During my time this winter cooking at a retreat center in Costa Rica I realized how many people don't know how to create a healthy well balanced MEAL (especially one without meat!).
"Meal" meaning not just one dish, but two to three foods that create a well balanced and full meal. Or in other words...side dishes to accompany a main course.
As a retreat chef and nutritionist that plans meals (and a passionate foodie!) I have learned how to take a main course and combine it with sides to make a healthy vibrant meal.
It is not a lot of extra work and makes a plate more nutritious, colorful, and delicious! So if you want to impress your family (or yourself!) here are a few plant based meal ideas for you to try. The recipes are linked from some of my favorite bloggers that I think you will enjoy.
PRO TIP: do a batch cook night so that you have ingredients on hand throughout the week. For example boil sweet potatoes, roast veggies, cook brown rice and quinoa, make your fav salad dressing, and cut up any veggies on hand to make week night prep easier!
PLANT BASED MEAL IDEAS
Creamy carrot soup with vegan Thai salad in peanut sauce and optional brown rice.
Sweet potato black bean quesadillas with mango salsa and cole slaw.
Lentil soup with brown rice or quinoa and Moroccan carrot raisin salad.
Soba noodle bowl with cucumber side salad.
Fattoush salad with Baba Ganoush and toasted pita chips.
And just for fun, here is an incredibly easy dessert that received rave reviews at the retreat center in Costa Rica...
Banana nice cream with cinnamon sugar tortilla chips.
Put the nice cream in a pretty glass dish, top with a drizzle of agave syrup, and then wedge in a cinnamon sugar tortilla triangle. It looks so fancy, but is oh so simple!
Do you have any favorite entree and side ideas? Please comment below!
PHOTO by Stacey Hamblett (me!) at Kindred Spirits in Costa Rica.
When you have an abundance of carrots, what do you do? Make carrot cake! I had all the necessary ingredients for a good batch of cake and even had vegan cream cheese in my fridge, so I decided to play with creating a new recipe.
This cake is hearty as it is full of shredded carrots, unsweetened coconut flakes, and walnuts. It is flavorful as it is made with 5 spices, coconut milk, and almond flour. And it is moist and not at all gritty like some gluten free foods can be.
I just baked the cake and alternated from eating as is to simply adding a spreading of vegan cream cheese (Tofutti brand). But you could also make a glaze with vegan powdered sugar, orange zest, orange juice and a bit of coconut or almond milk to thin to the right consistency. Simply whisk all together and pour on.
Or you can make a cream cheese frosting with equal parts of room temperature vegan cream cheese and vegan butter, blended with vegan powdered sugar and vanilla/lemon/orange extract, and a bit of coconut or almond milk to thin to the right consistency. Place all in a bowl and use a handheld mixer to blend until frosting like.
Again, if you want a fast and easy cake though, just bake, let cool, smear on vegan cream cheese, and maybe grate some orange zest on top and VOILA! Eat and enjoy!
CARROT CAKE - VEGAN & GLUTEN FREE
makes one 9" cake layer
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9" springform or cake pan.
1 cup almond flour
1 cup white rice flour
1 cup organic cane sugar
1 Tbsp. arrowroot powder
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
3 Tbsp. ground flax mixed with 1/2 cup water (let sit 5 minutes to thicken - "flax egg")
1 cup coconut milk (from can, not the beverage)
1/2 cup organic canola oil
2 tsp. vanilla or orange extract
3 cups shredded carrots
1 cup chopped unsweetened coconut
1 cup chopped walnuts or raisins
In a large bowl, mix all dry ingredients from flour to spices. In a separate bowl mix the flax egg mixture with coconut milk, oil, and extract. Add the wet mix to the dry and blend until ingredients are all incorporated.
Fold in the carrots, coconut and raisins. Pour mix into pan and bake 50 minutes to 1 hour or until top springs back when lightly touched or toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool then either drizzle on glaze, frost, or add cream cheese OR just eat as is! Can be frozen in small pieces and taken out of freezer and microwaved to enjoy anytime.
This blog is an exploration of life, love, adventure and art primarily through the medium of food.