When I tell people I am a vegan, or that I eat a whole-foods, plant-based diet, they always say to me, “What do you eat?”
I think they picture me chasing a lettuce leaf around my plate. Not so. They are surprised when I cook for them or I show up to a party with my own delicious looking/tasting meal. If you are willing, try one meal. Maybe that will turn into two or more.
A note about these meals; in addition to eating completely plant-based, I also eat a very low fat diet. I do not eat oil, avocados or nuts. I occasionally have some seeds. A plant-based, low-fat diet has been proven to ward off cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. Anyone can benefit from this lifestyle. I follow Dr. Esselstyn’s Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease (PRHD) plan.
I have frequently asked questions about supplements, protein etc. at the end of the menu planning.
What I eat in a day:
I am giving three examples from super easy-no time for preparation, medium preparation and full-out cooking. Obviously, these menus work best mixed and matched so you aren’t in the kitchen all day one day and not much the next.
Day 1 – Easy, little to no preparation (Think of these examples as entry level, transitional meals)
Disclaimer, you are not supposed to have coffee on the PRHD plan, but this is where I draw the line. It is one of my favorite things in the world and I refuse to give it up! I have a cup of organic coffee with a little bit of Pacific brand oat milk. Remember, no nut or coconut milks, they are high in fat.
Cereal combo of Eziekiel, raw organic rolled oats, and organic puffed kamut (you can use any cereal and it doesn’t have to be a combo, I just like this) with berries, ground flaxmeal, cinnamon and oat milk.
Tip: I keep frozen berries in my freezer and run them under hot water to defrost when berries are out of season.
I try to make enough dinner the night before so I can have leftovers. If that doesn’t happen, I can make this quick lunch.
Hummus sandwich OR an Engine 2 frozen vegan burger (you can buy this at Whole Foods) and a salad. I will just describe the sandwich because you can figure out the frozen veggie burger.
I use Whole Foods low-fat hummus, Eziekiel bread lightly toasted, topped with any veggies such as spinach, tomato, banana peppers or jalapenos, cucumber, sliced zucchini and a splash of red wine vinegar and oregano. I make my salad from lettuce, spinach or kale, shredded carrots, sliced zucchini and red peppers tossed in lemon or lime. Use whatever vegetables YOU like for the sandwich and the salad.
Tip: Sundays I grocery shop and wash and cut up my produce for the week. Keep a moist paper towel around produce to keep it from drying out and going bad.
Rising Moon frozen organic butternut squash ravioli topped with fat free marinara (Whole Foods has an organic brand or Engine 2) and a salad (same idea as the lunch salad).
Tip: I am always trying to get in more vegetables. When the butternut squash ravioli is one minute away from being finished, I throw in some fresh cut up kale or spinach, frozen peas and some frozen broccoli into the boiling water.
Day 2 – Medium Effort Preparation
Greens and berries smoothie. If you are worried you will not get enough protein, this is where you can make sure you get your fill. Garden of Life RAW protein has 22 grams of protein. Throw a scoop in your smoothie. I change mine up a lot, but here is the basic recipe (use ALL organic if possible):
4 stalks of kale or 1 stalk of Swiss chard or a BIG handful of spinach
¼- ½ of a beet, peeled
Handful of frozen blueberries
Handful of frozen cherries
1 small banana
½ T cacao
1 scoop of raw organic Green Superfood
pinch of cayenne pepper
pinch of turmeric and a pinch of black pepper
1 t cinnamon (if you have the option ceylon is way better than korintje, you can get it at Whole Foods in the bulk spices section)
5 ice cubes
And enough water to blend
Broccoli and “cheez” or broccoli mac n’ “cheez” LINK TO RECIPE and a salad without oil.
Dinner (I am going to actually give you two options because I realize the first one might not be palatable to a lot of people):
Option 1 – Rice, beans and greens. If you have a rice cooker, mazel tov. If not, it is a worthy investment. Make sure it comes with a steamer basket. I have an Aroma brand rice cooker.
