In this lesson, we discuss good foods to include in your lean-out meal plan â€” what foods are really good to include, which are not.
Caveat: as a vegan, I don’t know much about meats, fish, dairy or eggs, which you might want to include in your meal plan. You’ll need to do your own research, as I’ll only be able to talk about what I find to be fantastic.
So here’s what I recommend:
- Vegetables: These are king! If you don’t like veggies, this is a great opportunity to start adding them to your meals in small amounts, add them to stir-fries, to soups, sauces. These are incredibly important on a lean-out meal plan because they add a lot of volume (which helps you to be full) without adding a lot of calories. And yet, they have high nutritional density â€” a lot of vitamins and minerals for the amount of calories they have. For example, kale (which I didn’t like at first) might be just 60 calories for a whole bowlful, with tons of nutrition in them. Green veggies are the king of kings, but you should also include red, orange, yellow, white and brown veggies.
- Good starches: Whole grains like brown rice and quinoa are incredible, full of nutrition without a ton of calories. But you can also eat potatoes of all kinds, including my favorite, baked sweet potatoes.
- Fruits: Fruits have some sugar, but they also have a lot of volume for their calories, and a lot of nutrition. They can be used as a treat instead of sweets that you might normally have. Berries are the most amazing. But I also like apples, mangoes, stone fruit (like peaches and nectarines), citrus fruits, and more!
- Beans & lentils: Amazing sources of protein and other nutrients without too many calories, and also really cheap! Lentils are my favorite, but I also eat lots of black beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas) and edamame. Red beans, pinto beans, white beans, split peas are all fantastic. Hummus is made from garbanzo beans (with tahini, garlic, lemon juice and spices) and is great.
- Healthy fats: These are higher in calories, so you need to add them in moderation, but also really good for you. Nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashew) and nut butters (almond butter, peanut butter), coconut milk or coconut meat, tahini (sesame butter), avocados, flaxseeds, fish (or vegan omega-3 supplements). Olive oil, canola oil, coconut oil are great to cook with. Again, lots of nutrients but lots of calories, so use but in moderation.
- Beverages: Water is king. Black coffee (or with a bit of creamer) is good, tea is amazing, a bit of red wine. Green juice is pretty healthy, but don’t overdo it (includes fruit juice, which has sugar without some of the good stuff in fruits).
- Spices: Lots of pepper, hot peppers or hot sauces, mustard, Korean barbecue sauce (gochujang, etc.), sriracha sauce, vinegar, balsamic vinaigrette dressings are all great â€” lots of flavor without too much calories. These make things flavorful and delicious without a lot of calories.
- Other proteins: I don’t know much about meats, fishes and eggs … but as a vegan I like tofu, tempeh and seitan. Fish is super healthy, from what I understand.
Foods to Eat Less Of
Some foods that I recommend you reduce â€” they have a lot of calories without a lot of nutrients:
- White flour of all kinds â€” breads, pastries, bagels, donuts, pastas, cereals
- White rice
- Fried foods
- Processed meats
- Processed and prepared foods of all kinds
We’re not aiming for perfection â€” you can eat these foods, but just lower the amounts, and eat more of the stuff in the section above.
Some Meals to Consider
- Salads: Big salads with lots of greens and colorful veggies, with beans, nuts, avocados and a vinaigrette are incredible.
- Bowls: This is simple but healthy: a whole grain like brown rice or quinoa, a protein like baked tempeh or beans, some veggies, and a bit of sauce of your choice. I like gratefulÂ sauce.
- Stir-fries: I take olive or canola oil, saute some onions and/or garlic, then throw down tempeh, tofu or seitan (or the protein of your choice) … green veggies (kale, broccoli, bok choy), mushrooms, other veggies, and add spices or a sauce. Yum. Or I’ll do a tofu scramble, which is similar.
- Soups: My favorite is lentil soup, but you can make all kinds of soups and includeÂ great amounts of veggies. Add a salad and it’s a wonderful meal.