Vegan Meal Prep – Week 4
This weeks vegan meal prep ideas post is much like the buddha bowls we looked at in week 3. Lately this is my preferred method of prepping and while I might make a recipe for two here and there I prefer to prep things I can just throw together day-to-day. Today we’ll check out a couple of easy dressings, a tasty lentil beet salad, two raw vegan snack options and some delicious broccoli rice. This prep took me about 2 hours start to finish and the yield was pretty sweet for such a short time commitment.
Missing Meal Prep
We were out of town almost every weekend in August and as a result I didn’t do much meal prep. Man, did I miss it!
Having even the most basic food prepped and ready to go makes such a huge different in my week. It felt good to get back at it this weekend with a full vegan meal prep to get ready for the week ahead.
Even though I work from home, meal prep is so important. I’m way more likely to eat well if I already have food ready to go plus it saves me so much time because I don’t have to spend time thinking about or preparing lunch and dinner every day.
Meal planning and food prep also saves money, reduces food waste and prevents me from eating smoothies for breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday because that’s what happens when I don’t feel like cooking.
Veagn Meal Prep Ideas | Week 4 | Lentil Beet Salad
On the menu this week:
- beet and lentil salad
- roasted cauliflower
- steamed brussel sprouts
- sautéed mushroom and garlic
- coconut cilantro lime broccoli rice
- coconut cacao fat balls
- apple cinnamon ginger energy bars
- baked yams
- baked purple yams
- chopped celery and carrots for snacking and using in meals
- lemon tahini dressing
- cilantro cashew dressing
- pickled red cabbage
- steamed cauliflower for smoothies
- chopped zucchini for smoothies
That seems like a lot but it was actually a very easy prep. I roasted the cauliflower at the same time the yams were baking and while that was in the oven, I made the lentil beet salad, broccoli rice, mushrooms and brussel sprouts. Once that was done, I quickly whipped up two dressings and the apple cinnamon ginger energy bars and coconut cacao fat balls.
What Else Was on my Grocery List
Aside from everything I prepped, I also stocked up on nuts, seeds, frozen fruit for smoothies and pre-washed greens mixed and spinach for quick salads. I pretty much have use a base of greens for all my meals for the extra nutrition. I also bought a couple of packaged coleslaw mixes that are awesome in a healthy chow mein dish with zucchini noodles I like to make. If you have a well-stocked pantry then you don’t really need much else besides fresh produce.
How to Put this All Together
The nice thing about all these plant foods is that all go well together so you can create healthy bowls full of all this goodness, top it off with dressing and call it a day. Buddha bowls are easy, delicious, beautiful and take just a minute to prepare.
You can mix and match all your prepped ingredients to create delicious loaded salads, hot or cold, with whatever you feel like eating each day. For more buddha bowl ideas, check out my week 3 meal prep post.
Vegan Meal Prep Ideas | Week 4 Details
Beet and Lentil Salad
I had some beets that needed to be used up so I made this very quick and easy lentil beet salad to make use of them. This salad tastes amazing, is high in protein and packed with antioxidants and fibre. I normally cook lentils but I used canned for this so it took about 5 minutes to put it all together.
Here’s what was in it:
- 2 cups cooked lentils
- 3 finely grated small beets
- 2 stalks celery diced
- 1/2 red onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- apple cider vinegar
- pinch of salt and pepper
Cilantro Lime Coconut Broccoli Rice
This is really easy to make and it’s a nice base for buddha bowls, on it’s own, with other veggies or beans added in or on top of salads. To make the riced broccoli, I added 4 crowns of broccoli to my food processor and pulsed until it was the consistency of rice. Yes, use the stalks!!
Then I added the riced broccoli to a pan with 1/4 cup of light coconut milk, a bunch of fresh cilantro, the juice from 1/2 a lime, sea salt and 4 cloves of minced garlic and cooked that up for 10 minutes or so, stirring often.
For more details on making broccoli rice or to try lemon basil broccoli rice, check out my Broccoli Rice Buddha Bowl.
Lemon Tahini Dressing
While I’ll often just use straight tahini on my salads and bowls, sometimes I make dressings so it stretches a bit further. My tahini dressings a little different but I more or less use the same ingredients every time.
