After a Q&A post on Instagram yesterday, I received a FLOOD of DMs asking me to elaborate and go into detail about my diet. I’ve been hesitant to get too into this for a number of different reasons — first off (and most importantly) being I’m not a nutritionist or anyone that should be giving any sort of diet advice. There’s also been a little bit of fear of negative feedback and unfavorable comments… but it seemed like a very HOT topic, so I’m happy to push that aside and share a little bit more into how I typically eat. Since 2017, I’ve been following a plant-based diet. If you want the back story on why I decided to give that a try, you can read all about that HERE — I go into detail about my previous diet, and the changes I gradually started to make last year, plus, the benefits of eating like that all year. I think the most important thing to note is the word BASED in my “diet.” I eat PLANT BASED. AKA. I try to eat foods derived from plants most of the time (fruits, veggies, whole grains, & legumes). It DOES NOT MEAN that I restrict myself from all other foods. It means that I try to have those plant-based foods make up a majority of my diet, and I try to avoid eating TOO MUCH meat, dairy, refined carbs and sugar.
All of that sounds perfectly fine, right?! It’s not as “strict” as it sounds. But, then a majority of people are like… well, that’s all great… but, WHAT DO YOU ACTUALLY EAT?! Do you just eat a bunch of fruit and vegetables like a rabbit and call it a day?! Are there actual recipes? Is the food bland?! Do you stay full!? Do you feel satisfied?!
I’m going to share a bunch of food that I always have on hand and LOVE to eat + provide a breakdown of example meals that I eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner & snacks. I mentioned in my previous post at the end of last year that I followed an 85/15 rule — meaning, I would follow this diet 85 percent of the time. I’m downing that to 80% for 2018. It’s now the 80/20 rule — and I’m perfectly okay with that!
INGREDIENTS I LOVE TO HAVE ON HAND:
*obviously depending on the season
** and don’t get all crazy about my categories, I know tomatoes are actually FRUIT
Fruit: Bananas, Blueberries, Strawberries, Raspberries, Blackberries, Cherries, Apples, Pears, Peaches, Oranges
Veggies: Kale, Spinach, Arugula, Lemons, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Carrots, Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Avocados, Olives, Peppers, Brussel Sprouts, Artichoke Hearts, Hearts of Palm, Beets, Sweet Potatoes
Legumes: Black Beans, Chickpeas, Cannellini Beans, Lentils
Misc.: Brown Rice, Quinoa, Farro, Olive Oil, Ghee, Fresh Herbs, Almond Butter, Almond Milk, Granola, Chia/Flax/Hemp Seeds, Almonds,
Non-plant-based Items I haven’t fully cut from my diet: Greek Yogurt (plain), Eggs, & Organic Chicken, Salmon, Beef (in moderation)
I’m not a big breakfast person AT ALL and rarely eat breakfast during the week. If I get hungry after my morning coffee (I love cold brew with almond milk), or we’re having a leisurely breakfast on the weekend, I’ll make one of these few things:
+ Greek Yogurt with banana, granola, and honey
+ My favorite green smoothie: kale, almond butter, banana, almond milk, protein powder, ice (recipe HERE)
+ Scrambled eggs & labneh (Raja’s Lebanese family introduced this to me): Scrambled eggs, Greek yogurt on the side with Za’atar seasoning on top, fresh cut tomatoes and cucumber (plus a side of toasted pita if we have it)
I’m big into leftovers when it comes to lunch, so if I made something great from the night before, I’m likely eating it again for lunch the next day! If not, I’ll have a rotation of these meals (or something very similar):
+ Kale salad with quinoa. I love massaging the kale with fresh lemon juice and olive oil (plus a little salt + pepper) and adding fresh quinoa, tomatoes, cucumbers, kalamata olives, & avocado. If I’m in a pinch (or in a rush), I also love these Dr. Mcdougalls quinoa salads that I pick up from Whole Foods. There’s a bunch of different flavors and they take under 5 minutes to make! You add a little water to the cup, microwave for under 2 minutes and let sit for a few more to thicken. I’ll then dump the container over a fresh batch of kale. It’s SO EASY, and so healthy!
