Plant Based Food Combining for Nutritionally Complete Meals

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 and 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 right?

In this post will I show you how easy plant based food combining for nutritionally complete meals can be, and once you know these 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?

colourful vegetables

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

  1. MUCH MORE ENERGY
  2. STRONGER IMMUNITY
  3. GLOWING SKIN
  4. LESS CHRONIC INFLAMMATION AND EASING OF INFLAMMATORY DISEASES
  5. LESS RISK OF MOST DISEASES IN GENERAL
  6. EASING OF INFLAMMATORY DISEASES
  7. BETTER SLEEP
  8. LESS DEPRESSION/ANXIETY
  9. BOOSTED BRAIN POWDER
  10. QUICKER RECOVERY FROM ILLNESS AND INJURY
  11. WEIGHT LOSS

Plant Based Foods

plate of salad

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 because you will just feel so damn good.

It’s NEVER been a better time to begin this awesome lifestyle

glass of almond milk

Eating a whole food plant based diet has never been easier than it is right now that’s for sure. Supermarket’s now have whole sections, even whole aisles, being devoted to this healthful lifestyle, meaning 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 everywhere we look. We also have many choices of vegan cheeses, butters, 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 ‘technically’ classed as 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

Plant Based Food Combining Chart

  • NUTS – such as almonds, pistachios, walnuts, Brazils, cashews, peanuts, hazelnuts, chestnuts, pine nuts, pecans. PF/HF
  • SEEDS – such as pumpkin, sunflower, chia, flax, poppy, sesame and hemp. PF/HF
  • 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, and 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 also in most other baking as a cacao powder substitute. S
  • FLOURS – such as wholewheat, rice flour, quinoa flour, spelt 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, and many 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.

Plant Based Food Combining Diet Rules

plate of healthy foods

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 balanced 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, making it also great for diabetics or 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, and also consult your doctor before you begin.

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 ‘Nutritionally 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 their 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.

Examples:-

  • 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.

2. SNACKS

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

peanut butter on oatcakes

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 shows you some plant based food combining recipes to ensure you get the right ratios of everything you need on this awesome diet. It will also help to retrain your brain and get you into healthy habits that will stick, which of course, 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, and feel free to share this post with your like-minded friends. 

Before you go, don’t forget to join up below↓↓ for future posts and plant based tips and guides!

Stefanie Taylor
Plant based eating is set to EXPLODE in 2019; not just for health reasons, but also to help keep our beautiful planet thriving. I have lived this healthful lifestyle for over 2 years, which is the reason why zestforever was born to share my experiences, trials and errors, how I overcame them, and how to turn to this lifestyle in such a way that you will thrive too.

I have studied, tried and tested healthy foods, superfoods and diets for over 25 years, but nothing has come close to giving me the buzz of wellness that plant based eating has. To expand my knowledge further I have also studied and worked as a Sports Nutritional Advisor, Nutritional Therapist, and Clinical Weight Loss Advisor - all of which can tie in with the plant based diet.

This website is not intended to treat or diagnose any medical diseases or illnesses. It's merely meant as a way of showing you how to boost your health through the eating of more nutritious plant foods in place of junk foods.

I am grateful for your support, and I hope that the tips and guides you find here will help to guide you on your own plant based journey.

28 thoughts on “Plant Based Food Combining for Nutritionally Complete Meals”

  1. I enjoyed your very detailed post and I appreciate your taking the time to research and provide the information. I have been fooling around with the plant-based diet. I still have some animal protein, but, my body complains occasionally, so I finally made the decision to significantly reduce my intake.

    I find that I am okay with a little cheese and a few eggs. I was diagnosed with type 2, and thanks to a plant-based diet, my numbers are better than they have been in years. I also lost weight and continue to do so and my energy level is much improved.

    • Hi Josephine, I’m sure you will make the change eventually to a full time plant based diet, especially as you say how much better you feel on it. Sometimes it just takes a little time and practice to make the full change; I know it did for me. In fact, it took me about 3 or 4 attempts before I got out of my conditioned thinking patterns around food.

      The key to success is to always educate yourself first on how to do it healthily. I made a few mistakes when I first started out and it wasn’t good. For instance, I was doing a lot of physical exercise at the time and I can see now in hindsight that I wasn’t getting enough protein. I have since corrected this with proper food combining, and sometimes the use of plant based protein powders. I now feel great, so I’m presuming I’m doing everything right at last – hence the reason for this post!

