1,000 Cheap Plant-Based Meals You Can Make in 15 Minutes

veggie wrap 1I’m about to tell you exactly how I eat. Simply, inexpensively, and with endless variety.

Except for salad dressings, I use few recipes. (And even those, I take liberties with!) The first few years in your journey to a whole-foods, plant-based diet, you follow a lot of recipes. (Longtime raw foodies call this “transitional eating.”) It’s normal. In fact, it’s an important phase. It’s instructive, as you experiment with whole foods and ingredients.

You spend a lot of time. Then eating starts to get much easier and simpler. You have many tricks up your sleeve. You are resourceful. Missing an ingredient or two is no problem.

The key to my method is, don’t stress about it. You can’t mess this up! Eating this way is cheap, and it’s also a great way to use a hodgepodge of random plant foods or leftovers in your fridge.

Be inventive and never get stuck in a rut–anything in the produce section fits in this way of eating. I virtually never add salt (even sea salt) to my food. Many of these fillings and sauces have so much flavor, you won’t miss added salt.

Start with a base, add one or more toppings or fillings, and play with sauces or spices. I hope this helps you enjoy the magical world of eating greens, vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, and nuts and seeds–the nutrient-dense plant kingdom of food!



Bowl: brown or wild rice, quinoa, millet, lentils, split peas

Salad: romaine, spring greens, bean sprouts, or other sprouts

Wrap: sprouted grain tortilla, collard leaf, organic corn tortillas, nori (seaweed for sushi)

Noodles: spiralized yellow squash or zucchini, gluten-free whole-grain pasta, kelp noodles


Brown rice peas freeeFILLINGS / TOPPINGS:

Choose one or more of the following that you have on hand:

Lentils (with taco seasoning), any beans (seasoned however you like), or split peas (thick, day-old split pea soup is good!)

Brown rice, wild rice, quinoa (seasoned however you like

Hummus or baba ganoush (eggplant) spread

Sautéed vegetables (with fajita seasoning): think peppers, onions, tomatoes, parsnips, carrots, turnips

Raw vegetables: think jicama, tomatoes, any sprouts, matchstick carrots or other root vegetables, scallions

Olives of any kind, or olive tapenade

Tahini (sesame seed paste)

Avocados, sliced or mashed

Pumpkin, sunflower, or sesame seeds

Walnuts, pine nuts, sliced almonds, or chopped walnuts or pecans



Any salad dressing at all from Ch. 3 of 12 Steps to Whole Foods! They all work! Mix and match, at will!

Salsa of any kind

Pesto sauce (see 12 Steps recipe)

Mustard or Vegannaise

Sauces for Chinese, Thai, Mexican foods (avoid MSG, corn syrup, and other chemical ingredients–these are very inferior to all Ch. 3 dressings)

Have Indian, Italian, Thai, and Mexican organic spice blends on hand.

Always have ginger, turmeric, chili pepper, cayenne, dried parsley, and garlic powder, too. (I avoid pepper, as it is a gastrointestinal irritant.)A few dashes of whatever you feel like, to any of the above, and you’ve completely changed the flavor of the meal, plus added some nutrition!

You can toss into your fillings raw apple cider vinegar or miso (non-GMO) for flavoring.

Plants can’t be franchised! Canada part 2 of 2

A question I’m asked a lot is, “My green smoothies are always different and sometimes I don’t like them. How can I make sure they always ‘turn out?’”

Well, that’s the thing. We’ve standardized our tastes. Ray Kroc did it famously, with the first McDonald’s. The idea was to develop a burger and fries that appealed to the taste buds, then make sure that all the franchises produced exactly the same product. People could count on getting precisely the same thing at any McD’s they went to.

Kale just isn’t like that. It grows in different soils, in different climates, in dozens of different varieties. Different colors of green. Flatter leaves or curlier. Red or white with the green, or just deep evergreen, almost black.

