Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner: 3 Easy Plant-Based Meals for Quarantine

As I mentioned last week, I've found it surprisingly easy to develop a routine during the lock-down. My morning routine, sleeping pattern, and workout regiment have probably been more consistent than any time in the last decade. I've also developed a pretty solid eating routine, particularly during the week. Time is always a constraint, and with meetings scheduled throughout the day, there's never a true lunch break so I thought I'd share three meals that have been staples for me that are quick, healthy and delicious.

It's worth noting that I don't generally follow recipes when I make food. I just use ingredients that I like, taste along the way, and adjust if needed. If you're looking to eat more plants, hopefully these inspire you to keep things simple, try out a new item or two (hint: tempeh), and eliminate the need to make yet another decision (what are we going to have for lunch?) during these frustrating times.

Breakfast:

While I normally don't eat breakfast during the week, sometimes I'll be hungrier when I wake up or by mid-morning so I'll have a small meal to get me through to lunch. I also don't normally eat much fruit (not because I actively avoid it, but I prefer savoury foods more than sweet, so I just don't think of fruit as often), so the perfect breakfast meal for speed, health, and portion control is: A SMOOTHIE!

My go-to smoothie recipe is the following:

  • 1 cup of frozen berries (the Costco package has blackberries, blueberries and raspberries)

  • 1 banana

  • Handful of greens (kale or spinach)

  • 1 Tsp of turmeric (this seems weird but is great for anti-inflammatory benefits, especially after a big run the day before)

  • 1 dash of black pepper (also seems weird but is used to help the body absorb the turmeric)

  • 1/2 cup of almond milk

  • Optional: protein powder, chia seeds, peanut butter, soy milk or water instead of almond milk

  • Blend all of the ingredients until smooth and boom - a healthy smoothie to jump-start your day!

The smoothie ingredients
The result

Lunch

I constantly think about food, and when I'm working from home, what I'm going to make (or order) for lunch is always in the back of my mind. I've found it super helpful this past week to just eat the same lunch everyday. It helps avoids decision fatigue, and assuming it's tasty, still gives you that something to look forward to during your 10am conference call! Here's the recipe that fueled my afternoons this past week: my Plant-based BLT!

  • 6-8 thin slices of tempeh (strips that are 3 inches long, 0.5 inches wide, and as thin as possible so they'll fit on a sandwich - this will be the bacon)

  • 2 slices of whole wheat or multigrain toast

  • Greens (I used kale, but a few pieces of lettuce will do)

  • 2-3 slices of tomatoes

  • 1 dollop of mayonnaise (vegan, ideally)

  • Liquid smoke

  • Coat the tempeh slices in olive oil and a dash of soya sauce and 5-6 shakes of liquid smoke, then add them to a hot pan for 2 minutes per side until crispy, adding oil or soya sauce as needed. Add tempeh, lettuce, tomatoes to the mayo-lathered toast and boom - a healthy and delicious sandwich with tempeh bacon!

  • Optional: add dijon mustard, or avocado

Crispy tempeh bacon, fresh tomatoes and kale, plus vegan mayo!
BLT - Tempeh Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato

Dinner

If you're like me, dinner can be tough to plan for even when your kitchen is 20 feet from your workstation. If work runs late, I may not have time to boil potatoes, prepare a million ingredients, or follow a recipe strictly. As such, my dinner is always changing and I don't put too much pressure on myself to always create an amazing dish. Keeping that in mind, something that can basically fit into any schedule, is pasta!

At the very basic level, you can just use pasta and a jarred sauce, and you're good to go. Assuming I have time, I like to add as many veggies as possible to the sauce to give it more thickness, health benefits, and substance. A nice way of quickly adding more veggies is to keep a bag of frozen vegetables on hand which you can just add to the pan of sauce 5 mins before serving. Another good hack to help keep the dish somewhat healthy is to use 100% whole wheat pasta. It may not be quite as decadent as white pasta, but if you love carbs as much as me, you want to stick to complex carbs rather than white sugars.

For sauces, I often just use tomato sauce from a jar, but I've also been experimenting with creating cashew-based Alfredo sauces in my blender. Essentially, the options are endless when it comes to pasta dishes and that's why they're so amazing: pick a pasta, pick a sauce, and pick your toppings/veggies. Here's one of my go-to pastas:

Pasta heaven, with garlic toast as a bonus!
  • 1 package of 100% whole wheat pasta (I used fusili)

  • 1 jar of tomato pasta sauce

  • 2 cups frozen veggies (peppers, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower)

  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms

  • 1 medium onion, diced

  • 2-4 cloves of garlic, diced

  • Red Chili flakes, cayenne pepper to taste

  • Saute the garlic and onion in a lightly oiled pan, add the frozen veggies and mushrooms and cook down until the veggies are tender, add the sauce and bring to a simmer. Add to freshly cooked pasta and voila - an easy dinner with one pan, very little cleanup, and very little prep!

If you have quesitons about more vegan dishes, leave a comment below and I'm happy to share more. Remember - don't be too hard on yourself during these times, just do the best you can. Also - don't worry about screwing up a recipe - experiment, taste along the way, add spices you like, and have fun putting your own spin on each dish. Good luck with your corona cooking!

Thanks for reading,

Mike