Week 1: What to Eat
For anyone who tends to skip breakfast in favor of a caffeine hit, having a healthy breakfast first (or instead) could be the most important thing you do! Caffeine stimulates your body without giving it any energy. In order for your body to function properly, it needs fuel – food.
When you wake up, you want to get your digestive system moving before piling breakfast down there. Remember, you need to build up the digestive energy before your body will be able to get all of the nutrients out of your food. Having been asleep for 8 or so hours, you need to get things moving.
No-Bake Apricot Granola Bites
The easy breakfast is oatmeal:
- rolled oats
- ground flax or chia seeds
- chopped apple, berries, banana, etc
But to give you a fun idea, here’s a no-bake granola bar so you can grab ‘n go on weekday mornings. I threw whatever I had in the fridge into these, but feel free to swap some of the ingredients for other things, and combine to make it easier.Download the recipe
If you’re prone to the 3 o’clock slump, try having healthy lunch and see what it difference it makes. I used to crash on my desk mid-afternoon – literally could not keep my head up or my eyes open – when I ate crappy food for lunch. Now I stay alert and productive through the afternoon.
Let’s talk about making balanced and packable lunches:
Curried Chickpea Wrap
Make a tasty chickpea salad, with whatever veg you wish, and a curried tahini dressing. Then put it all together in a wrap. Delicious, and easy!Download the recipe
To Snack or Not To Snack?
People often have questions about whether snacking is good or bad – particularly when trying to lose weight. Nutritionists seem to have different views on it – some of them very strong! My view depends on a few factors, and as usual: it depends on the person.
Classic Hummus, 5 Ways
I mentioned hummus a couple times in the quick snack ideas, so I felt I had to give you a recipe to make your own. It’s so easy! And for those who are hummus masters, there are 5 options to jazz it up.Download the recipe
Go-to Dinners for Busy Weeknights
A healthy dinner is a perfect way to end a day full of life and energy. It can recharge your body for tomorrow, and leave you nourished and ready for a good night’s sleep. But it’s hard to find the time, particularly for weeknight meals. The key is to find your go-to meals so that making dinner on a weeknight is a breeze. Ones that you can make without thinking, and pull together really quickly, with whatever you have on hand in your fridge.
Easy Chickpea Tomato Soup
Here’s an easy soup that uses a few of the tricks I mentioned to make dinner prep super quick. Bonus: you can make a double (or triple) batch to have enough for lunches, or maybe freeze for next week.Download the recipe
Creatively Using Leftovers
Making enough for dinner so that you have leftovers is a great way to maximize the time you spend in the kitchen. But sometimes we can get bored with that… so it’s nice to have options to use your leftovers in different ways.
Eggplant Chickpea Curry + Leftovers Wrap
So let’s make a nice big one-pan eggplant chickpea curry, with tons of flavor and nutrients. We can have it over brown rice for dinner, then make it into a wrap to take for lunch the following day:Download the recipe
Dealing with Cravings
Cravings and emotional eating are often what pull us off track from our otherwise healthy plans. Not that this is always a bad thing, sometimes we all need to indulge. The difference is being in control, rather than being controlled by food addictions. When they’re a conscious choice, and don’t spin into a downward spiral of addiction, they’re not harmful to you. The first thing to look at with cravings is where they come from. Some cravings are created by what you’re eating – or not eating.
These little cupcakes are super healthy, full of mineral-rich ingredients and with no oil and very little (unrefined) sugar. If you want to make the more cupcake-ish, there’s a simple icing included.Download the recipe
Tips for Eating Out
Eating out at restaurants and parties can be tough when you’re trying to stick to healthy eating. You definitely want to enjoy special meals, and you can do that without being overly stuffed afterwards or straying too far off track. For vegetarians and vegans, it can add another level of complexity in eating out. Personally though, I find it actually makes things easier because the menu choices are narrowed down so it takes me less time to choose what I’ll have.
This is one of my go-to weeknight meals – easy, tasty, fun. Make it with tomato sauce, pesto, or another bean dip if you prefer. Pile it high with whatever veggies appeal, or are left in the fridge. Use the homemade hummus recipe from the other day, or choose a store-bought that doesn’t have too many weird ingredients.Download the recipe
Week 2: How Much to Eat
Balancing macros + portions
How many times do you talk about food, and someone asks, “how many calories is it?” As if this is the only thing that matters about food. What I prefer is to look at portion sizes. Let me give you a guide so that you don’t have to think about calories – you think about portions. The portion sizes don’t have to be exact. Just approximate the measurements, and listen to your stomach.
