Plant Based Food from Real Foods

Following a plant based diet – FAQs

Have you decided on a new plant based lifestyle? Are you full of enthusiasm but not entirely sure where to start? Here’s the Real Foods guide to getting set to go plant based.

Where do I start and what do I cook?

Where can I shop?

Do you have to be vegetarian to follow a plant based diet?

Is a plant based diet good for you?

What’s the difference between a plant based diet and a vegan one?

What does a plant based diet consist of?

What are some examples of plant based foods?

What do I have in my plant based pantry?

What about protein?

Should I eat grains?

Should I eat nuts?

Which fats should I eat?

How do I add flavour?

Anything extra that I would want?

How about treats?

Any recipe suggestions?

 

Where do I start and what do I cook?

Many people considering adopting a more plant based diet simply don't know where to start. It's easier to make changes like this a bit at a time so we've included some guidance on where you can make changes to your everyday shopping. If you'd like to know what products to look for, we have also included a section further below showing the kinds of products to buy for a plant based diet.

You can find hundreds of recipes online, but if you are struggling for ideas for what to cook on your new plant based diet journey, we’ve chosen a few of our favourite recipes to give you some ideas for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Dessert, along with other healthy snack choices.

 

 

MONDAY

Breakfast

Overnight Oat and Chia Porridge Recipe thumbnail image

Overnight Oat and Chia Porridge Recipe

Summary: Try this creamy no-cook overnight chia seeds and oat porridge for a healthy start to your day. Oats are a great source of beta-glucans, which are known to decrease blood cholesterol and reduce the ris ... View recipe

Snack

Raw Orange And Carrot Energy Balls Recipe thumbnail image

Raw Orange And Carrot Energy Balls Recipe

Summary: Raw energy balls are a very popular snack, generally made from processing nuts or seeds with dried fruits, herbs, spices, superfoods, and then shaping the mixture into balls or flattening them into en ... View recipe

Lunch

Leek, Carrot and Feta Savoury Cake Recipe thumbnail image

Leek, Carrot and Feta Savoury Cake Recipe

Summary: This Leek, Carrot and Feta Savoury Cake is a delicious alternative to the more traditional sweet carrot cake. Perfect as the centrepiece for an Easter lunch gathering, or a quick lunch served with a ... View recipe

Dinner

Whole Roasted Spiced Cauliflower Recipe thumbnail image

Whole Roasted Spiced Cauliflower Recipe

Summary: This Whole Roasted Spiced Cauliflower might just be the ultimate Christmas Dinner or Sunday Lunch : It is plant based, gluten free, grain-free, nut-free, it is unusual, yet a true crowd-pleaser that t ... View recipe

Dessert

Healthy Low Fat Mixed Berries Frozen Yoghurt Recipe thumbnail image

Healthy Low Fat Mixed Berries Frozen Yoghurt Recipe

Summary: Frozen Yoghurt or Yogurt is the ultimate low fat, healthy summer dessert, easy to make and a great alternative to less healthy ice cream. Sure to please everyone, although requiring minimal effort from ... View recipe

 

There are plenty of recipes to choose from and enough below to get you through a full week with something different every day.

Do you have to be vegetarian to follow a plant based diet?

No. It depends on the individual the exact breakdown of the diet, some people like to have some lean meat or fish in their plant based diet, other people prefer to be vegetarian or vegan. If you’re eating small amounts of dairy products, fish, chicken and red meat once or twice a month, you’re effectively eating the Mediterranean diet – a plant based diet!

vegetables a big part of a plant based menu

Is a plant based diet good for you?

Yes. Multiple studies show that diets based around wholefoods and plant based foods are healthy. Plant based diets are cost-effective, low-risk interventions that may lower body mass index, blood pressure, HbA1C, and cholesterol levels. They may also reduce the number of medications needed to treat chronic diseases and lower ischemic heart disease mortality rates. “Plant based diets are recommended to all patients, especially those with high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or obesity.” From The Permanente Journal. Retrieved NIH 19.09.17

What’s the difference between a plant based diet and a vegan one?

Vegans aim to exclude all animal products from their diets and their lives. A person following a plant based diet may very well still wear leather or use beauty products tested on animals, a vegan would not. If all a vegan ate one day was chips and cake, as long as the cake used an egg substitute and no dairy and the chips were fried in vegetable oil, that diet is still vegan, however, it would not be defined as plant based.

What does a plant based diet consist of?

