When you start out on your plant based journey you will undoubtedly feel overwhelmed simply because there is so much information out there, but there is also a lot of misinformation. This can throw you, especially when all you really want to do is to keep things as simple as possible and not spend too much time in the kitchen cooking up elaborate and complicated meals.
This post will show you how easy plant based food combining for nutritionally complete meals can be, and once you know the basic rules you will soon be making healthy choices naturally and knocking up highly nutritious meals at a moments notice.
Why switch to a Plant Based Diet?
You would have to be living on another planet not to have heard all the hype around the vegan and plant based eating movement sweeping the world right now. It’s tipped to be the hottest food trend for 2019, which is not just great news for our health, but the environment in general and therefore our whole planet.
For the purpose of this post I’m just going to be focusing on the amazing health benefits that a diet high in plants has on us humans. Our bodies function just fine, and in fact flourish, on plant foods as long as we know how to obtain all the nutrients we need, and also understand the important food combining rules outlined in this post.
Top 10 Reasons to go Plant Based:-
- MUCH MORE ENERGY
- STRONGER IMMUNITY
- GLOWING SKIN
- LESS CHRONIC INFLAMMATION AND EASING OF INFLAMMATORY DISEASES
- LESS RISK OF MOST DISEASES IN GENERAL
- EASING OF INFLAMMATORY DISEASES
- BETTER SLEEP
- LESS DEPRESSION/ANXIETY
- BOOSTED BRAIN POWDER
- QUICKER RECOVERY FROM ILLNESS AND INJURY
- WEIGHT LOSS
Plant Based Foods
When it comes to plant based foods, many people have false beliefs about the whole concept. They believe they will never again be able to enjoy the foods they love, or they will be chomping down like a rabbit on boring greens and salad for the rest of their lives. This is far from the case as I have been eating what I would say to be about a 98% plant based diet for the past 2 years, and I can honestly say I have never felt like I have missed out on anything – ever! If anything, my diet is tastier than it was before and I thoroughly look forward to every meal I indulge in.
Changing your diet so drastically forces you to think outside the box; to discover and try foods you may have never before eaten, and to find different, new and interesting ways of cooking them. And I’m quite confident that once you get used to your new way of eating you’ll never want to go back as you will feel so good.
It’s NEVER been a better time to begin this awesome lifestyle:-
Eating a whole food plant based diet has never been easier than it is right now. Whole supermarket sections, even whole aisles are now being devoted to this healthful lifestyle; and you can pretty much find a plant based replacement for any animal product you like. These days they actually taste great too; unlike not so long ago when the poor vegans of the world had very little choice but to go to specialist health shops and try in vain to be inspired by insipid, fake looking soya meats that let’s face it, looked and tasted pretty rank.
Now we have choices galore, and tasty meatless substitutes for sausages, burgers, chicken nuggets, and many other plant based choices are everywhere we look. We have many choices of vegan cheeses, butters and yogurts, and they seem to be milking literally every single nut known to man so we have no problems on that front either.
What can I eat on the Plant Based Diet?
Below is a list of all the tasty and healthy foods you can enjoy on the plant based diet. Remember, there are also many other junk foods that are still classed plant based such as sugar, sweets, saturated fats, hydrogenated oil, crisps, fries, and also lots of branded vegan junk foods. But a real plant based diet, in essence is, a healthy diet, and these are the foods I shall be focusing on in this post.
You can decipher which category a food comes mostly into by using this chart. You will find that some foods may naturally contain nutrients from more than one category. Whole seed quinoa is one example of this, and is one of the few foods that is actually a ‘complete’ food (and a complete protein) in itself. It contains fats, protein, carbohydrate, fiber AND nutrients all rolled into one; so be sure to eat LOTS of this awesome superfood on your plant based diet.
