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Why I No Longer Search for Substitutes When Eating Plant-Based

By Published July 16, 2021


Sharing my whole food, plant-based journey and what I am doing on a weekly basis that is making the lifestyle work for me.

Simple and green Christmas table setting idea using dark wood paper as a table cloth.

When I first started eating whole food, plant-based, I spend a good deal of time trying to find recipes that would substitute or replace meat, eggs and dairy – like veggie burgers, flax eggs and tofu.

I made plant-based lasagna and all kinds of whole food, plant-based casseroles. They all tasted fine and some very good that I still make, but over time, I am finding I prefer to eat simpler. Maybe it has to do with becoming more familiar and liking the flavors of a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.

For my birthday, I bought myself a vegan cookbook called, Vegan Boards. The cover and layout of the book really got my attention as I like eating a little bit of everything for meals. To eat the rainbow and not get too caught up in finding substitutes for the food I used to eat.

Vegan Boards
Photo: Vegan Boards

Instead of finding substitutes for a standard diet, I have begun to re-think what a delicious meal for me looks like.

  • Does it have to be something made from a recipe, like a casserole? Does it have to have tofu or tempeh to be worthy of a whole food, plant based meal?
  • Why can’t it be a bowlful of cooked grains, veggies and a piece of crusty whole wheat sourdough bread or an entire meal eaten from a board full of fresh whole foods in interesting colors, flavors, textures, and aromas. Little or no cooking needed, just prep work.

I find I like eating this way.

I also found that keeping an open mind and experimenting with flavors or taking a part of one recipe and adding it to another when I think the two will taste perfect together. I have become bolder in what I do and am no longer sticking to a written recipe 100%.

When I do this, I am often surprised at how well some things taste together.

For instance, when I used leftover Artichoke & Spinach Stuffing I had for dinner one night this week and added it to a baked potato the following night, the stuffing tasted even better on the potato than it did on the mushroom. If I didn’t experiment or try ingredient options, I think cooking could become boring.

So now when I use the word “substituting” when making a recipe, it is no longer to find a substitute for say chicken in a recipe. It is more about replacing an ingredient I don’t like with one that I do.

WFPB TIP: When planning what you are going to eat every week, take a step back and ask yourself, what does a delicious meal looks like for you.

For Ed is would be a steak, lobster, asparagus and mashed potatoes. For me it is soup, a salad and crusty whole-wheat bread.

If it is a multi-course dinner for you, than that is what you need to eat. If it is soup and a sandwich, then start looking for sandwich and soup recipes.

Forget the notion of what a breakfast, lunch, or dinner meal traditionally looks like and eat in a more natural way, both in the source of where the food came from and what feels more natural for you to eat.

Books I Am Currently Reading

Plant based books and cookbooks I am reading

Vegan Boards – By Kate Kasbee

I bought this as a birthday gift from me to me. 🙂 I like that at a glance, I get ideas on how to arrange whole, plant-based foods in pretty ways to eat, not just for entertaining, but to make into a meal.

How Not To Diet Cookbook – By Michael Greger, M.D.

I have had this book for a while and have gone through it once. I tabbed the recipes I want to try. I made Artichoke Stuffed Spinach from the book this week. I am sharing the recipe below.

We Are What We Eat – By Alice Waters

I read about this book in a book review and decided it was worth a look. I borrowed it from my local library. It is a short book that I just started. It lays out a convincing case for changing the way we eat and makes one realize that we take food for granted in so many ways.

What I Have Been Eating For Dinner This Week

Over the last year, I have amassed quite a plant based recipe collection that I add to every week. I also purge the recipes I tried and didn’t like as well as scour whole food, plant based cookbooks and websites to find recipes to try, mix and match to create food that tastes great.

And as I mentioned above. I find I prefer to eat bowl creations and boards of fresh veggies, fruit and nuts for meals, especially now that it is summer and I don’t want to turn the oven on.

This week I made two Portabello mushroom recipes where I did have to turn my oven on, but it was worth it, as both recipes were good.

There were 4 mushrooms in the package I bought. Since it is only Ed and I, we had enough for two dinners. I didn’t make the same recipe the second night though.

  • Artichoke and Spinach Stuffed Portobellos recipe is below.

And one more thing…

The Joy of Eating Outdoors – Food Tastes Better Outside

Having fun with kids on a budget

Here in SC, it has not been a terribly hot summer so far. I am loving that I can eat outside and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine most days.

There is an abundance of wonderful seasonal fruits and veggies at the farmers market and supermarket. No wonder July is picnic month!

Food tastes better outside – if the weather permits, try eating at least one meal a day outside. I promise it will taste better when eaten outdoors.

Artichoke & Spinach Stuffed Portobello Recipe

Artichoke & Spinach Stuffed Portobellos

If you like artichoke dip, you will surely like this healthier and flavorful version that is stuffed into meaty portobello mushrooms.If the portobellos are large, one is usually enough for a meal. If they are smaller than a hamburger, you may want to make two per person.

Prep Time10 mins

Cook Time25 mins

Total Time35 mins

Course: Dinner, Main Course, WFPB, Whole Food Plant Based

Keyword: Mushrooms, Portobello Mushrooms,, Stuffed Mushrooms, Vegan dinners

Calories: 467kcal

  • 10 ounces spinach fresh or frozen, lightly steamed and cooled
  • 1 cup white beans canned, salt-free – drained and rinsed
  • 2 tbsp scallion minced
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp white miso paste
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 14 oz. can artichoke hearts drained or a 10 ounce pkg. of frozen artichokes, cooked and drained.
  • 4 large portobello mushrooms stems removed
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • Optional hot sauce to taste
  • Squeeze the excess moisture from the cooled spinach and wet aside.

  • In a food processor, combine the white beans, scallion, and garlic and pulse until finely minced. Add the nutritional yeast, lemon juice, miso paste, and black pepper and process until smooth and well blended. Add the artichokes and pulse until they are chopped. Add the spinach and pulse to combine. Set aside.

  • Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking pan with a silicone mat or parchment paper.

  • Arrange the mushroom caps, stem side down, on the prepared pan. Whisk together the apple cider vinegar, onion powder, and black pepper in a small bowl and brush it on the mushrooms. Bake for 10 minutes to slightly soften the portobellos. Remove the pan from the oven and set aside until the mushrooms are cool enough to handle. Gently flip the mushrooms and stuff them with the filling. Return the an to the oven and bake the stuffed mushrooms for 15 minutes, or until hot throughout.

  • Remove the pan from the oven and serve the stuffed mushroom immediately. If you like food with some heat, add a sprinkle or two over the cooked mushroom.

Serving: 4 | Calories: 467kcal | Carbohydrates: 78g | Protein: 41g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 311mg | Potassium: 4201mg | Fiber: 26g | Sugar: 11g | Calcium: 477mg

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