Plant Power

Move over meat: plants are quickly becoming the superheroes on our plates.






SO IF YOU THINK a plant-based diet is all about sad salads and missing out, think again.

“If you imagine that eating a plant-based diet might be limiting, it’s the opposite: A whole world of food options will open to you,” says Dr. Neal Barnard, founder of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and associate professor of medicine at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. “More and more people are realizing how delicious these foods can be.”

Some believe that not eating meat results in a lack of protein. Not so, says Barnard. There are plenty of plant-based protein sources, including grains, nuts, beans, quinoa, soy, and seeds. And you’ll be in good company—many of the world’s top athletes, who have specific protein needs, are proving it’s possible to bulk up without meat, and even gain a competitive edge, Barnard points out.

“Venus and Serena Williams have dominated the tennis courts for years on a plant-based diet, while going vegan is the go-to health trend in the NFL,” he says. “We’ve also seen Olympians—gold medal figure skater Meagan Duhamel and Kendrick Farris, the only male weightlifter to make the U.S. Olympic team in Rio—Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton, and NBA players dominating their sports on a plant-based diet.”

A diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables also provides plenty of fiber, which helps to lower cholesterol, fight inflammation, and lower blood pressure. And important nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium are all found in plants. Beyond health benefits, there are also environmental and animal-welfare ones to consider, as well. “Animal agriculture is a leading cause of climate change, and it also leads to water and air pollution,” Barnard says.

Ready to jump in? Our culinary genius, Olivia Roszkowski, has whipped up a few plant-based delights that we Naturally think will convert any skeptic.

Roasted Buffalo-Spiced Cauliflower With Pine Nut Bleu

Yield: 4 cups cauliflower, 3⁄4 cup Pine Nut Bleu


  • 1  large cauliflower
  • 2  teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2  teaspoons garlic powder
  • 3  tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce, or to taste


  • 1 English cucumber

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Cut cauliflower in medium florets, (approximately 6 cups). Toss with smoked paprika, ground cumin, garlic powder, olive oil, and sea salt.

Spread onto a baking tray and roast for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden.

Slice cucumber into thick strips.

Toss cauliflower with hot sauce, adjusting amount to taste.

Serve warm with Pine Nut Bleu and sliced cucumber pieces.


  • 1⁄2 cup pine nuts
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons miso 1⁄3 cup filtered water
  • pinch spirulina powder

Soak pine nuts in hot water for 10 minutes.

Drain and blend with garlic, apple cider vinegar, miso, and filtered water until pine nuts become creamy but still retain some texture.

Place mixture into a bowl. Sprinkle spirulina, using a toothpick to swirl in.


  • Cauliflower can also be sliced into “steaks,” marinated, and served as an entrée.
  • Try stuffing the cauliflower, cucumber, and dressing into a whole wheat tortilla for a flavorful buffalo wrap.
  • Try the same spice mix over seasonal squash, root vegetables, or Brussels sprouts for an added kick to what you have on hand.
  • Pine nuts can be replaced with cashews, macadamia nuts, or sunflower seeds.

Super Seed Hemp Seed ‘Hummus’ With Assorted Squash Crudite

Yield: 1 1⁄2 cups ‘hummus,’ 4 cups squash


  • 1⁄4 cup hemp seeds, more for garnish
  • 1  large zucchini
  • 2  tablespoons tahini
  • 1  teaspoon sea salt
  • 2  garlic cloves
  • 1⁄3 cup olive oil, more for garnish
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced

Soak hemp seeds in hot water for 10 minutes. Drain and place in a blender.

Peel zucchini, cut into a rough dice (approximately 1 3⁄4 cup) and place into the blender along with tahini, sea salt, garlic cloves, and olive oil.

Zest (about 2 teaspoons) and juice lemon (about 2 1⁄2 tablespoons), add to mixture and process until smooth.

Place ‘hummus’ in bowl and garnish with additional hemp seeds and olive oil.


