The renewed Plant Based diet trend has gained immense popularity over the years which has also allowed positive globalisation to occur.
Several scientists and Gut health doctors, nutritionists and food bloggers, have shared their unambiguous beliefs on the positive impacts of a Plant Based Diet through social media platforms. As a result, I have been doing my research and trying out different recipe ideas and I want to share several, culturally wide-ranging, plant based recipes I have explored and tested for this article.
To begin with, What is a Plant Based Diet healthy diet?
Plant Based Diet consists of food sourced from plants including vegetables, fruits, naturally sourced nuts, oils, whole-grains and legumes, beans or seeds which are elementally low in saturated fat but rich in healthy often heart friendly fats and also a great source of fibre.
Studies have indicated that a healthy plant based diet can reduce the risk of heart diseases, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers compared to a high meat non-vegetarian diet, as also acknowledged by MD, Robert H. Shmerling, Senior Faculty Editor at Harvard Health Publishing.
My journey of nutritional diet exploration began when I first started facing physical and mental health issues due to my unpredictably troublesome stomach at the age of 14. My mother took me to several doctors from Ayurvedic, homeopathic to Allopathy.
The complete transformation to a plant based diet began when I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (Constipation) (IBS-C), a condition causing discomfort in the digestive system, including bloating, abdominal pain, constipation and very rarely, rectal bleeding.
According to NHS, IBS-C cause is linked to “food passing through the gut too slowly,”
“over sensitive nerves in the gut,” “stress,” and a genetical “family history of IBS.” Unfortunately, IBS is not curable but it’s symptoms can be controlled. In my case of IBS-Constipation, I was asked by my doctor to exercise regularly and consume highly soluble food, also rich in fibre as well as to eat home cooked meals made from scratch with fresh ingredients.
I researched more about it and learnt that the most fibrous food is vegetables, fruits and healthy carbs like a brown rice, whole meal flour and a lot more. I cut down on my daily consumption of dairy products to reduce bloating which also caused severe acne.
I began HIIT and Cardio workouts on the Nike Training Mobile Application. Furthermore, I stopped eating the dominating form of poultry in my ordinary diet, Chicken, and also switched to Brown Rice instead of White, and observed an irrefutable change that significantly impacted both my physical and mental health in a remarkably positive way.
To be honest, learning about the Plant Based approach in my diet routine to control IBS related symptoms was initially, quite bewildering considering that I was mostly consuming vegetarian food. Which led me to another question, whether Plant Based Diet is the same as Veganism?
It created a distressing web of baffling diet labels. I questioned my self everyday and even thought about going on a Keto-diet which is primarily low sugar and low calorie food but it was too restrictive. Most healthy Keto recipes I came across involved cooking Chicken and Eggs which personally worsened my Bloating, Gas and, Constipation symptoms.
One day, alas! I finally came across a majority plant-based, vegetarian and vegan food blog account on Instagram, Minimalist Baker founded by Dana Shultz in 2012. Some of her recipes are not only delicious and nutritious but they also explain the benefits of each and every ingredient that enters the dish.
Urban Kapital Magazine has a new home!
Click the cover to visit the new website
One of her features on Plant Based recipes helped me differentiate the difference between the three diets. Firstly, a vegetarian diet excludes all kinds of meat, poultry, seafood or fish but includes eggs and regular dairy.
Secondly, Veganism excludes meat, poultry, seafood fish and also excludes eggs and dairy products. Plant-Based food is similar in description to Veganism but a healthier version of it is centred around wholegrains, plants, fruits. For instance, a Public Figure and Gut Doctor, Will Bulseiwicz MD MSCI (Dr B) emphasised the significance of diverse Plant based foods in his book, Fibre Fueled while sharing his own story of life changing Plant-Based Diet.
He said, “There’s so much to love about eating plants. They’re nutrient dense and calorie poor, the ideal weight loss combination. They have vitamins, minerals, antioxidant compounds called poly phenols, and unique medicinal chemicals only found in plant food called phytonutrients,” and further emphases, “there’s one particular part of the plant that absolutely stole my heart—FIBER”
He also explored gut friendly and nutritionally rich plant based ethnic foods including “Indian, Thai, Vietnamese and Ethiopian.” Dr Bulseiwicz further emphasised, “Fibre is the heart and soul of true gut healing, and true gut healing leads to better health in everything from your cardiovascular system to your brain health to your hormonal health. It’s really that powerful.”
