Now I for one could not be with out oily fish and succulent, protein rich chicken in my life – but ya know what? Every so often, all I really crave for is a simple plateful piled high with vegetables and protein sourced from plants: a dish that would do the infamous #MeatFreeMonday hashtag some kinda justice. Rest assured meat lovers – the vegetarian life really doesn’t have to be boring or lacking in substance – but actually satisfying, abundant and down right delicious. I see it as the perfect opportunity to experiment with the original goods that Mother Nature has generously gifted us with… And the result can often be just as tasty as my favourite meaty meals.
The real key here? Well, I have found that incorporating as much variety in my diet as possible and not falling in to the ‘same meal’ rut day in day out has made a big difference to how I feel – and leaves me feeling excited at the thought of what I can cook up next…
At the start of every week, the #meatfreemonday hashtag becomes a top trend in the foodie world – so I thought I’d share a few of my fail safe tips to nailing an epic vegetable based meal that will actually leave your stomach (and taste buds) feeling niiiicely satisfied.
Yep, it is possible guys… Read on to see how!
Have a look in your fridge and your cupboards – then take out the first things that catch your eye.
The trick is to not think too much about what flavours will and won’t go together – and rustle up your very own creation that has a lil bit of everything going on. Mix and match to your hearts content, my friend!
Try different cooking methods – like sauteing red onion and tomato, then steaming courgette to make each and every mouthful fresh and interesting. This is one of my favourite ways to eat lunch because of the endless possibilities you can have – not to mention the fact that it’s a pretty nifty way to use up the last contents of the fridge before the next food shop…
If you really want to feel satisfied by the end of your feed – then a sad old plate piled with salad leaves, cucumber and tomatoes is obviously not gonna be the right way to go on. Instead, try and think of vegetables that have a more ‘meaty’ texture; mushrooms and aubergines are your best bets here! You can go crazy with the ways to cook them and they also help to add some substance your meal – whether they are paired with a good portion of grains, or simply added to curries and hearty stews.
Aaaand that brings me to my next tip: If you’re not incorporating meat or fish in your meal, then make sure you don’t cut out the carbs – as you’re bound to feel hangry (hungry + angry = not so fun) soon after! Lately I can’t get enough of brown rice pasta (I use Rizopia – which is available here) – it’s insanely quick and easy to cook and tastes just like regular pasta. The real bonus? The wheat and gluten free recipe means you won’t feel bloated afterwards, but content and comforted. #CarbsNotCourgetti FTW!
Ancient grains like quinoa and buckwheat are loaded with plant based protein and slow releasing carbohydrates – both of which come in preeeetty handy when you have a long afternoon ahead and you want to stay energised. They also really help to bulk out dishes too, which is definitely what you want when it comes to nailing the perfect meat free lunch!
Thought nut butters were just for your spreading on toast or drizzling on your porridge? Perhaps it’s time I introduced you to the revelation that is almond butter, as a savoury sauce…
High in protein and healthful fats – this is a personal favourite way of mine to add that much needed ‘umph’ to my veg, and it’s so, SO simple. I may even have a recipe for this bad boy right here, so be sure to check it out!
I mean, I’m not usually one to toot my own horn, but it’s pretty lit…
Okay, okay… I know that you’re probably all bored of hearing this by now – but our bodies do kinda love it when we fuel them with the good kinda fats. Sometimes all a dish needs is the simple addition of avocado with a glug of olive oil to boost the omegas and give your skin some serious lovin’! Keep your glow going and ensure your meal has some form of healthful fat to give it that finishing, beautifying touch.
Not just for dread lock sporting hippies – pulses really do tick all the right boxes when it comes to replacement meat in your meals. Think fibre, protein and carbohydrates to fuel you up right; plus they are cheap, easy to cook with and wonderfully versatile! Throw some in to a pan with cooked brown rice, tamari, garlic and hella veg for a classier take on fried rice.
Greens? Check. Reds? Check. Oranges? Uh-huh… CHECK.
I have found that the key to incorporating as much variety (and nutrients) in to my meals is to focus on getting as much colour as I can going on. Just to give a little idea – this vibrant, taste bud tingling number is a sweet potato stuffed with grated carrot and beetroot, a crumbling of tangy of feta – then simply paired with a avocado and rocket salad. Effortless. Effective. Epic.
Think of your favourite comfort food and take it to the next level by making it from scratch. Take the classic baked beans and jacket potato for example: The baked beans are insanely easy to make (a tin of tomatoes, haricot beans and the right seasoning is all you need) – and bunging a sweet potato in the oven for an hour requires minimal effort. Take your time and put some love and passion in to the cooking process… You’ll not only feel pretty proud for making your food from scratch, but also comforted by your favourite old school foodie combination!
Remember guys… Eggs are for life, not just for breakfast.
Soft boiled, poached, scrambled, in an omelette – you name it: Eggs are a cracking (ahem… pardon the pun) way to add a hit of protein and omegas to your meat free plate. For me, you can’t go wrong with a soft boiled duck egg… I mean, if that’s not yolk porn – then I don’t know what is!