Make Vegan Meal Planning WAY Easier: Here’s How

Going vegan is a compassionate choice that gives back in spades! This way of eating can be extremely prebiotic-rich , keeping your friendly flora happy, while encouraging cardiovascular health, optimum blood sugar levels, and even healthy weight.1,2,3 And giving up animal foods such as dairy doesn’t seem to negatively impact bones—the fact that it creates a low acid load may actually help your bones retain their strength!4 Choosing vegan food is also better for the planet, significantly reducing your carbon footprint.

While all this is good news, it doesn’t feel particularly helpful after a long day, when you hungrily open the fridge and wonder how to turn all that produce staring back at you into a healthy vegan meal—and quickly! It’s moments like these when you may be tempted to just grab some chips and hummus and call it a night.

Thankfully, vegan meal prep doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated—it just takes a little forethought. These simple tips and easy vegan recipes will take the hassle out of vegan meal planning so you can enjoy this healthy lifestyle to the fullest.

1. Plan a Whole Week Ahead

Since putting together vegan meals requires a bit more time and creativity than thawing a frozen burger, it makes sense not to wait until you’re jagged hungry to start pondering your dinner options. Instead, consider dedicating one day each week to planning out meals and snacks for the next seven days. When you also prepare a list of all the ingredients involved, you’ll be able to get everything you need in one single shopping trip. This method also gives you a nice snapshot of what you’re eating, which makes it easier to tweak your plan to include a wide variety of nutritious foods.

That said, if you pair recipes that use at least some similar ingredients in your weekly meal plans, it simplifies shopping and food preparation. For example, if you’ll be having overnight oats one morning, you might also want to plan for veggie burgers thickened with rolled oats later that week.

2. Prewash!

We’ve all been there—craving a crisp salad or some fresh fruit and then deciding against it because it seems like too much bother to wash and cut the produce. That’s why setting aside a little time when you’re not busy to prewash (and if appropriate, pre-cut) fruits and veggies makes so much sense. With this approach, getting a salad on the table becomes just a matter of grabbing a few handfuls of the good stuff, tossing it into a bowl, and drizzling on a healthy dressing.

For meals on the go, washed carrot sticks, celery sticks, or grapes make effortless additions to bag lunches, and the whole family will love coming home to a chilled fruit salad with chunks of fresh, sweet cherries, nectarines, berries, and oranges.

3. Fill Those Cupboards

A well-stocked vegan pantry means you’ll always have healthy non-perishable staples on hand when you’re ready to cook. Most of this stuff lasts virtually forever, so after one initial large shopping, you’ll only need to replace items occasionally as you use them up. Every vegan pantry is unique, depending on your family’s food preferences, health issues, and possible food sensitivities, but here are some basics you may want to include:

Grains: organic quinoa, buckwheat, maize, black rice, amaranth, millet, oats, and barley
• Organic whole grain flours, or gluten-free flours like coconut, almond, or chickpea
• Seeds: pumpkin, sunflower, chia, and hemp
• Organic nuts: almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans, and pine nuts
• Organic dried fruits: raisins, dates, cranberries, and goji berries, as well as organic nut butters
• Dried organic beans: lentils, chickpeas, navy beans, and pinto beans
• Organic canned staples (in BPA-free cans): coconut milk, tomato paste, pumpkin puree, beans, and GMO-free corn
• Raw organic cacao powder
• Basic spices: peppercorns, sea salt, turmeric, cumin, parsley, oregano, sage, cayenne, paprika, basil, rosemary, cinnamon, and other favorites
• Organic sweeteners: agave, stevia, date sugar, and maple syrup
• Organic unpasteurized apple cider vinegar
• Organic vegetable broth
• Nutritional yeast
Organic prebiotic powder
• Organic matcha powder

4. Cook in Bulk

Let’s face it, even though we all want healthy, home-cooked meals every day, most of us just don’t have the time to cook daily! Sometimes even committing to cooking twice a week feels ambitious.

The trick to getting healthy meals on the table every day without all that work is to make the most of every single cooking session. Try preparing enough for at least two or three meals each time you cook—and then freeze leftover portions for future meals. Over time you’ll build a freezer full of delicious, varied meals that can be quickly warmed at a moment’s notice. To add a bit more personality to these meals, serve some of that fresh washed produce (that’s already in your fridge) on the side. One night it might be avocado slices and tomatoes with lemon juice alongside the casserole you just warmed, and another time it might be massaged kale with a mustard vinaigrette.

Another really effective strategy to eat more wholesome meals without spending more time in the kitchen is to start a serious relationship with your slow cooker. All you have to do is toss fresh ingredients inside, set the timer, and go about your business while the slow cooker does all the work. At the end of the day, you come home to a hot meal ready to eat and plenty of leftovers for another day!

The volume of delicious, healthy vegan recipes to choose from is wider than the sky! Here are just a few to get you started:

Crockpot Vegan Thai Curry

Dust off your old crockpot for a “set it and forget it” meal with a real kick! This rich curry is packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, prebiotics, healthy fat—and most importantly, taste! Since it involves two cooking steps, you might want to make this one on a weekend morning.

