Easy food swaps to help ease into a plant-based diet
The evidence is clear: shifting our diets towards more plant-based foods is the way to go for reducing our environmental footprint and our risk of developing chronic diseases. Thankfully, these days, transitioning to a plant-based diet has never been easier. Supermarket aisles are now filled with delicious and affordable plant-based foods that replicate the taste and feel of regular animal-based foods. By substituting some key foods, you’ll see just how easy eating a wholesome plant-based diet really can be. Here are some easy swaps you can gradually introduce into your diet:
Plant-based milk instead of Cow Milk
Hands down, the first and easiest step is to swap cow’s milk for plant-based milk. Not only are plant-based milks abundant in varieties (hello oat, soy, almond, rice, cashew, coconut & macadamia) – many store-bought varieties are supplemented with key nutrients such as Vitamin B12 and Calcium to ensure they are nutritionally complete foods. You’ll find that soy and oat are the best options for frothing up in coffee, whereas almond milk is a great low-calorie option to add to smoothies or oats. Coconut milk is a tad more decadent and great for adding flavour in some recipes. Overall, it’s easy to see why plant-based milks are popular even amongst omnivores: they’re easy to digest, they taste delicious, and have a long shelf-life. Plus they’re cruelty-free and far more environmentally-friendly!
Flax or Chia egg instead of Chicken Eggs.
So, you want to bake a cake but your recipe calls for eggs. What do you do? Worry not – there are plenty of whole food options that can efficiently and easily replace eggs. Sure, you could reach for the commercially-prepared Vegan Egg Replacer, or you could make your own Flax or Chia Egg. Flaxseeds and Chia seeds are both extremely popular seeds rich in Omega 3’s and fibre that once mixed with water, become extremely viscous and elastic – perfect to replace that eggy texture. The recipe is super simple too: simply mix 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseeds or chia seeds and mix with 2.5 tablespoons of water. Let it sit for 10 minutes, and then add to your batter. Easy as!
Lentils instead of beef mince
Craving a spag bowl with mince? The plant-based options are endless. You could opt for the many delicious mock ‘meats’ out there, but if you’re after a whole food and healthier option, you can easily make your mince from scratch with canned lentils. Chop up an onion and half a carrot, fry them up with a tad of extra virgin olive oil, then add the lentils until they are slightly crispy. Pour your favourite tomato sauce or passata, season and add fresh basil. Simmer until cooked down, and serve with pasta! It really is this simple.
Hummus, Pesto or Avocado instead of mayo.
We’ve all been there: a salad or sandwich, but no dressing or sauce. What could have been a glorious meal is now nothing but a dry pile of food. While you may be used to reaching for some mayo to slap onto the sandwich bread – there are so many delicious plant-based options you could try next time. Hummus, pesto or avocado are all creamy, tasty and nutritious options that could add a dimension of flavour to your sandwich or salad. Make your own or buy your favourite versions – these foods are incredibly versatile and should become staples in your diet!
Nutritional Yeast instead of Cheese
Nutritional Yeast is one of those foods that you’re either obsessed with or you absolutely loathe. For those who do love it, Nutritional Yeast, or ‘nooch’, is a great substitute for parmesan and great to add to recipes for a cheesy flavour. I love sprinkling a few tablespoons over my Buddha Bowls packed with veggies and whole grains – it gives it that extra pizazz and burst of flavour. Yes – it does resemble fish flakes – but these little flakes are packed with nutrition: just one tablespoon contains 3g of complete protein, almost 100% of your B Vitamins RDI, and plenty of Zinc and Selenium. Give it a go!
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