I’ve been living vegan for a long time, more than twelve years now. During this period, I’ve met a lot of new vegans, and thanks to the internet, talked with many more. One question that keeps coming up over and over again is, “how do I make vegan dinners more filling?” It’s an excellent question.
If you’re new to living vegan, or new to cooking in general, it can be confusing how to build a meal where meat isn’t the main star of the dish. There’s a general misconception too about vegan meals that they consist of a big plate of vegetables and nothing else. And if that’s all you’re eating, you’ll quickly feel hungry and weak. Creating healthy and satisfying vegan meals is easy though, all you need is a bit of know-how.
1. Eat more vegetables.
A common mistake among new vegans is simply not eating enough calories. Just removing meat from meals is going to leave foods with a low-calorie density like salads or vegetables for example. These foods are perfect to fill up on because they provide excellent nutrition within a larger volume of food. This is good news for you because it means you get to eat as many vegetables as you’d like, so pile your plates high and enjoy until you’re completely satiated.
Tip: Don’t like vegetables? Try cooking them a new way. Have you been eating plate after plate of steamed vegetables? Try roasting them in a little vegetable stock for more flavor. Dump a bunch of vegetables into a pot of soup or stew. Get creative. Don’t forget to experiment with your favorite spices too!
Here are a few recipes to help fill your dinner plate:
- Balsamic Rosemary Roasted Vegetables
- Miso-Maple Roasted Roots
- Broccoli Almondine
- Rainbow Vegetables with Rosemary Thyme
- Creamed Kale
Related: 19 Creative Uses for Cauliflower
2. Starches are your filling friends
Let’s talk about carbohydrates. They’re an important source of energy for your body and a preferred source for your brain. Starches are complex carbohydrates, and they take longer to digest than simple carbohydrates like sugar, which means you feel fuller, longer. Once relegated as merely side dishes, these starchy foods can quickly become the key to creating a hearty, filling meal.
Foods that are considered starchy include potatoes and sweet potatoes; whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and pasta; legumes like chickpeas, black beans, and kidney beans; and starchy vegetables like corn and peas.
Try them in these recipes:
- Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
- Simple Mexican Quinoa Bowl
- Cajun-Style Red Beans Rice
- Eggplant Mushroom 1-Pot Pasta
- Spanish Chickpea Stew with Cauliflower Broccoli Rice
- Lentil Quinoa Meatloaf Burger
- Asian Cashew Rice Bowl
- Baked Potato Nachos
3. Balance the plate
Staying full while eating plant-based has to do with two things: how much you eat (volume) and the quality of the food you’ve eaten (nutrients). A well-balanced vegan meal has a mixture of healthy fats, whole grains, plant protein, fruits, and vegetables. This provides an abundance of nutrition—and volume—and will help to keep you and your belly feeling satisfied.
Try these recipes:
- Red Curry Roasted Spring Onions with Creamy Coconut Polenta
- Cuban Bowls with Sweet Potatoes
- Sugar Snap Peas and Carrot Soba Noodles
- Vegan Buddha Bowl
- Orange-Ginger Tempeh Bowl with Black Sesame Sauce
- Roasted Vegetable Salad with Garlic Dressing and Toasted Pepitas
- Spicy Chickpea Burgers
What is your favorite way to fill up? Tell me about it in the comments!
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