Article exclusively written for eatcleaner.com by Rhia Jane
With concerns for both the planet and individual health growing in prominence, many have opted for plant-based diets. While this has been proven to have scientific benefits, some trends are not always backed by licensed claims. In this regard, it has become much easier for people to just hop on health and wellness trends without verifying if the information or advice they are following is scientifically proven.
The good news though is that there are many professionals who have had an education at university degree level on the subject and are able to provide valid advice on areas such as vegan diets. Today, a sports based degree includes focus areas on nutrition, physiology, kinesiology and fitness management, with has led to an increasingly open job market for graduates. This is why the demand for graduates with online exercise science degrees has spiked significantly with the industry now worth around $30 billion annually and growing every year. And with more people studying and learning about the benefits of good nutrition, they are able to provide good information to those looking to change their eating habits, especially those who want to follow vegan diets. For those who want to learn more about vegan diets or are looking for some new meal ideas we will continue this passing of knowledge through eight vegan meal prep ideas for power and strength.
Choose a filling base
Many health-forward restaurants have offerings like grain bowls or grain salads, and you can recreate these at home. Grains belong to the carb category, but these types of carbs actually supply you with numerous health benefits while also keeping you satisfied for long periods. Whole or ancient grains retain their natural form and as such, are packed with protein, magnesium, B vitamins, fiber, and other nutrients. These also give you energy boosts, ideal for pick-me-ups when needed. These are ideal for meal prep because you just have to soak them overnight before sticking them in a rice cooker with minimal supervision. You have tons of options to choose from, and we covered everything from quinoa to kaniwa; black rice to amaranth; millet, sorghum, and many others. Different textures and flavors are sure to make mealtimes exciting and even more nutritious than intended. It’s best to use these as the base of your meals, as these already provide 25% of your needed daily intake of nutrients.
Consider vegan-friendly stews
If you’re short on time, you can always make a stew. Many of your favorite stews can be turned into vegan alternatives, such as chili. Chili is always a crowd favorite, and you can even make an extra-large batch to stick in the freezer for days when you need a last-minute meal. Beans are an effective source of plant-based protein for vegan meals, and you have such a large variety to choose from. Chili’s flavors actually come together much better when they are more developed after a day, so this is truly the perfect meal prep dish. Beans are also extremely fibrous, with both soluble and insoluble fiber that could control glucose levels and reduce cholesterol. They are also loaded with folate, iron, thiamine, and manganese.
Salads in a jar
To make the idea of eating vegetables more exciting, you can make salads in a bottle or jar. Sterilize whatever spare mason jars or bottle you have at home, and you can layer these with greens, some of your pre-cooked grains, roasted vegetables, chickpeas, as well as other odds and ends you have leftover. There is no rule of thumb to follow here, as you can just build your salad according to your own tastes and preferences. They are easy to assemble and are aesthetically pleasing enough to fool you into consuming more greens.
Prepare extra snacks
Sometimes, you might need to factor in unforeseen circumstances when you need an extra push or snack. These snacks can be prepared ahead of time and can be customized accordingly throughout the week. Sweet potatoes, for example, are rich in vitamins A and C, manganese, and antioxidants that combat free radicals. They are even better with the skin left on. At the start of the week, you can pierce each potato and rub it with olive oil and season it before wrapping it with foil. You can then roast them in an oven until they are tender for up to an hour. Cool them before storing them in a container for up to five days – perfect for a portable weekday snack. You can then embellish each one depending on what you have on hand: nut butter, tahini, pumpkin seeds, honey, and extra grains.
Make sauces to keep things tasty
Sauces are an ideal solution if you’re tired of dry and bland meals, or if you simply want to enhance something you’re tired of eating. You can also make these ahead of time and simply keep them in your refrigerator to use when needed. Cashew cream sauce is a great starting point and base recipe that can be swirled in or dolloped onto stews or proteins in the place of mayonnaise or sour cream. All it takes is soaking one cup of cashews an hour before use and then blending them with three-quarters of a cup of water or vegetable broth and salt for a more nuanced flavor. You’ll be enriched with a good dose of healthy fat, magnesium, protein, and iron. You can even build on this sauce with garlic cloves or powder, paprika, soy sauce, and herbs.
Smoothies for a quick refresher
For a good pre- and post-workout refresher, make a smoothie. You can purchase a big bag of frozen berries that are filled with antioxidants and cancer-fighting properties. You can also freeze bananas or any other fruit and leafy green like kale that are about to go bad. Nuts or nut butters in half an ounce or one tablespoon quantities, respectively, make a great addition. These regulate your blood sugar, offer healthy fats, and also pack a punch of protein. You can also add some superfoods like flaxseed, which is a source of omega-3 and fiber. Use this as an opportunity to throw in your last bit of soy or nut milk to get everything nice and uniformly blended.
Warm it up with a soup
The easiest, most nourishing meal you can cook for yourself is a nice big bowl of soup, akin to a warm hug. When you go shopping for groceries, check out which vegetables are in season. You can make anything from good old tomato soup to cauliflower and almond, and even pea and potato. The iterations are endless – you can even toss in some extra cashew cream sauce for a fuller body and better texture. These are perfect for days when you just need a bowl of comfort.
Satisfy your sweet tooth
Contrary to popular belief, vegan desserts are not missing out on the action and can be just as satisfying as anything else. Chances are, anyone who tries them may not even think that they are vegan at all. Many vegan desserts can actually double as pre-workout snacks or breakfast if you are in a hurry. You can make simple and delicious chia puddings or vegan banana muffins with ingredients you probably already have at home. In this case, sweet treats can be good for you. This baked good, in particular, with its starring ingredient of banana, is an important source of potassium, vitamin B6 and C, fiber, and other nutrients.
Don’t forget to balance out these vegan meal prep ideas with a good amount of exercise, to further enrich your power and strength. Here’s to your road to wellness!