Top tips for plant-based meals with high nutritional content

Typical ingredients in the Mediterranean diet. Image by G.steph.rocket (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Planning meals can be a simple or complex process. It can also be challenging, depending on the diet or lifestyle of the individual. For those on a plant-based diet, navigating the cooking process can be complex, especially when preparing bigger meals and catering for others.

A plant-based diet or a plant-rich diet is a diet consisting mostly or entirely of plant-based foods. Plant-based foods are foods derived from plants with no animal-source foods or artificial ingredients.

Much nutrition research has examined plant-based eating patterns such as the Mediterranean diet and a vegetarian diet. In particular, the Mediterranean diet has been shown in both large population studies and randomized clinical trials to reduce risk of heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and  certain cancers.

Dr. Vikki Petersen, who is a  certified clinical nutritionist, tells Digital Journal how those on plant-based diets can make any holiday or event a little easier.

Petersen explains: “Instead of focusing on what you cannot eat, enjoy healthy versions of what you can. You’ll find out that friends and family will enjoy what you provide as well (sometimes better than the traditional fare).”

Dr. Vikki Petersen outlines for readers top five plant-based dishes. These are:

Idea #1: Chili

A robust bean chili, with an optional “meat” such as Beyond Meat “burger” or Quorn meatless pieces, is a great addition to your July 4th celebration. A flavorful chili can be served hot or cold and the “meat” portion will go unnoticed as plant-based.

Idea #2: Potato salad

Potato salad is always a staple at picnics and is extremely easy to make plant-based. A simple switch to egg-free vegan mayonnaise is all that it takes. A nice benefit to cooking and then cooling potatoes is that it brings out their resistant starch, a great source of fuel for your microbiome, that won’t leave you craving sweets.

Idea #3: Fruit salad

Fruit salad is a great summertime favorite that is always plant-based. Use “special” fruits that help prevent sunburn for an added benefit on those hot summer days. Lycopene-rich fruits with natural sun protection include watermelon, guava, papaya and pink grapefruit.

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Idea #4: Quinoa Salad

Quinoa salad topped with summer cherry tomatoes, shredded red cabbage, red onion (or green onion), pea pods, red or yellow peppers, avocado, black or garbanzo beans, and a vinaigrette of your choice. The more veggies you add the better and the more delicious!

Idea #5: Plant-based burgers

These can be made from a variety of ingredients or purchased in your grocery store. I always prefer fresh, so consider putting them together the night before and then forming the “meat” into burger patties on your way to your barbeque. If you do not have a designated grill you feel comfortable with, just cook them at home before you leave. Top with a plant-based “cheese”, grilled onions, avocado and more. The base of your burger can be black beans, quinoa, tofu or a combination or ingredients, including nuts.

For those in the U.S., Petersen recommends trying these meals out for the 4th of July celebrations. The meals can, of course, be tried out for any occasion and in any country.

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