Healthy Food & Life: Quick and Easy Whole Food Plant-Based Meal Ideas
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Quick and Easy Whole Food Plant-Based Meal Ideas

couple cooking plant based meal

If you’re new to eating a plant-based diet, you’re probably wondering what everyone eats and how to make plant-based meals. There is such a huge choice of healthy foods to choose from, it can be overwhelming. At first, it is best to find meals you really like and keep them simple. Here are some quick and easy plant-based meal ideas for you.

The question I get asked the most from those that are new to eating a whole food plant-based diet is what I eat every day. Even though there are thousands of recipes to choose from, we picked plant-meals that sounded good and were easy to make. We found it is best that you pick several easy recipes that you like and stick with at first.

This makes it easier to transition yourself to a whole food plant-based diet but varied enough so you don’t get tired eating the same meals. With any plant-based recipes, you can play around with the spices and condiments any way you like, just as long as you don’t use refined vegetable oils.

Whole Food Plant-Based Dinner Ideas


When we first started this way of eating, we looked for whole food plant-based meal ideas and simplified the recipes to save time and keep it simple. We didn’t have a food processor or good non-stick pans. We used the pans we had and a Magic Bullet blender.

These were the whole food plant-based meal ideas we started with and still enjoy them today, two years later. 

plant-based-taco

Black Bean and Quinoa Burritos


Black bean and quinoa burritos is an easy whole food plant-based meal to make and an excellent source of protein and nutrients.   As with most recipes, you can play around the different spices and adjust the amounts to your liking.

Ingredients for the black beans:

  • 16-ounce can of black beans drained. 
  • 3/4 cup of salsa
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Ingredients for the quinoa:

  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons mild or medium chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 cup of white or tri-color uncooked quinoa

Instructions:

  • Cook the quinoa as per the instructions on the package. While the quinoa is cooking add the cayenne, chili powder, cumin, and salt to the quinoa.
  • Mash the beans.
  • Mix in the onion powder, garlic powder, and salsa into the beans.

Reheat the beans on the stove and then fill the tortilla shells with the beans and quinoa. You can also fill the shells and put them in the oven until hot. Top the burritos with salsa, oil-free guacamole, tomatoes, and whatever you like.  

It is not always easy to find oil-free burrito or corn tortilla shells. A popular brand of whole wheat tortilla shells without oil is Ezekiel, which comes in three tortilla shell sizes.

Mi Rancho and La Tortilla Factory make organic oil-free corn and whole wheat tortilla shells. You should always read ingredients since these companies also make shells with oil.


Black Bean Burgers


These black bean burgers are great for dinners and lunches.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 teaspoons mild chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Instructions:

  • Put the oats in a food processor or small blender and grind the oats. Pulse them to a powder and leave some full oats, you don’t want to make oat dust.
  • Place the beans in a bowl and mash them. Add the salsa, garlic powder, chili powder, and oats and mix thoroughly. You can also use a food processor for this step.
  • Make 2 to 4 black bean burger patties and spread the soy sauce or Worcester sauce on the patties
  • Place them on a non-stick baking mat and bake for about 40 minutes in the oven at 325.
  • You can also cook these on the stove-top in a non-stick skillet. Use a little vegetable broth to keep them from sticking. Pacific and Simple Truth from Kroger vegetable broths are oil-free.

You can use whole grain buns like Ezekiel 4:9 sprouted whole grain hamburger buns with ketchup, mustard or A1 sauce. I also like to use Dave’s Killer 21 Whole Grains and Seeds bread.


Plant-Based Stuffed Peppers


These stuffed peppers are one of my favorite quick and easy whole food plant-based meal ideas. The following recipe should make four stuffed peppers.

Sauce Ingredients:

You can make your own sauce or use an oil-free spaghetti sauce like Prego Low Calorie or Engine2 from Whole Foods. You can add any herbs and spices you like.

