Plant-based diet essentials

With more and more people turning towards whole foods plant-based diet I think it’s gonna be a good idea to provide everyone new to this type of eating with some tips in terms of food choices. What you should always have and what type of foods go well together. At the end of this post, you’re gonna find a 30 pounds budget shopping list to download for free.

Green vegetables are something that you should always have in your fridge. They provide you with tons of microelements, water, antioxidants and fibre. The wider the variety of them the better. Even if you don’t enjoy the taste of them, greens like spinach, arugula or lettuce can be easily added to a smoothie or smoothie bowl and in that case, you cannot taste them. Depending on your location fresh greens can be very expensive. In that case, go for the frozen ones.

How to eat them?

Fresh greens go well as a base of any salad. They like balsamic vinegar, garlic, and lime/lemon juice.
Steamed/cooked greens go well with all the above and nutritional yeasts as well as just a sprinkle of salt. You can add them to the curry or any stir fry.
Greens in opposite to fruits can be enjoyed as juices on a daily bases in large quantities.

Whole grains
Whole grains such as quinoa, buckwheat, wild rice, whole grain pasta, and bread, are a great source of complex carbohydrates which should be your primary energy source throughout the day. They also provide you with fibre, microelements and good quality protein. They can be treated as a base of the meal or as a side.

How to eat them?

It depends on the grain but most of them go well when cooked with a bay leaf and a pinch of salt but here are some suggestions of my favourite combinations that include grains:

  • Toast with hummus or avocado
  • Brown/Basmati rice and black beans
  • buckwheat and green lentils
  • Wholegrain pasta and red lentil bolognese
  • quinoa, salsa, sweetcorn, and red kidney beans
  • Wild rice and chickpeas curry
  • Mixed into pancakes
  • As an oatmeal
  • As a homemade granola

You should not be afraid of eating fruits! Fruits provide the body with an abundance of nutrients. They’re a great source of fibre, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and water. Again as with greens the wider the variety the better. You should aim to have at least three different types of fruits in your house. Remember that fruits are healthiest as a whole, they’re okay blended (cause you don’t lose the fibre and nutrients attached to it) but they’re not so great as a juice.
And just to be clear by fruits I also meant bell peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and all the rest that contain seeds inside ( by definition in it has seeds inside in is biologically a fruit)

How to eat them?

  • On its own
  • As a fruit salad
  • As an additive to oatmeal
  • As a smoothie
  • As a smoothie bowl
  • As a spread-avocados
  • In sauces/spreads- mango salsa, guacamole
  • On toast-bananas+peanut butter, nut butter+blueberries

Legumes are one of the best anticancer foods in the world. They are full of fibre, have a high protein content, and provide the body with complex carbohydrates. You should consume different types of legumes on a weekly basis, as they have a different nutrient profile. Unfortunately, legumes may cause some bloating and they might not be considered the tastiest on their own (this is without seasoning). Therefore when cooking any type of legume think about cuisine or location in which they’re popular, and aim to season them with spices and match with food, from that culinary region.

Here are some examples what goes well with what types of seasoning:

  • Mung dal beans and lentils – curry mix, cumin, turmeric, garlic, chili, ginger, black pepper, coconut milk, tomatoes.
  • Black/red/white/butter/rosecoco beans- anything from Mexican/tex-mex cuisine, cumin, coriander, lime juice, garlic, smoked paprika, pepper, tomatoes, rice, olives, avocados, chili, oregano, basil, parsley
  • Chickpeas- curry, tahini, ginger, garlic, chili, cumin, coriander, onions, pitas, coconut milk, tomatoes, lemon juice.
  • Edamame – salt, seaweed, soy sauce, garlic, parsley, black pepper

This are just few examples of stables in my diet.

Starchy vegetables

Potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams and all the rest. These are one of the most satisfying foods you can think of. And no, they won’t make you fat. They will keep you full and satisfied. And also feel free to leave the skin on them when cooking. Just remember to wash them.

How to eat them?

  • As a mash
  • As a baked fries with hummus or any other homemade sauce/dip
  • As a whole
  • As a side to the meal
  • In curry
  • In soups

In terms of seasoning, you can’t go wrong with salt and parsley. Sweet potatoes also like cinnamon, allspice, and rosemary.

Root veggies
Just to name a few: carrots, beets, parsnips etc. They’re all great! You should always have as much as you can. They can be eaten raw, steamed, boiled, or even baked as wedges. They also make a great ingredient to some hummus variations ( carrots and beets). And they can be mixed into one great raw slaw. Most of them don’t need any seasoning. But they usually go well with vinegar, lime juice, ginger, and walnuts. Boiled beets are awesome with onions.

Nuts and seeds
As with everything variety is recommended. If you have a limited budget go for walnuts, hemp seeds, and chia seeds. You don’t need a lot of them, but they do provide you with essential fats, keeping you satisfied and healthy. Try to keep them in cold-fridge ideally, and in dark containers. The beneficial oils in nuts and seeds can easily go rancid and lose their benefits when left in warm places or exposed to light and heat.

Nut butter
Peanut butter, almond, cashew, mixed. You name it just have your favourite nut butter in a cupboard. It will serve you as a sauce base, toast spread or a healthier dessert.

Dried Fruits
Especially for everyone that is active. They’re calorie dense and can be used as a great source of energy. They also have nice fibre and micronutrient content, and when combined with nuts make a great sweet treat.

That’s pretty much it. Aim to have a variety of foods from each of the categories and you will be thriving on a plant-based diet. As long as you supplement Vit B12 and Vit D.
Feel free to download 30 pounds budget, grocery shopping list for a week worth of plant-based eating.

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