The Veggie Table: Get Your Vegetarian Plate in Shape
I’ll never forget a client I had who was following a vegan diet but – get this – hated vegetables! Imagine me trying to conceal my shock and concern as she described her “plant-based” diet that was loaded with refined carbs and processed mock meats. We worked together to build her taste and appreciation for dark leafy greens and brightly colored vegetables and ultimately got her plate in shape and her diet more well-rounded.
This year’s National Nutrition Month theme is to Get Your Plate in Shape and I want to stress how important that is for vegetarians and vegans, or those who are focusing on a more plant-based diet, to make sure our plates are well balanced with complex carbs, plenty of protein, and of course, vegetables. All too often have I seen people make the swap from meat-eating to plant-based diets and simply omit the meat without replacing it with plant sources of protein. Not only does that create a void in the diet, but also a void in your stomach, leaving you hungry and unsatisfied.
To keep things simple, I recommend that all meals (vegetarian or not) have a healthy trio of complex carbs, satisfying protein and fruit or vegetables. Here are some of my favorite meal combinations that keep my plate in shape:
- Oatmeal with walnuts and diced apples
- Scrambled eggs or tofu with spinach and onions with a side of whole wheat toast
- Greek yogurt parfait with whole grain cereal and sliced bananas
- Smoothie blended with banana, peanut butter, oats and almond milk
- Whole wheat wrap with hummus, spinach and sliced vegetables
- Burrito or tacos with brown rice, beans and sautéed peppers
- Salad topped with beans and paired with a whole wheat pita
- Baked falafel sandwiches
- Penne with smoked tofu, squash and greens
- Split pea burgers on a whole wheat bun with a side salad
Janel Ovrut Funk, MS RD LDN, loves experimenting with vegetarian and vegan cooking. Read her food blog, Eat Well with Janel, and follow her on Twitter @DietitianJanel. Catch up on her previous posts here.