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HOW TO EASILY PREPARE HEALTHY PLANT-BASED MEALS

September 17, 2018 by Renee Tavoularis

HOW TO EASILY PREPARE HEALTHY PLANT-BASED MEALS

Many people know that they should be eating more plants, however, the thought of cooking plant-based meals may seem too complicated and time consuming. By implementing some essential tips and pre-preparation steps, preparing plant-based meals can be easy and enjoyable.

An excellent way to start is by focusing on one or two seasonal ingredients to incorporate into your meal planning schedule. By doing this, you will learn to prepare these ingredients well while adding more nutrient dense ingredients to your diet. 

The two featured ingredients here are red lentils and swiss chard which are showcased in our 3 delicious, healthy recipes!

THE BENEFITS OF RED LENTILS   

Legumes like lentils are considered an excellent source of plant-based protein. Additionally, lentils are filled with essential dietary fiber which can help lower blood pressure and stabilize blood sugar levels. 

While almost all lentils varieties are an excellent choice for quick meals due to their fast cooking time, the red variety is often overlooked as only being associated in soups and stews. With the recipes included below, however, you will see that they can be an incredibly versatile ingredient in your pantry. 

THE BENEFITS OF SWISS CHARD

Swiss chard is a beautiful green you will find at the farmer’s market throughout the year although its peak season is in Summer. Swiss chard is in the same family as beets and spinach and has a milder flavor than kale which makes it a wonderfully versatile green to have available. 

Swiss chard is an incredibly nutritious plant. It is very high in Vitamins K and A, both of which are fat soluble vitamins meaning it is an ideal green to pair with some healthy fat. It also contains a wide variety of important minerals such as magnesium, copper and potassium.  The beautiful, colorful stems of the swiss chard are also edible and are excellent in soups or quickly sautéed with the leaves.

3 PLANT-BASED MEAL PLANNING RECIPES

The following recipes all utilize red lentils and swiss chard along with a few other simple ingredients to make nutritious, plant-based dishes you can enjoy all week long. All of these dishes can be made in advance and stored in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Start with a big batch cooked red lentils which will be used in all three recipes here.

CURRIED RED LENTIL DIP

This Curried Red Lentil Dip is perfect for a crudité platter or you can use this as an easy snack during the week. If you prefer a more substantial meal, add the dip on top your veggie bowls for additional protein. 

RED LENTIL & SWISS CHARD FALAFELS

These Red Lentil & Swiss Chard Falafels are a wonderful make ahead option for easy lunches or dinners. Traditionally, chickpeas are used to make falafels, however, red lentils are much higher in protein than chickpeas and you can easily increase your protein intake by making this simple swap. Adding some finely chopped swiss chard also means you can sneak in some extra greens. These unique falafels are served with a tahini sauce that consists of tahini, lemon juice, water, sea salt and a pinch of cumin.

LENTIL & SWISS CHARD STUFFED MUSHROOMS 

These Creamy Swiss Chard Stuffed Mushrooms utilize blended cashews to give the creamy taste and consistency without any dairy. Packed with fat soluble Vitamins A & K from the swiss chard, it is important to add some plant-based, healthy fats like in the cashews to ensure proper nutrient absorption. Adding a healthy protein and nutrient-rich punch, additional ingredients used are both the sautéed swiss chard leaves and the stems, baby bella mushrooms, cashews, red lentils, nutmeg, cinnamon, nutrition and vegetable broth.
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