It’s based on plants. That means fruit, vegetables, tubers (roots), pulses, grains, nuts and seeds. It focuses on wholefoods and minimal processing. So, for example, while French fries are made from a plant, they are NOT a plant based food, retaining very little of the original plant - the potato. Whereas a baked potato would still be plant based. It is about maximising your nutrient intake from natural sources and avoiding nutrient-poor processed foods.

salads made up of raw vegetables are great to add to your plant based menus

What are some examples of plant based foods?

Fruit, vegetables, pulses, grains, nuts and seeds are at the basis of a plant based diet. Fruit and vegetables can be fresh, frozen, tinned or dried goods (although preferably not sweetened or additionally processed where possible). Pulses and grains include staples such lentils, peas, beans, wheat and oats, along with newly popular ones like quinoa, canihua and cacao. That’s right, cacao IS a plant, and it’s the processes that turn it into delicious chocolate!

What do I have in my plant based pantry?

Avoiding animal products and moving towards a plant based diet is simple and will leave you feeling healthy and full of energy. But only if you do it right. Getting your kitchen cupboards stocked is key. While drinking protein drinks and overdosing on chickpeas isn’t essential, you need to be aware of your macros as a plant based newbie.

The key to success is to stock up with quick snacks and core ingredients that can up your protein intake when you are feeling peckish, plus those clever ingredients that can add flavour to your cooking without the need for meat stock.

Of course, your store cupboard is just the first step. Going to the plant-side also means embracing fresh, seasonal fruit and vegetables that will keep your diet varied and fibre-heavy. But first things first...

Protein power

Let’s start with the heavy stuff. Humans need protein and many carnivores get the majority of theirs from meat products. That leads people to presume that if you don’t eat meat then you don’t get enough protein.  That has always been entirely untrue but even more so since the range of vegan and plant based products on the market has increased.

In basic terms, you need to aim for one gram of protein per kilogram of body weight. And that’s easy to achieve with a plant based diet when you think that in a buddha bowl you could get around 14g of protein from 100g quinoa, 20g from a serving of spiced chickpeas and 8g from some cubes of smoked tofu. For your average person, that’s half a day of protein in your lunch alone. Combining protein sources in this way also means that your plant based proteins are complete proteins.

So in a plant based cliché, you won’t go far wrong by starting your store cupboard stock up with a few cans of chickpeas. These Suma ones are ideal  and just 75p per tin so your protein per pence ratio is looking good when you compare it to animal-sourced protein too. Add in a tin of these Biona chilli black beans and you’ll be set to add a protein and chilli kick to soups, stews and any Mexican dishes that take your fancy.

While you’re loading up on legumes, lentils are another store cupboard essential. Real Foods stocks a variety of dried lentils in our refillable section so you can stock up whilst going plastic free too. The top three for your stock-up have to be puy lentils, red split lentils and green lentils (find them here). These are all easy to cook with, great for adding protein and provide a slow-release energy source. Buying dried lentils keeps things nice and simple as all of the lentils we stock at Real Foods just need rinsing and not soaking before you use them.

beans are a great way to add protein to your plant based diet

Going with the grain

Leaving the legumes, we go on to the grains. This includes anything made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley or any other cereal. Plant based eating means getting the most nutrients you can from your natural sources and so when it comes to grains, it pays to go wholemeal rather than turned to refined where fibre and iron have been removed.

Often overlooked, but an everyday essential and a power house in its own right is brown rice. This whole-grain beauty has a nutty flavour and is slightly chewier than white rice so it leaves you feeling satisfied and full. Perfect added to a salad, with a veggie curry or as part of your Buddha bowl.

Less well known, but just as good for you in Amaranth. It’s one of the best protein sources around and the earthy, nutty flavour can add depth to all sorts of dishes. Replacing rice for amaranth in your favourite risotto is one of our favourite ways to use this powerful grain.

Although often grouped with grains, our last store cupboard staple is buckwheat, which is strictly speaking a seed. It’s gluten-free and helps to lower blood sugar levels, plus it’s inexpensive and easy to use. Try using the groats to make a warming porridge with some stewed fruit and dates for sweetness. Just make sure you go for a sprouted grain so that you get all the goodness from them; these Sun and Seed organic sprouted buckwheat groats are ideal  Or grab some buckwheat flour for making healthier, grainy pancakes for sweet-toothed plant based eaters.

Grains add fibre and some great flavour to your plant based diet

That’s nuts

When it comes to plant based snacking, you can’t go wrong with nuts. Keeping some nuts to hand can help fill you up and get those macros up at the same time. Almonds are a must-have, they have a high protein content and they are great for your heart health as well. Macadamia are another great choice and often thought of as the super-nut. But they are high in calories too so around 2 ounces at a time is ideal. Nuts are another product that Real Foods stock loose, so simply take your pick and stock up.