+ Smoothie (either the green one above or a berry smoothie with similar ingredients).
+ Tabbouleh salad. A delicious salad made from parsley, tomatoes, scallions, mint, quinoa (I substitute for the bulgar wheat that’s supposed to go in here), lemon juice, and a few other spices. One of my favorite salads to have during the summer months — it might be my next gourmet GLAM recipe here!
+ Smashed Avocado on GG crackers. I absolutely LOVE these crackers (I actually get mine from Trader Joe’s). Sometime’s I’ll add a little chopped up egg (or make an egg salad with avocado instead of mayo), & I always make sure to sprinkle a little Trader Joe’s “Everything But The Bagel” seasoning on top!
+ Lentil Salad with chickpeas and radishes. I started making this a few years ago and it’s one of my favorite salads EVER. I usually make a big batch of it on the weekend and can eat it throughout the week (either as a full lunch or as a side for lunch).
+ Veggie burger over crunchy kale. There’s a great mix from Trader Joe’s that has kale, broccoli, brussel sprouts & cabbage all chopped up. I love adding a veggie burger on top (along with some other veggies).
As I have mentioned, my husband doesn’t follow this diet exactly, so a lot of the time, I will end up making a chicken breast or two on the side for him to throw on top of whatever I’m making below. HOWEVER, since I made this change last year, his meat intake has reduced drastically (just as an after-effect). It took a little getting used to, but he now feels the same way I do — we both feel SO much better limiting our dairy intake and not having meat with every meal. We also tend to eat most of our dinners in these big white bistro bowls we got for our wedding — it makes plating a meal so fun!
+ Falafel (or chicken) rice bowl. I shared this recipe a few months ago and it’s a staple recipe I make 1x per week. It’s one of those recipes where you can easily swap ingredients — whatever is on hand or in-season!
+ Buddah sweet potato bowl. I picked up this recipe from one of my favorite food blogs, and love to add a little roasted cauliflower (I add a bit of turmeric). I also love to make a big batch of the tahini dressing that gets drizzled over the top and use it for other meals throughout the week!
+ Red lentil pasta with roasted veggies and beans. Lentil pasta is SO filling and has such a great texture. I love roasting red peppers, eggplant and zucchini/squash with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and italian seasoning and then mixing it in with the hot lentil pasta and white beans. I’ll also throw in a handful of raw kale for a bit of greens.
+ Quinoa pasta with cherry tomatoes, white beans and arugula. This recipe is a favorite of mine for summertime, when cherry tomatoes are at their sweetest! I model it after this recipe and go light on the feta cheese (or limit it all together).
+ Chicken sausage and peppers over brown rice. For when I do feel like adding a bit of meat, I love adding chicken sausage. This is a spin on my mom’s Italian sausage and peppers (which is ridiculously good) but just lightened up a bit. I sauté mini peppers (a mix of red, yellow and orange) with a red onion, garlic and olive oil in a pan until softened and then add up cut pieces of chicken sausage and brown through. I then add a handful of kale or spinach to wilt and plate over steamed brown rice. I also love adding a drizzle of Trader Joe’s cold pressed green goddess dressing (which is the best thing in life if you haven’t tried it).
+ One sheet salmon, cauliflower and sweet potato. I’ll top the cauliflower with turmeric, adding a bit of that TJ “Everything But The Bagel” seasoning to some cut up sweet potato bites and add that TJ green goddess dressing to the salmon and roast everything in the oven on one pan.
I always try to keep our house stocked with healthy snacks (since we’re both home for all meals everyday). We tend to do most of our snacking later on in the day (after lunch) and will try to have a healthy snack after dinner.
