Food can have an artistic quality. Think cosy, candlelit meals and considering the details, such as spices or the way ingredients are arranged on the plate. Or, picture special occasions, the way food brings people together: you may spend hours preparing a special dinner at home, visit a childhood favourite restaurant, or treat yourself to a fine dining experience. Regardless, the taste is just one part of the story (although a crucial one, for sure!). When paired with certain routines and emotions, there’s little room to question why food is an enormous part of culture. Some people, like food photographers and chefs, quite literally see ingredients as their artistic medium.
At other times, however, what we eat calls for a different type of innovation: combining taste, health and practicality. Add cost effectiveness to the mix, too. Sure, I love getting creative in the kitchen and putting together interesting dishes, taking a snap for my Instagram afterwards. But in the bustle of everyday life, I keep things simple, use staple ingredients and prioritise food as fuel. All while saving money in the process, because continual trips to favourite restaurants and coffee shops can add up far quicker than we expect.
That’s why I picked a busier day for this full day of eating: to show what my vegan diet looks like when I don’t have hours to spend in the kitchen, and am not in the mood for store brought options. Of course, the abundance of vegan choices becoming available everywhere, from cafes to supermarkets, makes things easier for days when cooking goes out of the question and I must grab something on the go. But being someone who prefers homemade whenever possible, I opted to cook my own meals as a realistic portrayal of what I typically eat.
Of course, I’ll give the necessary disclaimer: I’m not a nutritionist/dietician and I’m not insinuating others should eat how I do. This way of eating may not work for everyone and just like anything else on the internet, should be taken with a pinch of salt. My intention is inspiring and informing those who are curious about plantbased eating – and other vegans looking to try something new. As ‘healthy eating’ is subjective and I don’t believe in labelling foods ‘good’/’bad’, my definition of it can be summarised in terms of abundance, balance and listening to my body (a broader discussion will be turned into a future blog post for sure). Also, note that I did not photograph everything I ate: my ‘real life’ portions were much bigger, but for the sake of presentability I could only include so much in the pictures.
Anyway, let’s start with breakfast, a meal people seem to either love or hate.
Breakfast: chia oatmeal with cashew butter
I woke up at approximately 05:45 am, refreshed by nearly eight hours of sleep. A quaint, wispy light fell through my window and from the breeze passing through, carrying a hint of sea salt, I rose expecting a pleasant day. The atmosphere as a whole typified late spring. Birds chattered outside and a few commuters walked with an unusual buoyancy.
After a few stretches and reviewing my to-do list for the day, I headed downstairs to make breakfast. Many people aren’t hungry first thing in the morning and wait an hour or two before having their first meal, to which I can’t relate. While breakfast is never my largest dish, I need fuel in the form of food and coffee soon after waking up. Not to mention the simple joy of sitting in the garden, eating something delicious and bathing in the early hours.
On today’s menu was a jar of overnight chia oatmeal. I’d recommend this type of recipe to anyone who finds themselves rushed before the day starts, with seemingly no time for breakfast. You’ll wake up with an extra burden taken off your shoulders and a quick way to energise yourself for the upcoming hours. If the chia dishes you see on Instagram appear fancy, that’s the illusion of toppings and superfood powders. The ‘core’ is as simple as stirring together the ingredients, leaving them in the fridge, and coming back a few hours later to a perfect breakfast!
Simple and Energising Chia Oatmeal
- 45 g oats of choice
- 120 ml plantbased milk of choice My favourites are cashew and almond
- 120 ml water
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- 1 tbsp agave nectar
- 1 tbsp cashew butter Or, use your preferred alternative
- 1 large banana, mashed
- 150 g fresh berries, to serve
- Add oats, milk, water, chia seeds and agave nectar to a bowl, stirring together thoroughly. Leave in the fridge for at least thirty minutes, preferably overnight.
- Add mashed banana, top with cashew butter and serve with your favourite fresh berries.
Lunch: tempeh bowl with couscous, veggies and a tahini dressing
I’m trying to think of creative names for these meals, but throwing together ingredients is what it is. Nothing extravagant at all, but exactly the sort of thing I crave by the time midday rolls around: fresh ingredients, not a lot of effort, a delicious result. In light of an upcoming trip to the grocery store, I wanted to clear out the fridge and combined everything I could find, keeping my portion big as always. I’m a girl with a highly substantial appetite and I ain’t ashamed. The result satisfied both my tastebuds and time schedule.
In general, ‘Buddla/nourish bowls’ like this are my go-to, quick meal because they couldn’t be easier to put together, while packing in multiple key macro and micronutrients. Click HERE to check out my guide to constructing your own Buddha bowl from scratch: once you try it once, you’ll never go back!
Tempeh and Couscous Buddha Bowl With Lemony Tahini
- 90 g dry couscous
- 100 g tempeh, cut into strips
- 100 g fresh spinach
- 250 g vine tomatoes
- 100 g carrots, chopped
- 100 g asparagus
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp agave nectar
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 1 tbsp tahini
- 2.5 tbsp lemon juice
- alfalfa sprouts, to serve
- Add couscous to a heatproof bowl and stand aside to soak for 5-10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, stir together the soy sauce, agave nectar and paprika, and coat the tempeh strips evenly.
