Vegan grilling makes my heart sing. Grilling vegetables on the barbecue is all part of the delicious fun of summertime. As a kid, our family enjoyed cookouts at least once or twice a week. But in those days, meat was about the only thing that went on the fire. As I grew older, we learned more about the art of grilling and best preps for veggies on the grill. Vegan grilling to perfection over a fire is part of a rite of passage for any cook in my book. In this post I am going to show you the a few of my favorite vegan grilling tips and how to prepare them.
What does a healthy vegan diet look like? Many people don't know what a healthy diet is, let alone a vegan one. I got talking with a neighbor at the grocery store recently. He invited me to join his tai chi classes, and talked about general health benefits. I took a chance and asked him if he knew of any local vegan communities. His response was dismissive. “When I was training at the gym, all the vegans fizzled out quick. A vegan diet doesn't work.”
He went on to admit that the small group (one person, actually) of vegans he had met was back in the 1970s, over 40 years previous. I ventured to mention all the top vegan body builders with videos on YouTube. “With the lack of educational resources on diet before the Internet, the vegan you met probably lived on pasta,” I commented. The neighbor was not impressed enough to inquire more, and proudly announced that he “eats everything.” Needless to say, the man soon excused himself and went on his way.
So, do we really want to know about healthy eating, or are we slowly poisoning ourselves?
According to the National Cancer Institute, Americans do not meet federal dietary recommendations. Sure, opinions vary when it comes to what healthy eating means. But little debate emerges about what is not healthy, and the American population does not seem to care. The following is an excerpt from an NCI study:
The majority of the population did not meet recommendations for all of the nutrient-rich food groups, except total grains and meat and beans. Concomitantly, overconsumption of energy from solid fats, added sugars, and alcoholic beverages (“empty calories”) was ubiquitous. Over 80% of persons age ≥ 71 y and over 90% of all other sex-age groups had intakes of empty calories that exceeded the discretionary calorie allowances. In conclusion, nearly the entire U.S. population consumes a diet that is not on par with recommendations. These findings add another piece to the rather disturbing picture that is emerging of a nation's diet in crisis.
How to know what a healthy vegan diet is
In the hype of vegan diets, do you know what a healthy vegan diet is? You may have the suspicion that vodka and potato chips are vegan but not exactly healthy. But what about the vegan burgers you can buy in the supermarket or the lentil soup?
Once upon a time I happily ate any kind of processed foods. When I chose to become vegan, I continued to look for quick, processed vegan options for meals. A healthy vegan diet does not rely on processed foods and alcohol. This means you buy fresh produce with few exceptions. Let's take a look at fresh produce:
- Fresh vegetables and fruit
- Whole grains and spices
- Legumes and beans (dried, not canned)
- Nuts and seeds
The above items are all fresh produce. Of course, we are subject to seasonal and regional harvests, so including frozen produce as part of a healthy vegan diet is fine. Note that we are not talking about heavily salted, seasoned or sweetened fruits and nuts, like pre-made energy bars. Some basics for your food pantry, ingredients that have a minimal amount of processing, are healthy choices to include, nevertheless. Here are a few good items to keep on hand:
- Soy sauce
- Brown rice vinegar
- Apple cider vinegar
- Coconut aminos
- Sprouted bread
- Nut butter
- Non-dairy milk
Canned vegetables and legumes are quite commonly found just about anywhere. It's a good idea to get into a regular habit of cooking with dried legumes rather than canned, mostly because the salt content and other additives found in canned food. However, canned legumes are still nutrient-rich and worth having in your cabinet.
The bad news is that the burgers and pre-made bean soups are all processed. So are all other kind of vegan/vegetarian meals and fake meat. The good news is that you can easily prepare meals yourself and freeze. How does a lentil-walnut burger with a paprika sauce sound or a meatloaf with glaze?
Not everything we prepare has to look like meals with meat and fish. Usually in the transition period it's nice to have something familiar to eat. Keep in mind that just because something says vegan on the package does not make it necessarily healthful for you. As you become more committed to a vegan lifestyle, you may not want so much meat alike food, which is only trying to trick your brain instead of transforming your thinking. We can cook delicious vegan meals, and it can be just as easy as opening a package of processed fake meat.
If you know nothing about cooking, let alone vegan cuisine, don't fret. It's a lot easier to do than many people think, and infinitely more healthful, no question. We all know that dark, leafy greens are rich in cancer-fighting goodness, for example. But due to the heavy lobbying and marketing of the meat and dairy industries, few Americans are aware that healthier alternatives, such as pulses – seeds of legumes that pull nitrogen from the air to create protein – are an important protein source globally. The American Institute for Cancer Research reports that dry beans and peas are rich in fiber (20% of Daily Value) and a good source of protein (10% of Daily Value). They are also an excellent source of folate, a B vitamin.
In Dr. Michael Gregor's, book, How Not To Die, the author goes into detail about the best foods to include in a healthy vegan diet. Check out Gregor's Daily Dozen in this video below:
At any rate, we all inherently know when we are eating badly. It goes without saying that processed foods are addicting because of added sugars, salt, and saturated fats. If you want to live a long healthy life on a healthy vegan diet, make a concerted effort to cut the processed crap out of your daily food consumption.