Personally, Plant-Based transformed my life from an all day mentally anxious and stressful one to a cheerful and anxiety free life. The determination to change my lifestyle was inspired by @theguthealthmd.
The only issue I continue to face even today is that, I cannot eat plant based food at restaurants because it’s heavily processed to make it feel and taste like “chicken” when fresh plants themselves can be very delicious if cooked with the right mediums and paired with complements fruits and vegetables.
Therefore, here are some culturally wide-ranging recipes to help you get started with delicious and yet healthy and gut friendly recipes.
My Go To Breakfast Chia Seeds Bowl
Soak chia seeds overnight in oat milk or two hours before consumption, in the refrigerator.
At the hour of consumption, chop fresh bananas, blueberries, strawberries, kiwis or any other fruit of your preference.
Also add, sunflower-seeds, watermelon-seeds, flaxseeds, crushed almonds and walnuts or desiccated coconut. Usually I eat almonds I premix in organic honey in a glass jar and eat it separately with my Filter coffee half an hour before workout.
Indianised Chickpeas Salad
It’s essential to note that, Chickpeas should be soaked overnight, a minimum of 6 hours but 8 hours for best results.
Step 1, Soak your chickpeas the night before.
Next step would be to simply, boil the chickpeas in salted water.
Post boiling, drain the water from the boiled chickpeas and leave it out to cool for 15 to 30 minutes depending on the climatic season.
While the chickpeas cool down, begin chopping the salad which includes tomatoes, onion, cucumber and lettuce. Sometimes, I also add unsalted, plain peanuts. For two cups of chickpeas, I usually chop half an onion or a small sized whole onion, 5 small salad tomatoes, 1 long cucumber and two teaspoons of peanuts.
Mix the chickpeas and the salad together.
The next part is also very significant which demands flavouring, so get your spices ready. I keep it simple, just salt and ground pepper according to taste and then I squeeze a whole lime into the salad mixture. However, you can add a half a teaspoon of Kashmiri Deggi Mirch (Chilli Powder) for a spice kick and add a teaspoon of Chana Chaat Masala for a complete Indian version.
This recipe does not require you to add oils like Extra Virgin oil, however for a Mediterranean taste, add extra virgin oil, salt, pepper and oregano with lemon juice. Serve it with Smokey Wholemeal or Rye crackers for afternoon tea or salad or even an appetiser for Lunch or Dinner.
Plant Based Healthy Jajangmyeon with a personal twist-
Traditionally Jajangmyeon is Korean noodles topped with Black Bean Sauce. For the black bean sauce, make sure to soak black beans for 2-3 hours or overnight. For the noodles, I used organic Buckwheat noodles instead of the go to Udon noodles for a healthier version.
To begin with, firstly, boil your Buckwheat noodles and then begin making the black bean sauce with the pre-soaked black beans by boiling then first in salt water.
For a simpler version, you will need minced garlic and ginger, finely chopped green onions, light soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of brown sugar and 1 and a half teaspoon of corn starch and a teaspoon of nutritional yeast too. I also add organic vegetable broth cubes sometimes.
Start by mashing the boiled beans. In another pan, add the minced garlic and ginger in olive oil and stir for a 2 minutes, followed by the addition of spring onions then a minute later, add the mashed beans and stir it.
Then add brown sugar, soy sauce and nutritional yeast. Cook the black beans mixture until the water content has evaporated. Lastly add the cornstarch and stir it for a few minutes, and put it aside until it cools.
You will also need to cook vegetables for the noodles separately, a medium sized white Onion, 8 ounces of button mushroom, a handful of cabbage, 1 courgette, and 2 organic celery stalks. Chop all the vegetables and start sautéing the onions in Olive Oil in a large wok or a large pan.
When the onion turn golden brown, add the chopped mushrooms and sauté for a 5-10 minutes until the water generated from the mushrooms has evaporated. Further add chopped courgette, celery, cabbage and stir the mixture well for a 2 minutes, and then let it rest over medium heat for 5 minutes, then stir again for 2 minutes.
Now, add the black bean paste, stir it well into the vegetable mixture for for 5 minutes, after which add water for some consistency and stir it for a minute and lastly, cover the pan with a lid and let it simmer for 10 to 15mins on low heat until the sauce consistency is not too dry and not to runny.