- Heat some cooking spray or oil of choice in a non-stick pan. Add the tempeh strips and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, until crispy and golden brown.
- Cook asparagus in boiling water for 4-5 minutes, until soft.
- Place couscous, tempeh, spinach, tomatoes and carrots in a bowl. Stir together the tahini and lemon juice to make the dressing, and serve together with the Buddha bowl and a pinch of alfalfa sprouts.
Dinner: coconut and kale Dahl with sweet potato fries
The day – in particular, the gap between lunch and dinner – sped by. Despite the business, I felt content and balanced from a mixture of weather, a good level of motivation and of course, all the nourishing food I fuelled myself with. Which is why I spent a few moments reflecting on how I could never ‘forget to eat’ – my body and productivity always let me know if another serving of carbs is overdue.
A mellow, pleasant sun characterised the early evening. The weather forecast warned of upcoming rain, which failed to dispel my enjoyment of the present moment, the tranquility of it. At around half five, I started cooking dinner. Warmer days usually mean plenty of refreshing dishes, such as my lunch, but I craved something hearty and rich in flavour despite the heat. Cupboards replenished and ingredients plentiful, I chose to make a simple coconut Dahl and serve the outcome with sweet potato fries. Or chips, if you prefer British terminology.
Once again, there’s nothing fancy about this meal, which to me is a major selling point. Substitute the chips with rice or noodles, add a dollop of soy yoghurt, and you’re good to go!
Easy Coconut Dahl With Sweet Potato Fries
- 2 cans canned lentils
- 1.5 cans canned tomatoes
- 0.5 can regular or light coconut milk
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 3/4 medium red onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 red bell pepper
- 1/4 tsp garam masala
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 2 large handfuls kale, chopped
- 800 g sweet potato
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 2 tbsp soy yoghurt, to serve
- Preheat conventional oven to 200 degrees C/ 392 F and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Cut sweet potato into fries of preferred thickness, distribute evenly on the baking tray and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp paprika, and salt and pepper to taste. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
- Meanwhile, heat some oil or cooking spray in a non-stick saucepan. Add the red onion, bell pepper and garlic, stirring for 2-3 minutes on a medium heat.
- Add the lentils, canned tomatoes, coconut milk, garam masala, cumin, the rest of the paprika and tomato paste. Bring to a boil and lower the heat.
- Simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the consistency thickens. Add more canned tomatoes or coconut milk if necessary.
- Take off the heat and stir in the kale. Serve immediately with the sweet potato fries and soy yoghurt.
My meals keep me full for a few hours, but I love a little (or big) pick me up now and then. When I’m at home and don’t have to pack things in advance, these snacks tend to be quite unstructured, consisting of whatever we have in the fridge/cupboards.
100% Natural raw chocolate brownie
Sometimes, I make energy balls or bars myself on Sunday and eat them throughout the week. Within the range of store-brought options, however, this is among my favourites for sure. I’m all about that rich, brownie-like chocolate flavour, which this creation delivers from the first bite. I ate this straight after lunch because I’m fully and wholeheartedly an ‘I need something sweet after my main meals’ person. One of the joys of the Internet is that it confirms I’m not alone in my little quirks.
Chocolate protein shake
Yes, more chocolate. This time unpictured, because protein shakes are the opposite of photogenic. I never say ‘chocoholic’ when introducing myself to people, but looking at my intake, that label is quite accurate. Anyway, a plantbased diet can meet and exceed anyone’s daily macronutrient requirements in the absence of supplements. However, because I’m very active and want to build muscle, I go the extra mile to pack in the protein, and this tastes too delicious to say no to!
To make my usual protein shake, I blend together:
- 1/2 scoop MyProtein Vegan Blend Chocolate Smooth Flavour
- 1 cup cashew milk
- 1 large banana
Sometimes, I leave out the banana and heat it in the microwave as a ‘bedtime milk’ sleep remedy gymrat edition, lol.
From ‘evening snack’ and ‘dessert’, I think the latter suits this meal far better because it was consumed roughly thirty minutes after dinner. Featuring: rice cakes with almond and coconut butter (please do yourself a favour and check it out below because this stuff will up your snacking/nut butter game forever) and avocado, a big serving of soy yoghurt with fresh berries and Food Doctor Smokin’ Edamame trail mix, 90% dark chocolate, apple.
When I went to sleep, it was still light outside. The birds kept singing. A few clouds gathered by the horizon, confirming the weather forecast as correct for a change. Satisfied with how the day turned out, I drifted off quickly and while I can’t confirm the content of my dreams with certainty, those sweet potato fries must have been involved because ‘dreamy’ summarises them pretty accurately.
Let me know in the comments: do you enjoy these types of posts, and would you like to see more ‘What I eat in a day’s in the future? And do you typically make all your food at home, or prefer store-brought alternatives/restaurants?