Sesame-Ginger Macro Bowl
Here’s a yummy sesame-ginger dressed bowl with all the plant food groups represented, in proportion and at an average portion size. Scale up or down, based on your energy needs. Choose the bowl size that works for you, and fill it with wonderful foods to fuel your body.Download the recipe
Everyday Superhero Plant Foods
When we hear the word “diet” we tend to hear the word “restriction” in our heads. The trouble with restriction is that it tends to lead to binges. Let’s shift perspective to abundance and choice, rather than restriction and rules.
If you know what to eat – and why… you can fully nourish your body and give yourself the nutrients you need to thrive. Rather than going crazy on fad superfoods, here are some everyday plant foods that are super nutrient-dense:
Parsley Pesto Pasta
Let’s give pesto pasta a nutrient boost by adding parsley to the basil (or maybe try spinach), Brazil nuts instead of pine nuts, and tahini in place of olive oil. Some simple swaps, add some fresh cherry tomatoes, and this meal is off the charts.Download the recipe
How to get Protein from Plants
It’s not nearly as hard as people think to get enough protein from plant foods. All whole plant foods have some protein in them. If you eat enough calories from a balanced diet, and include legumes (beans, lentils and peanuts), you should get more than enough protein and all the essential amino acids for normal daily needs. Let’s debunk the top 5 myths about vegan protein:
Chocolate Protein Bars
These will show you how to use plant-based protein powder to make your own protein bars instead of store-bought – though you can swap it out for almond meal if you like. Flavorful and based on whole foods, these are perfect to take on the go for a post-workout boost.Download the recipe
How to get Iron and Calcium from Plants
You can find a rich plant source of iron in beans and legumes, as well as the leafy greens and molasses. The iron intake of most vegans and vegetarians is actually pretty high, since iron per calorie is higher in plant foods than animal foods.
For so long, cow’s milk was considered the only good source of calcium. But it turns out that the best way to get useable calcium is to eat a variety of plant foods, like quinoa, chickpeas, sesame seeds and broccoli. The dark green leafy vegetables are particularly good sources.
Rich and satisfying, hearty chili is the perfect meal for a winter evening. Pairing those iron-rich lentils with vitamin-c-rich tomatoes and cilantro means that you’ll be absorbing much more of the energy-boosting nutrient than if you ate the beans alone.Download the recipe
Good Fats + Omega-3
Some people say you should eat lots of fat, some people say you should eat barely any fat, some people say you can eat a small amount of fat. It gets confusing. There are so many facets to this topic, and everyone comes at it from a different viewpoint. Luckily, there are really only a few basic things you need to know.
Chickpea Salad Sandwich with Avo-Mayo
Let’s blend some fatty goodness into an avocado cream, and use it as a dressing for a chickpea salad – which makes a great replacement for tuna salad in a sandwich!Download the recipe
Low Carb? High Carb?
Let’s talk about carbs. I feel like everyone either hates or loves carbs to an excessive degree. There’s the low carb (Paleo/Atkins) camp in one corner vs. the high carb (Fruitarian/Starchitarian – yes, that’s a thing) in the other. I call it Carb Wars. Conflicting opinions again. Let’s start with the definitions.
Black Bean Brownies
To show you how to use mashed banana and dates as sweetener in a healthy treat, we’re going to make some black bean brownies! You could swap the dates for coconut sugar if you don’t have a food processor.Download the recipe
Supplements for Vegans (and everyone else)
Choosing locally grown organic produce, and eating a mostly whole food vegan diet plan is important to getting as many nutrients in their natural form as possible. But – most of us do need to take some supplements to get everything our bodies need to thrive. And there are a couple of nutrients that vegans do need to supplement. But it’s pretty easy once you have all the info:
I love nutritional yeast! It’s also sometimes fortified with vitamin B12. So if you want to get your fix of nooch, let’s make some kale chips! They could also be considered a vitamin A & K supplement cause kale is off the charts on those, and we’re going to add a bit of fattiness so make sure they’re absorbed.Download the recipe
Week 3: Making it Tasty
Why some people hate vegetables, and 7 ways to overcome it
There’s actually a scientific reason why most kids don’t like vegetables, and why some people hate vegetables throughout adulthood, no matter how open they are or how many times they try them. For the kids and the vegetable-averse, I have seven simple techniques for making vegetables taste fantastic, even to the pickiest palate.
