Vegan diet reboot -- the healthy edition
March 8, 2017 11:48 AM   Subscribe

I've not strayed from my veggie diet ways, but I have strayed from the more healthful aspects of it (this likely explains my current weight loss plateau). Best tips and tricks for choosing better food?

I admit it: I love carbs. (No Knead bread, I need to quit you.) My partner and I are both very good home cooks; we make a lot of our own food--hummus, salad dressing, bread, vegan cheese, veggie burgers, etc--and admittedly sometimes rely a little too much on brown rice, despite having a cabinet full of quinoa/amaranth/millet and other grains.

I guess I am looking for veggie heavy recipes the Hive Mind relies on. I mean, I eat a salad everyday, but I know I'm not adding enough veg to my mornings and evenings. We have no food allergies, so no restrictions. I just want to reboot having a healthy vegan diet instead of getting lazy and relying on heavy comfort foods. I feel sluggish and poky, AskMe, and I want to feel good inside and out again!
posted by Kitteh to Food & Drink (19 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
A few that I like are mediterranean quinoa salad, green bean salad, and stir fry with toasted cashews (I like this with black rice).
posted by neushoorn at 12:04 PM on March 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Maybe looking at a Jain diet?
And also thinking about the proportion of sweets. One of my Jain friends has the worst sweet tooth ever, and is always struggling with his health.
posted by mumimor at 12:12 PM on March 8, 2017

Miso soup with tofu and/or Quorn filet slices is a _wonderful_ breakfast. I usually have a pack of ramen in there, an entire small shelf-stable box of tofu in cubes, some frozen peas, soy sauce, maybe some onion powder, and maybe the leaves from a celery bunch. I then stir in (when it's just off the boil) some miso dissolved in a small cup of hot water.
posted by amtho at 12:24 PM on March 8, 2017

I know you said you're already eating salads, but I LOVE this cashew-based ranch dressing. It works well as a dip, so perhaps it will inspire you to eat more raw vegetables.
posted by FencingGal at 12:25 PM on March 8, 2017

I should mention: my husband and I also have terrible sweet tooths! I used to bake but I am trying not make sweets. (Also, I hate stevia so please don't suggest that as a sugar sub. I have white sugar, brown sugar, maple syrup, and agave syrup in the house for sweeteners, but they get used sparingly if not they are not in baked goods.)
posted by Kitteh at 12:26 PM on March 8, 2017

I am eating super yummy minestrone right now. Saute onions, carrots, celery, loads of garlic, diced potatoes, add veggie stock. Add tomato passata or a can of diced tomatoes. Add a few handfuls of green beans, shredded cabbage, and thinly sliced cauliflower. Add marjoram, salt, pepper, and a pinch of sweetener. So filling and good. You can make a little garlic toast on the side to satisfy the carb cravings. Or add beans or chickpeas to the soup after a few days. It tastes better the longer it sits in the fridge.
posted by bluebelle at 12:33 PM on March 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

The ubiquitous "bowls" are so trendy, but a good solution to your problem! I usually improvise with what's in the fridge around a loose flavor theme, like southwestern or Japanese. This page and this page have some ideas. I like to eat them warm so they feel different than a salad.

Also, pureed soups taste great and feel so fancy. I especially like carrot and butternut squash because they get so velvety. If you roast the vegetables first, you'll get a deeper flavor. My favorite squash soup recipe is similar to this. You can sub vegetable broth for chicken, of course.
posted by beyond_pink at 12:53 PM on March 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

So I don't know if this will be helpful to you, but I just put quinoa in our rice cooker*. It cooks in the same amount of water and for the same amount of time as white rice. I take off the lid when the time is over and fluff it, which lets a lot of the extra water/steam escape. Then it'll be okay staying warm for 10 minutes or so. Longer than that and it'll burn.

*This assumes you have a rice cooker but if you don't, it's great and we don't even have the fancy one.
posted by hydrobatidae at 12:56 PM on March 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

This is what smoothies are for! I’m a fairly healthful vegetarian but when time is tight my cooking gets less colorful and less nutrient dense as pastas, rice etc are just easier. I have a green smoothie every day and that gets a few servings of whole greenery and other veggies in one easy punch. My go-to is always the same: 2-3 fistfulls spinach/kale/other green, a peeled orange, a Persian cucumber, squeeze of lemon, knob of ginger, cranberries and sometimes a banana – add enough water to blend and do so. is a smoothie subscription service that posts all their recipe archives for free and they’ve taught me a ton of fun smoothie combos I’d have never thought of. When I get bored of my go to or want to treat myself, I do a ‘rainbow week,’ where I’ll have a different color each day. It gets a variety of fruit and vegetables into me and it’s quite fun. Here’s an example week from last time I did this:

Red/Monday– red bell pepper, Persian cucumber, apple cider vinegar, dash of cayenne
Orange/Tuesday – raw butternut squash, cinnamon, a pear, coconut water
Yellow/Wednesday – Yellow pepper, pineapple, turmeric root, hemp seeds
Blue/Thursday – blueberries, banana, maca powder
Purple/Friday – purple carrot, beet, banana, ricemilk topped with cashews
posted by le_salvo at 1:10 PM on March 8, 2017 [6 favorites]

If you can get away from the idea of "breakfasty" (Western breakfasty) breakfast, focus on make-ahead quick-reheat foods for breakfast: my favorite chili which you can hide a ton of vegetables in, curry (even just a really mild veg-and-tofu korma or makhani or panang or massaman), even casseroles, whatever you like. You could go breakfasty, or just something you like. This enchilada casserole is real close to what I make, with no fake cheese and not a ton of tortillas.

