Plant Based Family Meals

During this past week was Rare Disease Day. I had no idea I actually fit into that group, but apparently one of my autoimmune issues is considered a rare disease. I am glad it was caught when in search of another autoimmune issue, and I have been learning about it for the past two years.

What I’ve learned recently through my plant based focused nutrition is that I feel a thousand times better. Forgetting macros and protein counts, focusing on higher carbs and plants has been a world of difference. My body seems to function so much better.

I decided to do some research through PubMed and the health science databases I have access to through my higher academic work and learned there is a strong correlation between plant based diets and remission of my autoimmune conditions. Wish I would’ve done a deeper dive into research on that two years ago!

Having had worked with a nutritionist to lose weight at the end of 2019-early 2020, I ended up just feeling like garbage for awhile, not losing more than 10lbs and being run down. I thought maybe it was the pandemic, but once I decided to diverge from their plan, I felt nervous, but it works so much better. Their focus was high animal protein, low carb, moderate fat for crossfit type athletes. I wanted to be lean, but I want to run long even more. I’ve let go of the six pack abs ideal (never really a reality, ha) and instead want to feel energized for my workouts.

In the past 3 weeks, I’ve gone from weekly mileage around 2 miles to 20+ miles. I’ve gone from working out 3 days per week, to a solid 5-6 days and some double workout days. Ah-mazing. And other than my calf/tendon issue, my whole body feels great.

My family has been eating more plant based, mainly because I do the food shopping and cooking. Also, Chris has been on board with cooking more plant based meals, as we may have to limit dairy in our home soon anyway. Since I’ve stopped buying regular milk, we all drink oat milk, and cheese there have been a lot less bathroom issues in our house, hehe. We still do have it when we order takeout, but that’s only around once per week.

While I prefer straight up veggie burgers, my kids and hubs still like the meaty flavor. This week we made Beyond Meatballs which taste just like the real thing and are gluten-free. Wahoo! Chris made a delicious homemade pasta sauce, added the meatballs, and then we cooked our two types of spaghetti (regular & brown rice). This delicious meal was a winner all around. I need more than 12 meatballs in a package.

Beyond meatless meatballs and pasta.

My family LOVES tacos. Especially the kids. I think they enjoy building their own plates of taco “meat” and toppings. Last summer, I experimented with chickpea tacos and lentil tacos. The liked the chickpeas, but they love the Gardein beefless ground even better. I make the taco meat just like normal, and then we either have flour tortillas or corn tortillas. This week, Monkey asked to make “nachos” so I made a blender cheeze sauce and piled it all up.

Beefless ground tacos with cheeze sauce and salsa.

At first, when everyone would say they loved a meal I made, I would hesitate to tell them “It wasn’t real beef.” Now, they all know the tricks up my sleeve and don’t even seem fazed by it. When you think about beef or chicken, what makes the flavor is the seasoning. This is no different. The seasonings make all the difference in flavor.

We haven’t tried the Impossible or Beyond ground beef yet, but I have had the Beyond Burgers which are pretty good. I have found though I still love my Wegmans Garden Veggie burgers the best. However they are seasoned, they are just delicious.

The best thing about looking for gluten-free items is that many more are now being made vegan. I cannot consume eggs without terrible pain, so I’ve always had to search out egg-free gluten-free items. Now, so many more companies are on board and make feeding a family a delicious healthy meal just that much easier.

My family still eats meat and loves it, and I don’t begrudge them. I am happier though myself sticking with my new options and playing test kitchen in my own home. When haven’t I played test kitchen all these years?

I have found that the costs are a bit lower for our meals, despite the higher meatless protein prices per pound. The per pound prices are similar to the organic chicken and grassfed beef I used to buy, but since we consume less of them it seems less expensive overall. Beans are such a great bargain, I can’t believe I cut those out for many years!

What is your favorite plant based family meal?