Roasted Squash & Pepper Soup + Sweet Potato Biscuits
I’ve got two recipes for you today, you can do one or the other, both, or save them for another day.
First is a roasted butternut squash and red pepper soup that combines a lot of the methods I listed! Roasting, using sweeter veggies, pureeing and using salt during cooking. The results are so delicious, I haven’t met anyone yet who hasn’t enjoyed this soup:Download the recipe
The other recipe is for sweet potato biscuits, so you can bake the sweet potato along with the squash, and then make the biscuits as a side for your soup. So delicious! I’m actually thinking about making them for dinner now… mmm…Download the recipe
How to cook whole grains perfectly
In order to truly enjoy the healthy stuff, you have to know how to cook it properly – so that it tastes its best. So let’s talk about whole grains today, cause a lot of people aren’t used to cooking brown rice and quinoa and such.
The basic method of cooking whole grains is really easy – you put them in a pot with twice as much water and a pinch of salt, bring to a boil then let them simmer, covered with a lid, until they’re soft. Cooking time depends on the grain. If you want to learn more techniques, let’s dive in:
Cilantro Lime Thai Rice
Make rice the star of your meal by giving it robust and exotic Thai flavors. Brown rice is a source of vitamin E and the B vitamins, making it a great addition to your diet. Serve along with some sauteed vegetables with a coconut-green-curry sauce for a delicious meal:Download the recipe
How to cook beans properly
Beans and legumes are an important source of protein for vegans because they have complementary amino acids to other plant protein sources. They are not only a healthier source of protein than animal products, but also a cheaper one per gram of protein. But they are notorious for causing gas. Cooking beans properly is the first step in reducing their gas-producing power:
Maple-Dijon Lentil Salad
Pairing iron-rich lentils and spinach with vitamin-c-rich beets makes for better nutrient absorption. Plus it tastes amazing, bursting with flavor!Download the recipe
Cooking with spices and herbs
Spices and herbs bring such wonderfully rich flavors to a dish, and the really great part is that they also bring lots of nutrition to a dish as well. Spices are full of antioxidants, some have lots of calcium and iron and other vitamins and minerals. Just one tablespoon of whole cumin seeds has 22% of your average daily iron intake.
Gingerbread Energy Bites
These little bites will give you an instant energy boost, and make a tasty afternoon snack, grab n go breakfast with a morning smoothie, or guilt-free dessert in the evening with tea. They’re so dense and flavorful, giving you a cookie fix in a healthy bite-size package.Download the recipe
Seasoning Beans & Grains
Beans and grains have virtually no flavor on their own, so they’re a blank slate you could do anything with. But they need to be matched with some vegetables and seasonings to give them more interest. Let’s get a little more creative with our beans and grains…
Balsamic-Marinated Tuscan Bean Salad
To celebrate how delicious beans can be, we’re going to make a balsamic-marinated Tuscan bean salad. The best results will come if you leave this to marinate overnight. Put it together at dinner, and then portion it into containers for lunch. Perfect, right?Download the recipe
Is it ok to cook with oils?
Whole food sources of fats are much better than oils, not only for nutrient-density, but for maintaining a balanced ratio of fat. That’s because fats are accompanied by carbohydrates (including fiber) and protein in whole foods. Also, refined oils (like canola) have a lot of toxins and chemicals from processing. So it’s a good thing to cut down from the amount of oils used in a standard North American diet.
But – oil isn’t evil, and some vegans actually need to take oils as supplements, like coconut oil at to make sure their cholesterol levels don’t get too low or flax oil to make sure they get enough omega-3 absorbed into their bodies.
Creamy Orange-Ginger Cashew Dressing
A rich, creamy dressing with sweetness from the orange, and tanginess from fresh ginger. This is a perfect pair to a simple salad, taking it up a notch. And oil-free!Download the recipe
Is it ok to cook with salt?
Since people with cardiovascular disease are told to drastically reduce their salt consumption, salt is usually seen as a bad thing and almost everyone consciously reduces their salt intake now when trying to eat healthy. But it turns out, increasing potassium content has been shown to be more important.