If you have a rice cooker, cook the brown rice accordingly and in the last seven minutes fill the steamer basket with kale or your favorite greens and steam until they are bright green. Do not overcook. No rice cooker? Cook the rice according to directions, steam some greens in a pot with a tight-fitting lid and a tiny bit of water.
Top the greens with one of these LINK TO CASA RECIPES
I like to buy black beans in bulk and soak and cook them. But I always have a big can of Eden Brand beans on hand when I don’t have time to cook. Look for BPA free cans if you use canned beans. If you are soaking and cooking your black beans, throw in some garlic, onion and cumin and cook until the beans are tender. It usually takes 2-3 hours. OR like I said, open a can of beans and voila.
I cook a few sweet potatoes in the oven to have on hand during the week. I think sweet potatoes are a great addition to rice, beans and greens. It makes the bowl look pretty too. Remember to eat ALL the colors, they each offer something that your body needs. I don’t love beets, but they are heart healthy (red gives you a clue). I got in two bites of steamed beets here, you can see two bites of beets next to my sweet potato (I choked them down like a toddler) and the rest of the beet was in my morning smoothie.
Option 2 – from the PRHD Cookbook S.O.B. Burgers – Smoky Oat Bean Burger and “fries.” Tip – this is a very quick recipe if you already have some brown rice cooked up. The recipe calls for warm rice, but I have used brown rice out of the fridge and it is totally fine.
1/2cup short-grain brown rice
1 cup vegetable broth (to cook the rice in – you don’t need it if you have cooked rice)
½ cup nutritional yeast
2 (15-ounce) cans no-salt-added cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
¼ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
¼ cup salsa, as hot as you can handle
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon smoky paprika
¼ teaspoon liquid smoke (optional) – I have never used this
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees if you choose to bake and not pan-fry the burgers. We make them both ways and don’t have a preference. Sometimes it is the busy stovetop or occupied oven that dictates.
Line a sheet with parchment paper if you are going to cook burgers in the oven.
In a rice cooker or in a pot on the stovetop, combine the rice and vegetable broth, and cook as directed. When the rice is done, transfer to a bowl and stir while the rice is still warm and moist. The rice will get stickier and stickier the more you stir.
Into the rice mixture add the nutritional yeast, cannellini beans, oats and salsa. Using your hands smash, smash, smash until none of the skins of the beans are intact. Really smash and squeeze the beans.
Add turmeric, onion powder, garlic powder, smoky paprika, and liquid smoke (if using) and continue to hand-mix and mash. The mixture will be quite mortarlike.
Form the mixture into patties.
Place the patties in a nonstick frying pan over medium heat and cook for 5 minutes per side, or bake for 20 minutes, 10 minutes per side until warmed through.
Serve with your choice of fixings!
Note: I use Ezekiel bread, Engine 2 buns or just wrap the burger in lettuce.
Fries – preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Cut up white and sweet potatoes into french fry shape, place them on a baking sheet that is covered with parchment paper and cook 30-45 minutes until golden brown.
Day 3 – When you have time to cook
Breakfast – steel cut oats. I cook 4 cups at a time and eat several days in a row. I top the oatmeal with defrosted berries, flaxmeal, cinnamon and a tiny bit of oat milk.
Lunch – Summer salad and buffalo cauliflower “wings”
Summer salad: lettuce, fresh chopped mint and dill to taste, cucumbers and fresh mandarin orange slices. The dressing is a dollop of Whole Foods low fat brand hummus and squeezed lemon or lime to thin it out. Toss to coat.
Buffalo Cauliflower “Wings” from the PRHD cookbook –
1 head of cauliflower
1 cup of chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 cup of oat milk
1 ½ cups of hot sauce such as Franks or Cholulu
Heat oven to 425 degrees
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Cut a head of cauliflower into bite-size chunks.
In a bowl, mix together chickpea flour, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, and oat milk. Stir the batter so there are no lumps.
