Happy 2020, friends! Have I said that yet? I took a little break from long-format posts to honor the New Year, and it feels like my week-long hiatus might as well have been a month. There’s an energy associated with this New Year that I can only describe as…palpable. Do you feel it, too? Not sure if it’s because it’s Lana’s last year before she starts real school, or the fact that it’s an Election Year, or maybe even the ever-dissipating funk of my diagnosis, but I’ve got a distinct itch this year to make the most of…everything. Not that I plan on becoming a yes-woman by any means — I still love me an opportunity to hole up at home and say no, thank you — but I’m excited to embrace more practices this year that will, as cliché as it sounds, bring me joy.
Flexitarian Recipe Roundup: 10 Healthy, Plant-Forward Meals
Unsurprisingly, one of those practices takes place in the kitchen, where I’m looking forward to preparing clean, wholesome meals that get me excited about suppertime. To be clear: I am almost always excited about suppertime, even if it’s just leftovers night, but I’m surely not always excited about the preparation. These 10 recipes are all greater than the sum of their parts, so while they’re simple and accessible (my bread + butter), they’re also full of enticing flavors and nourishing, plant-forward ingredients that will (hopefully) keep that palpable energy of the New Year a’buzz in our bods, too. We’re not talking anything extreme here — no big resolutions. Just 10 supremely doable, real food recipes to kickstart a year of eating more intentionally. We got this.
(And yes…shamelessly, there are a few of my own recipes in this round-up, more than anything because I can personally attest to both their accessibility and deliciousness. Toot toot!)
1) Grilled Tofu Tacos with Gochujang Glaze
(via Nosh & Nourish)
Gluten-Free + Vegan // Smoky, sweet + spicy, these are some of my favorite fast weeknight tacos — and they have a distinct street food vibe that just makes me happy. They come together SO quickly, because the tofu is tossed in the sauce after it’s grilled, so there’s not even any marinating required. You can dial back the gochujang paste if your family is sensitive to spice, too, and still gain a fair amount of flavor from the other components.
2) Sweet Potato Breakfast Bowls with Eggs + Greens
(via The Bojon Gourmet)
Gluten-Free, Vegetarian (Omit Egg for Vegan) + Paleo // This is one of the first recipes I bookmarked this year — just about as soon as it popped up on my IG feed. Silky sweet potatoes and simply sauteed greens topped with a runny egg and coconut “bacon” (ummm, yum) — but if you’re omnivorous, this would be the perfect opportunity to introduce a little bit of the real stuff and have it go a long way.
3) Zucchini Pesto Pasta with Roasted Almonds
(via Snixy Kitchen)
Gluten-Free and Optionally Vegetarian // My pal Sarah developed this recipe, and it’s kinda genius. It’s got both zucchini noodles and fresh zucchini in the pesto — which I can only imagine makes for such a dreamy sauce. (Have you ever snuck a zuch into your morning smoothie? Those bad boys whirl up deceptively creamy and the taste is almost imperceptible.) Swap the pancetta with more toasted nuts if you’re avoiding meat.
4) Instant Pot Miso Red Bean Stew
(via The Pig & Quill)
Gluten-Free + Vegetarian (Easily Vegan) // We’ve made this recipe more times than I can count in the past year, and I’m still not burned out on it. It’s simple (hello, Instant Pot) — and if you’re particularly strapped for time, you can even skip the browning step without sacrificing much in terms of flavor. The 2-ingredient pickled cabbage adds such a crazy punch of flavor. And who doesn’t like fuschia food?
5) Roasted Sweet Potato + Cauliflower Tacos
(via Plays Well With Butter)
Gluten-Free + Vegan // Anything with roasted cauliflower and sweet potatoes will almost always be a hit in our house. In fact, I can almost guarantee we’d have to double this recipe because half of it would be snacked on before it even makes it off the sheet pan. I can see putting this super simple chipotle lime cashew crema on everything, too.
6) Maple Balsamic Tempeh Bowls with Pumpkin Rice
(via Eating Bird Food)
Gluten-Free + Vegan // Brittany at Eating Bird Food is a self-proclaimed tempeh lover, so I trust her completely on this one. That pumpkin coconut rice has an almost risotto-esque quality to it, and check out the glaze! I love tempeh — it’s denser and more textural (some would say “meatier”) — than tofu, but similarly mild, maybe a bit nuttier. If you’ve never tried it, this seems like a great gateway recipe. Plenty hearty with familiar flavors. Yum.
