Whether you're a soon-to-be, newbie, or experienced vegan, most of us get bored with what we eat from time to time. That's because most of us typically eat the same 7 to 9 meals each week. We lead busy lives, so we tend to rely on tried-and-true meals that make weekday cooking easier.
But whenever we get the urge to try something different, that's always a good thing. Why? Because the more variety of plant-based foods you eat, the healthier you'll be.
Different fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and nuts have their own distinct and abundant set of nutrients, so eating a variety of these foods helps ensure you're getting optimal nutrition.
So here are 4 easy ways to add variety to your weekday meals, while still keeping your cooking time quick and simple.
1) Eat the Rainbow
One of the easiest ways to add variety to your meals is to be sure you have at least 3 different colors of plant-based foods on your plate at each meal.
The colors of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and nuts indicate their vast array of health-promoting properties--everything from improving vision to reducing cancer risk to strengthening the immune system.
Here are some examples:
Red: Red pepper, tomatoes, grapefruit, radishes, kidney beans, red rice, red quinoa, cranberries, cherries, grapes, apples, watermelon, grapefruit
Green: Kale, collards, broccoli, green beans, lentils, edamame, kiwi, lime, avocado, honeydew, apples, grapes, pistachios, pumpkin seeds
Yellow and Orange: Corn, squash, pears, split peas, millet, sweet potatoes, carrots, pineapple, apricots, mangoes, peaches, cantaloupes
Purple and Blue: Eggplant, cabbage, potatoes, blackberries, blueberries, plums, raisins, grapes
Black and Brown: Black beans, black rice, brown rice, dates, pear, almonds, walnuts, pecans
White: Cauliflower, mushrooms, quinoa, pearl barley, banana, pears, peaches, cashews
So when you strive to have at least 3 different colors of plant-based foods on your plate, you'll automatically reach for a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and nuts on a regular basis.
2) Swap it Out
Be adventurous with your everyday meals by doing 1 or 2 simple swaps. For example, swap cauliflower or Brussels sprouts for broccoli. Swap swiss chard or beet greens for spinach. Swap barley or millet for rice. Swap whole grain pastas for white pasta. Swap cashews or chickpeas for tofu in stir-fries. And swap eggplant or zucchini for spinach in lasagna. The choices are limitless.
3) Spice it Up
Sometimes just changing the spices in your regular meals can transform them into entirely new dishes and take their flavor to new heights. Check out this article from One Green Planet on simple ways to make your own spice blends. Or try store-bought spice blends, including Cajun, Thai, Chinese 5-Spice, Ethiopian Berbere, and Indian Garam Masala.
4) Read the Recipes
Make a regular habit of leisurely checking out vegan recipe sites once or twice a month when you have some free time. Which websites should you search? I recommend getting started by searching the types of cuisine you like the most. For example, using our spice blends as examples, you can search for: vegan Cajun, Thai, Chinese, Ethiopian, and Indian foods. Other examples are vegan soul, Mexican, Italian, and raw foods. As you search, you'll start to see some recurring websites or those that you gravitate towards, and you can narrow your choices from there.
So there you have it, fam. Four easy ways to add variety to your everyday meals. Now I'd love to hear from you. How do you keep your weekday meals interesting? What suggestions can you share with our readers? Let us know in the comments below.