The Daily Beet

02 May Keeping It Simple. Plus a Giveaway!

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Today we are giving away a ONE YEAR membership to Engine 2 Extra! One year of support, coaching, Ebooks, 28 day challenges, live chat, interviews with the top names in plant-strong education and more. Be sure to read this post, and find out at the end how to enter!

If you are on Engine 2 Extra, you have probably had the chance to talk to one of the three coaches. We’re like the three musketeers. All of us have had tremendous success living our plant-strong lives, and we are still very much on the journey. In order to be plant-strong for the long haul (like the three of us) we have learned one thing, you’ve got to keep things simple.

The topic of recipes comes up a lot. Everyday we get a lot of e-mails from people asking for more recipes. Which is a little bit funny, because the three of us have one thing in common, we rarely (if ever) use a recipe. In fact, I honestly can’t remember the last time I did. People always seem to find this amusing, because when we post our meals or meal plans on E2X, people ask for the recipe for something we’ve posted, but more than likely, what we wrote IS the recipe.

I think that the key to being successful at this plant-strong thing is keeping it simple. Now, let me clarify, I don’t have a problem with recipes at all, I think they are great for a lot of people, especially as you start out on this journey, and they are great to get a few good things under your belt, so they become staples in the kitchen. However, sometimes the best thing you can do is know how to make a simple meal, one that requires no “recipe”. After all there are THOUSANDS of plant-strong recipes out there, on the web and in books, the problem is never a shortage of recipes. What we most often find is that people need to dig deep and find their boldness and braveness and go ahead and try new things.

A few things to help you: 

Frozen Food:  Make sure your kitchen is well stocked with easy-to-make meals. Long gone are the days of hot pockets and Lean Cuisine. We’ve got something better: frozen plant-strong food! What? Did you just read that right? Frozen food is a must in keeping it simple and for fast, easy meals. First, don’t worry about frozen food and nutrients, often it’s even fresher than “fresh” because it is picked right on the field, flash frozen. Sometimes what we get in the grocery store has been sitting on a truck for a min. of 7 days, who knows where before that (I’m not saying don’t buy fresh, but just know that frozen is also fantastic).

We can’t go without talking about Engine 2’s frozen grain blends of course. (sorry for the plug, we just honestly really like them). We have a breakfast grain blend, wild grain blend and then a mexican grain blend. These alone are a meal if you want them to be, of course you can always add to them.

Here are a few examples (all of these took under 10 minutes to make)

photo (42)-L


Hot Breakfast Cereal: Breakfast Grain blend with frozen mixed berries (heated up) and cinnamon. Total time to make: 4 minutes.

photo (44)-L (1)

Wild grain tacos: 

To make the taco shells, you just take plain corn tortillas, stick them in the oven, right on the rack, draping them over 2 bars in your oven. Bake for 5-7 minutes on 350. Then fill up your taco, we used the wild rice blend, added some canned (no sodium) black beans, topped it with our E2 Salsa, some dried chives and jalapeño, and it was done. Total time: 8 minutes (heat up the wild grains blend while your corn tortillas are in the oven)


photo (43)-L


Taco salad: 

We took our E2 wrap, stuck it in this magical pan and baked it in the oven for 7 minutes. Then we put some fresh spinach in the bowl, and added our mexican grain blend on top. Simple. Took 7 minutes to make.


I know what you are thinking. “I don’t live near a Whole Foods, I can’t buy your grain blends, I’m stuck, I am going to have to live off of really nasty frozen junk food.”

Lucky for you, that’s just not the case. You can find great frozen food in ANY grocery store. I  traveled for 4 years, full time and lived in some very rural places in the country, not anywhere near a Whole Foods or any kind of speciality store. I have never once starved, and never once had to eat something that wasn’t plant-strong.

There are a lot of great frozen vegetables and fruits in every store (even Target!). At most stores you can get frozen brown rice, and most now have frozen beans as well. Stock up on frozen vegetables, grains and beans. They make for great, simple meals anytime.

*Tip: Remember that you do not need to cook frozen vegetables/grains/beans very long at all, you are just heating them up. You can throw them in a pan with a little water, and just “fry” them until they are cooked all the way through. I never boil my frozen vegetables/grains and beans.

For fruit you can heat it up in a few minutes, or you can take frozen fruit out and thaw it and use it on your oatmeal, on cereal, on salads or just to eat plain.

Aside from the frozen aisle, you can get lots of great stuff that is easy to prepare in any grocery store: 

Oatmeal. I’ve yet to find a store that does not carry oatmeal. Oatmeal is a great, fast breakfast (lunch or dinner). Add fruit, some cinnamon and you’ve got yourself a healthy plant-strong meal. You can also make oat-crisp.

Here is my super simple “recipe” for oat crisp: 

1. Get a pan.

2. Put a layer of frozen fruit down in the pan. (any fruit)

3. Next add a layer of oats, about an inch thick.

4. Next, cover oats in water (not drenching, just making sure all of the oats are wet).

5. Put in the oven at 350 for around 30 minutes, till the oats are cooked.

6. Take out of the oven, you can serve it with maple syrup if you’d like.

This lasts for at least a week, you can also freeze it and re-heat it.


