The 9 Best Ways to Make Plant-Based Recipes Filling

Use a few of these tips and tricks, and you won't miss the meat!

These quinoa meatballs are totally meatless but have the same great flavor and texture!

Are you interested in eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains? Are you trying to limit your consumption of meat and dairy products, but are afraid you just won’t feel full? You’re not alone! A lot of us are on the same journey, and it’s natural for the hard-core carnivores and burger lovers among us to worry that we just won’t feel full eating plants. Luckily, we know the best ways to make plant-based recipes filling!

Armed with this knowledge, you can feel confident making a few extra plant-based meals each week. Don’t feel pressured to adopt a 100 percent vegan diet; you can still eat meat from time to time. Once you learn the secret to making filling plant-based meals, you may even find yourself turning your favorite meals into plant-based recipes.

The 9 Best Ways to Make Plant-Based Recipes Filling

1. Don’t be afraid of starches

The 9 Best Ways to Make Plant-Based Recipes Filling

You might be used to low-carb diets that restrict carbs and starches, but it’s important to remember that these foods aren’t inherently bad for you. Carbohydrates are used by the body as an energy source, and they can be extremely filling (especially complex carbohydrates). Starchy foods (like corn, potatoes, rice, and beans) provide a carbohydrate package that’s also full of fiber. That combination helps you feel fuller for longer, so it’s one of the best ways to make plant-based recipes filling.

There are plenty of healthy starches you can eat on a whole food plant-based diet, including a few gluten-free grains. Try cooking with farro, steel-cut oats, or wheatberries. For gluten-free options, look to buckwheat groats, quinoa, millet, amaranth, sweet potatoes, or potatoes.

2. Eat whole grains instead of refined grains

9 Best Ways to Make Plant-Based Recipes Filling

It’s really important to avoid processed foods made with refined grains if you’re on a plant-based diet. These foods feature milled grains, which might be easier to digest, but they’re also less filling. You see, whole grains contain three parts: the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. During the milling process, the bran and the germ are removed to create refined grains like white flour, white rice, and de-germed cornmeal. You’ll find that you get a bigger burst of energy after eating these foods, but it won’t last for long.

Whole grains not only have more nutrients, but they take longer for your body to digest. That means you’ll feel fuller after eating them. Look for bread or tortillas made with whole-grains. Better yet, make your own at home! You can also make smart ingredient substitutions, like using brown rice instead of white rice, or experimenting with ancient grains like barley, quinoa, millet, and farro.

3. Make sure to include protein in every meal

How to Make Plant-Based Recipes Filling

It’s so important to include protein in every meal, whether you’re a meat eater or a plant-based eater. Protein not only repairs our cells and keeps our skin and muscles healthy, but it’s also very filling. It takes more energy for our body to digest than carbohydrates or fat, so you’ll feel fuller for longer when eating protein-rich meals. You don’t have to eat meat to get protein, either; there are plenty of plant-based sources of protein.

According to the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) calculator, the recommended daily intake of protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound. If you take your body weight and multiply it by 0.36, that will tell you how much protein you need per day. Divide that into three meals, and you’ll have the target grams of protein per meal.

4. Get to know which plant-based proteins are “complete”

The 9 Best Ways to Make Plant-Based Recipes Filling Vegan

Some proteins are classified as complete proteins. That means they contain all nine essential amino acids our bodies need to repair its protein tissues. Meat, poultry, eggs, dairy, and fish are complete, but most plant-based ingredients are missing a few amino acids.

There are a few complete proteins in the plant world, including quinoa, chia seeds, buckwheat, tofu, tempeh, edamame, seitan, hemp seeds, and pumpkin seeds. You can also pair complementary foods to create a complete protein. Rice and beans, for example, are a popular pairing because the rice has an amino acid the beans lack, and vice versa. Pairing peanut butter and bread, chickpeas with tahini to make hummus, or whole-wheat pasta with peas also make complete proteins.

5. Learn to love beans and legumes

beans and legumes recipes

A plant-based diet isn’t just about eating salads and carrot sticks. The best ways to make plant-based recipes filling is to include beans and legumes, like chickpeas, lentils, black beans, and more. These not only contain protein and fiber, but they have a great texture that is almost meaty in consistency.

If you haven’t fallen in love with beans yet, try some of our favorite recipes to get started!

6. Don’t skimp on healthy fats

meals with healthy fats

Eating fat doesn’t make you fat, if you focus on the right kinds, of course. Our bodies need fat for energy and to protect our organs, but too much of the bad kind of fat can lead to health issues. Try to avoid saturated and trans fats and look for monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. They’re not only filling, but they also make your taste buds feel satiated. Add diced avocado or nuts to your plant-based meals to make them more filling, and cook with olive oil or avocado oil.

7. Bulk up on fiber

fiber rich foods

Fiber is great for healthy digestion, and it can also help you lose weight. Our bodies digest fiber slower than other types of carbohydrates because they can’t be broken down as easily. That keeps our metabolism busy for hours, and the bulk of fibrous foods can also help to make you feel fuller.

The good news is that fruits and vegetables are naturally full of fiber! Check out this list of high-fiber foods. Try to incorporate as many of them as possible into your daily diet as ways to make plant-based recipes filling.

8. Use dairy-free alternatives

dairy-free alternatives

Most of us eat diets full of dairy, so giving up cheese, sour cream, and yogurt can be tough. The best way to get used to feeling full on your new plant-based eating habits is to emulate your old diet. Don’t be afraid to use dairy-free alternatives, like coconut milk or other nut milks. You should also check out recipes that use tofu or cashews to create dairy-free cheese. We love dairy-free Parmesan, and our plant-based sour cream recipe is almost better than the original!

9. Limit distractions

9 Ways to Make Plant-Based Recipes Filling

Our final piece of advice applies to all diets, but it’s a great way to feel fuller when eating a plant-based diet. Try to practice mindful eating, appreciating every bite and chewing fully before swallowing. When you eat in front of the computer, a television, or a smartphone, you’re essentially asking your body to multitask. It can’t concentrate on the eating experience, so you won’t experience the smell, taste, and texture of the food. If you’re not sure how to get started with mindful eating, check out these expert tips for mindful eating.

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Chef Lindsay

Lindsay D. Mattison is a professional chef, recipe developer, and food writer. After graduating from Cascade Culinary School, Lindsay worked as the executive chef of a farm-to-table restaurant in Bend, Oregon. She is passionate about using local, organic ingredients and loves teaching home cooks how to incorporate seasonal food into their diet. While she spends most of her time writing these days, she still exercises her culinary muscles on the regular, taking any opportunity to create beautiful meals for her family. She lives with her husband in Colorado, where she enjoys the trials and errors of gardening.

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