April Vegan Challenge: Getting Started

Gardening in summer - woman with herbs

We are gearing up to start our Vegan Challenge over the month of April and I thought I’d post these handy tips to prepare.  These are some essentials that I use in making healthy food and I wanted to share them with all of you in advance to starting so we can all get our ducks in a row! 🙂

Keep these helpful little resources bookmarked when preparing plant based meals.  I hope you find this list helpful!  These will be the handy basics that will be included in our menus!

1) World’s Healthiest Foods Veg Recipes

For years I have referred to WHFoods “Side Vegetables” for quick and easy ways to prepare all the green vegetables we can buy in the grocery store.  These recipes are super fast and practical.  A huge time saver!

Check out the link and view the “Side Vegetables” section: Quick Veggie Recipes!

2) Pre chop & wash certain veggies for the week

If you see raw veggies in a snack option for the week… chop it up a few days earlier (when you have time) and put it in a tupperware with water.  This makes accessing them quick and easy.  Chopped veggies submerged in water last about a week this way.

This can also be done for ahead of time prep for the cooked entrees.

3) Raw nuts & seeds (whole or nut/seed butter)

Almonds, almond butter, walnuts, pecans, chia seeds, flax seed, sunflower seeds, sunflower seed butter, pumpkin seeds, etc… pick your favourites.  Keep them on hand.  Use the ones you prefer where nuts and seeds are called for.

Nuts and seeds provide nutrient density in a vegan diet through their good fats and protein content.

4) Beans… especially lentils and chick peas.

Another food that adds nutrient density to meals is beans.  We love lentils and chickpeas… so you’re bound to see these.  In week three there is a silky black bean soup that’s out of this world.

I’ll be using canned beans for the sake of saving time, except for lentils.  For those interested in preparing beans from their dried form… that’s awesome…go for it!

If beans bother your digestive tract, consider taking digestive enzymes during these meals.  Alternatively, taking 1 teaspoon of raw unpasturized apple cider vinegar at the time of a meal can help strengthen digestion.  This is a really simple and easy use of a common culinary ingredient that also has medicinal properties.

5) Gluten free grains, especially brown rice and quinoa.  Include rice pasta of your choice.

Grains provide our meals with fiber and nutrients, which helps with satiety.  Again, another staple in a vegan diet.

6) Sprouted Grain Bread (e.g. Ezekiel or Silver Hills)

We love sprouted grain bread!  It’s another nutrient dense food that is also full of fiber.  The sprouting process makes this bread product less allergenic and more digestible than conventional bread.

7) Vegan Protein Powder

This is optional, since all the smoothies you’ll see in my menu are going to be nutrient rich just by way of the plant ingredients used.  However, adding a protein powder can give a smoothie more nutrient density.  For some people this is helpful to keep them satiated until the next meal.  In addition, a good protein powder can help with energy demands and blood sugar balancing for those who have busy schedules and/or exercise regularly.

My two favourite vegan protein powders are Vega One and Sun Warrior Blend powders.  Both can be easily found at local health food stores and grocery stores (e.g. Commisso’s, Zehrs).

Since Dr. Ernie and I are looking to gain a month of detoxification during this challenge, we’ll be using a specially designed protein powder from Thorne Reseach called Mediclear.  It’s a vegan protein powder with added nutriceutical ingredients that support detoxification.  We have this available at WIN.  For more information, feel free to email me at drlaura@winhealth.ca

Ok… so that’s the run down of the “staples.”  Now, let’s get to it!  I’m sending out Week One’s menu on Sunday so we can grocery shop and get set… whether you’re increasing your plant food nutrition or you’re all in and joining our month long vegan adventure, may the (GREEN) force be with you!  And remember to have fun! 🙂







  1. Sarah Phillips · March 28, 2014

    ok .. well my goal is to increase veggies and reduce meat for the month so I may not be 100% but I’m going to see what you post and give it a try! Love to hear how others are doing with it and how they feel and any side effects.

    My other goal for April is also to use this infrared sauna that I bought more often!

    • Dr. Laura Imola, BSc, ND (Licensed) · March 29, 2014

      Hi Sarah! That sounds like a great approach! I hope you find my posts helpful. Looking forward to a great month of healthy eating. 🙂

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