eat a prepped bag of raisins
- Drink water
- 6-8 Sometime between 6 and 8, I’ll make a second shake or eat another container of my meal prepped food.
- Drink Water
- Depending on how many calories I’ve burned that day (from tracking my workouts in MyFitnessPal), I might skip the second shake and just have a protein powder chocolate pudding after dinner!
- I try to eat dinner between 6 and 8, and don’t eat anything again until the next morning’s shake around 8:30, so 12-14 hours of fasting.
- Guacamole/Hummus Dip
- Two cans chickpeas (Garbanzo beans)
- Ripe avocado
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- Lemon juice
- ½ cup water
Blend and eat! Adjust the spices to your flavor preference–I also added cayenne for a little more kick. Serve with rice crackers or raw veggies – particularly good with carrots and snap peas.
- Roasted Veggies
- Bell peppers
- Red onions
Dice all your veggies and throw them on a foil-lined sheet pan. Sprinkle with a little dried thyme, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Roast at 400 degrees for approx. 30 minutes, divide into containers for a quick side or snack!
- Air-popped popcorn
- An apple with a tablespoon or two of natural peanut butter
- Two clementines
- A ¼ cup of shelled pistachios (I buy a big bag at Costco and divide into small servings for two weeks’ worth of snacks.)
- Two tablespoons of raisins (Same process as above. I know some people hate raisins, but I LOVE them.)
- Mango Pops (Costco find) – a little treat to curb hunger and your sweet tooth
My preference on meals is to choose one (or two) items below, double them, and then divide them out into containers for meals throughout the week. Again, this makes grocery shopping a dream and also makes tracking calories really easy in MyFitnessPal, because it’s basically the same thing every day! But unlike eating a chicken breast or salmon every day for lunch, I never get tired of these. They just taste too good.
- Quinoa Taco Bowl
- Butternut squash, cubed (pre-cubed at Costco/Walmart!) (sub sweet potatoes for squash, if desired)
- Black Beans
Toss cubed squash in splash of olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake squash for 30-45 minutes at 400. Boil quinoa as directed on the box. Combine quinoa in a bowl with baked squash and top with black beans, salsa, and onion. Spice it up with cumin, garlic, salt & pepper to taste! Makes 6-8 bowls.
- Red Lentil Pasta
- Red lentil rotini noodles (swap for Spinach or Chickpea pasta)
- Sockarooni sauce
Boil pasta as directed. Heat Newman’s Sockarooni sauce (or other favorite pasta sauce). Combine and eat! Pair with a simple side salad of mixed greens and your favorite veggies tossed in balsamic vinegar and olive oil for the dressing, and a little salt and pepper.
- Butternut Squash Curry Soup
- 2 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 small onion
- 1 butternut squash, cubed
- 2 containers of vegetable broth
- 2 tbsp red curry paste
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1 tbsp Ginger
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Pepper
- 1 can coconut milk
- Optional: Top with cilantro, sriracha, and chopped peanuts for extra flavor
Add all ingredients, except for the coconut milk, to slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Use an immersion blender, or pour batches into a blender until you have a smooth consistency. Add in a can of coconut milk and adjust spices to taste. Add toppings and enjoy.
- Thai Coconut Rice Bowls
- Brown or jasmine rice
- 1 can of chickpeas
- Bag of stir fry veggies (Or your choice of shredded carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, snap peas)
- 1 large onion, diced
- Diced mushrooms, fresh or canned
- Minced garlic
- 1 can coconut milk
- 1 can diced pineapple, drained
- Soy sauce
- Sesame oil
Prepare rice according to package, I usually make enough for six cups cooked. Mix in coconut milk and set aside. Saute raw veggies, mushrooms, garlic, and onion in sesame oil. Combine rice and veggies, add in pineapple and chickpeas. Once everything is combined, add splashes of soy sauce and sriracha, and dashes of ginger to preferred taste.
- General Tso’s Sauce (This sauce is my favorite and similar to pad thai sauce. Can be used in salads, rice bowls, or in pad thai with rice noodles!)
