Try these super healthy plant-based recipes: breakfast, lunch, dinner, puddings & smoothies. A healthy meal for every occasion.
The impact food has on health has never been better understood. There is an ever-growing body of evidence that shows a strong link between poor dietary practices and ill-health and disease.
Obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and many types of cancers, to name the worst of a bad bunch, are directly caused or closely correlated with poor dietary habits. That is, a person who subsists off what has come to be called the ‘standard western diet’, a diet high in meat and processed foods, has a significant increased susceptibility of becoming ill and dying prematurely.
But in truth that shouldn’t come as surprise.
According to Dr Gregor (2017), author of How Not To Die, over 90% of health comes from what we eat. If this is true, and research suggests that is, then we should look to cultivate a diet that supports health, not deteriorates it.
So, with that said, how can we shape a health-promoting diet?
Firstly we must purge our diet of meat and processed foods. For some this is extremely difficult. I’ve known people who stated emphatically that they would never quit eating meat, even if it does increase their chances of developing bowel cancer and cardiovascular disease.
However, if you have been consuming meat with most every meal, which is a characteristic of the western diet, you don’t have to – if you’ll excuse the phrase – go cold turkey. Instead strive to reduce consumption by eating meat only once a day and then, once you’ve grown accustomed with this reduction, introduce meatless days.
This is the first and most important step toward a healthy diet. The next requires that you cut down on processed foods. In some ways this can be a little more challenging for the fact that it’s not always easy to distinguish what, precisely, constitutes as processed. To help distinguish an old teacher of mine used to say: if it’s in a packet leave it on the shelf, if it’s in a tin put it in the bin.
Michael Pollen, author of the Omnivore’s Dilemma, recommended not to eat anything that your nineteenth-century ancestors wouldn’t recognise as food. So, when you’re scratching your head over whether or not the food your contemplating on buying is acceptable fare, look at the ingredients list and ask yourself: would my great grandmother recognise the ingredient high fructose corn syrup, or monocalcium phosphate? Then ask yourself: do I even know what they are? Of course, if the answer is NO, and unless you’re a chemist the answer’s always going to be NO, then put it back on the shelf and quietly walk away.
You’ll soon begin to realise that healthy foods – fresh vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, unadulterated nuts and seeds – do not posses such ingredients. And, moreover, they don’t shout for you attention; they don’t promise something that they can’t give: there isn’t a billion-dollar marketing strategy behind boosting the sales of broccoli or courgettes.
To get you started on your journey towards shaping a healthy diet I have compiled 10 super-healthy plant-based recipes for every occasion. From breakfast, to lunch, dinner and pudding, there is a healthy recipe. The 10 meals to follow contain absolutely no unhealthy ingredients, additives, refined or processed foods.
Seriously, you’ve got to stop making breakfast out of box and try this super-healthy wholesome recipe. Few other breakfast meals pack the nutrient punch as porridge, nuts, seeds and fruit.
Ingredients (serves 2)
1 cup of (quality) rolled oats
1 cup of unsweetened almond milk or oat milk
1 cup of water
½ cup of frozen mixed fruit: rhubarb, raspberry and blueberry
½ cup of blueberries
2 large strawberries
Topping: chopped mixed nuts, medulla date(s) and milled linseed and hempseed
1 small cinnamon stick
1. Introduce into a medium-sized pan the oats, water, almond milk, cinnamon stick and frozen fruit. Cook together on a high heat for 5-minutes ensuring to stir continuously! (Be warned: if you turn your back on that porridge for but a second it will galvanise to the bottom of the pan and you’ll need a hammer and chisel to get it off.) Once the porridge is bubbling furiously turn off the heat, set the pan to one side and allow to rest.
2. To prepare the topping rinse the berries (but remember to save the water – either pour it on your plants, in the birds’ bath or in a water butt), drain and dice.
3. Take your nuts and date(s) and chop into chunks. Assuming that you're using pre-milled hemp and linseed these can be added when you’re ready to serve. Personally I prefer to buy the seeds in their whole form and do the milling myself. Why? For one you get way more mill for your money and, two, the seed is fresher.
4. Before serving give the porridge a stir then spoon into a bowl and top with the fruit, nuts, date and milled linseed and hemp seed … Oh, I nearly forgot, add a generous scoop of homemade blueberry jam.
Voilà! A super healthy breakfast that is both delicious and nutritious.
Berry prep: so as to make life easier for yourself and to prevent eating all the berries before the end of the week, it is wise to spend a bit of time preparing them. On a Saturday, after shopping at the local market, I separate the berries across six containers so that, each morning when it comes to making breakfast, I have but to grab a pot, rinse and dry the fruit and serve. (A word of wisdom: don’t try and be too efficient by washing the berries at the start of the week. I can assure you that by Wednesday you’ll be throwing away mouldy fruit.)
