Spring is officially coming at us this week! Consider celebrating the arrival of a fresh new season filled with green, by springing for plants—eat vegan for an entire day.
There’s still time to join the masses in making an official pledge to eat plant-based this Friday, March 20, via Meatout.org. Since 1985, this international Meatout event has helped raise awareness of the benefits of eating vegan: helping animals, achieving great health, and saving the planet. Each year, thousands upon thousands make a pledge and join in.
If you are thinking of springing for plants this season—by pledging to do so Friday, or any other day—here are some suggestions to help you eat vegan at all hours, any day you choose.
FOR BREAKFAST: The Perfect Oatmeal
I used to be a breakfast skipper. Now I’m an oatmeal advocate. Although I’ve been slacking on my consistency lately, oatmeal is my ultimate breakfast go-to, and an optimal breakfast option to provide your body with nutrient-dense fuel first thing in the morning. I realize I gave oatmeal ample attention in last year’s “Meatout Your Spring,” feature, but oatmeal truly is a timeless wonder that deserves repeated attention.
Oatmeal on its own may seem boring. What isn’t boring, is decorating your oatmeal, using endless combinations of fresh fruit, nuts, cocao nibs, seeds, hemp hearts, and even powders, like Vega One. Most often, my oatmeal includes bananas or strawberries from the produce stand, along with generous amounts of peanut butter, chia seeds, and a few sprinkles of Chocolate Vega One.
FOR A MID-MORNING BOOST: Smoothie
Be it after a workout, or during a writing break, mid-morning is one of my favorite times of the day to enjoy a smoothie. As much as I love packing my smoothies with greens, like fresh kale and spinach, or frozen broccoli stalks, I also enjoy loading them with peanut butter and Chocolate Vega One.
Ingredients blended together, served in the above Vega cup:
- ¾ cup of almond milk
- 1 banana (fresh or frozen)
- ½- 1 scoop of Chocolate Vega One
- 1 Tbsp. Maca powder (optional)
- 1 large spoonful of peanut butter
- 1 handful of ice
Though I’m a chocolate lover, I also regularly opt to blend French Vanilla Vega One with a frozen broccoli stalk, banana, and almond milk, as an alternative. No matter which variety I choose, sometimes I hold off until the evening hours, and let a smoothie serve as a sweet treat as I wind down my day.
FOR LUNCH: Seasonal Salad
A salad can be overflowing with tons of leafy greens, but it doesn’t have to, especially if leafy greens aren’t your thing. Last week, I posted the following seasonal salad (free of leafy greens), on my Instagram and Facebook. In case you missed it, here it is.
Produce and more in this mixing bowl:
- 2 sliced cucumbers
- 1 sliced apple
- 1 handful of sliced strawberries
- ½ block tofu sliced
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 spoonful of tahini
- 3 pinches of salt
- 2 dashes of pepper
- 1 pinch of thyme
- 1 pinch of celery seed
- 1 squirt of Sriracha
If you happen to have dill on hand, throw it in! Andrew and I both agreed dill would have given the mix a cooling touch.
After practicing patience and letting the ingredients sit for just a few minutes, we added in cooked quinoa, and ventured out to the backyard to enjoy. TIP: If you let this mixture soak in the mixing bowl longer, the flavors will intensify.
FOR A SNACK: Hummus
I admit, there’s something marvelous and convenient about stopping by the store to pick up a container of hummus and a bag of pita for $5 when you’re on the run. But you know what is even more gratifying, and economical? Taking a few minutes to blend up your own.
Pictured above is my “Holy Spiced Citrus Hummus.” While I’m a fan of this particular combination of flavors, following is a quick list of all you really ever need to make hummus (at least, the way I make hummus).
Ingredients (usually) included in my hummus:
- garbanzo beans (chick peas) + whatever other beans you fancy [I’ve recently started adding in cannellini beans]
- large spoonful (or two) of peanut butter or tahini
- light water + a splash of oil
- squirt of Sriracha
- dash of cumin, curry, or any other favored spice that packs a hint of smokiness
- chopped red pepper or other select veggies
- quick splash of lemon, lime or orange juice for teensy bit of tart
I pour my beans into my Vitamix first, blending them with a small amount of water, and use the stick beater to help the process. I then add the remaining ingredients. Truly, the only thing that requires any effort when it comes to hummus is cleaning out your blender after the fact. I recommend walking away and letting the blender soak while putting your feet up and enjoying your hummus with sliced veggies or toasted pita.
FOR DINNER: Make Your Own Bowl
Andrew and I joke about how often we eat dinner out of bowls but it’s nearly every night of our lives. And shamelessly so.
One of our favorite go-to meals when feeding more than just us, is a “make-your-own bowl” concept. The idea is to have bowls filled with “toppings,” an array of cooked and raw veggies and protein options, for you (and your guests) to choose from, to then layer over quinoa, brown rice, cous cous, or whatever base you decided to prepare. This concept is especially helpful when you aren’t sure your dinner guests will want every single thing on the table. All they have to do is choose what they want, and creatively layer their selections in their bowl.
Here’s a visual look at a recent bowl from a make-your-own quinoa bowl night.
Toppings layered in this quinoa bowl:
- collard greens from my housemates’ backyard garden, cooked down in a pot with water, and fresh chopped garlic
- sliced mushrooms, onion and carrot mix, cooked in Balsamic Vinegar
- BBQ Chicken-Style Seitan [We usually use portobellos, tempeh or tofu for our protein of choice; however, I’d picked up a package of seitan at Whole Foods recently, so I simply threw it in the pan and let it heat/brown for a few minutes, then added in some BBQ sauce].
- homemade mix: black beans with diced tomato, onions, avocado and jalapeños
- spinach leaves
- mix of herbs from the backyard garden
Dressing and sauce selections to accompany our bowls included Ninja Squirrel Sriracha, plus our own Goddess-ish Dressing we mixed up.
Ingredients mixed in this jar of DIY Goddess-ish Dressing:
- apple cider vinegar
- nutritional yeast [nooch]
That’s it. It’s that simple. For my dressing process, I start with an empty jar, spoon in some tahini, thin it out with a bit of water, add the apple cider vinegar, then shake in some nutritional yeast flakes. I add in more of each ingredient, until I’m happy with both the consistency and flavor. And if the flavor gets to be too overpowering, I just add more water, then keep on adding ingredients, mixing and shaking. Going forward, I plan to experiment adding in some fresh lemon or lime juice, garlic, and maybe the slightest bit of ginger.
Spring for Better Health
Hopefully the above has given you a bit of plant-based food inspiration as you prepare to greet spring later this week. Regardless of what you decide to spring for this season, I encourage you to take an overall approach of springing for better health, by adding more local, plant-based options to your plate, and by clearing off things that are taking up too much room on your life plate, so you can spend more time being active, and feeling alive.