  • 1 Delicata squash
  • 1 acorn squash

Bring a medium pot filled halfway with water up to a boil.

Cut the squash into finger-length strips, place in water and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until cooked through, but the squash still retains its texture.

Strain squash, and cool before serving.


  • Soaking hemp seeds helps ensure a creamier hummus texture.
  • Try different flavors like za’atar, smoked paprika or creamy herb.
  • Hemp seeds work great to thicken the zucchini mixture. Add more for a thicker texture.
  • Peel zucchini before using for a creamier and brighter result.
  • Keep chilled before serving for a thicker texture or emulsify a few tablespoons of refined coconut oil for a more decadent snack.

Hemp Millet Nuggets With Chipotle Barbecue

Yield: 16 nuggets, 1 3⁄4 cups barbecue sauce

  • 1 cup millet
  • 1⁄2 cup hemp seeds
  • 1  onion
  • 2  tablespoons olive oil, more for brushing
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1⁄3 cup nutritional yeast


  • 1 head celery

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Add millet and 13⁄4 cups of water to a small pot. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook on low heat for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, add hemp seeds and allow mixture to steam covered for additional 5 minutes.

Dice onion. Heat olive oil in a pan and add onion and salt. Cook for 4 to 6 minutes or until onion is translucent.

Combine cooked millet, hemp, onion, and nutritional yeast.

Form 2-tablespoon-size nuggets, using hands to form into desired shape.

Brush on oil; place on a baking tray. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until nuggets are golden and crispy. Serve warm with celery sticks and barbecue sauce.


  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 3 chipotles in adobo, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 11⁄2 teaspoons sea salt

Add tomatoes, chipotle (approximately 3 tablespoons), apple cider vinegar, agave nectar, and salt to a blender and process until smooth.

Transfer to a small pot and simmer for 10 minutes.


  • Steaming the hemp seeds softens them enough to become a cohesive part of the batter and prevents them from drying out the millet during the baking process.
  • Starting the millet in cold water leads to a stickier finish, making it easier to bind.
  • Freeze extra sauce and use as a flavorful marinade over tofu or your favorite protein.
  • Make hemp millet nuggets into larger patties and bake into flavorful burgers.
  • Blend chipotles in adobo sauce before using for easier heat distribution.

Lentil ‘Bolognese’ Rigatoni

Yield: 8 cups


  • 1 cup black lentils
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, more for garnish
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon red chili flakes, more for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 11⁄2 cup marinated tomatoes

Place lentils in a small pot and cover with water by 1-inch. Bring to a simmer and cook on low heat for 20 minutes or until tender. Drain and rinse to remove excess starch.

Mince garlic.

Warm olive oil in a sauté pan and add minced garlic. Cook for 30 seconds and add cooked lentils, red chili flakes, salt, and marinated tomatoes. Cook for additional 5 minutes or until ingredients are heated through.


  • 1 package (16ounces) organic rigatoni
  • 1 bunch rainbow chard
  • 1 cup pecorino (or favorite grated vegan cheese) more for garnish

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add rigatoni and cook for 10 to 12 minutes or until al dente.

While pasta is cooking, destem chard and cut into 1-inch pieces. Add to pasta during the last minute of cooking.

Drain pasta and chard and toss with pecorino cheese and lentil ‘Bolognese.’ Garnish with additional pecorino cheese, olive oil and red chili flakes.


  • Black lentils stay firmer during the cooking process than brown, green or red varieties.
  • Adding greens during the last minute of cooking the pasta saves time and eliminates the need for extra pots.
  • Try with favorite pasta variety like linguine or spiralize zucchini for a fresher take.
  • Serve cold as a flavorful lunchbox pasta salad.
  • Try substituting cheese with pitted olives for a salty, buttery finish.

