After about 16 months of researching, experimenting, and learning, Donna and I have evolved a way of eating vegan that works with our lifestyle. You may find it helpful as you ponder the transition to a plant-based diet. This is how we approach a healthy lifestyle –
Each morning starts with a bit of easy exercise – stretching, aerobics, abs, and cool down. Then we reward ourselves with breakfast.
It start’s with Rip’s Big Bowl (see recipe post). It is a combination of cereals. I mix a big batch in a plastic container and it lasts for a few weeks. We add ground flax meal, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and raisins. Then top with whatever is in our fruit bowl and a banana. Then add your favorite non-dairy milk: soy, almond, coconut, rice milk. We prefer unsweetened and organic, if available. Donna switches it up on occasion with steel cut oatmeal. If we travel, we just make up packets of the cereal and dry toppings in snack sized zip lock bags, enough for the entire trip. Then just add fruit and non-dairy milk.
We mostly eat left-overs for lunch. We always make enough food at dinner to have plenty of left-overs. I pack a lunch when I go to work a few days a week. Typically, it contains quinoa topped with soup or steamed veggies, a salad, a granola bar, an apple, and some dried fruit or nuts. Sometimes carrots and celery with peanut butter. sometimes vegan cookies. When traveling, we make wraps and supplement with fruit, nuts, granola or energy bars, and cookies. See Kater Lunch Wraps recipe. We sometimes supplement lunch with a green or fruit smoothie with some protein powder.
Dinner – weekend prep:
Our normal pattern is to prepare food on the weekend that will last through most of the week, then supplement with additional dinners as needed. We start with a batch of quinoa. It tastes good, and can add protein to any meal. Rinse it first, toss a couple of cups plus twice as much water into a rice cooker, and let it cook. For the main course, we vary between soup, steamed veggies, and stir fry. We use a large soup pot or two-tiered steamer or large wok to make enough to last through the week.
Dinner – week nights:
Most nights, the main course will be the prepared meal from the weekend, e.g. quinoa with soup, heated in the microwave, topped with worcestershire sauce, bragg Amino Acids, and/or nutritional yeast. Note that if the main course doesn’t already have a protein, we add chick’n or tofu or other. Toast with spread optional. We supplement with produce fresh picked from our garden, usually swiss chard, broccoli, squash, and kale. These seems to be the crops that keep on producing. Also, tomatoes, and herbs as needed. Donna often steams the greens as a side dish.
But when inspiration strikes, we make a different dinner. The inspiration could come from a fresh avocado that screams “Make Tacos,” or a new recipe to try, or the soup ran out. Here are some of our favorites.
Spaghetti – steam a spaghetti squash for the “noodles.” You can buy an organic sauce and be done with it. I like to make my own with lots of vegetables. See Spaghetti Sauce & Spaghetti Noodles recipe.
Hamburger – use a veggie patty, but it is the fixings that make all the difference. See Vegan Hamburger and Quinoa Burger recipes.
Stir fry – Carmelize onions in a wok. Then add chopped veggies, hardest first. Then seasonings. Recipe post pending.
Tacos – mock ground hamburger meat. grilled onions, sautéed mushrooms, vegan shredded cheese, basil, etc. See Tacos recipe post.
Soup – Soup is easy to make and especially great for the winter months. It is different every time we make it, depending on what is on hand and our mood. See Soup Formula post.
Juice or smoothie – a nice change up made from fresh produce. Can add protein powder.
Dessert: Desserts are still a work in progress. I have a serious sweet tooth, so this topic is near and dear to my heart. I’ve attended numerous classes on cooking vegan and gluten free desserts. My only problem with these is that they still contain sugar and fat. My goal is to create yummy and satisfying desserts with minimal fat and little or no sugar. I’ve got a few recipes in the works (pumpkin pie, lemon pie, coconut pie, and chocolate chip cookies). There are two challenges. One, to get the right firmness using cornstarch or arrowroot without it being too starchy. Two, to work out the optimal combination of sweeteners that minimizes the sugar without an aftertaste or other effects. My favorite sugar substitute is Erythritol (tastes like sugar, zero on the glycemic index, and no after effects). Xylitol is good as well, but only in small amounts. The other sugar substitutes tend to have an aftertaste, to which Donna is sensitive. You can also use less refined sugar such as raw sugar, palm sugar, agave, molasses, etc. I’ll post recipes when they are ready for publication.
Other dessert options include fresh fruit with a non-dairy topping or sorbet. I make the sorbet in an ice cream maker, using Erythritol instead of sugar, and a hint of mint. Recipe pending.