Updated: Feb 20, 2020
With a whole food plant based diet, it cuts out a lot of the ingredients that we have become accustomed to. When I first made the transition, I was overwhelmed. As soon as I knew the name of the diet I was looking for, I checked out every cookbook I could find in the library.
I had always thought I needed eggs, milk, cheese, oil and meat to flavor and cook anything I ate. Cutting all of those out seemed overwhelming at first, but once you understand what you CAN eat, it becomes so easy. The only time eating this way has become a challenge, has been when traveling, which we can talk about later. But for the most part, feeding myself has not been an issue, feeding my family on the other hand, that has been more challenging.
With the symptoms I was dealing with, I noticed a lot of them were tied to foods that I craved. Foods that were difficult for me to walk away from. I learned that I couldn't keep these foods in the house. That meant that my family ended up eating a lot more of what I was eating. I don't have the energy to make two dinners every night either, so most of the junk food disappeared right away. They still got fast food and sweets, just not at the same frequency and quantity as before. Thankfully we have a handful of go to recipes now that we can fall back on, but it is still an adjustment for my family.
Let me share with you some of our favorites for you to try out in your own home.
Most days, breakfast is toast or Lundberg Rice Cakes topped with our favorite toppings. For my kids it's jam, for me it's peanut butter and bananas. Oatmeal is something we have often, I like to top mine with salt, the rest of my family adds berries and a little bit of maple syrup.
We also have a fruit basket that I try to never allow to go empty, and my kids love frozen blueberries, so we are always stocked up on those.
These Chocolate Pancakes make a great transitional meal that everyone in my house absolutely loves! Make sure to wait the whole 10 minutes before cooking, you want your flax seed to soak up as much moisture as you can before cooking it. I do use a tiny bit of oil on the pan to prevent this one from sticking. You can find dairy free chocolate chips in the allergy free or gluten free section of most grocery stores. And make sure to use pure maple syrup, not the stuff full of added ingredients. I enjoy these by themselves and with syrup, they are tasty either way!
To be honest, for my family, PB&J is still a staple in our home. We have changed which peanut butter and jelly's we use, but we still use them. I'm hoping to make a bunch of naturally sweet jam in the summer when all my favorites are in season. My favorite peanut butter is the Adams 100% Natural. The bread we buy isn't always perfect, and I am not going to run all over town to 3 different stores to buy my supplies. It becomes too expensive. I do my best.
Honey is something I use a lot of as well, though it is not necessarily considered a "vegan" product, due to the fact that it is produced by another creature.
Whole grain noodles happen a lot at lunch time too, and occasionally we get creative and make peanut butter and jelly burritos with diced apples, bananas, raisins, granola or maybe even some pumpkin seeds. We just throw in whatever is on hand. Lets be truthful though, my kids prefer a regular peanut butter and jelly sandwich over it any day.
I also like to have a variety of veggies on hand to make a salad and top with salsa or guacamole most of the time.
Dinner is the meal that I experiment with the most, trying new recipes regularly. We have a hand full of favorites now, but the recipes I keep in my back pocket for nights when I am in a hurry have to be simple and easy.
Our easiest go to recipes have been things like hawaiian haystacks, or tostadas, where everyone can pick and choose their own toppings.
You can make your own "refried" beans by cooking and smashing them yourself. I am lazy and haven't had issue with salt, so I like to buy the fat free refried beans from winco or food club (Macy's, Broulims, I'm sure there are others). They don't have a bunch of added ingredients in them, just know that there is most definitely salt in them and use to your own discretion. And you can find baked, oil free tostada shells at the grocery store, or you can toast corn tortillas in the oven.
We use a lot of the same toppings for both the hawaiian haystacks and tostadas:
sliced green onions
diced bell pepper (any color)
For the haystacks:
pineapple and mandarin oranges (preferably fresh, or canned in their own juices)
For the tostadas:
I am a weirdo, I LOVE to dice up pickles to add(trust me, you will love it too). I also add salsa.
I don't like to call any of the "cheese sauces" cheese at all. It is deceptive, and it just creates disappointment, we call them sauce or gravy. I am still finding my favorite one. There are several recipes that people seem to like made with cashews, I make one from time to time, but am allergic to cashews, so I am still looking.
Here is the sauce recipe my husband likes so far:
1 1/2 c. cashews raw unsalted and boiled for 10 min and drained
1 cup water
Juice of 1/2 of 1 lemon
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 TBS nutritional yeast
1 tsp minced garlic
Add to a food processor and blend until smooth.
I wish I could remember where I got this recipe so I could give credit where it is due.
Hopefully I have given you a few good ideas to get you going! Let me know what you would like to know more about!