When you start out on your plant based journey you will undoubtedly start t0 feel overwhelmed, simply because there is so much information out there. But, all you 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?
We would love to show you how easy plant based food combining for nutritionally complete meals can be. 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 Eat A Plant Based Diet?
You would have to be living on another planet not to have heard all the hype around the plant based movement sweeping the world right now. It’s tipped to be the hottest food trend for 2023. This is not just great news for our health, but the environment in general, and therefore our whole planet.
For the purpose of this post, we’re just going to be focusing on the amazing health benefits that a diet high in plants has on humans. Our bodies function just fine, and in fact flourish, on plant foods. This is as long as we know how to obtain all the nutrients we need and understand the important food combining rules outlined in this post.
Top 10 Reasons To Go Plant Based
Here is a list of some of the possible side effects that can come from the plant based diet when done correctly. These are also dependent on your age and current state of health.
- 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
What Are Plant Based Foods
Plant based foods are anything derived from plant sources. This does not just mean fruits and vegetables, contrary to popular belief. There are a whole array of other foods you can eat too.
- Pulses and legumes such as beans, lentils and peas
- Nuts and seeds
- Other soy products
- Grains such as rice, pasta and breads, pearl barley
- Protein powders
- Dark chocolate
- Dried fruits
- Delicious smoothie bowls
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 that 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…
Changing your diet so drastically forces you to think outside the box. It helps you to discover and try foods you may have never before eaten. You’ll also be inclined to find different, new and interesting ways of cooking them.
In fact, we’re 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 good.
It’s NEVER been a better time to begin this healthy lifestyle!
Eating a whole food plant based diet has never been easier than it is right now. Supermarket’s now have whole section (even whole aisles) being devoted to this healthful lifestyle. This means you can pretty much find a plant based replacement for any animal product you like, whenever you like.
Check out our Guide to Vegan Shopping at ALDI.
These days those meat and dairy replacements actually taste good 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 meats that looked and tasted pretty rank.
Now we have choices galore and tasty meatless substitutes for sausages, burgers, chicken nuggets, and many other plant based foods everywhere we look. We also have many choices of vegan cheeses, butters and yogurts. They also seem to be milking everything these days, 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 we 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.
High protein 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, fibre AND nutrients all rolled into one. So, be sure to eat LOTS of this awesome superfood, along with other plant based superfoods, on your plant based diet.
The ‘Whole’ Foods Plant Based Diet
Ideally you want to be eating a highly unprocessed and whole foods diet if you want maximum health benefits.
Eating whole foods means just that. Eat anything that hasn’t been extracted from it’s whole form. This includes juices, refined sugars, flours, and oils, of which none are considered whole foods.
Granted, many people love some good quality olive oil on their salad; or some maple syrup on their pancakes. But, these are in a different ball park to high heated trans fats and refined white sugar. However, it’s still the whole foods plant based diet that is seen as the Holy Grail of healthy diets in the plant based world.
Cutting out refined oils and sugars
Cutting these both out completely can often be hard to achieve 100%, but if you can cut out oils and refined sugars as much as possible then you will feel better for it.
You can achieve this by gradually cutting out the oils you use in cooking and instead use water or broth to prevent sticking. Or, using whole sugars to sweeten foods such as date paste, smashed banana or apple sauce.
You may balk at this at first, but you will be surprised just how much you don’t notice lack of oils in many dishes, especially wetter dishes like soups and stews. For other dishes, you may want to consider using your oil in a spray form to cut right down.
Less oil also helps you to keep weight under control, as oil is just empty calories. Get your essential fats from whole foods such as nuts, seeds and avocados. Be careful use portion control on all fats so you don’t over indulge.
Plant Based Diet Foods List
Please use this chart to work out your plant based food groups from the list below:
- 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, fibre 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 these great recipes.
Plant Based Food Combining Diet Rules
Here’s the part where we will help you understand how to put a ‘complete’ meal together. This means obtaining the correct amounts of protein, carbohydrates, fats, fibre and nutrients in your meals.
You want a balanced array of all of these at most meals or snacks 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. Al this will help to stop junk food and sugar cravings.
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.
Example complete meals:-
1. MAIN MEALS
- Chickpea/tofu curry with brown rice and sauteed vegetables in a little water or broth.
- 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
- RAW vegan granola and fresh fruit
- 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.
The plant based diet is definitely worth the effort if you would like more energy and a healthier lifestyle.
If you need more inspiration along with some great cooking tips, then please check out our 4 Week Meal Plan which will teach you many new plant based recipes that will last you a lifetime. It will also retrain your brain and get you into healthy habits that will stick.