Plant-Based Foods: Basic Prep 101

Dec 02, 2022
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Learn how to prepare minimally processed, whole-food plant-based ingredients! This article will help you with tips and shortcuts to make plant-based nutrition as quick and easy as possible.

Whole food minimally processed plant-based foods are key to managing appetite and cravings long term. 


Because they are lower in calories and higher in bulk and fiber, as such, you can eat more of these foods, fill yourself up, and still maintain a lower calorie intake.  

You do not need to be vegan to enjoy plant-based meals.  Rather, they should become a part of your routine meal rotations regardless of whether you eat meat / animal products or not.

The key is to learn how to prepare them effectively and efficiently.  Bulk prep, package, and freeze, then grab and go whenever possible!!  

This article will help you with tips and shortcuts to make plant-based nutrition as quick and easy as possible.  

Whole grains: brown rice, quinoa, pasta, oatmeal

Photo by Susan Wilkinson on Unsplash 

Brown Rice

Brown rice has more fiber and nutrients than white and is lower glycemic (slower digesting) than white rice.  It pairs well with bean and vegetable dishes, chili, or as a seasoned side with any meal.  It is gluten free.  

Brown rice hack:  buy it frozen and already prepped for you!!  Then just measure it out and add it to your dishes or as a side.  Most major markets sell it frozen, such as here

Cooking instructions (easiest prep method!!!):  click here.


Quinoa has a high protein, fiber, and omega-3 content, as well as is abundant in antioxidants.  Persons prone to kidney stones due to oxalates however should avoid quinoa as it is a higher-oxalate food.  Quinoa has a mild bitter edge to it when served by itself, but mixes nicely with brown rice and veggies.

Quinoa hack:  buy it frozen, mixed with rice and veggies, such as here

Cooking instructions:  click here.


Whole grain pasta is an excellent choice for high fiber, high protein meals.  A great tasting brand is Barilla Protein Plus, which combines whole grains with lentils to make a surprisingly tasty and great textured pasta noodle.  

Follow instructions on the box to prep.

See Barilla Protein Plus noodle options here.  They are readily available at major grocery stores.

Low sugar tomato based sauces + beans + lots of veggies can make for a great plant based topping!


Oatmeal is high in fiber and protein, as well as iron.  Avoid instant oatmeal and pre packaged flavored oatmeals as they typically pack a lot of added sugar.  

Oatmeal hack: A super convenient way to prep oatmeal is by making “overnight oats.”  NOTE:  Use regular Quaker Rolled Oats (or generic equivalent). You can use water, milk, or soy milk when making overnight oatmeal.

Follow instructions on the container when preparing oatmeal via microwave or stove top as they vary depending on type of oatmeal purchased.   

Beans, legumes

Photo by Tijana Drndarski on Unsplash 

Beans and legumes are nutritional powerhouses.  High in fiber, high in protein, high in antioxidants, great for cultivating healthy bowel microbes as a prebiotic, low glycemic, and slow digesting, beans are associated with longevity, bowel health, and lower body weight.  Examples include peas, kidney beans, black beans, chickpeas, etc.  

Bean hack:  buy them canned!!  Just rinse, mix with your rice and veggies, heat up and good to go!!

Legumes:  legumes are smaller (such as split peas, red, yellow, etc), and more easy/ quick to cook than beans.  Instructions for cooking legumes can be found here.  

Cooking instructions for beans:  cooking dry beans from scratch is not difficult but can be time consuming.  It is far easier to simply use canned beans or lentils.  Instructions for dry beans are here.  


Tofu is a staple in Japanese cooking and dishes.  Made from soybeans, tofu is high in protein and low in calories.  With a very mild flavor, tofu readily takes on the flavor of any spices, herbs, sauces, marinades, or dishes you serve it with.  Enjoy it crisped and thrown on top of beans and rice as a low calorie plant-based protein booster.  

Tofu types:  Use firm and extra firm for stir frying/ pan frying.  Silk / soft tofu is used for plant-based mousse or puddings/ desserts typically.  

Cooking instructionshere.

Note it is also easy to simply press the tofu to free it of excess water (open package, drain water, and with a paper towel press down on it to expel excess water), then crumble it with your hand into a ground hamburger consistency, throw into your chili or pasta for a low calorie protein boost.  

Non-starchy vegetables

Photo by Sharon Pittaway on Unsplash 

Non-starchy vegetables truly are the key to satisfying your appetite and managing your waistline.  Universally recognized for their positive effects on your health and weight, non-starchy vegetables are virtually impossible to overeat, and should make up 50% of your plate and recipes at minimum.  Broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, kale, onions, garlic, sugar peas, snap peas, etc.  

Steaming instructions:  Click here.

Roasting instructions:  Roasted vegetables taste amazing!!  Click here.

Sweet potatoes and root vegetables

Photo by Christina Rumpf on Unsplash 

Sweet potatoes are rich sources of antioxidants, vitamin A, and fiber.  They are low glycemic and satisfying/ filling.  Root vegetables in general are packed with vitamins and minerals along with fiber and unique antioxidants. 

Roasting:  You can roast all root vegetables (turnips, potatoes, beets) and they taste amazing, with instructions here.  

Microwave:  For sweet potatoes, microwaving doesn’t get any easier than this.


Photo by Denis Tuksar on Unsplash 

Take a blender, soy milk or water, some fruit and veggies plus other add-ins, whip em up and off you go!  Couldn’t be easier.  Smoothies are a simple and easy way to boost your fruit, vegetable, and nutritional intake.  Surprisingly easy add-in’s that have little impact on the flavor while substantially boosting the nutritional value include various beans and spices.

A variety of healthy smoothie options/ recipes can be found here.

Smoothie hack:  prep all your smoothies for the week in one day!  Take all the wet ingredients/ ingredients that can be frozen, measure them out into seven containers and freeze them.  Then, measure any dry ingredients (seeds, nuts, spices, etc), and measure them out into seven containers.  Then, on your work day, just dump both containers into the blender, add your liquid, and blend them up!  (It may help to soften the frozen ingredients x 30-40 sec in the microwave first).  

Putting it all together

To assemble your meal using the above, whole grains should occupy 25% of your plate or recipe. Lean proteins (beans, legumes, tofu, fish, boneless skinless chicken breast, eggs, etc) should occupy 25% of your recipes/ plate.

Vegetables or veggies + fruit should occupy the remaining 50% of your recipes or plate/ meal.  

Whole grains are interchangeable with potatoes and starchy vegetables (squash) in terms of occupying 25% of your plate (i.e.- choose one or the other).  

Soy milk is a perfectly acceptable alternative to dairy products and is safe for men and women assuming a person does not have allergies to soy.

Forksoverknives.com has a ton of quick, easy, and healthy recipes (click on the link).

Bluezones.com likewise has a ton of quick recipes, many based on authentic recipes and ingredients consumed by populations studied for their renowned healthy aging and body composition.  

How Lancaster Wellness can help you!

Image credit:  Brian Phillips Photography

The team at Lancaster Wellness can support you on your journey to health.  Our team has customized meal plans and recipes for clients who are interested in learning more about the following diets:

  • Appropriate portioning based on body composition and weight goals
  • Mediterranean 
  • Flexitarian 
  • Vegetarian 
  • Vegan
  • Health Mexican Cuisine

Reach out to the team and schedule your appointment today, let us help you achieve your health and wellness goals together!!