Plant Based Meals for Beginners

MOTHER EARTH NEWS – Never underestimate the flavor, versatility, and health of plants on your plate. We’re taking a moment to celebrate all the delicious plant-based meals out there, from side dishes to desserts. Whether you’re looking to widen your selection of weeknight dinners, shop and cook more locally, cut down the amount of meat on your menu, or try new foods, thereís a dish out there for you. Let’s explore some nourishing plant-based meals for beginners, and give them a try in your own kitchen.

  • Experiment with how plants show up on your plate – including fermentation!
  • Don’t be afraid to mix the sweet with the savory and try different combinations. Sometimes, a warm savory grain paired with a roasted fruit can be a wonderful meal you may not have considered before.
  • Outside of main dishes, the leftovers of plants (such as citrus peels) can have a second life in other medicinal or household supplies.
  • Fall in love with whole grains. Barley, millet, quinoa, and more can act as the foundation for new flavor profiles in your meals.
  • Donít forget dessert! Experiment with heirloom and local produce in your sweet treats to appreciate the variability of fruits and vegetables.

Plant-based meals go way beyond just loading up your plate with carrot sticks and hummus, or keeping the bacon off your BLT. In fact, the versatility of these meals incorporate numerous cooking and preparation techniques that enhance the flavor and nutrients available in your meals.

Have you ever considered fermenting your beans and grains? This provides not only a new way to enjoy flavors, but it also provides more nutrition. Check out ìFermenting Beans and Grainsî video course, hosted by Sandor Katz, where youíll learn how to make Southern Indian dishes, such as dosa and idli, as well as other fermented dishes. But you donít have to stop at fermenting. Explore baking, roasting, and searing your fruits and vegetables, and see if you can transform your foods into new forms of consuming them, such as whipping some fruits and vegetables into a sauce or dressing.

Stuffed Butternut Squash

In addition to new food-preparation techniques, try combining different flavors and textures. For example, in this Barley Pilaf and Roasted Pear Recipe, sweet-and-musky roasted pear pairs with warm pearled barley, zesty lemon, bold parsley, nutty walnuts, savory onion, and more to make a complex side dish that you can serve as part of a larger spread or as a side dish, with or without meat.

Wondering what to do with the remnants of produce after cooking, such as citrus peels? Though you can toss them into the compost, they also have myriad uses in the kitchen and household. Former Mother Earth Living editor Hanna Kincaid shares how to transform citrus peels into dehydrated citrus zest for meals, citrus-scented cleaning products, and homemade potpourri. Plus, use more of a lemon or orange to create medicinal bitters or a delicious limencello.

Next, remember to explore various whole grains recipes, the foundation to many plant-based dishes. Incorporate healthy whole grains, such as barley, quinoa, or millet, into meals. Need help getting started? Former Mother Earth Living editor Jessica Kellner “https://www.motherearthnews.com/real-food/whole-grain-recipes-zb0z1202zkel/?utm_source=OgdenNews&utm_medium=article&utm_campaign=Syndication” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>has recipes for all three! Fall in love with a Toasted Almond and Citrus Quinoa, savor a Swiss Barley Risotto, and make some Millet “Meat” Balls for Meatless Monday dinners. With grains like these as the place to begin with your meal, you can build a nutritious dish with different flavor and texture profiles.


Finally, donít forget dessert! Many fruits ñ and vegetables ñ offer wonderfully sweet possibilities. If youíre like me and love carrot cake, why not try baking one with a different kind of carrot? April Jones shares a delightful Purple Carrot Cake Recipe, offering a few different cultivars to try in your cake, based on the flavors you like and how you want the finished product to turn out. When my local farmers market opens later this year, I plan to start looking for some purple carrots to create my own version of that cake.

If these plant based meals for beginners feel intimidating, start small! Add one new meal or food into your diet each week, and build up from there. And find multiple ways to use ingredients you buy each week. If you buy a bag of barley, add it into a few different meals, or make plans to use it the following week so you donít end up wasting anything you buy. If you really like a new food, get familiar with it, just like you’d get familiar with a new plant in your garden. Understand its nutrition components and the myriad ways you can prepare it. You’ll soon find meal planning becoming second nature during your week.

There are plenty more plant-based meals for beginners to explore on MOTHER EARTH NEWS, everything from appetizers to drinks to desserts, but get started with a few of these recipes and see where they take you. You may find a new favorite meal to incorporate into your weekly routine. Happy cooking!