- P = PROTEIN SOURCE
- SC = STARCHY CARBOHYDRATE SOURCE
- F = FAT SOURCE
- PC = BOTH PROTEIN AND CARBOHYDRATE
- WC = WHOLEGRAIN CARBOHYDRATE
- PF = PROTEIN AND FAT SOURCE
- S = SWEET CARBOHYDRATE SOURCE
- HF = HIGH FIBER
- LC = LOWER CARBOHYDRATE SOURCE
List of Plant Based Foods:-
- NUTS – such as almonds, pistachios, walnuts, Brazils, cashews, peanuts, hazelnuts, chestnuts, pine nuts, pecans.
- SEEDS – such as pumpkin, sunflower, chia, flax, poppy, sesame, and hemp. PF
- DRIED FRUITS – such as sultanas, apricots, peaches, apple, prunes, dates, goji berries, golden berries, currants, blueberries, and many more (higher carb than fresh fruit). S
- WHOLEGRAINS – Brown rice, spelt, buckwheat, millet, wholegrain pasta, amaranth, soba noodles, wild rice, sweetcorn, oats, oat cakes, buckwheat noodles, corn cakes. WG
- QUINOA – A complete source of protein, carbs, fats, fiber, and nutrients. A perfect food! WC/PF/HF
- FRESH OR FROZEN HIGH SUGAR FRUITS – grapes, mangoes, pineapple, bananas, lychees. S
- FRESH OR FROZEN LOWER SUGAR FRUITS – such as apples, pears, oranges, plums, kiwis, berries of all kinds. LC
- FRESH OR FROZEN VEGETABLES – such as LOTS of leafy greens: Swiss chard, spinach, cabbage, salad leaves, rocket, plus cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, celeriac, peas, mange tout, onions, leeks, garlic, aubergine, courgette, sprouts, tomatoes, and salad vegetables. LC/FB
- STARCHY HIGH CARB ROOT VEG – such as white potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, pumpkin, squash, parsnips. SC
- LENTILS – such as green, yellow, beluga, puy, and red lentils. PC
- BEANS AND PULSES – such as kidney beans, borlotti, cannellini, pinto, and haricot beans; yellow split peas, and chick peas. PC
- SOY PRODUCTS – such as cheeses, meats, tofurky, soya mince, yogurts, low sugar ice-creams, soya mince, soya chicken nuggets, soya sausages. tempeh, and seitan. P
- COCONUT PRODUCTS – such as cheeses, yogurts, low sugar ice-creams, fresh coconut, desiccated coconut. F/LC
- FATS – such as olive oil, coconut oil, sesame oil, canola oil, safflower oil, peanut oil, walnut oil, avocados, tahini, and humus. F
- NUT BUTTERS – such as peanut, almond, cashew and walnut. F/P/LC
- PROTEIN POWDERS – a great way to get extra protein if you feel you’re not getting enough from your food. This shouldn’t be a problem if you food combine correctly, but if you exercise or work out you will probably need one. There are many awesome plant protein powders on the market that contain a full amino acid profile. P
- NUT MILKS – such as soy (P), coconut, almond, hemp, oat, cashew, rice, and hazelnut. LC
- CACAO – Dark chocolate of at least 70% is dairy free, or you can make your own with just 3 ingredients (see homemade chocolate recipe). S/F
- CAROB – Another healthful treat that tastes like chocolate and can be used to make homemade chocolate, hot chocolate, and in other baking. S
- FLOURS – such as wholewheat, rice flour, quinoa flour, buckwheat flour. WC/P
- SUGAR SUBSTITUTES – such as agave nectar, maple syrup, date paste, xylitol, stevia, brown rice syrup. S
- EGG SUBSTITUTES – made with ground chia or flax seeds. F/LC/FB
- NUTRITIONAL YEAST – tastes like cheesy flakes and can be used to enhance and flavour foods. P/LC
- ALL HERBS AND SPICES
- GREEN SUPERFOOD POWDERS – such as wheatgrass, spirulina, blue-green algae, barley grass, chlorella, and kelp are powerful anti inflammatory plants that are high in nutrients for immunity, anti aging, anti cancer and literally millions of other benefits. Yes, chlorophyl rich superfood powders rock, and should become part of your daily routine to ensure optimum health. P/LC/FB
As you can see, there is such an abundance of delicious foods you can eat on the plant based diet that you need never go hungry. Out of those above foods you can make hundreds of different meals; and for inspiration you only need to check out some of the great vegan recipe websites out there. All this means it really is getting easier and easier every day to convert to this health boosting way of life with as little effort as possible on your behalf.
