Have you made a resolution to cut down on meat and dairy (or just meat)? Have you made a decision to start a Meatless Monday Plan? Are you wondering where to start? Are you worried that you won't feel (and stay) full?
Well I am here to help.
Being a vegan, people ask me what I eat. Many people assume that I eat pasta, bread, rice and veggies all day. Others think I only eat rabbit food. Nothing could be further from the truth. People wonder how I could possibly fill up on plant based foods. I am here to give you some ideas on how to incorporate filling plant based foods into your diet, and give you some meal ideas, and some satisfying, and delicious recipes.
Many people who start out on a plant based diet, or who are going meat free one day a week, focus on what they are cutting out. Instead, it is important to focus on what you are adding in. It is not about removing the meat, and eating everything else that you have been enjoying - especially if the rest of what you are eating is vegetables and carbs. You need foods that are fiber, fat, and protein rich for you to stick with eating in this new way. Otherwise, you are hungry an hour or two later, crash after a blood sugar spike, and you do not enjoy your food.
Today I am going to share with you the main concerns I hear from others - the "How are you full from what you eat?" question. I am going to focus on filling foods - mainly foods with fiber, proteins and fats.
Here is the list of foods that fill you up that I will be sharing meal ideas and recipes with you:
1. Avocados - I chose the fat-healthy avocado first because it is available at many restaurants where some proteins I list are not. I have found this beauty at Mexican restaurants of course (guacamole, yes please!), Thai (who knew?), American, and chain restaurants.
Why avocado? Have you ever ordered an appetizer of chips and guacamole, and found yourself too full to eat your main dish? The avocado is incredibly filling because it is full of healthy fat. I have made a meal of it at restaurants where nothing else is available to me.
- Have an ALT sandwich (avocado, lettuce and tomato), with mayo or hummus. Follow Your Heart makes a delicious vegan chipotle mayo.
- Add avocado to a green curry (after everything else has cooked), with grilled eggplant, and rice. I had this combination at a Thai restaurant and it was fabulous!
- Add it to a smoothie instead of bananas to give a creamy consistency.
Try this recipe:
Quick and Easy Guacamole - this so easy to make! It incorporates salsa to add extra veggies and crunch.
2. Beans - I hear from many people that they do not like beans. Have you had hummus lately? What about a vegetable soup with beans? Chili perhaps? There are so many different kinds of beans and different ways to prepare them, that I am sure there is a bean recipe out there for you. Beans are fiber and protein rich, so they are very filling.
First, let's look at some of the different kinds of beans (there are 40,000 bean varieties held by the world's genebanks - yes 40,000!).
I am not going to go into each bean's flavor in this post, but just give you an idea of beans that you may have overlooked:
- garbanzo (chickpeas)
- black bean
- kidney beans (this was one of the only beans I was introduced to as a child and hated them at the time - not realizing how many other possibilities there were)
- split peas
- black-eyed peas
- Great Northern
- Make enchiladas with black beans and sweet potato.
- Instead of quesadillas, make beanadillas. Add spinach or other veggies, and top with salsa.
- Make a salad with edamame, your favorite veggies, and dressing. I made a Rainbow Salad with Miso Dressing, which is delicious.
- Make a Mexican pizza with refried beans, vegan cheese, salsa, Tofutti sour cream, guacamole and lettuce on top of your favorite pizza crust.
Try these recipes:
Black Bean Jicama Tacos with Chipotle Cream - a healthy alternative to corn tortillas, jicama is the shell in this filling, satisfying recipe. The chipotle cream has cashews, so there is extra protein to fill you up. It adds a smoky cohesiveness to the dish.
Chipotle Hummus - this recipe uses garbanzo beans. It is spicy and smoky. It goes great with chips, crackers, veggies, and on sandwiches and wraps. I have many other hummus recipes, including other spicy ones in my Dips section.
3. Quinoa - This fiber rich grain is one of the few plant foods that are a complete protein. It can serve as a substitution in recipes that call for rice or couscous. Being someone who is gluten intolerant I love this filling, gluten free grain.
- Instead of couscous in a tabouli, use quinoa instead.
- Instead of oatmeal for breakfast, substitute quinoa. Add your favorite fresh or dried fruit, nuts and seeds.
- Add quinoa to a salad, with black beans, corn, cilantro, and your favorite salsa or dressing.
Try this recipe:
Stuffed Green Peppers - this recipe not only has healthy peppers, it contains quinoa and black beans. There's cumin, oregano, chili powder, and tomato sauce. What's not to love?
4. Nuts - No these are not just for trail mix and nut bars (although I do have a great trail mix recipe). They contain healthy fats, fiber, and are one of the best plant sources of protein. They work well in soups and stews (see recipes below), sauces, salads, and smoothies.
- Cashews make an excellent cream sauce. The possibilities are endless for different sauces and dressings - miso, chipotle, cilantro and lime, and sweet ones as well.
- Make your own cashew bars. Add dried fruit, almonds, coconut, cacao, or whatever your favorites are.
- Make a dip with spicy salsa, a nut butter, cumin, and lemon juice.
- Make Stuffed Jalapeños with peanut butter, curry paste and Tofutti cream cheese.