- ½ cup natural creamy peanut butter
- 4 tbsp rice vinegar
- 6 tbsp olive oil
- 4 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
Whisk sauce together and use as desired. Some favorite options:
Use coconut oil to stir fry up some broccoli, onions and bell peppers. Mix with a can of chickpeas and a bowl of rice and top with sauce!
Boil some brown rice pad thai noodles. Toss with sauce. Top with green onions, chopped peanuts and tofu!
Mix all your favorite raw veggies in a salad and drizzle with this sauce. You can’t go wrong!
- Oatmeal Delight
- Old fashioned oats
- Chocolate protein powder
- Natural peanut butter
Cook oats as directed on package. Add a scoop of chocolate protein powder and a tablespoon of natural peanut butter for a filling and delicious no-bake-cookie-style breakfast!
- 2 bananas, mashed
- 4 eggs, beaten
- Tsp of cinnamon
- 2 scoops of vanilla protein powder (I use Complete, by Juice Plus)
Mix all ingredients and cook on stove top or griddle like regular pancakes. Serve with berries and pure maple syrup! Makes six pancakes.
- Chocolate Pudding
- 1 scoop of chocolate protein powder (Dutch chocolate Complete from Juice Plus)
- Almond milk
Add a splash of almond milk to protein powder, stir and repeat until it’s the consistency of pudding–enjoy!
- Chocolate Chip “Cookie Dough” Fudge
- 1 cup natural peanut butter or almond butter
- 1 cup refined coconut oil, melted
- ½ cup of vanilla protein powder
- ½ cup no sugar added chocolate chips
- ⅓ cup honey
Mix everything! Pour into a foil or parchment lined pan. Place in fridge to cool and harden. Cut into squares once set up. Keep in fridge for an occasional sweet treat!
- Caramelized Sweet Potato and Apples
- 1 sweet potato, diced
- 1 granny smith apple, diced
- 1 tbsp. Cinnamon
- 2 tbsp. Coconut oil, melted
- Pinch of sea salt or himalayan salt
Toss diced apple and sweet potato with cinnamon and coconut oil until evenly covered. Divide into ramekins and bake at 400 until brown and caramelized. Cool and enjoy!
SHAKES – Blend and Drink!
PB&J – 1 scoop vanilla protein powder, frozen strawberries or cranberries, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, 1 ¼ cup almond milk and ice
*Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana – 1 frozen banana, 1 ¼ cup almond milk, 1 tablespoon of natural PB, 1 scoop chocolate protein powder
Black Cherry – frozen cherries, 1 scoop chocolate protein powder, 1 ¼ cup almond milk
Strawberry Banana – 1 scoop vanilla protein powder, 2 frozen strawberries, 1 frozen banana, 1 ¼ cup almond milk
Almond Joy – 1 scoop chocolate protein powder, 1 ¼ cup coconut milk, 1 frozen banana, 2 tablespoons of unsweetened coconut flakes
You can do pretty much any combo of frozen fruits and protein powder with almond or coconut milk! Throw in spinach or kale for an extra dose of greens for the day!
Pro tip: Buy a couple bunches of bananas each week. Peel them all and break into thirds. Toss them in a freezer bag and lay flat in your freezer so you always have them on hand when you’re ready for a shake! Easy to fit into a blending cup, and a much more milkshake-like consistency than using ice! (Keeping them flat prevents the pieces from freezing together in awkward clumps…I’ve learned this the hard way.)
*Personal FAVORITE! I have had this every morning for breakfast since January 7.
- Almond or coconut flour for AP flour
- Almond or coconut milk for cow’s milk
- Honey or pure maple syrup for sweetener/sugar
- Gluten free pastas: Red lentil pasta, spinach pasta, chickpea pasta
- Spaghetti squash or brown rice noodles instead of regular noodles
- Natural PB for Processed PB
- Vegetable broth for chicken broth
- Decaf tea like Spiced Indian Chai for regular tea
So, it’s not a perfect system. There are some sneaky sugars occasionally, and soy sauce isn’t ideal, etc. But it’s pretty solid overall and once you start being more consciousm it’s much easier to do on the whole! I’m not looking for perfection, anyway, just progress.
Hope you enjoy some of these recipes! Let me know if you try any out by dropping a comment below!