Once the sauce consistency is achieved, mix the cornstarch into it and stir it well until the sauce is slightly thicker. Your sauce is ready to go, simply top your buckwheat noodles with the black bean homemade sauce. Also chop fresh cucumber and decorate your noodles with it.
The Plant Based form of Korean Jajangmyeon also rich in protein and vitamins is ready to be devoured.
Vegetable Quinoa with Punjabi Yellow Dal Tadka- It’s a very quick efficient recipe.
Firstly, soak your a cup of quinoa in warm water for an hour.
Wash it thoroughly post soaking time and then boil it in salt water. On the other hand, you will need a cup of Moong Dal (Lentil) and half a cup of Toor Dal (Lentil). Wash the Dal together In a bowl thoroughly and rinse it well.
You can soak the lentils for half an hour as it decreases cooking time. However, it’s optional to soak especially if you have a pressure cooker. I cook my dal in an old fashion- non timed stainless steel cooker.
The lentils can be open cooked in a big pan as well but it takes an hour minimum to be fully cooked. After washing and soaking your lentils, chop 2 big tomatoes or 3 small tomatoes; 2 rocket green chillies; finely chop 3 cloves of garlic and grate a teaspoon of ginger.
Now, transfer the lentils to a pressure cooker or pan and add all the chopped ingredients along with a teaspoon and a half of Turmeric and salt according to taste. Pressure cook it on medium heat or open boil it on high heat until the Lentils are cooked and completely dissolved in water.
Time for the dal Tadka which requires, 2 tablespoon Ghee for a vegetarian version or Organic Olive Oil/Organic Rapseed Oil; 1 and half tablespoons Cumin seeds, 2 small finely chopped red onions; 2 teaspoons Chilli Powder; 1 tablespoon coriander powder; 1 teaspoon pepper and half teaspoon cinnamon powder. Firstly, heat the oil in a small pan on low flame or medium on induction for 2 minutes, then add cumin and leave it in for 30 seconds to flavour the base.
Add the chopped onions and stir it until they are golden brown. Add the spices and stir it for minute and leave the Tadka on low flame for another minute. When the Tadka is ready, add to the boiled Lentil in the cooker and open cook it for 5 minutes until you see it boil. Season your Lentil bowl with fresh coriander and Ghee (if vegetarian).
For the Quinoa, simple stir fry your favourite vegetables separately in a pan or steam them if you like. I usually stir fry Broccoli, carrots, beans, green pepper and a hand full of spinach in olive oil with salt and pepper. I also chop cucumber on the side and add it to natural yoghurt with salt, pepper and chopped mint leaves.
You have a wholesome healthy meal ready within an hour full of vitamins, proteins and nutritious low calorie carbohydrates that also aids your metabolism especially if you have IBS-C like me.
Grilled Jamaican Jerk Watermelon-
We will begin with the Jerk seasoning first which has been inspired by healthiersteps.com and @Minimalistbaker Instagram blog.
Simply blend all the ingredients in the food blender which are, 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves; 2 teaspoons fresh coriander; 1 tablespoon of pre-made vegan jerk seasoning (optional); 1 teaspoon chilli powder, 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice; sea salt and pepper according to taste or add a tablespoon of soy sauce in place of salt; 1 tablespoon coconut sugar and 1 tablespoon olive oil and lastly; add 2 small stalks of green onion and blend. Next step would be to chop the watermelon with its skin on so it’s easier to grill. Add the Jerk seasoning to the chopped pieces of watermelon, you can let it rest for 15 to 30 minutes (optional) or grill it right away for Jamaican Plant based food haven.
Plant Based Culturally rich Charcuterie-
All you need is freshly made hummus; Indian Green Chutney; vegan Parmesan cheese; vegan cheddar cheese; guacamole; lots of fruits and vegan fair trade dark chocolate; and also seasoned olives with sun dried tomatoes.
All my recipes for the Plant based dips and sauces are inspired by @Minimalistbaker and @Alphafoodie food blogs on Instagram. I simply decorate the platter with fruits, cheeses and edible raw veggies like pepper and also cucumber and of course rye and oat crackers in Smokey flavours and plain too.
This charcuterie is suitable for those who don’t drink alcohol as well. You can have home made lemonade or iced teas insteadl. Red wines usually consumed with Barbeque will pair well with the charcuterie board.