      • Much appreciated. I am sometimes skeptical about protein powders, but, I am willing to study some more as you suggested. Thank you.

        • Yes, I understand what you mean about protein powders and I would agree that somebody on a diet with lots of animal proteins from meat or dairy would already be getting enough protein; probably too much even. But when you are on a plant based or completely vegan diet it can be a lot harder to meet your requirements as it would mean eating an awful lots of nuts, lentils and pulses which would mean taking in too many calories at a time.

          And if you are doing lots of exercise and training then you will most definitely need to supplement if you want to keep your muscle mass high. Very important in terms of health and the mistake I made when I first went plant based. I was just wasn’t getting enough protein and felt so much better when I started supplementing

          The best source of protein for vegans is soy, but you have to be careful with that too as it is high in estrogens that can mess with your hormones; I know they do mine. It’s a bit of a minefield, but I think every individual has to work out what their own body needs.

  2. A great post. I am mostly following a plant based diet and I couldn’t agree more that the food is so tasty.

  3. Very well written, easy to understand article with helpful tips. I have found the information in this article really useful because I’m interested in weight management. I would recommend this to anyone interested in losing weight and for anyone interested in managing long term health conditions such as diabetes or high cholesterol and many more. Well done and thanks for sharing

    • Hi Lydia, yes the plant based diet is great for weight loss if you can stay away from the vegan chocolate haha! Something that I struggle with, but still, I do lots of exercise to burn it off as much as possible.

      And yes, most definitely great for high cholesterol as most plants do not contain it, apart from coconut oil of course. But I believe even that’s ok in moderation.

  4. Hi Stefanie
    Thanks for your obvious passion for this lifestyle. You have made the transition to plant based eating seem easy and tasty! The details in the article made it very easy to see that eating in this manner would be good for the body. I am glad that you are happy eating this way.
    I may not be able to join you, but your passion and information is greatly appreciated.

    • Hi Tom, yes I definitely have a passion for it now I have felt the benefits for myself. It’s not for everyone granted, bit I think anybody can take something away from it to apply to their life in some way even if they are still eating meat and dairy.
      It’s all about adding more anti inflammatory plant foods to your dishes and maybe having smaller portions of the other stuff. Over time you will still feel great benefits to your health and may be prompted to take it further. This is how I try to make a difference, without force or judgement, just let people get there if they want to in there own time.

  5. This is great. Most of my diet is rather plant-based as I eat tons of starchy carbs to fuel my workouts along with some protein as well. It’s neither vegan nor 100% plant-based, but I will say that I tend to shy away from meat with each passing year. I might eat red meat once every two weeks, if that, and the number has dwindled.

    I like what you outlined above about having more energy, brain power, healthier skin, decreased risk for abnormal health effects, etc. I’ve seen all this since I started cutting meat and many processed foods out.

    While I do eat these on occasion, I always feel better when they’re cut from my diet and will likely continue to go this route.

    • Wow, Todd that’s a great story, and very inspiring. You have seen for yourself how much better you feel without meat or other animal products. I think animal products are a very dense energy, that’s the only way I can describe it, so they make you feel kind of heavy and low energy. Plant foods I find are lighter and give you more energy and vitality.

      I started off like you by gradually cutting down until in the end I just new I didn’t want it any more, like a switch had been flicked that I could never go back from. This was what changed it all and turned my health properly around.

  6. Plant-based diets are not only good for your health but great for the environment as well. The energy and the water to produce meat is significant, especially when you look at mass-produced meat farms.

    I’ve been reducing my meat consumption and adding more and more plant-based alternatives. And it does feel good. I’m going to continue and see where it takes me. Thanks for the great article.

    • That’s just great Brian! Cutting down your animal products slowly is the best way to do it and ensure long term success. This way you get to experiment and learn at your own pace and when the time is right you will probably feel you don’t want meat any more; it will happen naturally.

      Yes, the meat industry is having a huge impact on our environment and most people are still totally unaware of this. This is yet another reason to adopt this lifestyle as well as all the fantastic health benefits that come with it too. Good luck on your plant based journey!

  7. Love this, it truly shows the benefits of eating a plant based diet which seems very effective causing overall better health and living for a longer time! Amazing!

