How to Eat a Well Balanced Vegan Diet + 25 Healthy Vegan Recipes

I've had a few requests lately for vegan recipes and how to make sure you're meeting your nutrition needs on a vegan diet. (I'm always up for requests, so let me know if you have anything else in mind!) While vegan and plant-based diets can be healthful way of eating, when eliminating any food or food group from your diet, you are smart to have some nutritional concerns. 

While there is a spectrum of plant-based diets (some that even include meat!), a strict vegan diet eliminates fish, meat, eggs, milk & dairy products, honey, and many ingredients and products that contain these ingredients in some form or another. Learn more about surprising types of non-vegan foods and ingredients here.

While there are health benefits of consuming a plant-focused diet, before starting any diet, I suggest checking in with both your reasoning and your goals for starting it. It can be a healthful way of eating it you choose a variety of foods but becomes less beneficial if you are using it as a way to restrict your intake or follow a strict set of food or dieting rules. 

 
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The first concern people have with plant-based diets is - where will you get your protein? This is definitely a concern but there are other nutrients to consider too.

Below I've listed a few of the main nutrients that may be less prevalent in a plant-based diet and lists of plant based foods for where you can find each nutrient.

 

 

Protein

tofu, tempeh, kidney beans, black beans, chickpeas, lentils, nuts, seeds

Iron

leafy greens, oatmeal, lentils, edamame, almonds, broccoli, tempeh, tofu, figs

Zinc

cashews, tofu, tahini, nutritional yeast

Calcium

fortified non dairy milks, fortified orange juice and other juices, kale, collard greens, tempeh, almonds, fortified cereals and oats

B12

fortified milk and dairy

Vitamin D

fortified cereals or non dairy milks and orange juice, some mushrooms, mainly from sunlight

Choline

soymilk, tofu, quinoa, peanut butter, almonds, pistachios, broccoli, brussels sprouts, lentils, chickpeas

Omega-3s

walnuts, flaxseed (must be ground, to absorb the omega-3s and other nutrients), chia seeds, hemp seeds, canola oil, seaweed, algae

 

Below is a quick round up of a few of my colleagues favorite vegan recipes. Enjoy!


Snack Bars & Energy Bites

Vegan Strawberry Oat Squares

Barbara Murphy, RD of Zest Nutrition

No Bake Peanut Butter Cereal Bars

Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD of Better is The New Perfect

Healthy Energy Bites with Dates, Apricots, Cashews, & Coconut

E.A. Stewart, RD of The Spicy RD

Smoothies

Creamy Vegan Pear & Kale Smoothie Bowl

Andrea Mathis, RD of Beautiful Eats & Things

Vegan Wild Blueberry Cauliflower Smoothie

Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, of Amy Gorin Nutrition in the NYC area

Salads, Dressings, & Bowls

Vegan Roasted Cabbage Caesar Salad

Stephanie McKercher, RD of The Grateful Grazer

Vegan Deconstructed Sushi Salad Bowl with Sesame Ginger Miso Dressing

Stephanie McKercher, RD of The Grateful Grazer

Roasted Sweet Potato & Cauliflower Power Bowl

Brittany Poulson, RD of Your Choice Nutrition

Spring Vegetable Buddha Bowl with Minty Cashew Dressing

Kara Lydon Evancho, RD of The Foodie Dietitian

Vegan Green Goddess Dressing

Kara Lydon Evancho, RD of The Foodie Dietitian

Berry Quinoa Power Bowl

Sharon Palmer, RD of The Plant-Powered Dietitian

Roasted Veggie Quinoa - Judith Scharman Draughon, RD, author of Lean Body, Smart Life

Pastas

Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

Tracee Yablon Brenner, RD of Triad to Wellness

Thai Tempeh Noodle Skillet

Sharon Palmer, RD of The Plant-Powered Dietitian

Soups

Pressure Cooker Minestrone Soup

Brittany Poulson, RD of Your Choice Nutrition

Sorghum, Black Bean, & Vegetable Chili

Tracee Yablon Brenner, RD of Triad to Wellness

Hearty Vegetarian Bean Soup - Pushpa Soundararajan, RD of VPK Nutrition

Other Dishes

Vegan Baked Falafel with Lemon Tahini Sauce

Pamela Fergusson, RD, PhD

Mexican Stuffed Peppers

Kelly Jones, MS, RD, CSSD of Eat Real Live Welll

Completely Vegan Lentil Burgers

Andrea Mathis, RD of Beautiful Eats & Things

Buckwheat Oat Pumpkin Pancakes

Kelly Jones, MS, RD, CSSD of Eat Real Live Well

Lemon Tahini Lentil Dip

Sarah Schlichter, RD of Bucket List Tummy

Bean Burger Sliders

Kelly Jones, MS, RD, CSSD of Eat Real Live Well

Chocolate!

Creamy Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD of Better is The New Perfect

The Healthiest Vegan Chocolate Pudding

Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, of Amy Gorin Nutrition in the NYC area

 

 

9 Things I Learned My First Year in Business

Like many entrepreneurs, I jumped into business without any previous experience or business education. Needless to say it’s been quite the adventure and I’ve learned a ton along the way.

I personally don't think you need to have a business background to start, run, and operate, a business (I also don't have one, so I may be biased). I think it's one of those things you learn as you go through making mistakes and experimenting with what works and what doesn't. Below are a few things I've learned during the first year of my entrepreneurial journey.