While you’re stocking up on nuts, don’t forget the nut butter. We’re mad for the crunchy ones so this crunchy almond butter from Meridian is always top of our must-have list. And, when we fancy a treat, then this cashew based, Caramello cashew butter is the best Dulce de leche impersonator around.

Almonds an absolute must have for plant based snacking

Good fats

You’ve got a lot of your healthy fats ticked off with nuts and nut butters but you’ll need some pure plant based fats in your pantry too. Whether that’s extra virgin oil to unlock all that goodness in your salad or coconut oil for cooking. This olive oil from Biona looks great on the shelf and will keep you stocked up for some time 

And in our book, Cocofina’s cold-pressed coconut oil is another looker that does the job while adding a sophisticated look to your kitchen.

Flavour hit

Let all other ingredients bow to the flavour kings. Without them your journey to plant based eating could be rather bland. Adding a few of these to your plant based prep shop up will make all the difference. We have three main goals when it comes to flavour - creating depth with umami goodness, add dreamy plant based creaminess and a kick of spice.

Soy sauce gets you started with a pinch of flavour that is hard to beat. Bragg Liquid Aminos is derived from soybeans and so it’s the perfect all-natural way to go. It works on all Asian-inspired dishes but also adds an extra layer of flavour to gravies and sauces as well. Clearspring do a great umami paste that adds a great base taste to almost any savoury dish, and while you’re stocking up, go for some Clearspring miso paste also and double up your flavour kick.

Luckily plant based heat is easy-peasy. Some simple chilli flakes are a must but harissa is also a great way to go, Al'fez Moroccan harissa paste can be added to all sorts of dishes for heat and depth, and even simply used as a table condiment too. It’s true that cheesy flavour and creaminess used to take a little more time but thanks to fantastic new products like vegan chilli parmesan and EcoMil cashew cream you can have all the smooth creaminess you want.

delicious home cooked plant based meals

Handy extras

Every now and then you’ll need to thicken a sauce or stew and if you want to move away from flour and additives then some Agar flakes will become a handy staple. We rate these Clearspring ones, they are super easy to use and flavourless, so you can add to sweet or savoury dishes as needed.

You can’t go plant based without becoming clued up on Spirulina. This green superfood is the most nutrient dense food in the world. Having a tub of this powder on hand to add to smoothies is a great way to start your day right.

Naughty but nice

Going plant based doesn’t mean missing out on a treat. There’s lots of plant based crisps and chocolate out there and so a naughty cupboard can be still be fully stocked. Eat Real’s assortment of healthier crisps are the ideal starting point, like these creamy dill hummus ones.

Cutting back on the dairy means going for vegan chocolate to make sure you avoid animal products where possible. However, that doesn't mean you can't have creamy chocolate that uses alternatives to dairy milk.  These Hazelnut Vego bars are entirely vegan and super delicious

 

Vego-alternative-bar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the Rest of the Week:

 

 

TUESDAY

Breakfast

Red Bell Pepper And Feta Egg Muffins Recipe thumbnail image

Red Bell Pepper And Feta Egg Muffins Recipe

Summary: These are effectively omelettes baked in a muffin tray or individual silicon cupcake or muffin moulds instead of cooked in a frying pan on the hob. High quality protein, and rich in healthy fats and l ... View recipe

Snack

Gluten Free Cheese And Chilli Scones Recipe thumbnail image

Gluten Free Cheese And Chilli Scones Recipe

Summary: These classic savoury cheese scones with a kick from the chilli pepper are quick and easy to whip up. Instead of cheddar you could also use other hard cheeses such as parmesan or manchego for variety. ... View recipe

Lunch

Roasted Squash And Fresh Rosemary Pesto Salad Recipe thumbnail image

Roasted Squash And Fresh Rosemary Pesto Salad Recipe

Summary: This colourful and simple salad will be a great addition to any meal. You can use a leftover pumpkin/squash or roast a fresh one. Rosemary and garlic infused pesto is a perfect combination with sweet ... View recipe

Dinner

Organic Ratatouille Recipe thumbnail image

Organic Ratatouille Recipe

Summary: Ratatouille is a traditional French mixed vegetable stew, from the region of Nice, in Provence. Onions, garlic, tomatoes, bell peppers, courgettes and aubergines are gently stewed together until soft ... View recipe

Dessert

The Ultimate Chocolate Mousse Recipe thumbnail image

The Ultimate Chocolate Mousse Recipe

Summary: Light and aerated, this is the simplest and the best chocolate mousse I have ever eaten, and the only chocolate mousse recipe I have been using for years. It is as easy to make as melting chocolate an ... View recipe

