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Plant-Based Foods: Tips and Recipes

Plant-Based Foods: Tips and Recipes

Plant-Based Foods 101

It seems like everywhere you turn these days you find plant-based foods, cookbooks, and recipes. It's a big change from how the culinary scene looked just five years ago. If you're like us, you're probably curious and have asked yourself "What's all the hype about?" Maybe you've even considered adding some plant-based recipes to your weekly dinners but don't know where to start. After all, what are plant-based foods? Green Chef has the answers to your sizzling questions: These recipe ideas and tips will send you off on your green-powered journey!

5 Tips to Help You Eat More Plant-Powered Meals

Going from eating animal products to focusing on mainly plants can be an awkward adjustment at first. That is if you're not sure how to make the switch. These tips will help you every step of the way so you can make the most of a plant-forward diet and have fun with your food.

1. Start with What You Know

What are your favorite dishes? Chances are, you could make a plant-based version. Sure, you'll probably have to think of protein alternatives, but it's not an impossible mission. For example, if you love a good spaghetti bolognese, swap out the ground beef with cooked lentils. Or if you can't go without tacos just replace the meat with beans and top them with guacamole and pico de gallo. By reworking recipes that feel familiar, plant-based cooking doesn't feel as intimidating.


2. Learn Some Simple Go-to Substitutions

Some pantry and fridge staples made with animal products have easy plant-based alternatives, if you're excluding those foods from your diet. For example, you could get plant-based milk (made from soy, almond, oat, coconut, hazelnut, and so on) to replace cow's milk in your diet, whether it's to make a latte or use in baking. Butter is another easy swap, just use margarine or plant-based "butter" instead. Eggs are generally trickier, but applesauce and dairy-free yogurt work well in their place when you're baking.


3. Get Inspired by Seasonal Plant-Based Foods

If you don't know what to cook, think about what's in season. Visit a local farmer's market and pick out what looks intriguing. Then, research plant-based food recipes that make that ingredient the star of the dish. For instance, you could prepare a tangy tomato and zucchini galette in the summer when these veggies are abundant. In the winter, you could make a hearty bean stew with carrots and sweet potato. Sometimes, going through lists of seasonal veggies is the push you need to get creative.


4. Experiment with Different Cuisines

Once you feel more at ease with the basics of plant-based cooking, step outside your comfort zone and try recipes from other cuisines. In many parts of the world, plant-based foods are a staple of traditional diets. A lot of Indian dishes are vegetarian and can be tweaked to be completely plant-based. Middle Eastern cuisine is also abundant in plant-based food recipes like hummus (a chickpea paste), falafel (fried chickpea balls), and meatless dolmas (grape leaves stuffed with aromatic rice mixes). Trying new things is key to not getting bored with your food and constantly expanding your horizons.


5. Subscribe to a Meal Kit Service and Have Fun with Plant-Based Foods

Don't feel like coming up with a balanced and delicious meal all on your own? That's okay, it's what meal kits are for. Green Chef has many plant-based food recipes ready to ship to you, with all ingredients and instructions included. Not only is this a good way to sample more of what the plant-based food world has to offer, but it also makes cooking easier and more convenient—especially if you hate grocery shopping.

What Is a Plant-Based Diet?

A plant-based diet focuses on foods that come from plants. There are several variations to this type of diet. For example, vegans exclude all kinds of animal products, while lacto-ovo vegetarians still embrace dairy, eggs, and honey. Generally speaking, though, a plant-based diet includes a lot fewer animal products than the traditional diet.

But that doesn't make this diet restrictive. There are hundreds (if not thousands) of ingredients that get a chance to shine as the main stars of a dish.

Grains

Satiating and energy-boosting, grains are a nutritious base for plant-based meals.

  • Oats
  • Quinoa
  • Buckwheat
  • Bulger
  • Millet
  • Barley
  • Rice
  • Sorghum
  • Pasta
  • Polenta

Legumes

Legumes are rich in protein and help you feel full and content with your meal for longer.

