When I started moving towards a vegetarian diet, I wasn't quite sure how these new meatless meals were going to fill me up. But what I soon realized was that I wouldn't just be eliminating meat from my diet, I would be completely overhauling how I put together meatless meals in the first place. But, it wasn't as dramatic as that sounds. I just started gravitating towards certain ingredients I'd never really utilized before, and got a little more creative with a few that were familiar to me.
Want to add a little boost to your vegetarian meals? Here are a few things you can add to add "oomph!"
1) Potatoes, Rice, and Pasta
While I don't go crazy with any of these (making a meal of any one of them isn't going to be a very balanced situation), I really like adding them to my new vegetable-dominated diet. Especially on those "bottomless pit" days (you know the ones!). Instead of a straight-up pasta dish, I'll use a small amount of pasta as a vehicle for, say, some roasted red bell peppers and a handful of spinach, tossed in pesto sauce. Or maybe I'll throw a couple heaping tablespoons of rice on a green salad, or add a handful of cooked red potatoes to the side of my Saturday scramble.
- Avocado Cucumber Bowl with Wasabi Dressing
- Pasta with Vegetables
- Thai Lettuce Cups with Red Curry Potatoes
2) More Veggies
This can't be said enough: We need to eat more vegetables! I've always done a decent job of getting them into every meal, but for some time, vegetables probably only represented about one-quarter to one-third of my typical meal. But when I started juicing and realized how much better I felt, I was motivated to up my veggie intake.
When I prepare a rice or quinoa bowl, I make sure it is about three-quarters vegetables. And I'm always trying to figure out how to sneak a little more spinach into things. Sometimes I puree it (blend several cups with just a tablespoon or two of water) and freeze into ice cubes so I can add them to overnight oats or yogurt bowls I prep the night before. I always add a big handful of spinach to smoothies, and I even blend it into pancake batter. (You can't taste it, I promise!) Because adding "oomph" isn't always about adding bulk. You'd be surprised by how satisfied and full you can feel just by putting the right foods in your body, as opposed to a lot of food.
- Secret Spinach Pancakes
- Breakfast Banana Green Smoothie
- Spinach Smoothie Bowl
- Zucchini with Chickpea and Mushroom Stuffing
- Hearty Mexican Chop Chop
3) Cashew Cream
Using soaked, blended cashews as a dairy substitute has been my favorite foodie discovery in the last few years. Cashews have a very neutral flavor, so it can be used as a dressing, dip, or pasta sauce, and you can even make mousses, cream "cheese," and more. Check out this article for recipes and ideas: 7 Delicious Ways to Use Cashew Cream.
Because it's such a protein-rich food, I've been making an extra effort to find new ways to incorporate quinoa in my meals. Sometimes I fry it in a little oil on the stove top and add it to salads for a different kind of crunch, and lately I've been working it into dishes that are a little more on the sweet side. I'll stir some into my oatmeal or add a few heaping tablespoons to yogurt bowls, along with fruit, nuts, and granola. That's a breakfast that'll get you going.
5) Nuts and Seeds
Get a little crunch and a great dose of protein at the same time! I love walnuts, almonds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds on yogurt or smoothie bowls, and I've gotten really into sunflower seeds, toasted pine nuts, and hazelnuts on salads. They're little, but they'll fill you up fast!
- Morning Fruit Bowl
- Basil Pesto Salad
- Apple and Sunflower Seed Salad
- 7 Reasons You Should Eat Chia Seeds