 

 

WEDNESDAY

Breakfast

Bircher Muesli Recipe thumbnail image

Bircher Muesli Recipe

Summary: This is The Original Apple Bircher Muesli recipe, as can be found in the book 'Health-Giving dishes' by Dr Bircher-Benner, first published in 1934! Swiss Bircher-Benner advocated eating MUESLI (Diete ... View recipe

Snack

Gluten Free Blueberry And Buttermilk Muffins Recipe thumbnail image

Gluten Free Blueberry And Buttermilk Muffins Recipe

Summary: The use of buttermilk in these Gluten Free Blueberry And Buttermilk Muffins reduces the amount of butter required, making them a little lighter, a little healthier than all butter muffins, yet still u ... View recipe

Lunch

Vegan Mulligatawny Soup Recipe thumbnail image

Vegan Mulligatawny Soup Recipe

Summary: Mulligatawny Soup is an Anglo-Indian speciality. The name originates from Tamil language and translates as pepper-water. This version includes wholesome lentils and chickpeas for a delicious, satisfyi ... View recipe

Dinner

Roast Potatoes with Red Bell Peppers Recipe thumbnail image

Roast Potatoes with Red Bell Peppers Recipe

Summary: Everybody loves roast potatoes. This is a simple yet delicious and satisfying way of adding some vegetables for extra nutrition to everyone's favourite. Like all red, orange and yellow coloured vegeta ... View recipe

Dessert

Raw Vegan Banana Pistachio Crunch Ice Cream Recipe thumbnail image

Raw Vegan Banana Pistachio Crunch Ice Cream Recipe

Summary: What can you do with very ripe bananas ? You can of course make banana bread, but even easier and better, just freeze them and turn them into raw dairy free ice cream, with no added sugar or sweetener ... View recipe

 

 

THURSDAY

Breakfast

Mineral Rich Raw Vegan Green Sesame Seeds Smoothie Recipe thumbnail image

Mineral Rich Raw Vegan Green Sesame Seeds Smoothie Recipe

Summary: This raw vegan sesame seed green smoothie is delicious, creamy and highly nutritious ; thanks to the sesame and poppy seeds, it is high in protein and essential fats. It is rich in vitamins and minera ... View recipe

Snack

Superfood Trail Mix With Cacao Nibs Recipe  thumbnail image

Superfood Trail Mix With Cacao Nibs Recipe

Summary: Although commercial trail mixes are widely available, I like to make mine, so that it has exactly what I like, and none of what I don't like so much. Also known as GORP (Good Old Raisins and Peanuts o ... View recipe

Lunch

Vegan Pea And Asparagus Scrambled Tofu Recipe thumbnail image

Vegan Pea And Asparagus Scrambled Tofu Recipe

Summary: Vegan Pea and Asparagus Scrambled Tofu Recipe from Real Foods. If you're egg intolerant, vegan or simply fancy a healthy, yet delicious lunch try this simple and tasty recipe... View recipe

Dinner

Red Kidney Beans Indian Curry or Rajma Masala Recipe thumbnail image

 

Red Kidney Beans Indian Curry or Rajma Masala Recipe

Summary: This is the Indian cousin of your favourite spicy chilli: red kidney beans are stewed in fresh or canned tomatoes, seasoned with onion, garlic, fresh ginger, fresh chillies and Indian spices. Asafoe ... View recipe

Dessert

Low Sugar French Raspberry Souffle Recipe thumbnail image

Low Sugar French Raspberry Souffle Recipe

Summary: Don't be intimidated by souffles. Try this low-sugar fail-proof raspberry souffle recipe and you will be wowing your friends and family with these pink beauties. ... View recipe

 

 

FRIDAY

Breakfast

Racuszki or East European Fluffy Yeasted Pancakes Recipe thumbnail image

Racuszki or East European Fluffy Yeasted Pancakes Recipe

Summary: These incredibly easy to make, delicious yeasted fluffy pancakes are called Racuszki in Poland. The batter does need some time to rise, so you can start them first thing on a Sunday morning and the ba ... View recipe

Snack

Fruit, Nut and Seed Bars thumbnail image

Fruit, Nut and Seed Bars

Summary: Simple and delicious fruit, nut and seed bars. Why not experiment with different combinations for a snack that's uniquely yours? ... View recipe

Lunch

Chickpea and Avocado Salad Recipe thumbnail image

Chickpea and Avocado Salad Recipe

Summary: Chickpeas, like all pulses, are high in fibre and protein, making them an all-round health food. Just one cup of cooked chickpeas provide us with half our recommended daily fibre intake. They are also ... View recipe