    • Yes, eating more plants is being seen to be more and more the best thing for health and longevity. I just want to help people do it the right way and understand the importance of combining the correct foods together for the best results.

  8. Thanks, this is genuinely actionable information. I’ve been increasingly subbing out meat for plant-based meals and this should prove very helpful in that process. I’ll be coming back for more!

    • That’s brilliant Jon, I’m happy to be of help. It’s surprising how many people I hear these days saying that they are gradually cutting out their meat for plant based options. This warms my heart as I know that they are not only doing something great for themselves, but the whole planet also.

      Please feel free to come back for all your plant based diet needs as I do cover everything on my website, including free meal plans to get you started.

  9. I love getting my wholegrains, quinoa, nuts and seeds and my veggies but this post has given me some alternatives to the diet I currently eat. I’m aware of many health benefits to this type of lifestyle and I will definitely try it in the future. I also have friends who are vegetarian and would benefit from your knowledge, so thank you for the post and keep up the great work!

    • Hi Nick, glad the post has helped you. Sounds like you are a pretty healthy eater anyway, but great you now have some more tips. Pant based eating is just a step away from vegatarianism so I’m sure your friends could benefit from this information too.

  10. Amazing and very informative article Stefanie. I really liked how you listed all plant-based diet foods and even gave details on which nutrients these foods are based on. I love lifting weights and I’m a big meat eater, but I know that I have to involve more plant diet foods to my diet to have more energy and stay healthier. I loved the examples of meals and snacks you have listed in this article and it gave me an idea on what kind of plant-based diet meals I can cook. I’m using a lot of your listed products anyway, but I’m using them together with meat, but know I have an Idea with what products I can change meat. I love buckwheat and super greens, they give me a huge energy boost before going to the gym.
    Thank you for sharing this great post I will bookmark it and try to eat more plant-based foods from now on.

    • Hi Mario,
      Sounds like you are already a super healthy guy if you are using a lot of the foods on here already. The thing about plant based eating is you can transition at your own pace and just gradually incorporate more and more plant foods as you become more familiar with them and as you learn new recipes. It’s such an awesome journey to health and I’m pretty sure you will get there in the end, especially as you already have an awareness of how good your body feels when you eat alkaline foods and greens.

      Good luck!

  11. I love your post. About a little over a year ago I read the book the China Study. It got me interested in trying a plant based diet because my Dr. said I was in bad health.
    A month ago I saw my Dr. again, he had my chart from a year ago in one hand and my new chart in the other. He looked at me and said my God what have you been doing.
    All my numbers were perfect. I told him Plant Based Diet. When I left he said i gave him hope.
    Andy

    • Wow Andy, amazing story! That’s really made my day, and fortunately I am hearing more and more stories similar to this all the time. The plant based diet, I know for a fact, helped me heal a number of niggling health issues I was starting to get, which I know would have become a lot worse had I not changed my diet.

      We are the lucky ones because we have experienced this awesome healing power first hand. And this is the very reason I began zestforever, because it’s just such an appropriate name – the plant based diet, when understood and applied correctly, really does give you zest forever!

  12. Thanks for so much informative post. I’m trying to follow plant-diet rules and I’m huge fan of quinoa and nuts. I’am aware of many health benefits to this type of lifestyle, however I like meat and it’s very hard for me to eliminate it from my diet.

    • Yes, I understand as we all have such conditioned thinking patterns wrapped up around eating meat. Most of us are brought up on it, and a lot of our favourite dishes and childhood memories involve animal products. It’s a hard pattern to break for sure, and one if the things I struggled massively with at first. In fact, it took me 3 attempts to finally have a breakthrough and not crave it anymore.

      Luckily, these days there are so many options available for non meat eaters both in supermarkets, restuarants, and even fast food joints that it’s easy. Never have we had it better, so if nothing else we can all cut down to not only help ourselves, but also the environment. Good luck!

  13. Thank you for such an informative post on plant foods. I’ve been vegetarian for about 25 years and certainly don’t miss eating meat. I do however eat oily fish such as salmon and mackerel for omega 3. I love all vegetables and fruits and never run out of meal ideas.

    • Hi Kathy, sounds like you have a healthy diet down pretty good. Omega 3’s are definitely a vital part of that and I do myself still take fish oil capsules to keep my depression at bay, but they are medicinal to me and apart from that I stick to a whole food plant based diet. I never miss meat either, and it is in fact much easier to give up than most people believe.

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