7) Crispy Skin Salmon Bowls with Pickled Carrots +
Miso Avocado Green Goddess Dressing
(via The Pig & Quill)
Gluten-Free + Dairy-Free // This is, hands-down, our favorite way to prepare salmon. In this iteration, it’s merely the topping for a big ol’ platter of simple veggies. If fresh corn is hard to come by this time of year (which, yeah, it probably is…), you could round out the salad with sliced pickled beets or even thawed, frozen corn charred corn (available at Trader Joe’s). The dressing is so very versatile — it makes a great spread on sandwiches, too.
8) Cucumber Avocado Spring Rolls with Herbs
(via Naturally Ella)
Gluten-Free + Vegan // I could eat spring rolls until the cows come home. I literally have an unending appetite for them. (If you’re looking for a more bougie version, these rainbow-hued Fresh Lobster Spring Rolls are perfect for a date night in.) The components in these are SO simple and easy to come by. Light, refreshing, and reminiscent of my fave Vietnamese restaurant. And don’t be fooled into thinking that the spring roll wrapping is too high-maintenance for a quick, weeknight meal. With just a little practice, they come together in no time. (And really, if you’re put off by that component, you can always turn these into bowls by piling the filling over rice or rice noodles.)
9) Pumpkin Curry with Peas, Peanuts + Spice-Crusted Tofu
(via The Pig & Quill)
Gluten-Free + Vegan // Two recipes in one! We make both the veggie curry portion of this recipe and the tofu portion, separately, all the time. Both are crazy-easy and high in the flavor department, but together they make for one of the heartiest, most satisfying vegetarian recipes you’ll find. Served over quinoa, this is a protein powerhouse. We’ve even served it to company, and the curry makes for great leftovers.
10) Korean-Inspired Ground Beef and Kimchi Bowls
(via The Defined Dish)
Gluten-Free, Paleo + Whole30 // As I mentioned above, one of the things we’re emphasizing this year is plant-forward eating (some would also call it plant-based), so meat (and fish, as seen above) will still make an appearance on our table a couple of times a week. I love the idea of this recipe because it employs ground beef, which is 1) so very nostalgic for me and 2) an affordable opportunity to seek out the highest quality organic, grassfed product our budget allows. Bonus points in this dish for mega veggies from the cauli rice and digestive aid thanks to the kimchi. (We buy our kimchi at Costco. The giant tub last in the fridge for months, if we don’t gobble it up first.)
Oh, and while we’re on the topic of inspired recipes, I’d love to hear what you guys are seeking in terms of meals and recipe development as we kick off this new year. More simple weeknight meals? Allergen- and special-diet-friendly? Meals that double-duty as kiddo lunches? Grown-up lunches? Lay it on me!
Guys! Follow me on Instagram for more peeks into our life on the Northern California coast. And if you feel so inclined, pop over to my personal food + lifestyle blog, The Pig & Quill, where I share salty scribblings from my kitchen and home life. Byeeeeee!
Emily, Hey there! It’s A…since you are asking, and *maybe someone else has a similar situation….help me feed Cecilia without getting us both bored please? Vegetarian, who refuses Eggs, Tofu and Tempah, and Zucchini and cooked Broccoli. Otherwise is completely open minded, loves beans (Dear Lord what “new thing” can I do with beans today?), loves nuts. Has zero allergies but obviously very strong preferences. She’s good on breakfast and lunch, it’s dinner, where variety is proving to be a challenge for a tired mom. I try to make her something as her main, that we can all eat along with whatever animal or fish thing the other kids are also eating and the creative salad of the day. The good news is that so long as there is no tofu, tempeh, eggs, nor zucchini and broccoli, she never complains, always eats, and appreciates the effort. Go. Please? And I will start with above, thank you very much for this plant forward/flex inspo. xoxo A
Grown up lunches would be helpful! I find myself eating out more at lunch than I’d like…
I was gifted an Instant Pot for Christmas and would LOVE to see more recipes involving this magical appliance!
The miso red beans are amazing!! Emily you are a genius.
Oh awesome, thanks! Those are a SERIOUS hit in this house — the kiddo gobbles them up!
I actually tried some of these already and those recipes were so good! Can’t wait to try the rest of the recipes! Thanks for sharing!
Woohoo, love hearing that — glad it was a helpful roundup! 😀