In light of World Vegetarian Day yesterday, I thought I’d get on board by offering my thoughts on plant-based eating.
Although not strictly vegan, I personally thrive from eating plant-based food most of the time, but I also love to occasionally eat fresh fish and organic eggs.
Being a nutritionist, i’ve had the fun of experimenting with almost every type of common ‘diet’ there is. I’ve labelled myself (for a short time) vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, low-carb, high-carb and even experienced a month of Ayurvedic ‘satvic’ eating (no spices or ‘rajasic/tamasic’ foods).
With all of the playing and experimenting I’ve come to realize that for me, deprivation does not suit. I like to eat a certain way most of the time (80-90%). And then allow myself to eat other foods I enjoy the rest of the time (10-20%).
Through teaching yoga and having a regular practice I’ve also arrived at a place where I can now listen to my body and I know exactly which foods make me feel heavy and sluggish and which ones I should generally avoid (which doesn’t always mean I listen either!).
I am a firm believer that no two diets should need to be the same, we all thrive from a different way of eating. Including, different times of eating and different types of foods – raw or cooked, hot or cold, spicy or sweet, high protein or high carb, low fat or high fat etc.
I LOVE to eat plant-based meals, and that’s what’s served for dinner 5 – 6 times a week in our household.
Many people have a misconception that vegetarian food is boring or tasteless, but they are seriously missing out.
Vegetarian meals often require you to get much more creative with your flavours, textures and spices and they can be truly delicious (coming from a self-proclaimed foodie).
So with that, here are 3 of my favourite EASY vegetarian meals (regulars in our household).
Brown Rice Salads
I like to cook up a large batch of brown rice the night before. I do this on a Sunday and store it in a tuppaware container so when Monday / Tuesday evenings come along, i’m one step ahead. Brown rice salads are so easy and versatile, they’re a great dish to get creative with- add a bunch of greens, seeds & dressing and you’re good to go.
~ 2 cups cooked brown rice – cooled
~ 1 head of broccoli – chopped & steamed
~ 1 carrot – washed & grated
~ Half a pack fresh goats feta cheese- crumbled (Optional)
~ Optional & delicious additions – A handful each of sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, goji berries.
~ Simply throw all of this into a large mixing bowl and combine fully with a delicious dressing.
Dressing: Mix 1 tbsp unhulled tahini, 1 tbsp flax seed oil, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp tamari, 1 squeeze of fresh lemon, salt & cayenne pepper.
Serve this for a fresh evening or midday meal. Can be served alone or with a couple of poached eggs or fried tempeh.
Quinoa & Crunchy Chickpea Salad
Again, I like to cook my quinoa in big batches and save a large amount in a tupperware container for easy use at any time during the week.
~ 2 cups cooked warm quinoa
~ 1 can chickpeas- drained and rinsed
~ 1 head broccoli or cauliflower- chopped & steamed
~ 1 carrot – washed & grated
~ Spices- cayenne pepper, cumin, paprika & himalayan pink salt.
~ Optional & delicious additions – steamed or roasted sweet potato pieces, chopped baby spinach, chopped tomato, sliced avocado, goats feta cheese.
~ Throw the chickpeas onto a baking tray and coat in a little olive oil, paprika, cumin, cayenne & salt. Bake at 180 degrees for about 40 minutes – until crunchy.
~ Throw the cooked quinoa into a bowl with the other chosen vegetables, and mix to combine. Once chickpeas are cooked- place these on top and pour over a simple tahini/lemon dressing (or your favourite dressing).
Simple and delicious. Quinoa is also a brilliant source of readily available protein, so is well respected in the vegetarian community as a bit of a ‘must-have’.
Sweet potato & lentil salad.
I love this salad if i’m needing something a little heartier. It’s quick to whip up and the flavours are simple and fresh. Lentils are a great source of protein too. Feel free to get creative and add any of the additional extras you have on hand.
~ 2 medium sweet potatoes (orange kumara)- cubed
~ 1 can brown lentils (in springwater)
~ Mixed green leaves (baby spinach, cos lettuce)
~ Fresh parsley- roughly chopped
~ 2 small tomatoes – diced
~ Optional & delicious additions– sunflower seeds, pine nuts, goji berries, dried apricot pieces, goats feta cheese, avocado.
~ Roast the cubed sweet potato in olive oil and a little salt for 30 minutes or until soft through.
~ Line a large bowl with a bed of greens, then place on top the roasted sweet potato, lentils, parsley, tomatoes & any extras. Mix it all up with a simple olive oil & lemon dressing.
Simple and delicious, this will also keep well in the fridge if you need to keep for the next day.
I hope you enjoy these EASY and delicious hearty salads. Salads needn’t be boring, get creative and fill them with all your favourites – there are NO rules when it comes to salad making.
I love to include a bit of heartiness from grains or starch, freshness from greens, crunch from seeds, richness from a little goats feta / avocado and sweetness from gojis.
We would LOVE to see your creations!
Please share on instagram and tag us @i.am.company – so we can see your beautiful images – we like to be inspired too!