1. less is more

Early on I wanted to do everything and had new ideas I wanted to pursue everyday. I wanted to counsel clients; I wanted to have a membership site; I wanted to do freelance writing; I wanted to host webinars; I wanted to give grocery store tours; I had endless ideas. 

While it's great to have excitement and passion in your business, I'd encourage you to start with less services and do them really well.

Be clear in your offerings and confident in your services, skills, and knowledge. As hard as it can be, stay focused on the direction of your business. 

You can eventually offer more services, but to start I think you'd benefit from doing just one or two things really well.

2. you do you

If you're like me and jumped into business without knowing a thing about business, it can be easy to get distracted by what everyone else is doing. During the first six months I was in business, I was constantly looking at my colleagues' websites, listening to podcasts, and watching endless webinars. I was completely wrapped up in what everyone else was doing.

how to start a business

When I finally turned my attention to me and my brand and my audience, it paid off.

Whether you are the face of your business and brand or not, people tend to buy a story, a connection, or a relationship they have with a person or company. It's hard to build a relationship if you're trying to be someone else or doing what you should do based on something you read somewhere. By being authentic to you, your passions, your strengths, and your brand, you'll provide a more quality service and be more successful in the long run.

3. start a blog

Blogging isn't for everyone, but it is great for a few reasons. Updates to your website (like blog posts) help boost your SEO. Blogging also helps your readers and potential clients see you as an expert and get to know, like, and trust you. I also find blogging helps me learn more about certain topics. When controversial topics or questions I don't know the answer to come up, I take it as an opportunity to do some research and write a blog post. It can also be a good way to create content to share in multiple ways  - a simple blog post can turn into a free download to collect emails, a video lesson, and social media posts. If you think blogging is for you, the sooner you start the better.


4. be visible

For the first six months I was in business, I was really good at hiding behind my computer (unintentionally).  I spent a lot of my time watching webinars, reading blogs, and figuring out what I was doing. Once I stopped hiding behind my screen and watching what everyone else was doing, I switched my attention to my own business and brand. I became visible both online and in person through social media, guest blog posts, and local community events. People started to find out about me and my services.

6. network & build community

People don't know about your business unless you tell them. Surround yourself with other entrepreneurs, people in your field, mentors, and anyone else. Partner with other local businesses to host events or set up a table at other events to promote your product or services. You will learn a ton and find endless opportunities by connecting with others both in your local community and online.

7. leave your part-time job

A bit extreme? Maybe. A fellow business owner told me this about six months ago when I was about to accept a part-time job. She said at some point you need to make the jump. I knew she was right but at the time I guess I wasn't quite ready. You'll know when you're ready. Sometimes part-time jobs are needed to pay the bills - I get that, I've been there. But, at some point your business will need your full attention, time, and energy. Make the jump.

8. you don't have to work 8 hours a day

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The nice thing about working for yourself is that you can make your own schedule. You can decide when your workday starts and when you're ready to wrap up for the day. You can set your deadlines and meeting times. When I first started out, I felt like I had to start working at the crack of dawn and continue up until I went to bed. The thing was, I didn't actually know what I was doing and probably wasted a lot of time. I've recently heard multiple entrepreneurs say that they chose to start a business because they wanted to work less hours and make more money. I've also talked with successful entrepreneurs who only work 25 hours a week and others who take off for months at a time. Point being - it's OKAY.

9. summer will be slow, but fall will pick up

This is something I wish I knew before my first summer in business. During the spring of my first year in business, I felt busy. I felt like I had a decent amount of clients and close to a full caseload. I was consistently blogging and connecting with my audience and was getting the whole business thing dialed in. But when summer came, the phone stopped ringing. I panicked and picked up a part time job. When September rolled around my schedule picked up again. 

For most industries, it seems as though summer is slower for business. People are more interested in their summer vacations and tend to be less interested in making improvements to their health, business, life, home, office - you name it. Once fall and winter roll back around they're back in a routine and ready to make changes, get organized, and spend money.


Like anything in life, you learn more and more as you do it. You have to start somewhere and if you keep waiting for the perfect time, it may never happen. Take the leap, it will be worth it.

 

Peanut Butter Balls

healthier peanut butter balls

(*disclaimer: there are some affiliate links below and I do work with Manitoba Milling Co., but I only recommend brands I like and use myself)

Ingredients:

1 cub natural peanut butter (crunchy or creamy will both work, I like Adam's brand)
1/4 cup real maple syrup (or honey)
1/2 cup ground flax (I like Manitoba Milling Co. Smooth Milled Flaxseed)

3/4 cup dark chocolate chips, chunks, or morsels
1 tsp coconut oil

Directions:

lightened up chocolate peanut butter balls

1. Combine peanut butter, sweetener, and flax in a mixing bowl bowl and mix with a spoon.

2. Roll the peanut butter mixture into small quarter sized balls (or whatever size you like) place on a plate or baking sheet.

3. Put the plate or baking sheet in the freezer for about 10 minutes to allow the peanut butter balls to slightly harden.

4. In a small microwave safe bowl, combine the chocolate and coconut oil. Microwave for 30 second intervals, mixing in between until fully melted.

5. Remove the peanut butter balls from the freezer. Dip each ball in the melted chocolate to cover. Use two spoons, if it helps, to fully cover the peanut butter balls.

6. Store in the fridge or freezer and enjoy!