Hearty foods fill our bellies, provide a comforting aspect to our meals and also provide satiety when lighter foods just won’t cut it. And not all hearty foods have to be unhealthy in order to provide a comfort-food feel. Certain foods can be added to your meal that will provide that “heft” you’re looking for without one bit of meat or other animal products at all. The key is to choose hearty foods that are denser in beneficial calories from protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats, in place of processed foods, meat, butter, fried chicken or fried eggs. These foods promote cancer, digestive problems, heart disease, diabetes and can even affect your endocrine system (hormonal) health.

Let’s give our bodies some healthier options instead, shall we? Try out these tips to add heft and heartiness to your meals the whole foods, plant-based way!

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1. Use Roasted Root Veggies

VEGCOCONUTCURRY

Roasted root veggies are one of the most easiest, healthiest and cheapest foods to provide heft for all your meals. They’re full of beneficial complex carbs that actually lower your blood sugar because they’re low on the glycemic index. Root veggies are high in water and soluble fiber, so they digest more slowly and keep you fuller longer. Roasting them adds a better flavor since it adds a rich, caramelized flavor without the need for oil or butter. You can pan-roast your veggies, roast them whole in the oven and slice into them before your meals, or just roast them all in a glass dish with a little water in the bottom for more moisture. Add these to a plate with greens, over a salad, and try different varieties to see which you enjoy the most. You can also use roasted root veggies as a stuffing shell for other veggies like broccoli, sauces, or hummus. Sweet, purple and red potatoes, carrots, squash, beets, turnips and onions all make great choices.

 

2. Try ‘Cleaner’ Vegan Alternative Meats

tempeh stir fry

Not all vegan alternative meat products are healthy; some contain genetically modified ingredients and are hard to digest. But some are healthier than processed options and can provide lots of heft to your meals without saturated fats or cholesterol. Some good options are: probiotic-rich tempeh, non-GMO tofu, or organic 100 percent veggie-based burgers. You can also make your own veggie burgers at home and either eat them plain, use them over a salad or bed of veggies, or eat them on a sprouted grain bun as another option. See some tips for making your tofu taste better and try our tips for taking tempeh to a whole new level if you need inspiration.

 

3. Add Lentils, Black Beans or Chickpeas

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These are some of the tastiest beans and legumes out there, and they all boast a nice bit of protein, but you can use other beans and legumes if you like to. Try using them in tacos, as a base for burgers, use hummus over a plate of veggies or grains, add them to your soups and stews, or make a savory breakfast entree with them. You can also use chickpea flour to make a breakfast omelet or frittata as well.

 

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4. Add Some Avocado

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Avocados are full of healthy fats and even boast a little protein too. Try adding a half an avocado to your meals in place of meat and you’ll be pleasantly surprised how well it fills you up. The key is to season your meal the right way and pair your avocado with the right ingredients. For instance, avocado is delicious over a bed of romaine or spinach and mixed with roasted sweet potatoes, a tablespoon of hemp seeds, tomato, cucumber, broccoli, a little apple cider vinegar, some lemon juice, black pepper, and a touch of mustard or hot sauce. Add some other veggies of your choosing, and mix it all up. It’s packed with healthy fats, complex carbs and fiber, B vitamins, and an incredible amount of antioxidants. Try this out in Red Lentil and Amaranth Protein Patties With Spicy Avocado Mayo, Mini Black Bean Burgers With Garlic Basil Cream Sauce, or  a Vegan Cobb Salad.

 

5. Use Healthy Grains

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Millet, quinoa, oats, buckwheat, brown, black or wild rice, teff, amaranth, barley, rye and other high fiber whole grains make great choices. These are healthier than refined grains like breads and processed pastas, and they’ll also help keep you full while providing a sense of comfort. You can also use sprouted grain bread or make muffins and breads with whole grains (versus flour) as another option. Whole grains help reduce cholesterol, aid in good digestion and can improve nervous system health. Try out these options: Maple Spice Oatmeal Bowl, Carrot Cake Muffin Tops, Black Bean Onion Pilaf, Wintery Quinoa Porridge, Quinoa and Sauteed Veggie Cakes, or see all of our recipes for more entrees with whole grains.

For more meatless tips, see: How to Satisfy Your Cravings in a Meat-Free Way, 13 Meatless Monday Meals for the Beginner Cook and Fast Food Favorites Made with Whole Plant-Based Foods.

Lead Image Source: Raw Yam Burgers and Daikon Fries with Ketchup