It’s the beauty of the thing, frankly, in a Mickey-D’s world of homogeneity. I like the surprise of my salad or my green smoothie being different every day. I notice it and try to identify and appreciate the variety. Bitter herbs have healing qualities, I remind myself when my greens are less sweet and have more kick.

I try different greens, different superfoods. Arugula or carrot tops or radish tops. Fennel or lavender oil. Bee pollen or maca or aloe vera.

Sometimes our new, vegan, super-healthy GreenSmoothieGirl protein powder if I’ve been eating too much fruit.

In a salad, I toss in fruits, legumes, seeds, nuts, vegetables, depending on what I crave, which sometimes tells us what we might be deficient in.

Here’s a photo of Kristin in a Toronto market, holding heirloom tomatoes. I love their crazy shapes and colors and the way you have to get creative with a knife to cut them.

I imagine most Americans wouldn’t even buy an heirloom tomato. They might be scared of what looks like a Frankenstein vegetable, wouldn’t recognize it as a tomato, because hybridized, homogenized, irradiated, gas-ripened, waxed produce of very few varieties are now “normal.” Back before we controlled our crops with chemicals and hybridization, we had interesting, varied, multi-color tomatoes like these. Fortunately, variety is starting to make a comeback!

Thick slices of heirloom tomatoes made another appearance in this amazing salad I ordered at the 360 Degree restaurant, the turning, panoramic-view tippy top of the CN Tower overlooking the city.

Thank you, our friends in Toronto who ventured the drive into what turned out to be a seedy part of town, for welcoming us to your country. First time ever. We hope to visit more of Canada in the next year.

Let’s celebrate and embrace diversity, not just the colors among people, but the colors in our food. I’ve said it before, and here it is again.

Buy local. Buy organic. Grow your own. Use heirloom seeds. Store them. Avoid GMO at all costs. Join the anti-GMO movement. Teach it all to your children.

Nutrition for pregnant moms, babies, toddlers…..part 5 of 5

Dear GreenSmoothieGirl: My little boy is so picky! He won’t eat healthy food! What do I do?

The first time a child is presented with a healthy food, he often will not like it. We have CREATED “pickiness” in our culture, because we introduce babies to refined sugar. Once you’ve had it, nothing else tastes good. We then bombard our child with ads, and opportunities to eat sugary and salty foods, everywhere they go in a day.

They aren’t defective kids. They’re little addicts.

(My least favorite question at green smoothie demo classes—and it comes from middle-aged and elderly adults, mostly—is, with nose crinkled as if they’re dealing with something very distasteful, “Does the green smoothie TASTE good?”)

The answer is, “If refined sugar and corn syrup are staples of your diet, NO, it doesn’t.”

When you eliminate those, everything tastes better. Get rid of refined salt, aspartame, and MSG too—those are the addictive substances that change your tastes.

Some significant research with kids shows that they need 10 exposures  to a food, to fully embrace it. That’s why I constantly talk about staying the course and being consistent and persistent.

Getting the junk food out of the house. When carrots and cucumbers are competing with Cheezits and Cheetohs? The Cheetohs are gonna win.

They’re easier to chew than carrots. They don’t oxidize or go bad. They taste salty and they melt in your mouth.

Of course, they’re also going to cause inflammation for every part of the body exposed to them.

Ten exposures mean that you COMMIT to a lifestyle where your home is stocked with real foods that nourish and build, protect and detoxify. Not a plastic, fake-orange, bright-yellow-drinks-in-a-can, caffeine-propped, processed hell.

Don’t be a parent who brings home a veggie, gets rejected, and quits. You don’t go to the store and bring home pretty bell peppers and split peas, instead of last week’s Oreos and Spagheti-O’s, and expect everyone to be jumping for joy, and then just quit already when you meet with some resistance. Steel yourself. Educate the kids. Plan and prepare for the long-term, not just this shopping trip. Focus on the light at the end of the tunnel (vibrance, health, the weight you love to be at)…..not the initial resistance.

It doesn’t work like a charm, overnight. Obviously, 10 exposures to a healthy food takes some time. It requires some patience.

