One of the biggest complaints I hear about vegetarian and vegan recipes is that they just aren’t enough. I mean, how can a plate full of vegetables and legumes be filling and satisfying? Rest assured, it can be. Here are my five tips for making a well-rounded vegan meal.
1. Balance the plate
I think the misconception that vegan meals are all veg and nothing else gets to the issue at hand. I highly recommend having a mixture of grains, protein, and vegetables — it provides a great balance not only with flavor/bulk but also texture. Grains and legumes help keep the meal filling while the vegetables bring everything together.
- Tofu Chickpea Stir-Fry with Tahini Sauce - The Kitchn (pictured)
- Green Goddess Quinoa Salad Bowl - The Kitchn
- Jerk-Style Veggie Grill with Greens + Mango Ginger Sauce - The First Mess
- Spicy-Peanut Portobello Kale Rice Bowl - Healthy. Happy. Life.
2. Flavor with herbs and spices
One of the greatest underused assets in plant-based cooking are herbs and spices. While the herbs and spices don’t directly add to the heartiness of a meal, the addition of these flavors makes a meal more appealing and I think it less likely people are going to miss the meat. Why go with simple salt and pepper when you can kick it up a notch with smoked paprika, cumin, or chipotle powder?
- Spiced Yellow Dal with Rice - The Kitchn
- Spicy Lentil Wraps with Tahini Sauce - The Kitchn
- Grilled Za'atar Artichokes with Wild Rice Salad - Happyolks
- Moroccan Yam Veggie Burgers - Oh She Glows
3. Take on the traditional
So often I hear people mention, "Oh man, I miss that from my non-vegan days" but honestly, I have eaten my fair share of vegan meals based on traditional foods and when compared, I’d nearly always choose the vegan version. There are so many of these recipes on the internet but I think it's fun to come up with my own!
- Curried Tofu Salad - The Kitchn
- Sweet Potato and Lime Taquitos - Beard & Bonnet
- Cauliflower Mac and Cheese - Love and Lemons
- Spicy Lentil Sloppy Joe - Naturally Ella (pictured)
4. Mix up the cooking technique
Just like you would with non-vegan meals, vegan meals can be prepared in a plethora of ways. Braising, roasting, and grilling are fantastic ways to bring out different flavors from the produce. Break out of a rut and try grilling beets or roasting carrots — so good!
- Grilled Chipotle Lime Cauliflower Steaks - The Kitchn
- Braised Leeks with Muscovado Lentils - Sprouted Kitchen
- Cuban Bowls with Roasted Sweet Potatoes - The Wanderlust Kitchen
- Cumin Braised Carrots and Chickpeas - Naturally Ella (pictured)
5. Showcase the produce
Don’t rule out what I like to call "fork & knife" meals. While I like to keep balance within my meals (and eat a lot of vegan bowl meals), showcasing a beautiful vegetable or fruit can make a great hearty, vegan meal.
- Curry Roasted Spring Onions with Creamy Coconut Polenta- With Food and Love
- Chipotle Glazed Squash - Cookie and Kate
- Parsnip Steak with Miso Gravy - Choosing Raw
- Roasted Eggplant with Cumin-Scented Spelt and Fig Chutney - Naturally Ella (pictured)
Finally, just a note, many vegetarian meals can easily be made vegan by substituting your favorite dairy substitutions, leaving off the cheese, and/or replacing the honey!
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