21 foods for 2021
Updated: Jan 21
Whole Foods, Plant-Based, AND Vegan? Have no fear, we've got you covered...
As if starting a new year after 2020: Year of the Dumpster Fire isn't exciting enough, why not kick-off 2021 with a reintroduction to some of the best things you can eat?!
21 - Arugula: an excellent source of fiber
Robin's favorite way to enjoy: Such a great topping for so many things!! Pizzas, pastas, salads, add it to your sandwich, so many uses. Also, considered part of the herb family!
Jules's favorite way to enjoy: As pictured, on top of a plant-based pizza! It adds such a nice, bright crunch to complement your crust, sauce, and other toppings. One of my go-tos (and you might have seen it in our Plant-Based Primer!) is pita pizzas. You can use beans (refried, hummus, etc.) and veggies on a whole wheat crust to make the most delicious, healthy, and filling snack or meal.
20 - Quinoa: a complete protein
Robin's favorite way to enjoy: After preparing your quinoa, adding a splash of vegetable broth and garlic powder can turn something otherwise plain into something fantastic!
Jules's favorite way to enjoy: In a bowl with stir-fry veggies and peanut sauce! I've been enjoying this dish since long before I went plant-based, and can vouch that it's crowd-pleasing even to those who might go, "Quin-what?"
And ooh, before we get into any more of these wonderful, nutrient dense foods, we should point out that you can often score GREAT deals on all of these staples -like quinoa- over at Thrive Market. Robin shops there regularly and says it's a lifesaver. Use our affiliate link and get a 25% off your first order and a free gift!
Robin's most recent Thrive market haul!
19 - Chickpeas: high fiber & high protein. *FUN FACT* use the brine (water in can) to make aquafaba = meringue for cookies and pies!
Robin's favorite way to enjoy: My chickpea salad!
Jules's favorite way to enjoy: Wait, do I only get one?! Nope, can't do it. From InstaPot hummus (the best hummus I've ever had) to falafel to roasted as a snack... chickpeas are one of those great vehicles for 'accidentally vegan' foods and dishes! I also recently used them in a lemon orzo soup and they took it to the next level. Even Trader Joe's is hopping on board with their new Greek canned chickpeas.
18 - Acai: high in antioxidants, considered a super food
Robin's favorite way to enjoy: Acai bowls for the win!! Such a great way to enjoy this superfood with lots of yummy, healthy toppings. You can even find them in frozen packets to add to your smoothies.
Jules's favorite way to enjoy: I'm going to go with nutrition expert Robin on this one!
17 - Brown Rice: a good source of minerals like calcium and iron
Robin's favorite way to enjoy: I like to keep it simple and absolutely love a bowl of warm rice, with a splash of vegetable broth, sprinkle of nutritional yeast, **muah**
16 - Broccoli: bring on the B vitamins
Robin's favorite way to enjoy: SEE BELOW!! Jules has it down. Broccoli is sooo good. My kids will eat this raw with a little hummus for a perfect snack.
Jules's favorite way to enjoy: Oh boy, roasted broccoli is swoon-worthy. I put broccoli in EVERYTHING, especially my general Tso's tofu, lasagna, and Thai curry. But my absolute FAVORITE way to eat broccoli? Roasted, in a quesadilla, with some caramelized onions and cashew cheese spread.
15 - Nutritional Yeast: contains B12
Robin's favorite way to enjoy: I sprinkle this on just about everything. Add it to soup, salads, sauces, pastas, and more. So versatile and a great addition to any meal.
14 - Sweet Potatoes: iron, calcium, vitamins B and C
Robin's favorite way to enjoy: Love to roast sweet potatoes and enjoy them warm, with some cinnamon sprinkled on top.
Jules's favorite way to enjoy: Of course just roasted, whole, with some Miyoko's butter will do the trick, but my favorite sweet potato recipe is, why, in our downloadable Thanksgiving 2020 menu! Whipped sweet potatoes. They're also Uncle Jesse's (my 10-year-old vegan doodle) faaaavorite food, so I ALWAYS have a container of roasted sweet potatoes ready to go in the fridge.
13 - Apples: an amazing source of fiber
Jules finds the perfect apple while apple-picking in New Jersey this fall!
Robin's favorite way to enjoy: I love a cool, crisp apple after being outside or somewhere warm - just a perfect snack. I also love to slice and bake for a fall treat.
Jules's favorite way to enjoy: Just the way Mother Nature intended! I eat one almost every day (you know how the saying goes...) and recently talked about how one little apple put a pep in my step for nearly two hours on one of the hardest hikes I've ever done. Amazing.
12 - Oats: great for digestive health
Robin's favorite way to enjoy: I love how oats can be used as flour, milks, and more!