Tamari Toasted Almonds
For a super salty snack, today’s recipe is tamari toasted almonds. These are perfect as a topper for stir fries or curries, and giving a salty-savory kick to your day. Hope you enjoy them!Download the recipe
Week 4: Making it Work in Real Life
Some people are batch cookers by nature, others by necessity. It saves a huge amount of time, cooking something in a big batch and then freezing individual (or family) servings. Personally, I’m not a frequent batch cooker, but I can definitely see the benefits. Here are some tips and recipe ideas we’ve covered so far that are batch-cook-eligible:
Here’s a veggie burger that’s really tasty, and perfect for freezing: a hearty, savory mushroom burger. With buckwheat and lots of amazing flavor, you are going to love this. If you decide to make a massive batch and freeze the extras, the best way is to put them in an air tight container, separated by sheets of parchment or wax paper.Download the recipe
Cooking for a Mixed House
If you’re trying to eat healthier and/or plant-based but the other people in your house aren’t interested, it can be really tough to figure out how to cook for everyone at once. It may also mean there are temptations around the house, and I know some people will feel like they don’t have support, which is really tough – but it’s what I’m here for! And our group, so if you have any questions or feel like you’re struggling or alone, please reach out, either by email or in the forum.
Peanutty Pad Thai
A pretty simple vegan meal that most meat eaters I know will gobble up is pad thai. In restaurants, they use fish sauce and often egg, so it’s one that we can enjoy making at home. I make it a bit more peanutty than in restaurants, though if you don’t like peanuts you could make this with almond or cashew butter and it would be fantastic.Download the recipe
Cooking for One
It can be difficult to have the motivation to make interesting meals, as well as maintain your willpower and motivation to stick to healthy eating, when you’re cooking for just yourself. And one of the big downsides I hear from single clients is the struggle to buy things like lettuce and broccoli, and then make sure you use it up through the week.
One of the easiest, yummiest dinners I can think of that motivates me to cook for myself no matter how lazy I feel is avocado-lime pasta. I usually toss it with sprouts or spinach to boost the nutrient content, but sometimes have it just as a soft comforting pasta without the greens. It’s a taste sensation of comforting carby pasta, fatty delicious avocado, savory salty nutritional yeast, and fresh tangy lime.Download the recipe
Preventing the Hanger/Crash
We’ve all been there. Hangry. Feeling irritable and moody when we we haven’t eaten in too long. And the afternoon crash. 3 pm rolls around and we can’t keep our eyes open or our heads from nodding in the afternoon meeting. Or the evening crash, getting home and all you can manage is after work is drifting off on the sofa.
Soba Noodle Bowl
Soba noodles (made of buckwheat) are delicious in this bowl, paired with some lightly sauteed vegetables and the salty/savory simplicity of tamari and toasted sesame oil. Including protein, from the edamames (or tofu/tempeh if you prefer), and healthy fat, from the avocado, should keep you happy, nourished and sustain your energy through for hours.Download the recipe
How to make beans less gassy
The trouble with beans is that they can cause gas (they are the musical fruit after all!). To the point of being painful for some people who are new to beans. I want you to have some tips to offset that gas, so you can eat beans and get the nutrients you need without adverse effects. Or maybe pass them on if you know someone who’s struggling with gassiness when they go vegan.
Balsamic Quinoa Bowl
Your recipe for today is a balsamic quinoa bowl. It should be great if you’ve been gassy lately, give you a break from anything that might be causing your gas, and let you reset. Very simple, but flavorful and filling without being too tough on the digestion.Download the recipe
Have a fun food night
The challenge is often in getting stuck in a rut. And I don’t want you to get bored with healthy food or vegan meals! Having a ‘fun’ food night is a great way to cap off the week, have a good conversation around the table, maybe have some friends over.
Build Your Own Taco Night
Let’s make a delicious taco base of either spicy sauteed mushrooms or marinated black beans – or both?? Then I have a whole slew of ideas for toppings: fresh salsa, hot onions + zucchini, simple guacamole, shredded carrots (to look like cheese). And you can come up with whatever else you like – just think of what your family enjoys, mine is based on what we used to have for taco nights when I was little. My brother and I loved taco night. It was messy and it was awesome.Download the recipe
Share a meal
Now we come to a very important step – sharing something of what you’ve learned along the way with a friend or a loved one. The easiest is to share a meal. So we could invite a friend out to a vegan restaurant (look back to week 1 for tips on eating out), we could bring a vegan dish to a pot luck, we could have someone (or a few people if we’re ready) over for a home-cooked vegan feast.
Indian is one of my favourite cuisines to go out with friends, there are tons of dishes on the menu that are vegetarian because the culture has strong vegetarian roots. I’ve found that most restaurants will happily and very easily make a vegetarian dish without cream or butter. Or – you can make your own! What I put together for you today as a recipe is a actually few dishes to make a curry night.Download the recipe