Vegan Menu Plan Made Easy
When you want to eat a healthy vegan diet, it's important always to have that kind of food in your fridge. Vegan menu planning is necessary and a bit different than making an omnivore menu plan. In three easy steps, I show you how to do exactly that. Of course, there are also kind people out there, that will do it for you. Some are even free and some are paid. At the end of this post, I have included those websites I know of that offer a vegan menu plan made easy.
Let's start a vegan menu plan
The First Step is to decide which starch and protein you want to build your meals around. Starches are important because they make you feel full and gives you the most needed plant fibers. You want your meals to be both hearty and satisfying.
Good sources of plant-based proteins are legumes and beans, quinoa, tofu, tempeh, nuts, and of course foods made from these ingredients. Good forms of starches are brown rice, beans, whole grain wheat or whole grain pasta, winter squash and potatoes, especially sweet potatoes.
The Second Step is the texture. Often meals with only one texture have a tendency to get bored fast. Not only boring meals but you will also not feel satisfied. When I talk texture I am talking about creamy, crunchy, smooth and firm. Whatever you decide to cook be sure to include at least two different textures per meal. An example: A regular green salad could transform into a hearty meal by adding firm baked tempeh, crunchy sesame seeds, creamy avocado, and smooth cashew dressing on top.
The Third Step is to upgrade the nutrient density. Which foods are nutrient dense? Leafy greens and cruciferous veggies are some of the most nutrient-dense foods you can add to your meals. Leafy greens are chard, collard greens, and kale. Cruciferous veggies are cabbage, broccoli, and radishes.
OK, here is how I did my last meal:
- I chose Garbanzo beans / chickpeas as the starch / protein, then I thought about what to make of the beans. I love casseroles, so a garbanzo casserole it will be.
- Next to think of is the texture, a casserole will be smooth if I put coconut milk in, I will need something crisp, so I will top with a few raw slices of onion. Serve with bread with avocado spread for the crunchiness.
- To amplify the nutrient density I will serve, as a side boiled cauliflower.
So, I will serve a Garbanzo Bean Casserole, with vegetables, topped with slices of red onion & a slice of bread with avocado spread with nutritional yeast on the side.
Below an Italian Garbanzo Bean Casserole Recipe
Ingredients: (serves 4)
- 1 large spaghetti squash, shredded
- 2 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (500 grams)
- 1 medium zucchini, sliced (approx.16 slices)
- 1/2 cup sliced Kalamata black olives (100 grams)
- 3 large white mushrooms, sliced
Homemade Tomato Basil Sauce:
- 1 can No-Salt tomato sauce
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil (a handful)
- 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 Tablespoon dried parsley
- 1 to 2 Tablespoon Nutritional Yeast
- 1 Tablespoon dried basil (for sprinkling on top)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F / 175°C.
- Microwave the spaghetti squash for 5 minutes or until you can easily cut it and fork out the strands. Prepare the remaining of the vegetables and set everything aside.
- In a bowl mix all the sauce ingredients and give everything a good stir until smooth.
- In an 8×8″ / 20×20 cm casserole dish, assemble the casserole: Layer the bottom with the squash, next layer chickpeas, then zucchini, olives, mushrooms, and finally the sauce. Top the casserole with nutritional yeast and an extra sprinkle of basil.
- Put the casserole in the oven and bake for 25 minutes.
If you want others to make the meals plans for you, here's some good news – there are plenty ‘out there'. Here are those I have tested myself, they are all vegan, clean eating, whole grain and plant based. In other words Healthy Vegan Menus.
#1 is Dr. Gregers – you may want to visit his website at Nutritionfacts Org his website is all about evidence-based nutrition. His meal plans, which are both free and paid versions can be found at Dr. Michael Greger's Meal Plans
#2 is Fork Over Knives price is $9.90 per month, you tailor your meal plans, it's the most comprehensive meal planner I have yet to see. Forks Meal Planner this works great on a mobile too.
#3 PCRM 21 day Vegan Kick-starter Kit – is free. You get an email from them every day with help, tips, and tricks at PCRM
#4 Eat This Much is your personal meal planner and you will need to sign up for an account, which is free. When you set up your profile page you choose if you want to gain weight, maintain or lose weight, your gender, personal measure etc. you can even choose which price level your food budget is. Very cool – you also choose if you want metric or imperial measures! get it at EatThisMuch
Indeed, that’s the question. What to eat to be healthy. We are getting bombarded daily with what we should not eat or what we should eat in order not to get this or that disease. It makes deciding what to eat way too complicated. Not knowing exactly what is good for you, counting calories, fat-protein-carb ratio etc. Eating should be a simple task because it's the most important and daily task you have. As a result, you must know the food groups that are good for you, and find great recipes and cook.
