The following recipes are designed to help you get all the vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients you need so you don’t need to take supplements. Getting your nutrition from food is much safer and more effective than taking supplements. There are micronutrients in foods that aren’t available in pills, and eating this way will help you get the fiber you need. The suggested menu and recipes are designed to be rotated into your current diet.
You may not like all the foods suggested, but they’re worth a try, and I’ve also included lots of options.
We are not born liking all foods. You actually develop a taste for foods that you’ve been exposed to. You’re more likely to start liking a new food if you try it several times over a short period of time. Try tasting new foods at least 5 to 20 times within a month to learn to like them.
While this meal plan has a lot of flexibility, there are a couple of non-negotiable points: The benefits of cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collards, chard, brussels sprouts, bok choy, etc.) are so plentiful that they’re an essential part of a healthy diet. Learn to like at least two of them. I’ve provided several ways, some of them sneaky, to get them into your diet. Getting at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day is also non-negotiable. My intention is to get you to try fruits and vegetables in new ways so you enjoy eating them. You won’t always get 100% of your RDI (recommended daily intake) each day, but you will get the nutrients you need over the course of the week and that’s what counts.
The meal plan in this article does contain small amounts of animal foods. In most cases, a vegetarian or vegan substitution is provided. If you choose to be vegan, eating no animal products at all, or if you have multiple food allergies, it’s a good idea to consult a dietician to make sure you get the protein, vitamin B12, zinc, Vitamin D, omega 3 fats, and other micronutrients.
Sample 5-Day Meal Plan
Breakfast: Strawberry Power Smoothie
Lunch: Hummus wrap: Spread your favorite hummus on a whole grain tortilla or pita. Fill with Red bell pepper slices and spinach or baby greens.
Enjoy with grapes
If you don’t like hummus you can substitute refried beans, sauteed peppers and onions, and salsa for the hummus.
Dinner: Mediterranean Salmon with Roasted Vegetables
Enjoy with a whole-grain roll or brown rice
You can substitute roasted tofu for the salmon, but be sure to add extra flaxseed to your breakfast smoothie and get some sun exposure for vitamin D.
Breakfast: Whole grain oatmeal with a spoonful of peanut butter and maple syrup or honey (optional)
milk or soymilk
Lunch: Mixed greens or Kale Caesar salad with crispy chickpeas
Whole grain garlic toast or whole wheat pita chips
If you don’t have time to make the dressing and chickpeas, you can substitute your favorite Ceasar dressing and buy roasted chickpeas. On the go? Pick this up at a restaurant like Cava, Panera, Freshii or Chop’t
Dinner: Veggie Pasta with Red Sauce and Mushrooms with 2 Tablespoons of Parmesan cheese,
steamed broccoli, (boil ½ inch of water and a dash of salt in a medium pan. Add broccoli florets and steam for 6 minutes or until tender)
Chocolate covered almonds
Don’t leave out the mushrooms! They are nutritional powerhouses and a source of vitamin D. Feel free to add sauteed meat, meatballs, or vegan crumbles to the sauce if desired, but the minced mushrooms add a hearty meat-like texture to the sauce.
Breakfast: Whole grain granola with soy milk
1 cup of blueberries
Lunch: Burrito bowl: brown rice, lettuce, shredded cheese, salsa, cilantro sauce, black or pinto beans, (seasoned chicken or beef optional) avocado or guacamole.
No time? You can get this made for you at a restaurant like Chipotle.
Dinner: Shrimp Stir Fry (substitute Tofu Stir Fry for a vegan option) With broccoli or bok choy, and peppers
Serve with soba noodles or brown rice
If you need to get this meal at a restaurant, make sure you avoid fried options. You can ask them to prepare the dish with less sodium and ask to add extra broccoli. Brown rice and soba noodles (made from whole grain buckwheat) aren’t available at every restaurant and most restaurant noodle options are not whole grain. You can add a whole grain tortilla to your lunch and eat just a small serving of white rice with extra vegetables at dinner.
Breakfast: Chocolate Protein Balls,
a cup of soymilk or 6oz vanilla yogurt
with 1 cup of berries
Lunch: Avocado toast–mash avocado with salt, pepper, a squeeze of lime juice, and red pepper flakes to taste and spread on whole-grain bread and sprinkle with roasted, salted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) or sunflower seeds.
Enjoy with ½ grapefruit or 2 clementines.
Don’t like avocado? Substitute a nut butter sandwich on whole-grain bread with ½ sliced banana on it.
Dinner: One-Pot Confetti Quinoa and Beans
Roasted chicken or fish (optional) with chimichurri sauce.
sauteed spinach or baby bok choy with garlic and olive oil. Heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add a clove of minced garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Add 5 to 8 ounces of greens. This will more than fill the pan, but it will cook down to a very small volume. Use a spatula to flip the greens rotating which are on top until all the greens are wilted.
Chimichurri is a nutrient-packed sauce popular in South America. Don’t skip the sauce! It adds significant nutrition to the meal. If you prefer, substitute salsa or another Power Sauce that suits your taste. The Quinoa and beans make a hearty vegetarian meal, so the meat is definitely optional.
Breakfast: Egg scrambled with baby spinach leaves and cheese, (simply saute in a pan with a little olive oil or follow this recipe)
Whole grain toast,
For a vegan option, you can substitute a tofu scramble (you can cook drained, crumbled tofu just like scrambled eggs) with a tablespoon of Nutritional Yeast in place of the cheese.
Lunch: Pesto Grain Bowl: Start with leftover brown rice, quinoa, or whole-grain noodles and add tomatoes, olives, mixed baby greens, lentils, edamame, hummus, or beans, topped with homemade Pesto or your favorite Power Sauce
with grapes or an apple.
No time? Pick this up at a restaurant like Cava, Panera, or Chop’t
Dinner: Roasted Chicken, Potato, and Brussels Sprouts Pan Dinner
Why haven’t I included portion sizes?
Portion sizes are relative to your age, size, and activity level and will vary from day to day. In general, your protein portion should be the size and thickness of the palm of your hand and fill about ¼ of your plate. (Fish portions can be a little larger.) Whole grains should fill no more than a quarter of your plate, and fruits and vegetables should fill at least ½ your plate.
If you’re trying to lose weight try sticking to this meal plan as much as possible, adding similar dishes for variety.
If you’re very active or growing, eat larger portions and add snacks if needed.
Always eat slowly and chew well and your body will tell you when you have had enough. You will feel satisfied, not full, 20 minutes after starting your meal. (It takes your brain about 20 minutes to register fullness.)
Want more meal plans and recipes like these? Check out my book: Savvy Eating for the Whole Family, Whole Foods, Whole Family, Whole Life, or comment below to let me know what topics you would like me to address in the future.
3 thoughts on “Meal Plan and Recipes for a Plant-based Diet: Eat like this and you won’t need a vitamin!”
I hope you are working on another book/cookbook!! Greg