  • Black beans
  • Red kidney beans
  • Navy beans
  • Split peas
  • Lima beans
  • Soybeans
  • Edamame
  • Lentils
  • Mung beans

Nuts and Seeds

Don't forget about nuts and seeds–they're packed with healthy fats.

  • Walnuts
  • Cashews
  • Chia seeds
  • Flaxseeds 
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Hazelnuts
  • Brazil nuts
  • Pecans
  • Macadamias
  • Pistachios
  • Peanuts

Vegetables

Known by all as staples in a healthy diet, vegetables can be cooked in all kinds of ways to bring out their deliciousness.

  • Kale
  • Collard greens
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Lettuce
  • Mustard greens
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Sweet potato
  • Asparagus
  • Eggplant
  • Parsnip
  • Sweet corn
  • Green beans
  • Sugar snap peas

Fruits

Fruit is nature's candy–it's sweet, satisfying, and often rich in fiber. What else could you want in a snack?

  • Avocado
  • Banana
  • Pear
  • Apple
  • Mango
  • Papaya
  • Pawpaw
  • Grapes
  • Figs
  • Oranges
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Melons
  • Cantaloupe

6 Delicious Plant-Based Recipes You Need to Try

Now that you've gotten a preview of what ingredients are welcome in a plant-based diet, it's time to play around with them. How can you combine them to make a delicious and filling meal? Let's start by looking at these five nourishing recipes.

1. Cheesy Kale Sandwiches and Tomato Soup

Remember how we said not all animal products are off the table? That's right, you can still enjoy cheesy recipes on a plant-based diet. These savory kale sandwiches and tomato soup are a nutritionally rich spin on a childhood classic—and absolutely delicious. The basil pesto goes oh-so-well on toasted ciabatta, and the scallion crema complements the zinginess of a homemade tomato soup.

2. Penne with Lemony Chickpea Sauce

This lemony chickpea pasta dish is perfect for all pasta lovers because it's rich in bold and bright flavors—all from 100% plant-based ingredients. It lends inspiration from Mediterranean foods and the hummus works as the base for the creamy sauce, which adds a boost of protein and fiber to the meal. The pasta is topped with colorful roasted veggies, briny artichokes, and juicy sun-dried tomatoes to bring eye-catching colors and an extra oomph of flavor to your plate.

1. Cheesy Kale Sandwiches and Tomato Soup

Remember how we said not all animal products are off the table? That's right, you can still enjoy cheesy recipes on a plant-based diet. These savory kale sandwiches and tomato soup are a nutritionally rich spin on a childhood classic—and absolutely delicious. The basil pesto goes oh-so-well on toasted ciabatta, and the scallion crema complements the zinginess of a homemade tomato soup.

2. Penne with Lemony Chickpea Sauce

This lemony chickpea pasta dish is perfect for all pasta lovers because it's rich in bold and bright flavors—all from 100% plant-based ingredients. It lends inspiration from Mediterranean foods and the hummus works as the base for the creamy sauce, which adds a boost of protein and fiber to the meal. The pasta is topped with colorful roasted veggies, briny artichokes, and juicy sun-dried tomatoes to bring eye-catching colors and an extra oomph of flavor to your plate.

3. Hot Honey Edamame Salad with Pineapple

If you don't think salads can be filling, wait until you try this edamame salad with pineapple. It's the perfect summertime lunch—light yet filling and bursting with juicy tropical flavors. Edamame (young soybeans picked while they're still immature) is the main source of protein in the dish and it tastes just slightly nutty. The crisp lettuce, cabbage, and carrot mix add layers of texture to the salad and soak up the tangy flavorful ginger-lime vinaigrette. Oh, and don't forget the crunchy cashews sprinkled on top!