Try these recipes:
African Peanut Stew - this is my one of my new favorite foods! It is extremely satisfying - tried and tested by meat eaters who said they could eat this daily because it was so delicious and filling. Peanut butter is the star ingredient, accompanied by sweet potato, eggplant, and other veggies.
Creamy Tomato Basil Soup - this delicious soup is made with roasted tomatoes and cashews.
5. Tofu - I have heard many people say they do not like tofu, and that it is "bland," but have you ever had it in chocolate pudding? How about in a curry? It is similar to meat, in that it soaks up the flavors surrounding it. So if it is not made with rich, wonderful flavors, of course it will be bland! It is full of protein, and really good for you. I prefer the sprouted kind, which has even more benefits than other kinds. Marinate and season the same way you would meat.
- Marinate tofu and add to a wrap with your favorite veggies and dressing or dipping sauce.
- Instead of eggs, have a Tofu Scramble. Add your favorite vegetables and spices.
- Add to tacos, enchiladas, chili, gumbo, or soup.
Try these recipes:
Tofu Spring Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce - as you can see here these also have peanuts - so double whamee - extra protein, extra filling! These are really easy to make and they are delicious.
Tofu Frittata - this is easy to make, and it is spicy and filling. It is one of my go-to meals (any time of the day).
By the way, the Tofu Frittata links you to a virtual vegan potluck of 85 participants from around the world that share their vegan recipes. Score!
Chocolate Pudding with Berries - yes, tofu! This is a sweet, filling dessert, made with no sugar (unless you include the all natural dates, but those are optional).
6. Tempeh - this overlooked, healthy, fermented soy based protein is extremely versatile. Don't let the "fermented" part scare you, it just means it is easier to digest and healthier than a lot of protein sources. It has a similar consistency to ground beef, when cooked. It is probably the only protein listed that I would say has a similar texture to meat.
- Cook tempeh in BBQ sauce and water, and cook down until sauce thickens. Serve with corn, onion and avocado in corn tortillas.
- Add to tacos with your favorite salsa and veggies. Cook tempeh with chili powder, cumin or other seasonings.
- Use in sloppy joes, in place of chicken in a salad (chicken salad), make into "meat" balls, add to an ALT (avocado, tomato and lettuce).
Try this recipe:
Tempeh Avocado Wrap - not only does this have tempeh, it also has avocado, and a tahini spread (made from sesame seeds; tahini is very filling). This wrap is one of my favorite combinations.
7. Mushrooms - Have you ever had a Portobello wrap? Portobello mushrooms are very "meaty" and filling. When I vacationed in New Mexico, I lived on fajitas with corn tortillas, grilled portobello mushrooms, peppers, and the fabulous red and green sauces that New Mexico is famous for.
- Grill a Portobello, and put in a sandwich with tomato, onion, lettuce and mayo.
- Add to pizza, salads, spaghetti, soup, tofu scramble - the possibilities are endless.
Try this recipe:
Green Curry with Tofu and Vegetables - this recipe is mainly tofu based (with a ton of veggies, of course). Since Create Mindfully is still so new, I only have a couple of recipes with mushrooms. It has coconut milk, which is a filling, healthy fat. Combined with brown rice noodles or brown rice, it makes a healthy, delicious meal.
Portobello and Pepper Fajitas with Salsa - this filling meal was inspired by my trip to New Mexico. When I was there I fell in love with vegan fajitas.
8. Flax and Chia seeds - Both seeds are full of fiber, protein, and omega-3s. These little seeds should not be overlooked. They become gelatinous when soaked in liquid. You can find them made into raw dehydrated crackers, but a 4oz. package will set you back about $7. Below I show how to make your own, for a lot less money. If you own a dehydrator, making your own crackers is a no-brainer. If you do not, you could bake them at the lowest temperature on your oven's settings. Besides the crackers listed below, I also have a Savory Squash Cracker recipe that is really good.
- make a chia pudding by soaking the chia seeds in almond milk, and adding cacao powder, coconut or cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Add chia seeds to almond milk to make French toast instead of eggs.
- Add to salads and smoothies.
Try these recipes:
Mocha Smoothie - this yummy smoothie has frozen banana, chia seeds, cacao powder, and Teeccino: Mediterranean Herbal Coffee Mocha, 11 oz (a great alternative to coffee). *FYI that is an affiliate link. I will make a small commission if you make a purchase through that link.
Pizza Crackers - these I have made with chia seeds, then later with flax seeds. They taste just like the name implies - pizza. Eat with a Roasted Tomato Basil Dip (shown here), and it makes a filling snack. The dip is made with northern white beans, so you'll get a lot of protein and fiber from the combination.
Spicy Flax Crackers - this is another favorite cracker of mine. Made with vegetables, flax seeds, chia seeds, jalapeño and spices, these crackers provide quite the kick. They go well with a spicy hummus like my Spicy Black Bean, or my Jalapeño Cilantro.
In this post I focused on plant based foods that fill you up. In a future post I will discuss meat and cheese analogs - which are meat and cheese substitutions. I will talk about my personal (and not so personal) favorites, as well as tastes and textures, so you can hopefully weed some out.
If you want more recipe inspiration, check out my Gluten Free Vegan Recipe Index. I add anywhere from 2-6 new recipes every week.
Are following a Meatless Monday plan? What are the issues you struggle with? Let me know in the comments below, and I will try to address your concerns with either a response or I will address it in future posts.