And don’t underestimate the way eating corn syrup and cane sugar undermine your goals to raise a whole-foods family.

It takes a little time to find enough food you like, to replace all the junk habits. But you can really starve out all the bad habits over time. I know this because I did it.

Growing a garden puts your kids in touch with where food comes from, too. Far too many of America’s kids would have no clue how to explain to you what is in Chips Ahoy, and where it came from. (For that matter, I can’t explain some of those ingredients either!)

When kids participate in growing “real” foods, they are more interested in eating them. Most of America’s kids know nothing about the sources of their foods beyond the fact that apples grow on trees. Some urban kids don’t even know that.

Many kids love animals and have no understanding that the “chicken nuggets” on their dinner plate means that somebody trapped a bird in a tiny cage its entire life, hacked its head off, ripped its skin off, ground the rest of it up, mixed it with some chemicals, fried it in a giant vat of months-old grease (filtered once a week, whether it needs it or not), formed it into shapes in a factory and froze it for your child to eat months later.

My oldest two kids ate everything I gave them, no problem. The last two gave me a run for my money. They tried to be “picky kids.” Fortunately by then I had my nutritional “core values” firmly in place. I don’t indulge “picky.” Both of those kids eat giant plates of salad, daily green smoothies, and one of them even enjoys vegetable juices and wheat grass shots. Both have told me thank you for having a kitchen full of whole foods. Both have complained that there are often no healthy foods to eat at Dad’s house. I know they don’t want everything I serve. But I also know that I’m sending them into the world with good tastes for real nutrition, an awareness of which foods maintain health, and a knowledge of how to prepare them.

About once a year, I write about picky kids. Here are some previous posts on this topic for anyone who wants to conquer this tough situation facing America’s parents, which is almost entirely our own fault, and within our control if we’re patient and persistent:





What do you eat in a day?

Dear GreenSmoothieGirl: What do you eat in a day? Please tell me in detail.

Answer: We get this question constantly, and actually, I’ve written on that topic four times. For your convenience, here they are:






what I’m eating on the detox

Patti wrote and said, “I hope you’ll be willing to share with us a bit about your detox experiences as well as a few ideas on raw meals for those of us who can only be with you in spirit as our budgets right now are overloaded.”

When you detox, the liver, kidneys, lymph system, digestive system, or bloodstream can sometimes get overloaded as your body throws off accumulations of chemicals and waste products. Common symptoms are headaches and digestive changes (usually diarrhea, but bloating, gas, cramps, or constipation can happen).

You can slow down a cleanse, if necessary, with a baked potato or other cooked vegetables. I stay away from grains and legumes while I’m cleansing–too heavy. (No sugar, no meat or eggs/milk products either. No drinks except water–drink lots of water!)

Debbie in Portland, who set up the three classes I’m teaching first weekend in Feb., wrote me her dietary plans, below. They look a lot like what I’ve been doing, except for the tuna & mayo, and I have just GS for dinner rather than what I make my kids. Debbie calls chocolate “non-negotiable,” LOL!

I sometimes have hot chocolate: Cocoa Mojo/Coconut Milk Powder from my store. And once I broiled quartered corn tortillas to eat with guacamole. One day I had some Turnip Leek Soup (Ch. 6 of 12 Steps, it’s really yummy). And I eat a little dried guava or mango that I brought home from Africa. Everything else is GREEN SMOOTHIE and salads and HOT PINK SMOOTHIE. I was hungry the first couple of days, but that diminishes as you adjust. Your metabolism relaxes so your body can focus on detoxification.

I love detoxing. I’m glad Tera (GreenSmoothieQueen) asked me to collaborate with her to do this with our readers. I feel light and energetic when I eat virtually all raw. I don’t have cleansing reactions, probably because I “run clean” all the time anyway, so it’s not a very dramatic shift like it will be for those eating the S.A.D. It may take you a few years of eating a whole-foods, mostly-raw diet to arrive at that place where a detox doesn’t throw you for a loop. (One reader said all she can do is SLEEP.)

