Whether you’re on a diet to lose weight or you just want to improve your heart health, there are some easy ways to veganize your meals to get you on the right track. What does “veganize” mean, and why should you do it? “Veganize” simply means to take a dish that is normally made with animal products, and substitute vegan foods instead - and don’t worry - I’m not going to pull out the tempeh and Tofurkey sausage sticks! Instead I’m going to share some healthy foods (which happen to be tofu-free) to veganize your meals. Did I mention these suggestions are absolutely delicious? Let’s give them a try!
One tasty way to veganize your meals is to start using coconut milk in your meals instead of dairy milk or cream. You can purchase canned coconut milk in both full-fat and low-fat varieties. Though coconut milk has saturated fat, it is completely cholesterol-free. Coconut is great to eat on a diet, vegan or not, because the fats are burned for energy and not stored as fat.
Unsweetened almond milk is one of the most versatile ingredients you can use to veganize a meal. It's lactose-free, low in calories, and better for your heart. Just be sure to choose unsweetened to avoid the added sugars in regular versions. You can use unsweetened almond milk as a replacement for creamer in coffee, in cereal or soups, or my favorite way - in a smoothie!
Dairy yogurt can be a healthy choice for some dieters, but if you’re one of the many people intolerant of dairy products, yogurt might not be an option. Coconut yogurt is one of the easiest ways to veganize a meal that would normally include dairy yogurt, since it lends a rich, creamy texture just like dairy yogurt, without any of the downfalls. Grab a spoon and dig in!
Nutritional yeast is a food product sold in the form of yellow flakes that lends the exact taste of parmesan cheese with slight background notes of cheddar. It’s also high in Vitamin B12 and chromium to keep your blood sugar stable and give you energy. Use it in place of dairy cheese on a veggie pizza, or even in some soup for a yummy, cheesy meal in minutes.
Lentils may be tiny in size, but they are big in nutrition and flavor. They pack 8 grams of protein per 1/2 cup serving and are a wonderful way to veganize your meals when you remove animal protein from your diet. Lentils also reduce belly fat due to their high fiber and high protein content, and even reduce cholesterol to improve your heart health.
This super seed, which is often referred to as a grain, is one of the most well-known ways to veganize your meals. Per ½ cup, quinoa has 8 grams of protein, a variety of B vitamins, and plenty of iron, with over 20% of your daily needs per serving. It can help improve your energy, lean muscle formation, and even your overall weight loss as a result.
Oatmeal truly is one of nature’s perfect foods. It has a unique nutritional profile, delicious flavor, and a high satiety factor. It’s high in protein, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, fiber, and it reduces cholesterol. Plus, it’s much more affordable than animal products and keeps you full just as long. Kiss the extra pounds and heart health risks good-bye with a bowl of oatmeal every single day!
Flax seeds are one of the best plant-based sources of omega 3 fatty acids. Per 2 two tablespoons of flax, you’ll get 4 grams of heart-healthy omega 3s, 6 grams of fiber, and nutrients known as lignans that protect your heart and improve your skin. Flax seeds can also help reduce cholesterol and even improve bowel, hormone, and brain health.
Chia seeds are a complete protein source, meaning they contain all essential amino acids your body needs to be healthy and stay strong. Per 2 tablespoons, chia has more omega 3s than salmon, 6 grams of fiber, 5 grams of heart-healthy fats, and high amounts of iron. Forget the fish or beef, and bring on the chia!
Learning to veganize your meals might seem challenging at first, but it can be a great way to improve your diet. If you’re a vegan, how do you veganize your meals? If you’re not vegan, which suggestion above would you like to try?
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