Feel like you rely too much on pizza? Trying to cut down on your red meat? I'm ALL for all of that. But it'll never last if you don't start by adding healthy go-to meals into your weekly rotation that you can rely on quickly and easily. Get a handful of plant-based meals under your belt, practice them a few times and get comfortable making them. "Replacing" those nutritionally void meals should happen gradually and naturally as you get better at making plant based meals.
One of the easiest and most versatile plant-based meals to master is this: make a Power Salad for dinner and experiment with delicious things to put on top. Make the base of the salad out of dark, leafy greens, and then look to the toppings for variety, yumminess, and sustained energy. I'll give a full example at the bottom.
What can you put on top of a power salad? Freaking ANYTHING. Here's one of my current favorites: roasted sweet potato and a delicata squash.
Roasted Sweet Potato and Delicata Squash - good as a Power Salad topping or as a side dish
1 Medium-Large Sweet Potato
1 Delicata Squash
1-2 Tbsp Coconut Oil
1 tsp Celtic Sea Salt
1 tsp favorite herbs (Rosemary, Thyme, etc.)
1. Preheat the oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet (preferably one with sides) using aluminum foil.
2.Wash and scrub the squash and peel the sweet potato. Delicata squash has a tender enough skin that you can leave it on and eat it, but if you get some other variety of squash, you'll probably have to peel it.
3. Scrape the seeds and pulp out of the squash with a spoon. Cut it in half and cut the halves into slices. Cube the sweet potato.
4. Coat the pieces in the coconut oil. Coconut oil is extremely stable at high temperatures, unlike most healthy oils, which get rancid when they get hot. It's solid at room temperature though, like butter, so melt it in a pot, then just dump in your squash and sweet potato pieces into the pot and mix it all up with a big spoon to coat the pieces in the oil.
5. Dump the oil-coated pieces out onto the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle on the herbs and Celtic Sea Salt (which provides you with trace minerals instead of leaching the ones you have), and bake for 25-30 minutes, flipping the squash every 5-10 minutes with a spatula. You can just flip the sweet potato once, halfway through baking. Both should be crisp on the outside and creamy on the inside when fully cooked. Add pepper and/or more celtic sea salt to taste.
Serving Suggestion: Make a big salad with a base of dark, leafy greens like spinach, kale, or chard, add more veg, protein-rich grains, and/or nutrient-dense dressing, and top with the roasted sweet potato and squash.
This power salad contains: Baby spinach (the prewashed kind), celery, carrots, Bubbies raw pickles, quinoa (boiled on the stove for 10-15 minutes), the aforementioned roasted sweet potato and squash, and a dressing made from blendered lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, nutritional yeast, raw garlic, miso paste, dried parsley and thyme, avocado, salt, and pepper.
I'm currently working on a post about dressings, as well as one about the upside of a power salad vs. any other vegetable-centric main dish. Stay tuned, kids.