Here’s Debbie’s meal plan for January, eating what she makes for her kids for dinner (and she didn’t say what that is):

Daily- pre-breakfast (about 8:30 a.m.)- 3 cups green smoothie

– dinner 1 cup green smoothie with a tablespoon hydrated chia seeds, main dish of soup, legume or starchy-vegetable based.

M-W-F– breakfast (about 11:30 a.m.)- 2 cups fruity-ish smoothie, soaked grains or sprouted bread

— lunch (biggest meal, about 3:30 p.m.)- 2 cups gr. smoothie, big green salad with pumpkin seeds/ beans/avocado for heartiness, GSG salad dressing, dark chocolate bar (quantity as needed)

T-Th-Sat– breakfast- 2 cups hot pink smoothie with about 1 tbls. flax oil added

— lunch– 2 cups green smoothie, 1/4-1/3 cup sprouted almonds or other nuts/seeds, coconut milk/cocoa (quantity as needed, again)

Sunday– breakfast– 3 cups green smoothie with 1 tbsp. flax oil added

— lunch- 3 cups green smoothie, tuna (with half and half white bean puree and mayo, onions, etc) on sprouted bread, fresh veggies, chocolate in some form

— dinner- 2 cups green smoothie and whatever is served for extended family dinner

10 minutes to feel like a great mom. Because you are!

I saw Kristy again, when I was running errands today.

She’s the mom whose 6-year old daughter had her first green smoothie at Roxberry, my first GSG franchisee.

Kristy said, “I’m making them at home now. My daughter is totally okay with drinking green stuff because she saw them doing it at the smoothie store.”

Don’t underestimate third-party endorsement of a new or controversial idea. A five-year old seeing a 12-year old cousin “eating healthy” is huge. Tell the 12-year old that she’s rockin’ that five-year old’s world, because she might not know what power and influence she has.

I said to Kristy, because she was so excited: “It makes you feel like a good mom, huh.”

And you ARE a good mom for taking a bit of time, creating a habit, making sure your children get liquid greens that add up to 7 servings daily. (That’s a pint.) And then learning to make a big salad every night for dinner.

And then acquiring 10 main dishes in your repertoire that are plant-based whole-food meals. (You get the idea. You keep taking another step down the path.)

Modern moms feel far too much guilt. The Information Age has resulted in so much angst about a thousand angles of parenting–so it’s inevitable that we fall short in many, if not most of them!

Pick the simple but important low-hanging fruit, as a parent. Do the stuff that has the biggest impact for the least investment. For example, sometimes we’re checked-out and distracted when our child gives us the blow-by-blow of a TV show he watched. But when our child is distraught after being rejected by her group of friends at school, we drop what we’re doing, look her in the eye, and listen empathically. It’s not hard to do, and your child may remember that forever. We recognize the things that really matter.

If you can spend only 10 mins. in the kitchen–even if that is ALL the time you have–spend it making green smoothies rather than Orange Julius or ice cream shakes.

The green smoothies habit makes you feel good about your parenting. It doesn’t just support your children’s physical and emotional/mental health. It ameliorates the burden of Parent Guilt, which is an epidemic and which is so nonproductive.

When you have strengths, you can live with your weaknesses. This first habit I teach is an easy strength to cultivate, I think.

I’m not great at sewing my kids’ clothes and making Halloween costumes, or mending them, like my sister-in-law Kelli. I wasn’t great at sitting on the floor for hours playing with my little ones, like my friend Kim. I’m not the most patient parent, like my old neighbor Alice.

But I am really good at some core habits to feed my kids good nutrition.

(My other strengths include stretching my kids’ brains with intelligent conversations; teaching them that reading is fun; helping them find ways to be entrepreneurial; and teaching them about the value of work and accountability.) Hopefully these few strengths cover a multitude of other sins.

I hope you’ll spend a few minutes congratulating yourself for the areas within parenting you are darn good at. What are YOU good at? Parents need self-esteem too!