Whether you’re part-time or full-time plant-based, tasty food should be a priority. After all, it’s the most immediate pleasure that brings us back to eating regularly. But we’ve got to find that fine balance, limiting unhealthy foods and focussing on an abundance of whole, plant-based foods. So if we can get healthy food tasting good, we get the best of both worlds, right? I’ve …
I grew up eating lentils so often, they were a staple in our home. My mom’s Mauritian upbringing meant that lentils were always available to be served alongside a curry with rice, and my dad was always a big fan of a big bowl of lentil soup—and now, so am I.
I tried out a variation on vegan banana bread that is gluten-free and sugar-free, using quinoa flour as a one-to-one substitute for wheat flour. And it’s wonderful! I used the quinoa flour from Woolworths, but you can also just buy quinoa and process it into a flour using a food processor or Nutribullet. This flour is a fantastic option for gluten-free baking, since it’s much more nutrient-dense than other gluten-free flour blends that use potato starch and other low-protein flours.
When I was thoroughly into my “veganising everything” phase, one of the holy grails of vegan cuisine that I was trying to crack, was a vegan ‘omelette’. As you can imagine, there are a bunch of recipes online and I tried a few: some were cool, some not so much, but all were a bit complex with a long list of ingredients. So when I realised that the most important ingredient of a vegan omelette is chickpea flour (besan), and that there’s actually a very old Indian tradition of savoury pancakes made with besan, I was like, damn—that’s all I need.
When it comes to weeknight dinners, it doesn’t get much easier than this: just pop a sweet potato in the oven (or microwave), sauté some beans with onion and spices, and load up those spuds. You can pretty much use whatever you have on hand, but beans are great (for protein and iron), some spice for flavour, guac and vegan cheese for richness, and a sauce or condiment for freshness.
If there’s one legume I could eat every single day, it’s chickpeas. They’re incredibly versatile: sprout them to eat in a salad; grind them into a flour to make savoury pancakes, cook them to make hummus, or soak them to make falafel. Amazing little things, and true superfoods (they’re high in protein, fibre, iron and other minerals).
I had a couple of butternut squash that I’d bought pre-lockdown and almost forgot about them: a couple of months later and they were still sitting there, waiting to be turned into something tasty. I can’t believe how long those things last! Talk about pandemic survival foods, squash is where it’s at.
I’m so into soups right now. Butternut soup, mixed veg soup, lentil soup, tomato soup… They’re easy, pretty quick, and they warm your soul.
When it comes to crackers and other carriers for avo or hummus, there are options in the supermarkets, but they’re often either not vegan-friendly, or very processed, or very expensive. So in that context, these seed crackers are a blessing: they’re really (really!) easy to make, very nutritious (high protein, good fats—but go easy on them), and easily adaptable to use different seeds and spices.
Smoothies have become a regular feature in my daily meals when the weather’s warmer, I like making one in the late morning (I’m a coffee-no-breakfast kind of person). I always keep frozen banana chunks in my freezer, and often other fruit, too. When pineapples are in season, I’ll buy a couple, chop one up and freeze it for smoothies. The rest are all easily available pantry items that keep for months.
Heading towards a plant-based diet? Maybe the idea of cutting out familiar foods is overwhelming, especially if you’re used to eating meat, dairy or eggs daily and the thought of eating only plants (eep!) is a scary one. I get it: ‘cutting out’ foods can feel a bit like you’re depriving yourself—that your new diet is some kind of punishment, …
I grew up eating black lentils all the time, but I only really discovered red lentils as an adult. And I love them. They’re beautiful, nutritious, easy to cook, and cheap. While most legumes (especially beans) are best soaked overnight before cooking, these guys don’t need any of that forethought that organised people have. Especially split red lentils (same thing, but each bean is in two halves): their cooking time is way shorter than whole red lentils. It’s a wonderful thing for busy (or lazy) people.
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