Here’s what was in this one:
- juice from 1 lemon
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 5 tbsp tahini
- a couple small pitted dates
- a good splash of apple cider vinegar
- enough water to reach desired consistency
For more exact tahini dressing recipes, check out my Chickpea Salad with Tahini Dressing, Baked Cauliflower Salad Bowls with Tahini Ranch Dressing or Broccoli Salad with Lemon Tahini Dressing.
Cashew Cilantro Dressing
I don’t think I could ever get sick of tahini but I decided to make an extra dressing this week to switch things up. This one is really good too!
Here’s what was in this one:
- a huge handful of fresh cilantro
- a good squeeze of dijon mustard
- a handful of raw cashews
- apple cider vinegar
- sea salt
- 4 cloves garlic
- a couple small pitted dates
Coconut Cacao Fat Balls
I need (ok, want) some kind of treat during the week and lately I’ve been really loving high-fat energy balls to satisfy my sweet tooth. Sometimes I make these without any sugar in them and even though they can be quite bitter with the cacao in there, they still seem to hit the spot. This week I added dates so they had a nice hint of sweetness.
Here’s what was in this weeks fat ball:
- 1 cup cacao beans or nibs
- 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1/2 cup soft pitted dates
- 3 tbsp cashew butter
To make these, combine all ingredients in a food processor, mix until it’s crumbly and oily and then press into balls. It will seem like it’s not going to hold together but one they set in the freezer, the oil from the coconut solidifies them. Once these are set, store them in the fridge or freezer. These are also really nice crumbled on smoothie bowls.
If you’re new to using my favourite superfood, cacao, I’d recommend adding a few dates or another natural sweetener such as coconut sugar or a drizzle of maple syrup as it’s very bitter. I like it but it takes a little getting used to.
Apple Cinnamon Ginger Energy Bars
Typically the snacks I prep each week are recipes tests for the blog and that’s where I was going with these. These came out really tasty but the texture could use some work.
I used 1 whole fresh apple, dates, sunflower seeds, fresh ginger, cinnamon and walnuts. That all got tossed in the food processor, blended up, pressed into a baking pan and left to set in the freezer.
I’ll eat these for pre-workout snacks this week when I need them. I adapted the recipe from The Thrive Diet by Brendan Brazier, which I would definitely recommend if you’re interested in optimizing plant-based nutrition.
Other Prepped Items
- Sautéed Mushroom and Garlic – Delicious and an awesome, flavourful addition to salads. To make this, I sautéed crimini mushrooms in a bit of avocado oil with plenty of garlic.
- Steamed Brussel Sprouts – Simple steamed brussels. I just chopped them in half and steamed until tender. I’ll eat these on their own or added to buddha bowls.
- Baked Sweet Potato – The easiest, no fuss way to bake sweet potatoes. Poke some whole in them, stick in the oven and bake until you can easily pierce through with a fork. I place them directly on the rack in the oven but you can also a roasted dish or baking sheet if you prefer. Here are a few ways I like to enjoy these during the week:
- enjoy them for breakfast in a sweet potato breakfast bowl
- topped with tofu or chickpea scramble, sautéed mushrooms and spinach for a savoury breakfast
- added to salads
- stuffed with chickpeas and veggies
- added to smoothies, my favourite smoothie right now is blueberry, sweet potato, hemp protein and cacao
- used to make pudding with dates, almond butter and coconut milk
- Baked Purple Yams – Same as the sweet potatoes.
- Curry Roasted Cauliflower – Nothing fancy here. I simply tossed a chopped head of cauliflower in garam masala and let it roast while the yams were baking.
- Chopped Veggies – Cut up onions, green peppers, carrots and celery for snacking, salads and cooking.
- Pickled Red Cabbage – This wasn’t a true fermented cabbage but rather a quick pickle I made with vinegar, coconut sugar and salt. I stuffed a large mason jar with a red cabbage, added vinegar, a good pinch of sea salt and a tiny pinch of coconut sugar and let it sit for an hour or so. This is a must-have for taking your buddha bowls and healthy salads to the next level!