Food Combining for Nutritionally Complete Meals
Here’s the part where I will help you understand how to put a ‘complete’ meal together, which means obtaining the correct amounts of protein, carbohydrates, fats, fiber and nutrients in your meals. You want a good array of all of these at every meal or snack to feel satiated and full, and because many of the plant foods on this list are low GI (glycemic index) they will also help to keep your blood sugar more stable, thus helping to stop junk food and sugar cravings.
Benefits of Stable Blood Sugar:-
The plant based diet in general is great for everyone – when done correctly. I must emphasise ‘when done correctly‘, as you really need to be sure you understand proper food combining before you begin, otherwise you may literally do yourself more harm than good.
But when done properly plant based eating is also great for blood sugar control, thus making it also good for diabetics, people with blood sugar problems, obesity, weight problems and inflammatory diseases. However, if you do suffer these issues you should keep your portion of carbohydrate and sweet foods on the lower side and focus more on protein, fats and fiber.
Sugar promotes inflammation and high insulin spikes, and is thought to be the driver behind many common diseases including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, metabolic syndrome, degenerative disease, and even some cancers. This is why it is vital for every one of us to take measures to cut down on junk foods and add in more nutritious plant foods.
How to make a ‘Complete’ Plant Based Meal
1. MAIN MEALS
For a main meal you need to be sure you are getting all your macronutrient groups from different plant foods. Always mix a carbohydrate food with a good quality source of protein – for example: Mix a wholegrain or high carb vegetable (such as sweet potato, new potatoes in skins, squash or pumpkin) with a source of protein, a little fat, plus LOTS of vegetables, salad or leafy greens for antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
- Chickpea/tofu curry with brown rice and sauteed vegetables in coconut oil.
- Vegetables stir-fried in sesame oil, with buckwheat noodles and chopped cashew nuts.
- Buddha bowl of quinoa, roasted squash, tahini sauce, steamed greens and chopped avocado.
- Lentil and tomato soup with spelt sourdough bread.
- Soya sausages with mashed potato, onion gravy, and peas
- Roasted mixed vegetables on a bed of quinoa and steamed kale
- Tofu scrambled with peas, courgette, peppers, and nutritional yeast flakes
A snack can be smaller, and doesn’t necessarily need to have all food groups with it if you are good with your main meals.
- Fresh or dried fruits with a handful of nuts or seeds
- Oatcakes with hummus or sliced avocado
- Homemade popcorn – popped in coconut oil
- Green superfood shots
- Homemade high protein granola
- Dark chocolate of at least 70% cacao
- Vegetable crudites and hummus or tahini dips
- Plant protein shake
- Green smoothie
- Vegetable juices
These are just a few examples of how you should be combining your foods on the plant based diet. The point is to try to learn off by heart the foods that contain your basic macronutrients of carbs, protein and fats; this way you can order easily at restaurants and knock up meals at home without too much fuss.
It will soon become a habit that you won’t need to think twice about when you understand these rules. If you need more inspiration along with some great cooking tips then please check out my 1 week meal plan, which is the perfect food combining menu to ensure you get the right ratios of everything you need on a healthy plant diet. It will also help to retrain your brain and get you into healthy habits that will stick – which is a crucial part of making life long changes.
Thank you for reading. I hope I have given you some insight and maybe even convinced you to have a go at this healthy lifestyle for yourself. If you would like to ask any further questions then I am more than happy to help. Please post your comments below. Thank you!