Simon Hill is a food expert for Centr. He has completed a Bachelor of Physiotherapy, completed a Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate Course at Cornell University and is currently finishing his Masters in Nutrition at Deakin University. He is passionate about making nutritional information simple and accessible so that people can make informed decisions about the food they feed themselves and their family. You can also find him at @plant_proof.
Health benefits. Environmental concerns. Animal welfare. Not wanting to find surprise gristle ever again. Whatever your reason for considering a plant-based diet, making the vegan switch has never been easier. By taking advantage of all the animal-free products on grocery store shelves, and understanding how to be creative with plant-based cooking, you can tailor a vegan meal to any health and fitness lifestyle. You can lose weight, you can sustain weight, or you can bulk. It’s simply about sourcing your nutrients from different foods. This year, I joined Chris Hemsworth’s team as part of his digital fitness program Centr. The app offers workouts, mindfulness and meal plans – including vegan and vegetarian options. Centr encourages all members to take part in Meat-free Mondays, showing how easy and tasty a plant-based diet can be. Still, making the switch to full-on vegan can seem daunting for some people. The secret is to start slow.
Everyone is going to transition differently, and there are so many different factors: what you’re putting on your plate, where your health is currently at, what was your diet like before, what your gut bacteria is like. So listen to your body and do it in your own time. Meat-free Mondays are a great way to test the water, but why wait until Monday? Try my ‘Vegan for a Day’ menu on for size. It just might change your life.
Breakfast: Choc Mint Smoothie Bowl
Up your smoothie game with this plant-based, pre-workout power bowl that’s packed with the goodness of fruit, seeds and nuts. My secret is steamed and frozen cauliflower, which adds the creaminess you crave. That’s right, we’re putting vegetables into a sweet smoothie bowl. And why not? It’s quick, delicious and super nutritious.
Serves: 2 Prep 10 min
Ingredients 1⁄2 cup almond milk 2 tbs natural protein powder 2 tbs hemp seeds 1 tsp spirulina powder 1 tsp raw cacao powder 1 banana frozen & sliced 1/4 cup frozen blueberries 1 Lebanese cucumber frozen & sliced 1⁄2 cup baby spinach leaves fresh or frozen 1⁄4 head of cauliflower steamed then frozen overnight 1 sprig of fresh mint leaves picked Toppings 1 tbs fresh or frozen blueberries 1 tbs toasted granola 1 tbs chia seeds 1 tsp cacao nibs 1 tsp coconut flakes Method 1. Blend all smoothie ingredients in a blender until smooth. Adjust to desired consistency using water, if required. 2. Divide between bowls and arrange toppings to serve.
Lunch: Tex Mex Wrap
Have you been neglecting your fiber? It’s amazing for gut health and digestion, and comes with a slew of other health benefits. Luckily, vegan whole food diets are full of it. Take this zesty, fresh tortilla wrap, stuffed with black beans (a flavorful and low-fat legume), as well as fresh veg for antioxidants. Top it off with avocado for a healthy fat to keep you fuller for longer. A great light lunch that’s heavy on nutritional value.
Serves 1 Prep 10 mins Cook 8 mins Ingredients: 1⁄4 red bell pepper finely diced 1⁄4 cup frozen corn defrosted 1 can of black beans (14 oz can) drained & rinsed 1⁄2 tsp Mexican spice mix (a mix of ground cumin, paprika & chilli pepper) salt & pepper, to taste 1 small corn tortilla warmed 1⁄4 avocado mashed 1 scallion thinly sliced 2 sprigs of fresh cilantro chopped Method:
1. Heat a medium non-stick skillet over medium heat and cook bell pepper for 5 minutes until soft. Add corn, beans and spice mix and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes until heated through. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat.
2. Spread avocado down the middle of the tortilla, top with vegetables and sprinkle with scallion and cilantro. Fold the bottom of the tortilla up and wrap in the sides. Serve.
Dinner: Creamy Eggplant & Chickpea Curry
A satisfying comfort food dinner that proves ‘free from animal products’ doesn’t mean ‘free from creamy deliciousness’. This masala-style curry calls for coconut milk to give it richness and balance out the spices and chilli. The rich umami flavor and texture of eggplant also makes it a great ‘meaty’ substitute, without the potential risks of red meat.
Serves: 4 Prep 10 mins Cook 30 mins Ingredients: 1⁄2 cup brown rice rinsed 1 cup water 1⁄4 tsp salt 2 tbs flaked almonds 1 tsp coconut oil 3 tsp garam masala 3⁄4 tsp chilli flakes 2 garlic cloves crushed 1 yellow onion finely chopped 2 medium eggplants cut into 1 inch cubes 2 cans of crushed tomatoes (14 oz cans) 1 cup coconut milk salt & pepper, to taste 10 oz broccoli cut into florets 2 cans of chickpeas (14 oz cans) drained & rinsed 1⁄4 bunch of fresh cilantro roughly chopped Method: 1. Place rice, water and salt in a medium saucepan and simmer, covered for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and stand for 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork. 2. Place almonds in a large saucepan over medium heat and toast for a few minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. 3. Using the same saucepan, heat oil. Add garam masala, chilli, garlic and onion and cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly, until onion has softened. 4. Add eggplant and stir to coat in spice mixture and cook for a few minutes. 5. Add tomatoes, coconut milk and salt, bring to a simmer and cook uncovered for 10 minutes. Add broccoli and chickpeas, and cook for another 3-5 minutes or until broccoli is just cooked. Adjust seasoning. 6. Top with cilantro and flaked almonds and serve with rice.