Dinner

Vegan Gluten Free Bean Free Sweet Potato Burgers Recipe thumbnail image

Vegan Gluten Free Bean Free Sweet Potato Burgers Recipe

Summary: These Spicy Rice And Sweet Potato Burgers are a lighter, easier to digest alternative to vegan bean burgers. They are perfect served cold for summer picnics or as a delicious warm main served with you ... View recipe

Dessert

Raw Chocolate Coated Figs Recipe thumbnail image

Raw Chocolate Coated Figs Recipe

Summary: These are really delicious : the perfect marriage of extra dark chocolate and infinitely sweet baby figs. Better than fig bars, and just what you want. Only 3 ingredients, and takes minutes to make. O ... View recipe

 

 

SATURDAY

Breakfast

Homemade Milk Kefir Recipe thumbnail image

Homemade Milk Kefir Recipe

Summary: Milk Kefir is a fermented milk drink similar in taste and consistency to thin or drinkable yoghurt. Milk kefir is a for more superior probiotic, though : while yoghurt typically contains 2 to 7 strain ... View recipe

Snack

Gluten Free Vegan Cinnamon Apple Polenta Cake Recipe thumbnail image

Gluten Free Vegan Cinnamon Apple Polenta Cake Recipe

Summary: Apples and Cinnamon truly are a match made in heaven. And as Autumn sets in, with its abundance of apples, try making this unusual and wonderful cake. More common polenta cakes simply replace a portio ... View recipe

Lunch

Dairy and Gluten Free Vegetable Pasties Recipe thumbnail image

Dairy and Gluten Free Vegetable Pasties Recipe

Summary: This is a recipe entered in our October 2014 Real Foods Free-from Baking Competition, contributed by Mary Janulewski whose granddaughter, Amy Wood, made these Vegetable Pasties. ... View recipe

Dinner

Vegan High Protein Wild Mushroom Quinoa Pilaf Recipe thumbnail image

Vegan High Protein Wild Mushroom Quinoa Pilaf Recipe

Summary: This quinoa and wild mushroom pilaf only takes minutes to make, yet is sophisticated and delicious, equally perfect for a weeknight high protein dinner or to share with a health-conscious date. A grea ... View recipe

Dessert

Healthy Spelt Sweet And Nutty Flavoured Chestnut Pancakes Recipe thumbnail image

Healthy Spelt Sweet And Nutty Flavoured Chestnut Pancakes Recipe

Summary: These pancakes have a lovely sweet and nutty flavour, thanks to the chestnut flour. You can use half chestnut half spelt, like I do, or half rye flour, half chestnut flour. For gluten-free pancakes, u ... View recipe

 

 

SUNDAY

Breakfast

Vegan Hot Toasted Muesli Recipe thumbnail image

Vegan Hot Toasted Muesli Recipe

Summary: This is a great breakfast for Spring and Autumn, when it is too warm for steaming hot porridge, yet a bit cold for fruit salad. I cook the muesli in water, but before that I dry fry it for an amazing ... View recipe

Snack

Flourless Aduki Beans and Toasted Hazelnuts Brownies Recipe thumbnail image

Flourless Aduki Beans and Toasted Hazelnuts Brownies Recipe

Summary: Adzuki (or Aduki, or azuki, or English Red Mung) Beans are a very common ingredient in Asian desserts, Japanese in particular, where it is the main ingredient for anko, sweetened red bean paste. High ... View recipe

Lunch

Homemade Baked Beans Recipe thumbnail image

 

Homemade Baked Beans Recipe

Summary: Whether it is beans on toast or a full vegetarian English breakfast, baked beans are a staple. Have you ever thought about making your own baked beans ? It is childishly easy to make, and you can adju ... View recipe

Dinner

Beluga Lentils and Goats Cheese Salad with Homemade Croutons Recipe thumbnail image

Beluga Lentils and Goats Cheese Salad with Homemade Croutons Recipe

Summary: Cheese and lentils might not be a very common salad combination, but the Beluga Lentils and the goats cheese combine incredibly well in this recipe to deliver a filling and satisfying, yet light and f ... View recipe

Dessert

Fruit Topped Raw Vegan Mixed Berries Cheesecake Recipe thumbnail image

Fruit Topped Raw Vegan Mixed Berries Cheesecake Recipe

Summary: This Raw Vegan Mixed Berry Cheesecake combines a sweet and crunchy crust with a lovely smooth mixed berry cream, topped with an assortment of fresh fruits. Make this prettiest of cakes for a special o ... View recipe

 

If you are looking for more inspiration, check out our online recipes.