The problem of What to Eat
that arises is, of course, which food groups and how much to eat of which. If you are anything like me you want evidence-based research for your foods. Has this been done at all? I mean we are re not exactly being exposed to those research results. I was about to give up but then I found Dr Greger. He is a godsend to vegans, on his website he and his team have published all the research results that have been done about foods related to various diseases.
Prostate cancer and the vegan diet? yes, indeed a research has been done. They took a bunch of old men and put them on a vegan diet. How did they do it? they delivered the vegan meals to the home for 3 months! They all got a lower PSA level. (see video below in the sources)
Broccoli studies? yes absolutely, and more than one. Broccoli is Our First Line of Defence (see video below in the sources). It protects against breast cancer, great for your liver, it protects our DNA and even more.
Check out the NutritionalFacts.org for more evidence-based research related to food and health.
based on the studies is to eat healthily, whole grains and plant-based. To optimize your diet you will eat from every food group every day not at every meal. To learn how much of each group to eat in a day you can download the app “Daily Dozen” at iTunes Apple or Microsoft or Google Play. You can also track your food, the app even sends you a daily reminder. This app was developed thanks to the volunteer efforts of Allan Portera of DigitalBoro.com.
Food Groups – eat from these food groups every single day. It's that simple 🙂
- Other fruits
- Cruciferous vegetables, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, kale, cauliflower
- Other vegetables
- Spices, turmeric and other herbs and spices you enjoy.
- Whole grains
Chocolate a superfood? Yes, it is true! Dark chocolate which is high in cocoa solid, minimum 70%, is now recognized as having many qualities that are beneficial to our health. For many years, chocolate has been viewed as the ultimate comfort food and it has become one of the most popular foods in the world.
The question is, are there any health benefits to consuming dark chocolate? Yes, over-consumption of any food can have a bad effect on general health. Recent studies have shown that eating, in moderation, of dark chocolate has many health benefits. So eating about an ounce of dark chocolate every day is actually a good thing for your health!
The first question that you may ask is why dark chocolate, not milk chocolate? Because dark chocolate comes out in favor when it comes to nutritional benefit. Dark chocolate has more fiber and nutrients and fewer sugars and cholesterol.
The Main Health Benefits Of Dark Chocolate
• Lowers cholesterol. In studies, dark chocolate has proven to lower LDL (bad cholesterol) and increase HDL (good cholesterol). As we know, too much bad cholesterol is not good for us. These studies showed that dark chocolate provided health benefits when it comes to cholesterol.
• It’s good for the heart. Perhaps this is the most well-known reason. Dark chocolate contains nutrients that are known to help lower blood sugar and increase blood flow. Besides, anything that lowers cholesterol is good for the heart. Some factual studies have showed that dark chocolate can reduce cardiovascular death in men by up to 50%. These aren’t scientific studies, but as dark chocolate lowers cholesterol as well as lower blood pressure, these findings are significant.
• It boosts your skin. Dark chocolate contains lots of flavanols, which protect the skin against sun damage. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can do without sun cream! But, it does mean that the flavanols will reduce the damage on the skin due to the sun. So, if you are planning a summer vacation, then you could start increasing your intake of dark chocolate a few weeks before your holiday. In general, dark chocolate has a positive effect on the skin.
• Can prevent diabetes. Insulin is a word associated with diabetes. Many studies have shown that dark chocolate improves insulin sensitivity. This means that dark chocolate can improve blood sugar levels. Because of its properties, it can be a part of a diabetic diet.
• It’s nutritious. There are many good reasons to chocolate. Of course, chocolate contains calories – up to 242 per 100 grams. This means that we should eat it in moderation. Yet, dark chocolate contains minerals such as iron, magnesium, copper and manganese, zinc, potassium, and selenium. It is also a good source of fiber, containing about 11 grams.
• Good source of antioxidants. Dark chocolate also contains a good amount of antioxidants, which are great for promoting heart health. As well as decreasing the risk of infection, and fighting free radicals in the body. The cocoa tree is one of the best sources of antioxidants on the planet. This means that its fruits – the cocoa pods also have antioxidant properties. Many studies have shown dark chocolate to have a higher amount of antioxidants than blueberries or Acai berries.
Although dark chocolate has a higher calorie, fat and saturated fat content than milk chocolate, its health benefits are much higher than milk chocolate. If you consider that dark chocolate has 22% more iron, four times more fiber, and 242 grams more theobromine (the alkaloid which reduces blood pressure) per half bar than milk chocolate, then the picture becomes clearer that dark chocolate has many health benefits.
It is also worth considering that dark chocolate has fewer carbs and half the sugar of milk chocolate. It’s easy to see why dark chocolate has many health benefits.
Dark chocolate is definitely the preferred flavor of chocolate when it comes to those midnight snacks or holiday treats. Just make sure you don’t overindulge!
Visit our Vegan Chocolate Recipe page http://allveganfoods.com/best-vegan-chocolate-recipes/
You asked, here are our best vegan chocolate recipes in one place. You will find recipes for chocolate mousse, chocolate hummus, almond bites, fudges, chocolate with marzipan, cakes and other yummy recipes.