+ Cut up apples and almond butter
+ Baby carrots, broccoli and hummus
+ Castelvetrano olives
+ Dark chocolate covered pretzels
+ Dark chocolate peanut butter cups
+ Popcorn with olive oil
+ Flax seed tortilla chips and verde salsa
+ Crunchy roasted turmeric chickpeas
+ Dried mango
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Is a plant-based diet and a vegan diet the same thing?
No, they’re different. Vegans focus a lot on what foods you CANNOT eat — no meat, poultry, fish, dairy, eggs, or bee products. It’s much more of a lifestyle (no leather of any kind) + they don’t even eat foods with ANY of those ingredients listed. So, if there’s a baked good that was made with eggs, it’s off limits. Plant-based focuses more on foods that SHOULD make up a majority of your diet, and for me, that’s much more sustainable.
Do you feel like you’re getting enough protein?
Protein, yes. I add lots of natural supplements to my meals — like sprinkling some hemp seeds over a buddah bowl or adding chia seeds to my smoothies. I did realize that I wasn’t eating enough iron recently when I started lifting a bit heavier at the gym, so I’ve been making sure to add more spinach (vs. just kale) to my salads and smoothies.
Do you have any dairy/meat cravings?
More so meat than dairy, and when I do, I make sure I eat what I’m craving. I used to love snacking on cheeses and looking at a charcuterie would make my mouth water, but I legitimately don’t even reach for it now — even if it’s sitting right in front of me. With meat, I rarely crave any pork products, but will sometimes crave a little chicken (chicken cutlet sandwiches are my WEAKNESS in life), or a little red meat. I just try to always make sure that the meat I’m eating is organic.
But, you eat Greek yogurt?
It was cut out originally, but I slowly added it back in this year. It doesn’t tend to bother me and I eat it in moderation. I love the way it tastes (I only go with the plain version), + it’s a great probiotic and a good way for me to ensure I’m getting enough calcium.
If you do eat meat, what’s the frequency?
I try to avoid it when I can, which is MUCH easier to do at home when we’re not out to eat or traveling. The problem is with most restaurants, they always tend to have a vegetarian option — but vegetarian does NOT mean dairy free, and it’s usually some sort of eggplant parm that’s absolutely smothered in cheese or cream. If that’s the case, I’ll go with a meat option — those usually include a side of veggies! It’s tough to keep up with when we travel, so I do my best.
Have you lost weight?
For me, it wasn’t even about losing any weight. I was really more worried about my skin. I had extremely painful cystic acne and it was becoming more and more common. I was seriously getting these painful pimples at least once a month and could not figure out why. Plus, my skin always looked SO dry and dull — and I’m a HUGE water drinker. I have lost about 10 pounds (which for me is a lot) since I changed my diet, so I’ve actually had to make sure I wasn’t taking it too far. That’s sort of why I’m now at 80/20 — it was a bit too aggressive for a while and I had to work to put a little bit of weight back on.
Do you eat a lot of soy?
No, only in moderation. Too much soy isn’t great for you either, so I try to only have it on occasion and try to avoid using soy milk as a main dairy replacement (I stick with almond milk).
Does your husband follow the same diet?
He didn’t at first, and it actually WASN’T difficult to do both. I would just add a chicken breast to the side of whatever I was making and he was happy. However, his meat intake has definitely reduced and he’s feeling the great effects as well.
Is it expensive to eat a plant-based diet?
I try to shop at Trader Joe’s most of the time and have found that I actually spend LESS shopping there than when I was shopping at my local Stop & Shop (I was shopping there mostly for produce and in their “natural” aisle, where the prices were SO jacked up). Things like quinoa, chia seeds, and nuts are SO much more reasonable at Trader Joe’s. If we are eating any meat or fish, we try to shop for those at Whole Foods (I just personally feel like the quality is unmatched in that department), and I also love the produce from Whole Foods. It’s not expensive for us because we eat most of our meals at home. By cooking at home (and avoiding $5 coffees and $15 lunches), we actually save a lot!
Let me know if you guys have any other questions! Happy to answer! 🙂