5 Hacks to Make Your Vegan Meals More Satisfying
Many of us on the Kinder Beauty team haven’t eaten meat since as far back as the 1990s, so you can trust us when we say we’ve experienced the days when vegetarian and vegan options were nil. Building a meal without the convenience of the meat-free options we have now required much more creativity, and meant relying on the basics (vegetables, beans, tofu) to create mean vegan meals that were satisfying.Shop Clean, Vegan Beauty Products
The secret, we’ve learned, is in implementing a few key hacks to bring together all the elements of a complete meal that make you feel nourished, satisfied, and happy. And because nutrition is critical when it comes to maintaining your health, including your skin health, the biggest part of the satisfaction equation comes down to nutrition know-how. Try applying these tips to level-up your vegan meals and make them more enjoyable and well-rounded.
1. Make it nourishing
The first thing to consider when putting together a meal is how to make it as nourishing as possible so your body is happy and you’re not hungry an hour later. This means designing your feast around whole foods, with an emphasis on macros (see more on that below) so your meal is balanced, and adding in toppings like nuts and seeds for an extra boost of nutrients.
Consider that fiber is another nutritional element that will help with meal satisfaction, and it is easy to get plenty of it when you’re eating lots of vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. This will help you feel fuller longer—with an added bonus of keeping you regular. For each meal, make a point of asking yourself if there are any easy food swaps you can make so your meal is a little more nourishing, such as using olive oil and fresh squeezed lemon on salads instead of store-bought salad dressing, or preparing overnight oats instead of reaching for sugary cereals for breakfast.
2. Build in macros
Eating balanced vegan meals is key to maintaining good health. This means prioritizing the three macronutrients: protein, carbs, and fat. While it’s a myth that you can’t get enough protein from a vegan diet, it is possible to design meals that are low in this essential macronutrient if you aren’t intentional about it. An easy way to ensure you have protein at each meal is to keep protein-rich foods on hand at all times, such as beans, lentils, tofu, and quinoa, and build your meal around them. Other convenient sources include vegan meats and protein powder.
When it comes to carbs, reach for oats, rice or other grains, whole-grain bread, and potatoes. You should also ensure your meal includes a little healthy fat such as avocado, nut butter, or nuts and seeds to keep you feeling satisfied longer. Round out your meal with any or all of your favorite vegetables (some of our faves are spinach, broccoli, and beets).
3. Add texture
Having a smoothie for a meal is easy and nutritious, and it’s often a go-to for many of us who are always in a hurry, especially in the morning. But there’s no denying it can get boring after a while.
Building layers of texture into a meal, from soft to crispy, means the experience of eating will be much more exciting because you’re heightening your mouth’s sensory experience, called mouthfeel. Along with taste and smell, the texture of food is an important component to consider when creating a meal.
To do this, try incorporating foods that are chewy, such as adding lentils or textured vegetable protein (TVP) to a tomato sauce. Add some creaminess, such as drizzling a tahini garlic sauce over a rice bowl. And finish with some crunch, such as crispy onions on top of tacos or chopped cashews on a chickpea curry. Don’t be afraid of experimenting with different layers of texture that you’ve never tried before—your mouth might just fall in love.
4. Layer flavors
Put simply, layering flavors means adding a number of different, yet complementary, tastes beyond just the basic ingredients. It’s about combining and deepening flavors in a dish using spices and seasonings. For instance, instead of sautéing onions on their own, try layering more flavors by adding garlic, leeks, white pepper, and thyme to the onions while they’re cooking.Shop Cruelty-free, Vegan Skincare
In addition to using spices and seasonings, you can also layer flavors using vegetables that are big on taste, such as carrots and cauliflower—just be sure they complement the rest of the dish—and liquids such as vegetable stock in a soup, a splash of wine in a pasta sauce, or lemon juice in a salad dressing.
5. Make it look appealing
Have you ever sat in front of a gleaming bowl of pasta or a perfectly photogenic grain bowl that you had to take a moment to admire before digging in? The old saying “We eat with our eyes” is true when it comes to feeling pleasure and satisfaction from a meal. After all, food is tastier when it looks delicious.
When it comes to preparing meals, consider the colors, textures, and presentation of the food on your plate so you experience the same admiration even when your meals are made at home. Pay extra attention to things like how your food is arranged on your plate. Make it look abundant by neatly piling your food instead of spreading it out; add garnishes that contrast with the colors of your meal, such as bright green herbs, vegan feta, or chopped sundried tomatoes; and use your prettiest dishes instead of saving them for special guests.
Vegan or not, a big part of a healthy lifestyle is eating right, but your food’s actual taste isn’t the only thing that determines how full and happy you feel after a meal. Implementing a few small changes into your meal-making and taking into consideration the flavors, textures, macronutrients, and presentation are what separate a satisfying meal from one that might leave you rummaging through the snack cupboard an hour after dinner. Bon appetit!
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