We’ve been on this plant-based eating journey for a little over 100 days now. I can’t believe it myself! I’ve had a lot of friends – especially those who know my usual way of cooking and eating – ask what made us decide to embark on such a big change for our family.

Plain and simple: our health.

Michael went in February for his annual doctor visit and his doctor – a good friend of ours – took a look at his A1C number and asked him point-blank:

Do you want to live to see 60?

Michael is currently 52. Of course, he said yes. And his doctor told him that if he wanted to live to that birthday, he needed to make some major lifestyle changes.

I want him to live longer, too, so I told Michael I would do whatever needed to be done. We took a couple of days to research different eating styles and Michael remembered that a friend of his had lowered his A1C significantly and quickly by eating mainly plant-based. His friend happens to be married to my cousin, so I contacted her and she was a wealth of helpful information.

We watched a fascinating documentary called Game Changers and it sealed the deal for Michael. If you have interest in your health and changing your way of eating, I highly recommend it.

So…plant-based seemed the way to go. At the same time, we also gave up soft drinks. Cold turkey. Anyone who really knows me knows that I drank an obscene amount of Diet Dr. Pepper and Diet Mountain Dew. Obscene. So you can imagine the surprise of my students when I began drinking only water.

Mrs. Pate, are you okay? Where’s your Mountain Dew?

Seriously. When a 5-year-old notices that you’re no longer drinking Mountain Dew, you drank A LOT of Mountain Dew!

I make all the meals at our house, so the responsibility of learning what we could and could not eat fell squarely on my shoulders. I don’t mind. If it means keeping Michael here for as long as possible, I’m happy to do it!

So away we went. No meat. No beef. No chicken, No seafood. No dairy. No eggs. No animal products at all. Not even honey.

I love creating new recipes and a lot of my old recipes still worked – with a LOT of revisions and substitutions. Dinner wasn’t really that difficult. I just tried to make sure that every dish I made was beautiful and delicious.

Breakfast wasn’t too bad either. Michael eats oatmeal every day. The kids don’t really care for breakfast beyond a piece of fruit. And I chose to meal prep my breakfasts. I had roasted sweet potatoes and plant-based sausages on most school days. At home, I usually made avocado toast.

That left lunch. I needed something that I could prep on Sundays to feed all of us. I would be eating mine at school. Michael and Christopher would eat at home. Elizabeth doesn’t like to eat at school, so she would eat hers as soon as she got home from school at 2:30.

Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest, but most mamas know that you end up doing laundry and catching up on housework on Sunday afternoons. I didn’t want to spend my whole Sunday prepping meals – even though it needed to be done.

I came up with these bowls. My “formula” is: a grain, a protein, and veggies. Simple and to the point. I made a dozen on Sunday and then did a mini-prep on Wednesday evenings to finish out the week. The only thing that I really had to cook is the grain (rice, couscous, barley, quinoa). Everything else was added to the bowl cold, with the knowledge that it would all be heated before eating. Most of them take five minutes or less to assemble!

These things are wonderful! Very filling and delicious. Using my formula, there really is no end to the variations you could make. But I’m going to share some of the ones that I’ve made that have been completely family approved!

You will need some sort of meal prep containers – and lots of them! You will see in the photos the kind that I use. They are readily available in most grocery stores, but here are the links I use to order mine:

Round: https://amzn.to/2XENN90

Rectangular: https://amzn.to/2MzdIc3

They are pretty amazing. They go in the fridge or freezer, the microwave, and the dishwasher. And they last for months!

Please note that any time there are beans, they are rinsed and drained before adding to the bowl. This is my favorite small strainer for that task: https://amzn.to/2MKSJ5Z

You’re going to think that I have a product-placement deal with Uncle Ben’s. I don’t. But their Ready Rice packs are great for making these bowls. 90 seconds in the microwave and they’re done!

