3 Food Guide-inspired plant-based meals to try
Canada's new Food Guide emphasizes plenty of vegetables and fruits, whole grain foods and protein foods
I'm coming up on the third anniversary of the best decision I ever made: embracing a plant-based (vegan) diet.
My mother has been suffering from multiple debilitating health issues for many years. She was my motivation for transforming my diet and lifestyle.
I am not an expert in nutrition but speaking from my own experience, this decision has positively impacted my health and well being in every way possible.
When the new Canadian Food Guide was released, I was ecstatic. I have been advocating for reform on this guide since my university nutrition classes, where I constantly challenged my professor about the necessity of meat and dairy products.
I am fully aware of the commitment it takes to transform your diet and do not expect everyone to stop eating meat completely.
Instead, I am providing one full day of simple plant-based recipes to use on #MeatlessMonday (or whatever day you get to cooking). I also asked Courtney Berg, the founder of Vitality Nutrition in Saskatoon, to weigh in on how the recipes fit the new Food Guide recommendations.
BREAKFAST: Spiced overnight oats
Serves 4 | 15-minute prep, ready in 6+ hours
- 2 cups almond milk (or water).
- 3½ tbsp chia seeds.
- 4 tbsp natural peanut butter (crunchy or smooth).
- 4 cups rolled oats.
- 4 tbsp brown sugar.
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon.
- 1 apple, cored and diced.
- ¼ cup bananas blueberries, raspberries or strawberries.
- 2 tbsp dried walnuts.
- In a mason jar or small bowl, combine almond milk, chia seeds, peanut butter and sugar. Do not completely blend peanut butter into the mixture. (This leaves tasty peanut butter swirls.)
- Add oats and stir a few more times. Ensure all oats are immersed in almond milk.
- Cover securely with a lid or plastic wrap and set in the refrigerator overnight (or for at least 6 hours).
- The next day, garnish with at least one fresh fruit and other desired toppings (see options above).
Overnight oats are best enjoyed within 24 hours.
Courtney Berg: Oats are packed with fibre and align with the Food Guide's suggestion to "choose whole grain foods." The inclusion of fruit as a topping adds fibre, volume, and important vitamins and minerals. Consider relying on the fruit in the recipe to sweeten the oatmeal and reduce or eliminate the brown sugar to "limit foods high in sugar" as per the guide's suggestion.
LUNCH: Spicy Mexi bowl
Serves 4 | 20-minute prep time (plus cooking time for fresh beans, rice and corn)
Ingredients — bowl
- 12 cups mixed greens (romaine and arugula).
- 1 cup cooked brown rice.
- 1½ cups of freshly cooked black beans (or 1 15-ounce can of black beans, rinsed and drained).
- 1½ cups fresh corn grilled and cooled (or frozen corn, defrosted).
- 2 red peppers (finely chopped).
- ½ cup red onion (finely chopped).
- Jalapeño (finely chopped) — optional.
- ¼ cup pumpkin seeds.
Ingredients — dressings
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar.
- 3 tbsp tahini.
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard.
- Juice of 1 lemon.
- 1 tsp maple syrup (or honey).
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- Water if needed.
Cilantro citrus vinaigrette
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice.
- 1 tbsp minced garlic.
- ½ teaspoon sugar.
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt.
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil.
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro.
- Prepare dressings and place in refrigerator while prepping other ingredients.
- Cook brown rice and black beans according to instructions (can be done in advance).
- Sauté corn on medium heat until corn is tender. Remove and let cool.
- Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, add a generous amount of dressing and enjoy!
Courtney Berg: The Food Guide suggests filling half of your plate with colourful vegetables and fruit. While the recipe includes an abundance of vegetables, consider adding a piece of fruit to the meal to complete the recommendation of including "plenty of vegetables and fruit." The Food Guide states that we should "eat protein foods." Black beans are classified as a protein food by the Food Guide.
DINNER: Not-so-basic lentil soup
Serves 4 | 5-10 minute prep, 30 minutes cooking time
- 2 tbsp water (or olive oil).
- 2 tbsp minced garlic.
- ½ white onion (diced).
- 4 large carrots (thinly sliced).
- 4 stalks celery (thinly sliced).
- ¼ tsp each sea salt and black pepper.
- 3 cups yellow or red baby potatoes (roughly chopped into small pieces).
- 6 cups low sodium vegetable broth.
- 2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary.
- 1 sprig thyme.
- 1 cup uncooked green or brown lentils (thoroughly rinsed and drained).
- 2 cups kale (chopped).
- Heat a large pot over medium heat. Once hot, add water, garlic, onion, carrots and celery. Season with a bit of salt and pepper and stir to mix.
- Sauté vegetables for 5 minutes until slightly tender. Do not to burn garlic!
- Add potatoes and season with a bit more salt and pepper. Cook for 2 more minutes.
- Add vegetable broth, rosemary and thyme. Increase heat to medium high. Bring to a rolling simmer.
- Add lentils and stir. Once simmering again, reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes.
- Mix in chopped kale and cover. Cook for 3-4 minutes more to wilt. Taste and add salt and pepper, if needed.
Freezer friendly for up to 30 days.
Courtney Berg: A homemade soup certainly aligns with the Food Guide's suggestion to "cook more often." The recipe follows the recommendation to "limit foods high in sugar, sodium, or saturated fat" by opting for low-sodium vegetable broth and choosing an oil that is low in saturated fat. The homemade soup includes Food Guide protein foods from lentils and "plenty of vegetables" from carrots, celery, potatoes and kale. I would consider doubling the recipe and inviting friends or family over as the Food Guide not only highlights the types and amounts of food to put on our plates but also suggests that we "eat meals with others."