4. Thai Snap Pea and Peanut Curry

Whip up this better-than-takeout Thai snap pea and peanut curry after a busy day at work. It's healthy, filling, comforting, and surprisingly easy to make. What more could you ask for? The base of the dish is light and fluffy jasmine rice and the main veggies are bell pepper, protein-rich snap peas, and lacinato kale. Not a huge fan of these green ingredients? Don't worry, they're completely transformed in this recipe because they soak up the creamy curried ginger-lime peanut sauce.

3. Hot Honey Edamame Salad with Pineapple

If you don't think salads can be filling, wait until you try this edamame salad with pineapple. It's the perfect summertime lunch—light yet filling and bursting with juicy tropical flavors. Edamame (young soybeans picked while they're still immature) is the main source of protein in the dish and it tastes just slightly nutty. The crisp lettuce, cabbage, and carrot mix add layers of texture to the salad and soak up the tangy flavorful ginger-lime vinaigrette. Oh, and don't forget the crunchy cashews sprinkled on top!

4. Thai Snap Pea and Peanut Curry

Whip up this better-than-takeout Thai snap pea and peanut curry after a busy day at work. It's healthy, filling, comforting, and surprisingly easy to make. What more could you ask for? The base of the dish is light and fluffy jasmine rice and the main veggies are bell pepper, protein-rich snap peas, and lacinato kale. Not a huge fan of these green ingredients? Don't worry, they're completely transformed in this recipe because they soak up the creamy curried ginger-lime peanut sauce.

5. Bahārāt-Spiced Couscous Salad

This Middle Eastern spiced salad is best served warm. It calls for ingredients you might never have tried before, so what better time than now to explore new flavors? Couscous pearls (a small round-shaped pasta) are tossed with crunchy chickpeas, roasted carrots, crisp radishes, and sweet dates. Then, drizzle the lemon-za'atar dressing and top with fresh mint, cilantro, and toasted pine nuts. The result is a refreshing and unforgettably comforting winter-friendly salad—who knew that could be a thing?

6. Black Bean Flautas

Welcome Tex-Mex flavors into your plant-based diet with these black bean flautas. The crunchy tortilla flautas are filled with a silky bean and pepper mixture, then topped with creamy guacamole: a mouth-watering contrast of textures. Then, they're served with a big side salad made with massaged kale, pan-fried sweet corn, diced tomatoes, and crunchy pepitas (pumpkin seeds) for added nutrition.

5. Bahārāt-Spiced Couscous Salad

This Middle Eastern spiced salad is best served warm. It calls for ingredients you might never have tried before, so what better time than now to explore new flavors? Couscous pearls (a small round-shaped pasta) are tossed with crunchy chickpeas, roasted carrots, crisp radishes, and sweet dates. Then, drizzle the lemon-za'atar dressing and top with fresh mint, cilantro, and toasted pine nuts. The result is a refreshing and unforgettably comforting winter-friendly salad—who knew that could be a thing?

6. Black Bean Flautas

Welcome Tex-Mex flavors into your plant-based diet with these black bean flautas. The crunchy tortilla flautas are filled with a silky bean and pepper mixture, then topped with creamy guacamole: a mouth-watering contrast of textures. Then, they're served with a big side salad made with massaged kale, pan-fried sweet corn, diced tomatoes, and crunchy pepitas (pumpkin seeds) for added nutrition.

Have Fun With Plant-Based Foods!

Cooking and eating should be fun, so don't view plant-based foods as restrictive—they're anything but! Take this chance to try a new ingredient or experiment with an unusual flavor combination. You never know, your newest favorite meal could be right around the corner and made completely from plants!

Want to make things easier? Follow our earlier tip and get a Green Chef subscription! You'll get delicious plant-based groceries and meal kits delivered right to your doorstep — what more can you want?
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Green Chef is all about eating and living green. We are a USDA certified organic company. We work with farmers to source sustainable, delicious ingredients
Green Chef is all about eating and living green. We are a USDA certified organic company. We work with farmers to source sustainable, delicious ingredients