Filling Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of brown rice
  • 1 cup of brown lentils
  • 4 bell peppers

Instructions:

  • Cut the tops off the bell peppers and clean out the inside of the peppers.
  • Parboil the peppers (place them in boiling water for 7 minutes until softened.)
  • Cook 1 cup of brown lentils and then set aside. **
  • Cook 1 cup of brown rice, set aside. **
  • Season and cook the spaghetti sauce.
  • Fill the peppers with the lentils and brown rice, gently packing the filling down. Keep filling the peppers until almost overflowing with a rounded top.
  • Spoon the sauce over the stuffed peppers.
  • Place the stuffed peppers upright in the oven and bake for about 40 minutes at 350 uncovered. We use a fairly deep oven-safe Pyrex dish.
  • Let the stuffed peppers cool for about 5-10 minutes before serving.

** For more flavor, you can use vegetable broth instead of water to cook the lentils and brown rice in.

Spaghetti


Yes, spaghetti is a whole-food plant-based meal and it doesn’t get much easier. And it's not hard to get used to making everything without olive oil. You can start with an oil-free spaghetti sauce like Engine2 or Prego Low Calorie and add peppers, mushrooms and your choice of herbs and spices.

You can find whole wheat pasta everywhere, and if you want gluten-free pasta, there is pasta made of lentils, spinach, and chickpea flour.


More Quick and Easy Whole Food Plant-Based Meal Ideas


You can alter many recipes and make it a whole food plant-based meal. In no time at all, you will know exactly which foods and brands you need at the store.

Some other quick and easy whole-food plant-based meal ideas include:


Whole Food Plant-Based Breakfast Ideas


I usually have oatmeal with cinnamon, blueberries, and a little blackstrap molasses. I use organic rolled oats which take about 5 minutes to cook.

Overnight oats are another quick and easy breakfast you can make the night before and have it ready in the morning. Using a container like a Mason jar or a bowl, add the following ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (you can use quick oats, but rolled oats are preferred by most)
  • 1/2 cup of non-dairy milk like soy, oat, hemp, or almond milk
  • 3/4 tablespoon of chia seeds
  • You can add maple syrup for sweetener.  

Some people like to add a little peanut butter or almond butter for more protein and or walnuts for omega-3 fatty acid.

Stir several times and make sure the oats are covered with the plant-based milk and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning you can heat it or eat it cold.

You can also have breakfast cereal with your choice of plant-based milk. You want to find cereal without too many chemical additives, oil, a lot of sugar, or over-fortified. Fortified cereals could have vitamins you don’t want or need.

A few good cereals include:

  • Ezekiel Cereal
  • Uncle Sam Cereal
  • Post Shredded Wheat
  • Kashi
  • Barbara’s
  • Nature’s Path

Whole Food Plant-Based Lunch Ideas



baked potato and salsaLunch can be leftovers from dinner or you can bake some black bean burgers the night before and heat them up at work. Take a burrito, a bowl of chili, or have a baked potato and big salad.

Going out for lunch can be difficult. Most fast food restaurants sell plant-based burgers like the Beyond Beef or Impossible Burger, but they have refined oil and a lot of sodium. Unfortunately, they are nothing more than unhealthy vegan junk food.  

Some like to go to Wendy’s or other places and get a big baked potato with a salad and put salsa on them. Hopefully soon, more restaurants will offer whole-food plant-based oil-free meal options.

Conclusion


As you can see, it is not hard to come up with all kinds of quick and easy whole food plant-based meal ideas. It is best if you don’t make it overly complicated at first and stick to easy meals that you and your family enjoy. And before long you will be trying all kinds of new whole food plant-based oil-free recipes.

About The Author

Sam Montana is a certified Food Over Medicine instructor from the Wellness Health Forum Center and certified in optimal nutrition from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

© 2019 Sam Montana/Healthy Food and Life

Quick and Easy Whole Food Plant-Based Meal Ideas

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