Porridge, by contrast, is probably one of, if not the, healthiest breakfast foods you can consume. A recently published study showed that people who ate porridge (without milk!) for breakfast were less likely to suffer form serious health conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and bowel cancer (on account of the high insoluble fibre content). In fact, one medical professional said that if all Americans adopted porridge for breakfast, this dietary transition alone would reduce the incidence of CVD and heart attacks by nearly 40,000 a year!
Perfect for a Sunday morning breakfast treat – but also makes a great starter to any Italian meal.
Ingredients (serves 2)
1 plump, ripe and ready to eat avocado
1 vine of cherry tomatoes
4 chestnut mushrooms
2 thick slices of seeded sourdough bread
1. Preheat oven to 150°C. Drizzle olive oil over the vine tomatoes and mushrooms and season with mixed Italian herbs, black cracked pepper and pinch of salt. Place in the oven for 20-minutes.
2. While the toms ‘n rooms are cooking prepare the avocado by destoning it then scooping the creamy flesh into a bowl. Before smashing the avocado add a drizzle of olive oil, seasoning and a couple of finely diced cherry tomatoes … now smash!
3. When the vine tomatoes and mushrooms are cooked remove from oven and set to one side.
4. Toast your two sourdough slices. Traditionally the favourite accompaniment of bread is butter. But these are plant-based recipes, remember, so butter is barred! Instead use a drizzle of olive oil (which I personally think is nicer) or a vegan butter alternative.
5. To serve set the slices on a plate then top with the smashed avocado followed by the cherry tomatoes and mushrooms. A pinch of mixed herbs and chopped chive are a pair of perfect garnishes for this simple dish.
This dish makes for a perfect pud but also, if time permits, a beautiful breakfast too. The turmeric infusion may be a touch radical for some, but I can promise it does not flavour the dish, it adds a little colour and a lot of health.
Ingredients (serves 2)
1 cup of wholegrain rice – rinse under cold water
3 cups of unsweetened almond milk
½ cinnamon stick
¼ cup of frozen blueberries
¼ cup of skin-on almonds, sliced lengthways and lightly roasted
Homemade berry jam
1. Introduce the rice, almond milk, cinnamon stick and dates into a saucepan and cook over a medium-heat for 20- to 30-minutes, or until the mixture thickens and the rice has become soft to the bite. Gently stir occasionally to prevent the pudding from sticking.
2. Once cooked remove from heat, add the frozen blueberries, half teaspoon of turmeric powder and leave for 5-minutes to cool.
3. To serve spoon the pudding into bowels and top with the roasted almonds, homemade jam and a light dusting of sweet cinnamon. (In a flare of culinary overenthusiasm, I spliced a slender stalk of rhubarb and finished the dish with an artistic design – or at least tried too.)
Seriously, pudding shouldn’t be both tasty and healthy! That’s like having your cake and eating it.
Ingredients (serves 2)
For the filling
3 chunky stems of rhubarb sliced into thumbnail-sized segments
2 King Kong plumbs destoned and diced
1 red apple cut into small cubes
1 cup of mixed berries: blueberry, raspberry and strawberry
2 medulla dates destoned and finely diced
A quart of lemon juice (don’t use concentrate, just cut and squeeze an actual lemon)
A cube of grated ginger
A pinch of sweet cinnamon
For the topping
150g of plain wholemeal flour*
100g vegan butter
1 small cup of rolled oats
1. Make the topping first. To do so add both the flour and butter together in a bowl and mix together with your fingers until all the lumps of butter have gone. Finally, add the rolled oats and fold into the mix.
2. At no stage is sugar (aka ‘white death’) to be added to this pudding. One neat trick to replace the sugar is to add two tablespoons of good quality mixed-berry cordial to a pan, along with the chopped dates, lemon juice, grated ginger, sweet cinnamon, rhubarb and apple. Cook on a medium to high heat for 5-minutes then remove and set to one side.
3. Gently fold in the rest of the fruit.
4. Introduce the mix into two bowls.
5. Sprinkle over the topping ensuring to layer it evenly as you go.
6. Place in a preheated oven at 200°C and cook for between 25- to 30-minutes. When cooked the crumble topping should have a nice golden colour.
7. Make an incision in the middle of the crumble to facilitate cooling. Sprinkle on top sliced almonds and a teaspoon of homemade jam.
8. Take yourself out for a nice walk for 30-minutes. When you get back the crumbles will have cooled sufficiently and now be ready to eat.
This dish is like serving up a slice of the Mediterranean.
Ingredients (serves 4)
1 large aubergine cut into strips
1 large courgette cut into dice-sized cubes
1 large red pepper cut into strips
1 carrot (unpeeled) cut into small cubes
2 large sliced red heirloom tomatoes
10 to 15 vine-ripe cherry tomatoes cut into halves
5 diced chestnut mushrooms
1 large red onion
2 cloves of garlic
Handful of spinach
Handful of fresh basil
1. Pre-heat oven to 150°C.
2. Place the sliced aubergine and red pepper strips into a container and drizzle over olive oil then season generously with pepper and mixed herbs (but go easy on the salt – just a pinch!).
