Variety is the spice of life! But so many plant-based eaters get stuck in a rut, eating the same old, same old. The good news is, with these simple tricks you can get more variety in your plant based diet.
But first: a gift for you!
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The no-stress secret to getting more variety: the rule of 3
We've said it before and we'll say it again: eat the rainbow if you can. Change things up by adding more colors to your rice and beans.
- Orange foods contain beta carotene.
- Red foods contain lycopene.
- Green foods often contain calcium.
- Purple foods contain high levels of antioxidants.
But don't overthink it!
As long as your plate is colorful, you don’t have to worry about getting enough of a certain nutrient.
Try sticking to the rule of 3 with your rice and beans (or any plant-based meal you're enjoying at home): There should be at least 3 different colors on your plate each night.
Variety is also important for those who really appreciate the art of dining. Although taste is relatively subjective, I think most people can agree that variation within a pallet (even a limited one) can create a more pleasurable dining experience. Although some people enjoy mono meals, flavor is important, there’s no getting around it.
So once again for the people in the back: eat the rainbow!
1. Swap out your side dishes
If you’re gung-ho about your favorite mains, try getting variety by swapping out your sides. For instance, if you’re used to having green beans, steamed broccoli, mashed potatoes, steamed carrots, or salad as a side dish, try something a little more exotic (but still easy to make):
- Garlic sauteed kale sprinkled with sesame seeds
- Diced avocado, cucumber, cherry tomato, and red pepper with dressing
- Diced roasted beets, diced cucumber, pumpkin seeds, and red onion with dressing
- Roasted beets, sweet potato, and carrots seasoned with salt, pepper, and thyme
- Mushrooms sliced and water sauteed with Tamari and garlic powder
- Steamed cauliflower mashed with roasted garlic, salt, and pepper
2. Swap out your mains
That said, it’s okay to rotate between several go-to side dishes and focus primarily on your main course.
Think about it from a geographical standpoint. Different veggies, spices, fruits, and grains grow in different regions of the world, so by adding geographical variety, you will inherently add produce variety.
If you’re used to Mediterranean dishes, try making an Asian stir fry, or African stew over brown rice.
Finding recipes is as simple as Googling, “Vegan African Stew." If a recipe isn’t 100% whole food plant-based, you can always sub oil for water or veggie broth, sugar for date syrup, and refined grains for whole grains.
Get out your globe, close your eyes, lightly place your finger against it and spin to see what region of the world you’ll be cooking from tonight!
3. Change up your grains
This one is easy. If you are used to brown rice, try quinoa. There are roughly 120 different types of quinoa, so get creative! Here are a few other “bases” or starches you can use instead of your standard brown rice:
- Brown rice or legume pasta
- Mashed potatoes
- Cauliflower mash
- Chickpea mash
- Baked potato
- Sweet potato
- Wild rice, red rice, or black rice
- Refried beans (fat free, vegetarian)
- Corn tortillas
- Steamed greens
- Shredded zucchini
4. Try plant-based versions of old favorites
Do you have that one menu item that you always used to order at your favorite restaurant, before you went plant-based? Give it a plant-based makeover!
If you miss lasagna, try making a cashew cream-based tetrazzini instead! Or, simply swap out your noodles for zucchini shreds (use a peeler to make long noodle shapes).
Tacos used to be your go-to? Make a taco salad! And if tacos are your jam, you're going to go bananas for MamaSezz Walnut Taco "Meat."
5. Always be prepared
It’s easy to slip back into old habits when you're busy, which let's face it...we all are! This is where batch cooking can really come in handy.
Making dinner for the family tonight? Double the recipe and freeze half of it in single serve portions. That way, when life gets hectic, you can reach for your frozen whole food plant based meal rather than pick up (less healthy) take out on your drive home.
6. Get a MamaSezz Chef’s Choice Bundle
That said...batch cooking still takes time that not everyone has. A super convenient way to always have healthy options on hand? MamaSezz ready-made meals. And for those in need of variety, hop on a MamaSezz Chef’s Choice subscription for a surprise variety of ready-to-eat, whole food plant based meals, delivered right to your home.
Eat what you can and pop the rest in the freezer for emergencies (or nights you just don’t feel like cooking). Like a little more guidance with your plant based diet? Follow the suggested meal plan that comes with your bundle.
7. Try a CSA or Misfits
Want to support local farms AND eat in-season produce? Join a CSA, AKA Community Support Agriculture. Basically, you purchase a "share" of a local farm and in turn, you'll receive a box of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season. This is a great way to try new veggies and get outside your produce comfort zone.
If you receive a large number of radishes… I guess you’re making radish bisque or garlic roasted radishes! Again, the internet is your BFF, so use it to gather new recipes. Mealtime just got a little more interesting!
Don't forget your FREE gift!
- Eat the rainbow: Try to pack as many different colored foods onto your plate as you can.
- Make sure there are at least 3 different colors of foods on your plate
- Try swapping out your side dishes, trying cuisine from around the world, and tweaking old favorites.
- Variety not only comes with health benefits but also adds a little spice to your life!
- Get a healthy variety of whole food plant based meals delivered right to your door with the MamaSezz Chef’s Choice Bundle.
Caroline is a plant-based chef, recipe designer, and whole food plant-based nutrition educator, with a Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.