Plant-Based Lunch Ideas - Chef Abbie Gellman MS, RD, CDN

Plant-Based Lunch Ideas

Chef Abbie Gellman RD

Plant-Based Lunch Ideas

Plant-based meals seem to be topping the lists for recipe recommendations these days, and for good reason. They come with benefits to our health and our environment! If you want to reap these benefits too, try some of my favorite plant-based lunch ideas below.

Why is Plant-Based So Popular?

Researchers have found that plant-based diets can help to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.1 It’s hypothesized that there are a few different ways this occurs. A plant-based diet is going to increase your intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes, all of which are high in fiber and phytochemicals called polyphenols. Fiber intake has been found to decrease LDL cholesterol and decrease energy intake by increasing satiety.1 Polyphenols are also beneficial to heart health because they act as antioxidants, which can help to keep our vascular system healthy.1 All the more reason to start collecting more plant-based lunch recipes! 

Don’t Forget About the Environment 

Plant-based eating is great for our bodies, but there are also some other, less commonly discussed benefits to eating a plant-based diet. Many studies have been done to investigate the impact of different diets on the environment and it has been found that diets higher in plant-based foods are associated with less impact on the environment.2 Specific benefits include lower greenhouse gas emissions and less land use when consuming plant-based diets.2 Another reason to up the fruit and veggie intake!

Easy Plant-Based Swaps

If you’re worried that you’re going to have to give up all meat and animal products to reap these benefits, don’t worry, you don’t! Plant based eating really just means making the main focus of your meal based on plant foods, with smaller amounts of animal products. Plus, there’s lots of easy plant-based swaps out there. Tofu, lentils, and beans make for excellent meat replacements since they are high in protein and have a meaty texture.

Plant-Based Cooking Tips

  • Explore new foods—try a new vegetable or grain and have fun learning what you like!
  • Add extra flavor with fresh herbs and spices. If you’re used to very flavorful food, make sure to take advantage of fresh herbs, chili peppers and citrus juice to make your plant-based meals extra flavorful!
  • Try your favorite animal-based recipes, with plant-based foods instead. Swap out ground beef for crumbled tofu and seasoning for a plant-based taco filling. Or up the plants on burger night by making black bean or lentil burgers! 

Plant-Based Lunch Recipes

Spinach Quinoa Salad—This sweet and savory salad can easily be packed the night before, if taking lunch to work or school! Just make sure to pack dressing separately, to ensure the spinach doesn’t get soggy.

Chickpea Masala—A veggie twist on the more classic chicken masala, this dish is comforting and healthy. Have it for dinner and save leftovers for an easy and delicious lunch.

Buffalo Cauliflower Bites—Who doesn’t love buffalo flavored anything?! Make these for a fun and healthier weekend lunch that the kids and adults will love.

References

  1. Satija A, Hu FB. Plant-based diets and cardiovascular health. Trends in Cardiovascular Medicine. 2018;28(7):437-441. doi:10.1016/j.tcm.2018.02.004.
  2. Nelson ME, Hamm MW, Hu FB, Abrams SA, Griffin TS. Alignment of Healthy Dietary Patterns and Environmental Sustainability: A Systematic Review. Advances in Nutrition: An International Review Journal. 2016;7(6):1005-1025. doi:10.3945/an.116.012567.

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