3. Once the oven has reached temperature empty the seasoned veg on to a baking tray and pop it into the oven. Roast for 30-minutes being mindful to turn the veg every 10-minutes or so to stop it sticking and the edges burning.
4. Into a pan pour a drizzle of olive oil and more seasoning (no salt). Place the pan on a medium heat and introduce the onion, garlic cloves and diced carrot. Soften for 5-minutes then:
5. Add the courgette. Cook for a further 5-minutes then:
6. Introduce the tomatoes and mushrooms into the pan along with the basil, a glug more oil and seasoning (again, no salt). Continue to cook on a medium heat for 20- to 30-minutes ensuring to stir occasionally. (To thicken you can include a tablespoon of tomato puree.)
7. After the veg has cooked through and a rich tomato sauce has formed, turn the heat to low and allow to simmer for a further 10- to 15 minutes.
8. By this time the aubergine and pepper should be nice and soft and present that appetising grilled appearance.
9. To serve spoon the spaghetti into large bowls and layer the roasted vegetables on top. Garnish with the spinach and a touch more mixed herbs.
10. If you want to make this dish a bit more substantial you can, of course, include pasta and, as you see in the accompanying image, focaccia, a traditional Italian bread.
This dish is nothing short of Thai health slap. And as well as being super-nutritious it is both easy to cook and full of flavour.
Ingredients (serves 4)
1 Pak choi
1 large skin-on carrot (cut into slender slices – aka julienned)
Generous bunch of purple sprouting broccoli
Generous bunch of green beans
1 large shallot diced
5 mushrooms (white, chestnut, shitake – whatever fungi you can get your hands on will do)
1 large garlic glove finely sliced
¼ of red chilli sliced into thin rounds
Cube of ginger crushed
Grate and squeeze of lime
Bunch of finely sliced coriander
Roasted almonds (optional)
600ml of stock
250gs of whole wheat medium thickness noodles (never white noodles and never egg noodles – both are highly processed and contain unhealthy ingredients)
1. To prepare the stock firstly heat a drizzle of olive oil in a saucepan. Add mixed herbs, cracked black pepper, a single turn of pink Himalayan rock salt, a big squeeze of lime and a quarter of your onions and garlic. Once softened pour into the mix 600ml of water. Replace the lid and leave to simmer on a low heat.
2. Next, heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan adding the rest of the onions and garlic … but also the ginger, chilli and carrots. Leave to cook for 10-minutes spooning in some of the stock occasionally.
3. Now introduce the broccoli, green beans and mushrooms. Replace the lid and leave for a further 5-minutes.
4. It’s time to introduce the stock! To do simple pour it into the frying pan. Turn the heat down to its lowest setting and replace the lid.
5. To prepare the noodles bring to the boil a pan of water. Add the noodles and reduce the heat. As they begin to absorb the water use a fork to move them about else they will clump together. Simmer for about 5-minutes. Once cooked drain and portion across 4 bowls.
6. Ladle onto your noodle stacks the vegetables. Also, pour the stock into the bowls: the stock contains loads of nutrients so, in true Thai fashion, it should be slurped down at the end of your meal. If you bothered to roast any almonds sprinkle them on top as a garnish.
Don’t turn your nose up until you’ve tried! Yes it’s cabbage soup. And yes, cabbage soup is synonymous with Siberian prison food. But, I can assure you, this dish is not only a doddle to cook and super healthy, it’s tasty too.
Ingredients (serves 4)
10 cabbage leaves, washed and sliced
1 large leek, sliced halfway up the stem into rounds
3 small potatoes
1 shallot, sliced and diced
1 garlick clove, finely sliced
400ml of water, boiled
100ml of oat milk (optional)
Mixed herbs, cracked black pepper and a pinch of salt
Skin-on roasted almonds
1. Heat a generous daub of olive oil in a pan and throw in the shallot, garlic, potatoes and seasoning. Cook on a medium to high heat for 10-minutes being mindful to stir occasionally.
2. Once the onions have started caramelising, which will imbue the potatoes with a nice golden hue, add the pre-boiled water. Stir together then include the leek rounds and cabbage. Replace lid and leave to simmer for 20-minutes – or until the potatoes have softened.
3. Allow the ingredients to cool sufficiently to blend. Blend!
4. Reintroduce the soup back into the pan (unless you used a hand blender) on a low heat and add the oat milk. Stir in well. Replace the lid.
5. Preheat a not-so-generous daube of olive oil in a frying pan and season with mixed herbs, black pepper and smoked paprika.
6. Slice the remaining half of the leek down the middle and place in the pan. Pop the lid on, ensuing to leave a gap, and cook until the leek has softened.
7. To roast the almonds firstly slice them into shards and place under a grill. Keep vigil! Turn your back and those almonds will be toast!