Updated: Nov 10, 2020
Lets talk grub.
First and foremost: I am a HUGE proponent of keeping your eyes on your own plate when it comes to food. There is no one "right way" to eat, and the nourishment we require varies greatly day by day, as well as from person to person. Some days I have balanced meals and snacks, other days there's primarily maple syrup, dark chocolate and home-fries running through my veins. THIS IS NORMAL.
Never compare yourself or your plate to those who likely have NOTHING in common with you, metabolically or emotionally. Comparison is the thief of joy. A girlfriend of mine can get full & satisfied on a green salad with chicken breast for dinner. I think she's quite clinically insane. I'm not a salad lover, especially ones without beans or whole grains on board. But you know what? She could be struggling with gut health and have been placed on a strict elimination diet without my knowledge. She might be headed to a dinner party afterwards, and trying to save room for her favorite pasta dish. She might be miserably yo-yo dieting her way to a damaged metabolism. Or have lost her appetite from botching a huge presentation at work that day.
ITS NONE OF MY BUSINESS.
With that being said, please take this post with a grain of salt. Here's what a plant-based mama, foodie, stress-baker, fruit-monster, peanut-butter addict, hanger-prone, happens-to-be-a-Dietitian, might eat in a day. I hope you find an ounce of inspiration or deliciousity to take with you on your way.
Most days I eat breakfast within an hour of waking up. I'm one of those people who doesn't feel like their day has truly started unless there's "fuel in the tank".
8:00AM: Cinnamon Flax Oatmeal topped with fresh fruit. I almost always have oatmeal for breakfast. I find its one of the only foods that keeps me full in the morning, and I LOVE waking up to a warm sweet treat.
I combine 1/2 cup rolled oats, 1 cup water or plant-milk, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1-2 tablespoons of flaxmeal to heat over the stove top. Flax is truly an amazing seed. Proven to lower cholesterol and blood pressure while being rich in fiber, healthy fats & cancer-fighting phytochemicals, I could fan-girl for days. Make sure to use ground flax seeds or "flax-meal" however - as our bodies can't break down the tough outer shell of whole flax seeds and therefore may otherwise miss out on the benefits!
As the oatmeal mixture is heating, I like to stir in about 1/2 cup of chopped apple for crunch, and to bulk up the meal. I'm a volume eater, so I'm always looking for ways to bulk up the volume of my meals in a healthy way. We eat with our eyes more than we think!
Once the oatmeal has cooked I serve it up with sliced Brazil nuts (rich in selenium - a micro nutrient critical for thyroid health) and whatever fresh fruit is in season. I often top my oatmeal with a sprinkle of hemp hearts as well, for added Omega-3 fatty acids and protein (did you know just 3 tablespoons has 10 grams?!) I put that ish on everything.
10:30AM: Snack time! For me this usually looks like some fresh fruit or a protein bar. My favorite protein bars are from the brands Garden of Life, 22-Days Nutrition (use the code "BABY" at checkout for a discount!) or Zing Bars. These tend to have less sugar, and in my opinion, more wholesome ingredients than other brands out there.
1:00PM: Spicy Thai Peanut Bowl
Okay ya'll I seriously have issues with this one. I could eat this every-day, twice a day, and then again for a midnight snack.
And in good conscience.
I'm the queen of a five-minute, fridge-to-fork lunch - and this meal is no exception. Who has time to pre-heat the oven MID-DAY when there are places to go, people to see & diapers to change?! Not mine, to be clear.
Start by making the sauce and prepping the protein. Chop up a pack of tempeh (my all-time favorite protein source) into cubes and throw it in a saucepan over medium heat with some sliced shiitake mushrooms a dash of teriyaki or soy sauce. While that's heating, combine 1/2 cup natural peanut butter, 3 tablespoons soy sauce, 2-3 tablespoons maple syrup, 1 tablespoon rice vinegar and 2-3 tablespoons sriracha. Add water and mix until the desired thickness/consistency is reached.
Toss a handful of greens on a microwave-safe plate (I like chopped kale because it steams well). Add whatever veggies get you goin' - I like broccolini, shaved brussel sprouts, steamed Japanese sweet potato cubes, and bell pepper slivers. Steam the vegetables in the microwave by heating for 1-2 minutes on high. Remove from microwave and top with some pre-cooked brown rice, teriyaki tempeh & mushrooms, and generous drizzle of the spicy peanut sauce. Garnish with roasted peanuts and creamy avocado slices and you've got yourself a gourmet lunch.
6:00PM: Creamy Red Lentil Pasta
This has got to be the most lucrative compliment-magnet of almost anything I've ever whipped up (besides my daughter - she oozes cuteness for a living). Savory, creamy and packed with protein...you'd think I'd slaved away over the stove-top for hours. Spoiler alert: There are short-cuts to healthy-living, and I'm rounding those corners Mario-kart style.
A few staples from Trader Joe's are the real MVP's here: Black-bean Rotini, "Melodious Blend" (green garbonzo beans, lentils and tomatoes - available in the frozen section), a jar of organic marinara sauce and a can of coconut cream.
Start by heating a tablespoon of avocado oil on the stove-top and adding a healthy portion of thinly sliced shallots to be sauteed. Add some sea-salt to build flavor. Once the shallots are soft, add in the marinara sauce, frozen garbonzo bean/lentil blend, and about 1/2 the can of coconut cream. Allow this glorious nectar to reach a boil and then simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Cook & drain the black bean rotini and give it a quick rinse under cold water after cooking, this will rinse off the black-bean taste and leave you with a more neutral tasting noodle - soon to be smothered in creamy Italian goodness. Add the noodles into the sauce pan and combine!
This dish is also a great example of pairing of iron (from the black bean noodles) with vitamin C (from the tomato sauce), which significantly boosts absorption of the iron from plant-food sources. Oops. Bonus points.
Serve with crispy multi-grain garlic bread and a side salad, and you've got yourself your third Dietitian-approved meal of the day. Boom baby.
9:00pm: I almost always have a treat or two in the evening. Eating for pleasure is a part of life! And Dietitians eat for pleasure just like everyone else, let me assure you. Typically I go for a few squares of 85% dark chocolate and some fresh fruit or a homemade treat of some kind. Oatmeal chocolate chip muffins, peanut butter cookies, and date-sweetened zucchini bread are a few of my favorites to have on hand.
Well there you have it! I hope you found this helpful and snagged some inspiration along the way.
Not all foodies are Dietitians, but all Dietitians are foodies. So grub on in good company, my friends.
This post was written & medically reviewed by a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.
Grace Pascale, MS, RDN. Grace Pascale Nutrition.