Walnut Bulgur ‘Chorizo’ Stuffed Multi-Color Miniature Peppers

Yield: 24 bite-size peppers

  • 1⁄3 cup bulgur
  • 1⁄2 cup walnuts
  • 5 sun-dried tomatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1⁄3 cup olive oil, more to brush peppers
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, more to garnish
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 12 miniature multi-color peppers

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Bring bulgur and 3⁄4 cup of water to a boil in a small pot. Turn off heat and allow bulgur to rehydrate for 10 minutes. Soak walnuts and sun-dried tomatoes in hot water for 10 minutes.

Add hydrated walnuts and tomatoes to a food processor with 2 tablespoons of soaking liquid and pulse briefly with garlic, olive oil, oregano, smoked paprika, and salt until a coarse paste forms.

Transfer to bowl and mix with cooked bulgur.

Split each pepper in half lengthwise, and remove pith and seeds.

Brush peppers with olive oil.

Stuff each pepper half with 1 tablespoon of bulgur filling, firmly pressing it in with fingers.

Place on baking tray and cook for 15 minutes, or until the topping is golden and the peppers are cooked through. Do not overcook, or filling will become crumbly.

Serve warm, garnished with extra oregano.


  • Soaking the nuts and sun-dried tomatoes hydrates them adequately to mimic the texture of chorizo.
  • Walnuts can be substituted with sunflower seeds, pine nuts or almost any nuts or seeds.
  • The “chorizo” crumbles make a great topping for pizza and tacos, or as an add-in to pastas.
  • Add chili flakes to taste, for a spicy variation on a classic favorite.
  • Try marinating peppers with your favorite vinaigrette before baking for a tangier finish.

Quinoa Pudding With Warm Orange Marmalade

Yield: 3 cups pudding, 1⁄2 cup marmalade


  • 1  cup quinoa
  • 2  cups filtered water
  • 1 14-oz. can coconut milk
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1⁄4 cup agave nectar, or to taste
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1⁄2 cup slivered almonds

Add quinoa and water to a small pot. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes over low heat.

Transfer quinoa to a blender, along with coconut milk, agave nectar and salt.

Scrape vanilla bean and add seeds to mixture in blender.

Blend briefly, leaving a bit of texture. Cool before serving.

Place quinoa pudding in a bowl, followed by a dollop of orange marmalade and a sprinkling of almonds.


  • 2 oranges, zested and juiced
  • 1⁄3 cup agave nectar
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon agar powder

Use peeler to zest oranges, avoiding the white pith as much as possible.

Cut zest into thin strips (approximately 1/3 cup). Add to a small pot along with agave nectar. Juice oranges (approximately 1 cup) and set aside.

Cook zest mixture over high heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Carefully add orange juice and cook on high heat for additional 5 minutes. Stir in agar powder and turn off heat to cool marmalade.


  • Use a peeler to carefully zest an orange and avoid the bitter white pith.
  • Agar works as a great plant-based thickener. If using agar flakes instead of powder use 1⁄3 of the amount and allow for an additional few minutes to dissolve.
  • This dish can be served warm as porridge or cooled as a decadent quick snack or dessert.
  • Use organic oranges if possible to avoid excess pesticide exposure.

One-Pot Coffee Chipotle Chili With Cornbread Dumplings

Yield: Makes 4 cups chili, 16 dumplings


  • 1  red onion
  • 2  green peppers
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2  teaspoons chipotle powder, or to taste
  • 3  cups brewed coffee
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans
  • 1 avocado

Slice onion lengthwise and dice peppers. Preheat oil in a pot on high flame.

Add onion (approximately 1 1⁄2 cups), peppers (approximately 2 1⁄2 cups), and salt. Cook for 4 minutes or until translucent.

Stir in chipotle powder, coffee, and maple syrup.

Drain and rinse black beans and add to coffee mixture.

Simmer on low heat for 15 minutes. Smash avocado and set aside.


  • Try making different flavored dumplings by adding nutritional yeast, garlic powder, cayenne, or cilantro.
  • Coconut milk is a great substitute for milk and butter because of its natural fat content and creamy consistency.
  • Use decaffeinated coffee for all of the flavor benefits and less of the jitters if serving in the late evening hours.