Hat tip to my friend Susannah for begging the question what a typical day of plant-based eating looks like and how to get enough calories/energy and also feel satiated. So 99% plant-based, yes, but also 100% gluten free (which put an abrupt end to my migraines, as you can read about here
First, I don’t count calories at all and I don’t keep food journals. After 8 months of eating a 99% plant-based diet, I have lost only 24 pounds. So long as I continue to be blessed to have access to food, there is no universe where I’m ever going to “waste away.” 😜 As my son once said: I’ll always have “meaty thighs.”
I’m not eating this way to lose weight (but I’ll happily take that as it SLOWLY comes). I’m eating this way to avoid high cholestrol, high blood pressure, diabetes and migraines. If those four things are happening for me, the weight will not be heading in the wrong direction.
First, let’s talk about protein, protein, protein. I get plenty of it. Americans are OBSESSED with making sure everyone is getting enough protein. Most American get insanely too much protein. A 49 year old woman needs about 45-55 grams per day. Not 100. And it probably doesn’t have to be Every. Single. Day. On average, I shoot for 50 but with everything else I have going on, I’ve got zero time to track it bit by bit. If I’m going to be doing strenous exercise, I’ll eat for that. If not, I’ll make note of that too.
Second, my biggest challenge is that I love crunchy, salty things. I’d be fine never eating another peice of cake or ice cream again, but if you take the chips and salsa completely away, I’d be really really sad. Thank goodness for corn chips. 3 ingredients: Corn, salt, oil. So I keep those around the house as my “junk” food. I try to limit the amount, but that’s my sanity. I also buy “nut” crackers that are gluten free and made of nuts (pecans, almonds, etc).
A Typical Day
In a typical day, there are 2 constants: A nutrient dense smoothie and a mother lode salad. If those two things are present every day, you are at about 60% of a damn good day eating day.
Get a good plant-based protein powder. Vega Protein and Greens
is my go-to, but I’ve tried many that have pea protein that are great in chocalate or vanilla. One scoop = 20 g protein.
I use one cup of almond milk oas the starting point (another gram of protein). I add a tablespoon of almond butter (another 3 grams of protein). A handful of flax seed (another protein gram). A tablespoon of Maca powder (another 3g of protein). Add berries, apples, etc. And a spoon of honey if you need it sweeter. I don’t use bananas because they have a high glycemic index. I might put half of an avacado for consistency (and even more protein).
In the end, that one smoothie constitutes half or more of the protein for the day. That yields about servings, one of which I drink in the morning and the second glass is a mid-morning sipper. Check out the prior post on the VitaMix for equipment
If you don’t feel the smoothie some morning, eat the bowl of cherrios with granola and berries or try something like this sample breakfast
The Mother Lode Salad
This can honestly come at any time of the day. Breakfast, lunch or dinner when you feel like it. This is usally dinner at our house, but there are no rules. Here’s a prior post on salads along with photos
Make it big. Include lots of fruit and nuts and a cup of raw baby spinach with some spring mix and brocolli slaw, shaved red cabbage. Throw in raw berries of any and all kinds and dried cranberries. Throw in a handful of vegan cheese if you need the cheese fix. Get a dressing you like. Try to stick with olive oil and balsamic types and avoid sugars. You have a lot of leeway here because you are being soooo good. Make it a visual masterpiece you’d want to serve when you have a dinner party. Put it on a nice spacious plate. I promise you can make a better salad than any restaurant.
Consider that a crunchy salad packs in at least 6 more grams of protein:
- 1 cup of raw baby spinach = 1g of protein
- 2 tablespoons of sunflower seeds = 2 g protein (shaved almonds or pecans also good)
- 1 yellow/red/orange bell pepper = 1 g protein
- 1/2 medium avacado = 2 g protein
Drink a glass or 2 or 3 of veggie juice everyday. Whenver you need a boost of something. Sometimes I use a juicer, but when I’m lazy, I just pour from something like this pressed Carrot Juice.
After your taste buds re-adjust themselves, these are a really really good treat when served ice cold.
Another favorite is Beet Juice (honestly, who knew?). There are countless option, but stay away from orange juice (you will crash from the sugar) and stay away from things like the “Naked” brand and other juices at the store – unless you are recoving from some really intense exercise. Read the lables on that stuff, so much sugar and even if it’s coming from fruit, it’s still sugar. A good rule of thumb is physcially eat your fruit, don’t drink it unless it’s a small percentage you used to flavor up some pressed veggie juice.
For more on juicing, check out this prior post on juicing
– it’s how I came to incorporate juice duing the day with “regular” food. And if you really want to be juice-inspired, read Corey’s story
The Rest of the Day
You have been so good! Now you only have to be creative about one meal. Play with cook books and blogs and get someone to try recipes out with you for the fun of it. Get the fix that you need/want within reason and consider something like this as your go-to quick fixes.
- A Brown Rice Dish of anykind. A cup of brown rice has 4 grams of protein and whole grains and fiber. Get that white rice out of your house! Nothing good comes from that. Mexican, Asian, Indian – this is the dish that I throw the heat and the flavors in and satisfy those cravings. Gluten free soy sauce is your friend.
- A Wrap or Sandwich of anykind. For wraps, there is one superior GF option. The Mission GF wrap shown here – it’s big, it’s maleable like the fresh flour kind – it’s good for making handhelds or for cooking enchiladas. For street tacos, I’m all about the corn toritlla (naturally gluten free) but this thing is goooood. Even to eat straight out of the pack. Put whatever inside, line with hummus (more protein) so your contents have something to stick to. Consider bean sprouts for the crunch factor. A slice of vegan cheese. Whatever. If you do a sandwich, toast the bread. Here’s a good example from Delaney.
- Grilling is not just for meat! Slice sweet potatoes long ways like a “steak” and grill them. Yummy. Peppers, onions, squash, zuchhini. Soak them in lime juice before you stick them on. I bought a grill basket, but if you cut big, you can just use a set of good tongs.
- Beans, beans, beans. Anything with beans in it.
- God bless chickpea pasta products. 1-2 ingredients and lost of protein.
I’ll add this. Going out to eat is really hard, unless you are in a bigger city. If you go out for Mexican, get the veggie fajitas with corn tortillas. Thai is probably the most versatile choice. Get the baked sweet potatos and salad at the standard American restaurant and eat a little something before you go out. Do not go to a restaurant super hungy unless you know there are solid vegan options. Nothing good will come of that.