Ingredients:
• ½ cauliflower head, chopped
• 2 medium yams, peeled and cubed
• 1 yellow onion, chopped
• 1 (14 oz.) can coconut milk
• 3 tablespoons Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
• ¾ teaspoon organic Sriracha
• ¼ teaspoon sea salt
• 1 teaspoon turmeric
• 3 tablespoons organic red curry paste
• 1 tablespoon date sugar
• 1 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced
• 1 cup green peas (fresh or frozen)
• ½ cup cashews, chopped
• ⅓ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
• 3 or 4 fresh basil leaves
• Fresh lime slices
• Cooked brown jasmine rice

Instructions:
1. Place cauliflower, yams, and onions in the crockpot.
2. Mix together coconut milk, Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, red curry paste, date sugar, Sriracha, turmeric, and sea salt in a small bowl.
3. Pour the spicy coconut sauce into the crockpot and stir until all vegetables are coated.
4. Set crockpot to low and cook for four hours.
5. Add peas and mushrooms, and cook an additional 30 minutes.
6. Serve over brown jasmine rice, and top with basil leaves, chopped cashews, chopped cilantro, and lime slices.

Vegan Nacho Cheese Slices

This zesty vegan cheese is perfect for a quick sandwich, or to perk up other recipes. Chickpea flour contains a cocktail of nutrition that includes protein, magnesium, folate, and prebiotics—while raw, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar supports healthy weight and blood sugar, as well as cardiovascular health. Try it grilled on whole grain bread with tomatoes, melt it over black beans and rice, or crumble it over a fresh green salad. The possibilities are endless!

Ingredients:
• ½ cup chickpea flour
• 2 garlic cloves
• ½ teaspoon onion powder
• ½ teaspoon mustard powder
• ¼ teaspoon cumin
• 1 small pickled jalapeno pepper
• 2 tablespoons roasted red pepper
• 2 tablespoons chopped tomatoes
• ¾ teaspoon salt
• ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
• ½ teaspoon chipotle powder
• 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
• 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
• ½ teaspoon unpasteurized apple cider vinegar
• 1 cup water
• ½ teaspoon chopped red pepper flakes

Instructions:
1. Place all ingredients except the jalapeno pepper and pepper flakes in a blender and process until fully combined.
2. Pour mixture into a saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently.
• When mixture becomes thick, even and custard-like, cook for an additional three to four minutes, stirring constantly.
3. Stir in jalapeno and pepper flakes.
4. Pour mixture into an oiled (or parchment lined) brownie pan. Spray a little organic oil on top, cover with another sheet of parchment paper, and roll or press into a thin square.
5. Refrigerate for at least one hour, then cut into sandwich-sized slices. Serve immediately, or store in the fridge for up to five days.

Maple Amaranth Berry Porridge

This sweet, steamy porridge warms chilly mornings with a comforting, nutty taste—and a touch of exotic history. Delicious amaranth is native to Peru, and was once prized by the ancient Aztecs. It’s naturally gluten-free and rich in protein, lysine, antioxidants, calcium, and minerals. While it makes a great base for this almost dessert-like breakfast treat, you can also enjoy amaranth in savory recipes with mushrooms, onions, and other veggies!

Ingredients:
• ½ cup amaranth
• 1 cup water
• 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
• 1 scoop organic prebiotic powder
• 1 tablespoon hemp seeds
• 1 tablespoon organic raisins
• ¼ cup organic blueberries
• ½ teaspoon vanilla
• ½ teaspoon cinnamon
• Plant based milk

Instructions:
1. Pour water and amaranth into a saucepan and bring to a boil.
2. Lower heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes** until most of the water is absorbed and the grain is fully cooked. Be careful not to overcook.
3. Spoon into bowls and stir in maple syrup, prebiotic powder, hemp seeds, raisins, blueberries, vanilla, and cinnamon. Top with plant based milk. If desired, prepare amaranth the night before and rewarm it before adding the other ingredients.

**Soaking amaranth overnight before cooking improves digestibility and nutrient absorption. However it also decreases cooking time by as much as half! If you decide to soak your amaranth, watch it carefully on the stovetop to make sure you don’t overcook it!

Smart shopping, planning, and cooking are the secrets to making vegan meal planning a breeze! With stress removed from the equation, you’ll be free to savor every yummy bite while your body, the animals, and our precious planet express their heartfelt thanks.

References:

1. Glick-Bauer, M., & Yeh, M. (2014). The Health Advantage of a Vegan Diet: Exploring the Gut Microbiota Connection. Nutrients, 6(11), 4822-4838. doi:10.3390/nu6114822

2. Le, L., & Sabaté, J. (2014). Beyond Meatless, the Health Effects of Vegan Diets: Findings from the Adventist Cohorts. Nutrients, 6(6), 2131-2147. doi:10.3390/nu6062131

3. Burckhardt, P. (2016). The role of low acid load in vegetarian diet on bone health: a narrative review. Swiss Medical Weekly. doi:10.4414/smw.2016.14277

4. Ho-Pham, L. T., Nguyen, P. L., Le, T. T., Doan, T. A., Tran, N. T., Le, T. A., & Nguyen, T. V. (2009). Veganism, bone mineral density, and body composition: a study in Buddhist nuns. Osteoporosis International, 20(12), 2087-2093. doi:10.1007/s00198-009-0916-z

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Roberta Pescow is a writer at Hyperbiotics and proud mom of two amazing and unique young men. Natural wellness is a subject she’s passionate about, so she loves sharing information that helps others discover all the ways probiotics support glowing health and well-being. To learn more about how a healthy microbiome can enrich your life, subscribe to our newsletter.

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Posted in Diet & Nutrition, Gut Health, Lifestyle, Prebiotics, Recipes, Weight & Blood Sugar


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