A couple nights ago I was making a big batch of quinoa (for eating through the week) and threw the steamer basket on top of the quinoa in the rice cooker and put a halved yam (orange sweet potato) in there. After a 40m cycle and sitting on Keep Warm for another half an hour, the yam had the texture of mousse. I don't believe in putting cinnamon and sugary stuff on sweet potatoes, but I did have a little bit of coconut milk left in the can I used for dinner and I drizzled that over. Sweet tooth appeased, with bonus fiber.

A common saying on low-carb boards is "fat fights cravings", so make sure you're getting plenty of avocado, coconut milk/cream, nut cream/butter in your meals.

Don't forget about broiling/roasting. "One sheet dinners" are a big trendy thing right now, and you could do big pans of vegetables and tofu or prep some other protein side. When you're roasting, don't forget the delicious oddballs like quartered radishes, parsnips, green beans, beets, turnips, rutabaga. Lately I've been making stuff like that, or a batch of tomato sauce, and flipping the proportions so it's a little bit of pasta (like one *actual* serving split between two people) topped with lots of veg/sauce.

I've recently had the revelation that homemade beans are amazing, and I make a big batch to parcel out into baggies with quinoa, roasted vegetables, nuts, etc that I can just dump out over greens - either salad or sauteed greens - and be sitting down to eat in 5m, with maybe half an avocado or a diced tomato.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:17 PM on March 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Last threadsit: we own an Instant Pot, two slow cookers, one massive rice cooker, so we are covered for gear. Also, since the arrival of Instant Pot, my husband makes beans from scratch a lot. We also eat a lot of steel cut oatmeal for breakfasts!
posted by Kitteh at 1:55 PM on March 8, 2017

This Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Mango is super yummy.
posted by backwards guitar at 2:34 PM on March 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Appetite for Reduction! The arabian red lentil soup is even better with preserved lemon and no rice. The split pea soup is amazing. The thai green beans & red curry tofu are great! Hottie black eyed peas & greens. I'm sure there are so many more.

From Isa Does It, the butternut squash, lentil & kale salad is pretty much perfect.

For easy dinners, I often make either chickpea cutlets (if I've planned ahead) or gardien/other fake meat (if not), plus a green vegetable.

I agree that roasty sheet pan dinners are great. Roasted chickpeas, baked plantains, and roasted brussels sprouts/broccoli/whatever, are so good with hot sauce and/or light guacamole-esque sauce (1/2 avocado, big handful or even two of cilantro, juice of a lime or two, a tiny bit of olive oil, a little onion and salt blended).

I almost never eat a starchy side dish with dinner, mostly because I'm too lazy to make two side dishes and lots of veggies and beans have plenty of carbs without one, but I think it's a helpful way to make sure I'm eating enough vegetables since I can't fill up on bread, rice or potatoes (Though sometimes I have nothing but potato pierogi.)

If you're making pasta, see if you like black bean pasta (just typing this made me laugh remembering your black bean flour ask). I love it - it fits with pretty much any pasta sauce and doesn't get soggy as leftovers, plus, you can just load it up with veggies and already have your protein built-in.
posted by snaw at 6:17 PM on March 8, 2017 [7 favorites]

Since you have an Instant Pot, I love the cookbook Vegetarian Under Pressure - all of the recipes are actually vegan. A number of reviewers on Amazon complain because it's really designed for old-fashioned pressure cookers, so it doesn't specify timing for the Instant Pot. But really, all you have to do is cook the item as long as it says for the ingredient that needs to cook the longest. I make soups and stews from it and frequently throw in frozen spinach to increase the vegetable content.
posted by FencingGal at 6:38 AM on March 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

Nthing the extra fat idea. If you eat enough fat, you're too full to care as much for carbs. Nut butter, full fat coconut milk, avocado, lots of oils, chia etc. If you are aiming for weight loss note that high fat + high carb in one day = unhappy weight results.
posted by crunchy potato at 9:41 AM on March 9, 2017

Extra fat includes dark chocolate for me. If it's good quality (supermarket chocolate costing £1.50-£2/100g meets that bar in the UK), it's not bitter, and if it's 70%, that's more than enough protein and fibre to offset the sugar that's in it.
posted by ambrosen at 10:24 AM on March 9, 2017

Here are some recipes I use that might be up your alley:

African Peanut Stew (good way to eat a lot of greens)
Vegan Chickpea Curry (I like to add a bunch of greens to this, too)
No Queso-Dilla (very carby, but if you're like me and prone to making a lot of Daiya quesadillas, this is a much healthier alternative that lends itself well to adding whatever veggies you happen to have on hand. I tend to add canned corn. You don't actually need to use a blender for this--I just mix everything with a potato masher)

I like to do steel cut oats with vegan yogurt and ground flaxseed and a bunch of fruit.

You might try doing a partially raw diet. I don't buy into the idea that there's anything particularly special about raw foods, but I think it tends to force you to eat more fresh fruits/veggies and fewer processed/refined carbs, which seems to be one of your aims.
posted by Gymnopedist at 4:01 PM on March 9, 2017

Oh, pretty much every 4 serving soup recipe can handle having a good-sized bunch of kale, spinach or collard greens added.

I'm sure I've linked it on here (and maybe even responding to one of your questions before), but the serious eats chickpea & spinach stew is amazing. Cutting the oil in half still gets you a great result.
posted by snaw at 2:02 PM on March 10, 2017

For breakfast, the baked omelet from Terry's Protein Ninja book might be a good choice. It's super easy to make (use parchment to line your pan or you'll never get it out, the recommended foil is a disaster). You can add more or different veggies without detriment, and I find that it holds in the fridge and reheats well for at least 4 days. You'll probably want some hot sauce or avocado or some kind of enlivening or enriching thing to add to it as it's pretty austere, but it's a great, healthy base for a meal.
posted by snaw at 2:07 PM on March 10, 2017

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