3 "pegan" meals you need to try now
This is a guest post from a fellow Boston blogger, Jenna of Bloom By Jenna, where she shares amazing plant-based recipes and tips for accessible wellness.
Paleo. Vegetarian. Vegan. Pescatarian. Autoimmune Protocol. Keto.
If there is a diet out there that limits the intake of specific foods for the purpose of feeling good and intuitive eating, I have tried it.
Out of all of the diets I’ve tried, veganism was the one I stuck with the longest, and I absolutely loved how it made me feel. My energy increased, my acid reflux disappeared, and my skin was glowing. In fact, the only reason I stopped eating that way was due to a separate medical issue that forced me to ingest a wider variety of foods for a period of time, but I still reflect on my time eating fully vegan fondly.
While vegan, I attended a lot of events and potlucks with friends who had dietary restrictions of their own, and often found myself attempting to make meals we could all eat. I am a creative person by nature, and love the prospect of a culinary challenge, so it was a lot of fun for me to experiment with what could be made to accommodate everyone’s diets.
During a summer cookout that year, one friend in particular was paleo and unintentionally introduced me to the idea of a “pegan,” or a paleo-vegan, diet.
Initially, I was unsure how I would cook food that we could both eat, but with the help of some Internet research (and looking at the available foods as opportunities and not restrictions) the meal came together. From there, I occasionally made pegan meals simply because I really enjoyed them and how they made me feel. Plus, they tasted amazing!
It can be daunting to experiment with new foods, diets, and different ways of cooking, so I’m sharing three of my favorite (simple!) pegan meals that you can make and try for a day of pegan eating!
Note: Restrictive diets are not for everyone. I have struggled with them myself and had to change the way I ate for personal/health reasons. Please consult the guidance of a medical professional before you make any long-term, drastic changes to your diet.
Breakfast: Paleo “Oatmeal”
When researching pegan breakfasts, I found a lot of chia seed pudding and avocado on flax-toast recipes.
These are both favorites of mine, but I was really looking for a breakfast comfort food that day, and in came the idea of paleo oatmeal (minus the oats). There are a bunch of different ways to make this (with the general idea of using flaxseed meal as a thickening agent) but after some experimenting I landed on my favorite way to make this hearty bowl.
Ingredients (1 serving, but I doubled it for the images):
2 tbsp finely chopped coconut flakes
1 ½ tbsp flaxseed meal mixed with 2 tbsp water (mix and allow to sit for 5 minutes)
2 tsp chia seeds
2 tbsp finely chopped walnuts
½ cup organic almond or coconut milk
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp of pure maple syrup (or more to taste)
Pinch of cinnamon (or more to taste)
Pinch of salt
Chopped fruit of choice for topping (optional)
Heat the almond or coconut milk in a milk steamer or on a stove top until steaming. Stir until it thickens.
In the meantime, mix all of the dry ingredients together in a bowl or pulse in a food processor, then add in the flaxseed meal mixed with water.
Add the maple syrup to the milk, pour over dry ingredient mixture, and stir together.
Top with chopped fruit, coconut flakes, or extra nuts!
Lunch: Kale and Brussels Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing
Personally, I like to keep it light for lunch to give me the energy to get through the rest of the day. This recipe is perfect to make ahead of time and bring to work. Make a large salad to keep yourself full throughout the day and add in extra almonds for protein!
Ingredients (1 large serving):
½ lb Brussels sprouts
½ bunch of kale
¼ cup of dried fruit (I used cranberries)
½ cup of roasted nuts (I used almonds)
Honey mustard dressing (about 1-2 servings):
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1 ½ tsp apple cider vinegar (2 tsp if you like a tart, vinegary taste)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic
2 tsp raw honey (if you don’t eat honey, feel free to choose another natural sweetener)
Pinch of salt to taste
1 tbsp of water (reserve, for consistency)
Chop the ends of the Brussels sprouts and cut into halves.
Remove kale leaves from tough stems.
Using the chopping blade in your food processor, shred the kale and Brussels sprouts. If you don’t have a food processor, try to chop greens into fine shreds.
Mix honey mustard dressing ingredients minus the water in a blender or food processor. Add water if dressing is too thick.
Toss chopped greens with dressing, dried fruit, and nuts.
Dinner: Zucchini Noodles with Pegan “Cheese” Sauce
If you didn’t catch this from my breakfast recipe, I can confirm to you that I love comfort food. When I was on the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol, one of the things I craved most was macaroni and cheese, which is how this recipe came to life.
The best part? It can be made with a variety of different steamed vegetables. For this version, I used zucchini noodles, but I also love it with steamed cauliflower or sweet potato noodles!
“Noodles” (1 serving):
1 lb of zucchini noodles (or 2 medium-sized zucchinis)
1 tbsp olive or avocado oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
“Cheese” sauce (adapted from Nyssa’s Kitchen):
½ cup of cashews, soaked overnight or soaked for a half hour in hot water
1 cup steamed cauliflower
3 tbsp nutritional yeast
Juice from ½ of a lemon
1 tsp of garlic powder
Sprinkle of turmeric (for color)
¼ cup of water (add more as needed)
Optional: Add your favorite spice
Spiralize zucchini using a julienne peeler, and pat dry.
Heat 1 tbsp of oil on stove top over medium-high heat.
Sautée zucchini noodles for 3-5 minutes until cooked through but so that they still have a “crisp” texture. It’s easy to overdo the cooking, so keep an eye on them so they don’t get soggy!
Mix all the cheese sauce ingredients in a food processor on high until blended at desired consistency.
Pour cheese sauce over zoodles, stir, and top with crushed pepper, herbs, or paprika.
Jenna Calderara is a content creator and social media manager based in Boston, Massachusetts. She blogs about accessible wellness centered around mental health, self-care, and plant-based food at Bloom by Jenna, and shares her recipes on Instagram. In her spare time, she likes to paint, try new restaurants, and act out popular musicals in her living-room.