Immerse the cauliflower pieces into the batter so they are well coated, and then place them on the lined pan. Cook for 18 minutes.
Take the pan out of the oven and drown (seriously) the cauliflower “wings” in your favorite hot sauce. Cook for another 8 minutes. The PRHD book has some different dressings for the cauliflower “wings” but I just eat them plain.
Pad Thai – This recipe is SOOOO good, even non-vegans love it. My amendments to this recipe: Use organic, non-GMO tofu and do not use any oil. I just got this nonstick pan and it works well. https://www.bulbhead.com/indoor-living/kitchen-tools-gadgets/cookware-bakeware/red-copper-pan.html
Pad Thai recipe:
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: What can you eat on a plant-based (vegan) diet?
A: Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. All of those recipes/examples from above came from just those items. Do not eat anything that had a face or a mother or came from something that had a face or a mother.
Q: Will I get enough protein?
A: YES! We are so obsessed with protein. Why? Probably because the dairy and meat lobbies have us convinced that our muscles will waste away if we don’t consume their products. As I always say, if broccoli had a lobby we’d be eating a heck of a lot more of it.
According to the PRHD book, we need 50-70 grams of protein a day. Many experts say you don’t need that much. Have you ever heard of someone dying from lack of protein? A ½ cup of black beans has 20 grams of protein! A quarter cup of dry steel cut oats has 5-7 grams of protein, a quarter cup of dry quinoa has 6 grams, 1 cup of kale has 2.9 grams, 1 slice of Ezekiel bread has 4 grams, a half cup of Ezekiel cereal has 7 of protein, a cup of oat milk has 4 grams of protein. YOU WILL GET ENOUGH PROTEIN.
Q: What about healthy fats?
A: Everything has fat in it. The goal is to have 10% daily fat intake instead of the usual 37% fat intake that the typical American eats daily. If you are trying to reverse ANY disease state, especially heart disease, you don’t need any added oil.
From the PRHD book, “Between 14-17 percent of olive oil is saturated, artery-clogging fat – every bit as aggressive in promoting heart disease as the saturated fat in roast beef. And even though a Mediterranean-style diet that allows such oils may slow the rate of progression of coronary artery disease, when compared with diets even higher in saturated fat, it does not arrest the disease and reverse its effects.”
Q: What about fish for omega 3-fatty acids? Isn’t it healthy if I have that?
A: NO! From the North American Vegetarian Society regarding farmed fish, “Farmed fish are fed pellets designed for unnaturally rapid weight gain. Under these abnormal intensely crowded conditions, fish suffer from stress, infections, parasites, oxygen depletion, and gas bubble disease (similar to “the bends” in humans). In an effort to prevent the spread of disease among the fish, producers give them large amounts of antibiotics.” https://navs-online.org/articles/troubled-waters-the-case-against-eating-fish/
From Snopes regarding Tilapia from China, “And there’s no guarantee that wild-caught fish are a safer food source than farmed fish, as the former often ingest a variety of toxins and other pollutants that flow into the world’s waterways.” Read more about how they feed manure to these fish http://www.snopes.com/food/warnings/tilapia.asp
You can get omega 3- fatty acids from flax seeds/ground flax meal.
Q: Do you take any supplements?
A: Yes. I take B12 (anyone on a plant-based diet needs this supplement), Niacin (which is B3) to lower my cholesterol, make sure it is the kind that makes you flush, not the non-flushing kind; otherwise it doesn’t lower your cholesterol. I take 500-1000 mg before bed so I am asleep when the uncomfortable flushing occurs. It feels like your body is itchy. I also take vitamin D3 and a supplement called CholesT which contains CoQ10, red yeast rice and other cholesterol lowering compounds.
Don’t be intimidated. Plant-based cooking and eating is very enjoyable and you will get to live a long and healthy life! Here are a few websites for recipes. You may have to make some substitutions if the recipe calls for oil. If you are baking, substitute applesauce for oil. If you are cooking, just forgo the oil. Use a nonstick pan.