- Steamed Zucchini and Cauliflower for Smoothies – Pretty self-explanatory. I chopped up 3 zucchinis and lightly steamed them before freezing for smoothies. I did the same with about 1/2 a head of cauliflower. I’ll use these in all sorts of smoothie combos all week.
My Thoughts on Protein Lately
The more and more I read and learn about nutrition, the more I’m questioning a high protein diet. I’m now consuming about 115 grams a day, way down from the 160 grams a day I was once reaching for. I want to focus on eating as much quality, whole foods as possible and 160 grams of protein a day is not possible on a plant-based diet without supplementing with protein powder, eating too much fat and carbs, using vital wheat gluten or relying on processed fake meat products.
In the latest book I read, Beyond Training by Ben Greenfield, he writes that even for athletes, there isn’t much additional benefit to be gained by exceeding 0.55 grams per pound unless you’re trying to gain muscle or are recovering from extreme exercise, in which case that can be bumped up to as much as 0.7 grams per pound of body weight, with the rest of your calories from healthy fats and vegetables with limited amounts of fruits and safe starches for intense bouts of exercise.
In this article, again the takeaway was that there is no advantage to consuming more than .82 g/lb. per day to preserve or build muscle and that even that number is generous, since most research finds no addition benefits above 0.64 g/lb.
I’ve read a number of other studies stating that 1 gram per pound just isn’t necessary and while I do train pretty hard, from what I’ve researched I think 115 grams is more than enough to support my active lifestyle. If I feel good after a few weeks, I’ll probably reduce that down a bit further.
On the flip side of not getting enough protein, Greenfield also discusses the risks of having too much protein stating that once you get close to 1000 calories from protein, or 250 grams, you can no longer convert ammonia to urea and thus toxins begin to build, which is extremely stressful on the kidneys and other internal organs.
I’m not saying eating more protein is wrong, I’m by no means an expert but I’m interested to see how I feel and how my body responds in training with less protein and honestly, it’s such a relief to not be trying to hit 150 or 160 grams a day.
To get enough calories I bumped up my fats and carbs and overall I’m just focused on making the best whole food choices I can. I’m eating less grains (but still including some) and instead getting my carbs from vegetables, legumes and fruits. I’m eating more fat from avocado, coconut, nuts and seeds. So far, so good and I’m feeling great. I’ll let you know how things are going in next weeks meal prep post.
If you’re interested in fitness, nutrition and practical advice to optimize performance, fat loss, digestion, brain function, sleep and hormones, I’d highly recommend checking out Greenfield’s book.
Here are a couple other interesting articles on protein if you’re intersted:
- How Much Protein Do We Really Need?
- The Science Weighs In: How Much Protein Do You Really Need?
- The Myth of 1 g/lb.: Optimal Protein Intake for Bodybuilders
On the Outs with Coffee
This is a big deal….big for me anyways! I didn’t think the day would ever come. It’s true, I’ve almost quit coffee. I was starting to get super jittery and anxious from drinking coffee and I finally decided to bite the bullet and give up my morning cup…kind of. It’s devastating but also for the best.
Instead of regular coffee, I now drink Four Sigmatic Mushroom Coffee Elixirs, which I am absolutely obsessed with, with all their products in fact. It still contains caffeine but only 50 mg per serving. I love starting my day with Four Sigmatic Cordyceps or Lion’s Mane Chaga Mushroom Coffee blended with MCT oil, cacao and plant-based milk. Sometimes I’ll add a bit of vanilla hemp protein as well. This type of coffee is:
- Less acidic than normal coffee (no stomach burning)
- Extremely high quality (no pesticides, no mycotoxins)
- Includes powerful antioxidants and immune boosting properties
- Boosts your brain and productivity
- Reduces stress, improves concentration, memory, and alertness
Plus when blended up with a couple add-ins, it’s like the dreamiest, creamiest latte you ever had except with no jitters, no crash and no upset stomach. I drink on it’s own too, it tastes great! I’m absolutely in love with Four Sigmatic products and I can’t say enough good things about them. If you don’t drink caffeine they also have caffeine-free elixirs, hot cacao and superfood blends that don’t contain coffee. I love them all!