Happy World Vegan Day! And actually, Happy World Vegan Month! Today, I’m going to throw out a challenge. Let’s see how many healthy vegetables, fruits, legumes (beans), and grains we can incorporate into our meals this month. It could be a fun challenge.
Maybe you’ll go to the grocery store and see a veggie that you never knew what to do with. And you might just be inspired to figure it out. I saw artichokes yesterday. I didn’t buy them because they weren’t on my list. But…as I’m writing this, I’m thinking, “I should have bought them and accepted the challenge of creating something tasty with them.” I remember my mom used to make them when I was a kid. She stuffed them with bread crumbs and then topped it with egg—I could leave that part off since I always thought it was gross. I think it was to hold the breadcrumbs in place. I could find an alternative…like maybe a drizzle of lemon juice and melted Earth Balance. Wow…I think I am becoming a chef…just by trying stuff!
To get you started, here are 10 suggestions of ways to incorporate more fruits, veggies, beans and grains without much effort.
- Add sliced banana to your cereal in the morning. Bananas add a little sweetness and they fight inflammation and stabilize gut health.
- Add lemon, lime or orange slices to your water to give it a little pizzazz.
- Snack on a tasty smoothie. You can go fruity or green. They are all good. My favorite one when I’m in a hurry is 1 cup soy milk (or other non-dairy milk of your choice), 1 banana, 1 cup frozen blueberries. That’s it. Throw it in a blender and blend. You may need to add a little extra water or a couple of ice cubes to get it to the thinness/coldness you like. Then enjoy!
- Create an oatmeal bar, like a taco bar or a salad bar, for all the oatmeal toppings: sliced banana, fresh (like these from my garden many years ago) or frozen strawberries, fresh or frozen blueberries, raspberries or blackberries, and of course, all the different types of nuts (don’t overdo it on these, since they contain a lot of fat).
- Instead of french fries, which I admit are delicious (but not really good for you), have a baked potato or mashed potatoes.
- Have a big salad for lunch. Once a friend brought a 13 ingredient salad to a party we were having. It was so incredibly beautiful! Think outside the box: you can put corn or asparagus, broccoli and cauliflower. If you don’t like them raw, steam them a bit then add them.
- For dinner, try creating a stir-fry with all your favorite veggies sautéed in a little oil and served over brown rice or another whole grain.
- Afternoon slump…how about an apple with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter. Core and slice the apple and either spread the peanut butter on the slices or add a few drops of non-dairy milk to thin it, and create a dip.
- When making soups, add a half cup to a cup of red lentils. It ups your fiber and your protein, and gives your soup a little body without changing the taste.
- This one is the most important: experiment, try new things, see what tastes you like and don’t like. Incorporate what you do, let go of what you don’t. Here’s one of my creations: farfalle with sundried tomatoes, asparagus and kalamata olives. Yum!