Some bowls have a drizzle or cup of salad dressing. Our favorite brand is Walden Farms. They are zero carb, zero sugar, zero calorie. But they taste great! I usually transfer them from the original bottle into a squeeze bottle so I can control how much I’m using. https://amzn.to/2MJOYh1

Okay, here are the Bowl Plans:

Uncle Ben’s Garden Rice, black beans, pico de gallo, and cucumbers

Seeds of Change Quinoa and Brown Rice, black beans, grape tomatoes, sugar snap peas
Uncle Ben’s Long Grain and Wild Rice, Great Northern beans, green peas (frozen, but thawed in the microwave), diced tomatoes and green chiles (Rotel)
Uncle Ben’s Spanish Rice, grape tomatoes, salsa, black beans, tortilla chips (add these just before serving)
Gnocchi tossed in spaghetti sauce, black beans, green beans, cup of extra spaghetti sauce
Uncle Ben’s Garden Rice, kidney beans, snow peas, diced tomatoes
Tri-Colored Couscous, steamed edamame, Great Northern beans, red bell pepper strips, cup of salad dressing
Uncle Ben’s Long Grain and Wild Rice, whole kernel corn, black beans, green chiles, diced tomatoes, avocado (add just before serving)
Uncle Ben’s Jasmine Rice, grape tomatoes, green beans, chickpeas
Uncle Ben’s Garden Rice, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, a can of pinto beans mixed with a can of cannellini beans
Uncle Ben’s Garden Rice, Great Northern beans, grape tomatoes, green beans, baby spinach
Uncle Ben’s Garden Rice, black beans, whole kernel corn, grape tomatoes, cucumbers
Udon Noodles, stir fry vegetables, La Choy stir fry sauce, sriracha, sesame seeds
Pearled Barley Salad: cooked pearled barley, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, chickpeas, dressing of choice
Pinto beans, yellow rice, steamed edamame, grape tomatoes
Uncle Ben’s Long Grain and Wild Rice, packaged kale slaw (Walmart), cannellini beans, grape tomatoes, salad dressing of your choice
Capers, quinoa with green peas, red bell pepper strips, chickpeas
Quinoa, black beans, diced tomatoes, steamed edamame, homemade hummus, pine nuts
Pearl couscous with green peas, steamed red pepper, steamed yellow squash
Elbow macaroni, grape tomatoes, snow peas, kidney beans
Ramen noodles, stir fry vegetables, edamame, Kikomon stir fry sauce
Plant-based “meat” crumbles with taco seasoning, black beans, roasted sweet potatoes, salsa, jalapenos
Quinoa, roasted vegetables (leftovers), grape tomatoes, green chiles
Ramen noodles, cooked chopped broccoli, steamed edamame, diced tomatoes, maple lemon Dijon vinaigrette (Juice of 1 lemon, 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard, 1/4 cup of rice vinegar, 1/2 cup of vegetable oil)
Uncle Ben’s Long Grain and Wild Rice, diced tomatoes, whole kernel corn, pinto beans, tortilla strips
Pineapple Coconut Rice, purple cabbage, black beans, mango salsa, lime wedge
White rice, plant-based “beef” crumbles) cooked with taco seasoning, black beans, and corn), tortilla strips, avocado (added just before serving)
Tri-colored couscous, steamed edamame, Great Northern beans, red bell pepper strips, cup of dressing

And there you have it! I will likely add bowl ideas to this post in he future because I rarely make the same one twice. I just use what I have on hand.

Get creative! Use the formula and make up your own.

Michael’s blood sugar went from a terrifying 390 to an average of 125. And a couple of weeks ago, he went back to the doctor and his A1C had dropped from 12.3 to 6.1! So I’m happy to report that style of eating is working for us!

Not vegan? Add chopped or shredded chicken or “taco meat” or cheese or hard boiled eggs. These bowls are a great time saver. They don’t take a ton of time to put together and you can just grab and go in the mornings!

Get on the meal prep band wagon and make your life easier!

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