Jules's favorite way to enjoy: Have you ever tried overnight oats? My favorite whole foods plant based add-ins are raisins, walnuts, maple syrup, and peanut butter.
11 - Mangoes: a great source for vitamin A
Robin's favorite way to enjoy: In my pantry we ALWAYS have a packet of dried mangos from Trader Joe's or Whole Foods. Keep an eye out for any added sugars if you're buying dried fruits. I like them unsweetened because mangos are perfect just the way they are!
Jules's favorite way to enjoy: When I first went plant-based in 2016, I discovered 'champagne mangoes' at Whole Foods (in season late April-May) and my life was never the same. I add them to warm grain bowls with walnuts: mind blown. Wondering how to cut them? Check out this video!
10 - Cashews: a great source of protein (and so versatile: cheeses, sauces, and more!)
Robin's favorite way to enjoy: turn these little gems into cheese or ranch dressing, eat them by the handful, chop them up and add them to your salad. You can't go wrong with cashews.
Jules's favorite way to enjoy: I know I've already mentioned a ton of cashew recipes, but wait, there's more! Putting cashews into your fried rice will take it over the top! (And if you really want to go crazy, add mangoes, too!)
9 - Kale: one of the most nutrient-dense foods!
Robin's favorite way to enjoy: kale can do no wrong in my eyes. I like to use kale in smoothies and also enjoy a good kale salad. You can bake these into chips for a crunchy snack, too.
Jules's favorite way to enjoy: I know, I know. The quintessential "health food," ugh. That's why Robin and I spent a lot of time talking about kale in our "Is That Bird Food?" course. What I never knew until going vegan was that you have to massage it (ooh yes, get cozy) for a minute or so with citrus (e.g., lemon juice) or vinegar to break it down. Game. Changer.
8 - Avocado: can help reduce the risk of heart disease
Robin's sister paying homage to this fantastic food.
Robin's favorite way to enjoy: Sometimes I stand in the kitchen, spoon in hand, half of an avocado in the other...
Jules's favorite way to enjoy: Um, is there any way I DON'T enjoy avocados? Guacamole, obviously, and also in the cashew spread quesadillas I mentioned earlier! Or sliced on top of a plant-based burger!
7 - Mushrooms: a good source of selenium (which reduces risks for Alzheimers)
Robin's favorite way to enjoy: I love mushrooms in soup, they have such an earthy, warm flavor. I definitely prefer them cooked versus raw but I love to add some sliced mushrooms to my salads.
Jules's favorite way to enjoy: IN ALL THE PLACES! My absolute favorite: walnut-mushroom pate (I swap out butter for a vegan version). Honorable mention: red wine sauce! Also, any time I grill portabellas, there are never enough to go around, so it's a great option if you're at an omnivore BBQ. (BONUS: you can use any leftover marinade to make a dressing since there aren't any meat cooties!)
6 - Lentils: protein-packed!
Robin's favorite way to enjoy: I love to make lentil sloppy joes or a lentil loaf. For your friends and family who prefer a "meatier" meal, lentils are a great addition.
Jules's favorite way to enjoy: In a soup or curry! (I use this recipe and just swap out mung beans for lentils!)
5 - Black Beans: high protein, high fiber, great for diabetes management
Robin's favorite way to enjoy: I love to have a side of beans on our plates for dinner and my kids essentially eat these as finger foods!
4 - Cauliflower: fiber-full AND full of antioxidants (can be used in a variety of ways: crusts, rice, turned into sauces, and more!)
Robin's favorite way to enjoy: My cauliflower ricotta!
Jules's favorite way to enjoy: Robin's cauliflower ricotta! (Also a great add-in for Thai curry.)
3 - Oranges: high in vitamins + the perfect zero-waste snack!
Robin's favorite way to enjoy: Perfect snack to have with you while you are out and about, just toss a few in your bag and go.
Jules's favorite way to enjoy: In a bowl with sliced banana! Oh and hey, look what's next on our list...
2 - Bananas: wonderful potassium source (also a great, zero-waste snack)
Robin's favorite way to enjoy: As someone who enjoys running, I always have a banana post-run. These also travel really well so you can enjoy a healthy snack on your way home or between meetings.
Jules's favorite way to enjoy: I just adore banana slices atop any sort of cereal or grain bowl in place of sugar.
1 - Carrots: a fantastic source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber
Robin's favorite way to enjoy: Carrots have been a go-to since childhood. They pair well with hummus, guacamole, or on their own!
Jules's favorite way to enjoy: Raw: with peanut butter (sound weird? Try it and let us know what you think!). Roasted: with fresh dill.
Are you as hungry as we are? Any other plant-based whole foods we should include on this list? (Jules wouldn't allow beets. Her lone food nemesis.)