Updated: Jan 20, 2020
When I first started eating meatless, the hardest part for me was trying to figure out how to fill up my plate. I thought about just having pastas and soy products. At first it was a little difficult, but when I became a vegan I did a little research and found some pretty practical tips that helped me make my plate more filling. So I have tried to simply compile a little guide for you!
When making your plate think, fruits, grains, starches, protein and vegetables, this should be the basis of your plate. You can mix this up in so many ways, let's say for example you make a burrito and combine all these food groups within it (for the fruit aspect think of avocados). Start with your grain which would be brown rice, a starch could be potatoes, your protein would be beans of course then you can load it up with vegetables like spinach, onions, salsa, corn, the list could go on and on. You can also make a just a plate with tofu maybe fried or baked, you can again do a rice on the side like a rice pilaf, and fruits and veggies. Quinoa is a grain as well that is worth adding to your food, you can add it to a salad, with beans of course you can put fruit in your salad as well like mandarin oranges and kale as your leafy green.
BUT the main thing is to think simple then add more ingredients if you like.
Sometimes I do this by just looking in my pantry and starting from there. I love the show Chopped, but more importantly I love the concept of looking at what you have in your fridge or pantry and just creating from there. Look to see what types of ingredients you already have and if you want to just start off small. If you have some rice and beans, you already have your starch and protein and then if you move over to your fridge, see how many combinations you can put together, maybe you have peppers, carrots, zucchini, corn, and spinach. You have literally just found yourself with the base of yet another burrito bowl. It's that simple! Plant based foods are awesome because there are so many combinations you can mix them with each other.
Some nights I have no idea what to make so I turn on my Ted Allen voice and think, “contestants open your basket (pantry) and pull out your ingredients”. I look around to see what we haven’t eaten and I go from there. More recently we made a delicious, filling meal through this method. On this particular day I needed to go to the grocery store but hadn’t quite made it yet. I looked in my fridge and saw I had a taste for brussel sprouts, butternut squash, I also had some Gardien products that I could use. I love to eat rice with the Gardien "meat" so I pulled out my brown rice. Now that was literally how I started. I didn’t sit down with this formula or scour through Pinterest to see what I needed to make this recipe, I just went to my fridge started with one vegetable and progressed from there. Now I did make some changes which happens often when I cook like I subbed butternut squash for carrots instead. The outcome though was a nutritious and filling meal, and I mean filling enough that Emanuel didn’t go back for seconds.
Starch Ex. Potatoes, lentils, quinoa, beans
Proteins Ex. Beans, nuts, tofu, peas, dark leafy green
Vegetables Ex. Corn, carrots
Grains Ex. Rice, whole wheat bread
Fruits Ex Tomatoes, avocados, strawberries
And that’s really it, you can mix and match your food as you please, food is wonderful because we can create so many combinations with different ingredients. I have found this to be true with plant based foods as well, the possibilities are endless. Try not to make cooking seem like rocket science, take your time and find out what you love. If that starts with pastas with vegetables, you have yourself a complete meal, or if it’s a grain bowl you can start with your rice and add vegetables in from there. I hope this helps and I can't wait to see what combinations you create.
Follow me on instagram @abohemianvegan and send me your combinations! I love to try them out in my #Vegantestlab and feature them!
Peace and love, Yhanni