I have a love affair with potatoes. As a former, out of control T2 diabetic I was always told I could not have potatoes. Silly doctors, potatoes are a great food for diabetics. Of course not the ones that are topped with junk food or fried in oil, but just good old potatoes. Dr. McDougall and Jeff Novick are responsible for me not fearing the mighty potato, loaded with nutrients, low in calorie density, great for filling you up and helping with weight loss, it’s time that the potato get back in your kitchen.

I make about 20 potatoes at a time. I put them on a lined cookie sheet, cover the cookie sheet and then bake them at 410 for about 45 minutes (you have to check on them, I really just cook them until I can poke them with a knife and they feel done)

We always have potatoes, cooked, ready to go in our house, sweet potatoes and white potatoes.

From there you can do all sorts of things:

Potato scramble: Chop up your cooked potatoes, add them to a pan, throw some canned (low sodium) beans in, salsa, frozen spinach (or whatever else you happen to like), top with salsa.

Pizza Potato: Plant-strong pizza sauce (or Pomi crushed tomatoes), frozen brocoli (cooked), white beans, a little nutritional yeast and Italian seasoning.

Mexican Potato: Salsa, beans, corn, greens, salsa.

Potato hotdog: If you are on E2X, you have heard me talk about this, and you know I’m weird. For everyone else, welcome to my favorite meal. I used to LOVE veggie hotdogs. Unfortunately they are loaded with junk. However, one day I realized something, I didn’t really like the hot dog, I liked the toppings. So I took a potato one day, and added some sauerkraut (low sodium), mustard, onions and beans. Trust me, if you like potato toppings, you’ll love the potato hot dog.

Pomi Tomatoes: 

We LOVE Pomi tomatoes. They are great to make a quick chili, soup, sauce or salsa. Throw a couple of boxes of Pomi crushed tomatoes into a pot, add frozen greens, some frozen mixed vegetables and a can of beans, and you’ve got a delicious meal. Jeff Novick introduced me to Pomi tomatoes in his Fast Food cooking DVD (which I highly recommend getting if you have ever said the following: 1. This is too hard 2. This is too expensive 3. I don’t cook).


If you haven’t had quinoa, you are missing out! It only takes 10 minutes to cook and is super delicious! You can do just about anything with quinoa. Add vegetables and greens or you can add fruit and have it as a sweet treat/breakfast!


Fresh Produce: 

Of course, the fastest, fast food? Fresh produce! I’ve been known to just eat a cucumber, by itself, just because. Fruit is always a great option for fast and easy. My favorite is a banana, it’s pre-packaged, you don’t even have to worry about washing it, and makes a great quick snack.

Other great combinations to throw together: 

On E2X we have a simple meals chart for people to use. Some of our favorites are:

  • Sweet potato, kale, white beans, brown rice.
  • White potato, black beans, tomatoes, corn, spinach.
  • Quinoa, mixed greens, red beans, cauliflower
  • Brown rice, chickpeas, peas, zucchini,  curry powder, turmeric
  • White beans, fingerling potatoes, brussel sprouts, garlic, kale.
  • Whole grain pasta, zucchini,  brocoli, peppers, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes
  • Lentils, collard greens, brown rice, artichoke
  • Potatoes, portobello mushrooms, green beans,  spinach, black beans
  • Whole grain  pasta, lentils, strained tomatoes (or tomato puree), garlic, brocoli
  • Whole grain bread with portobello mushrooms, grilled zucchini and oil free hummus.
  • Wild rice, onion, red lentils, greens
  • Brown rice, salsa, frozen southwestern veggie mix, black beans
  • Sweet potato, topped with black beans
  • Brown rice, black pepper, asian style veggie mix.
  • Cauliflower soup – cook cauliflower, blend add chickpeas and your favorite spice.
  • Whole grain pasta cooked and chilled, cucumber, tomato, beans, balsamic vinegar
  • Mashed chickpeas, onion, garlic, chopped celery, cucumber served on whole grain bread
  • Lentils, chopped tomato, lettuce, spinach, salsa, served on lettuce or served in corn tortillas
  • Roasted vegetable mix & quinoa
  • Beans & brown rice
  • Spinach salad: strawberries, raisins, balsamic
  • Chop salad: chopped cucumber, celery, carrots, zucchini, tossed with quinoa.
  • Big salad: Whatever fresh vegetables you have on top of greens. (the whatever salad!)
  • *Salad is always a good option if you have fresh vegetables/greens laying around. You can use balsamic vinegar for a dressing, salsa or even just lemon.
  • Huge plate of steamed vegetables with spices.
  • Breakfast: oatmeal or quinoa with fruit and ground flaxseed
  • Looking for an easy dressing? We use low sodium salsa, oil free hummus or balsamic vinegar.

Bottom line? Keep it simple. Find great combinations of food to throw together, that require little prep time, but have lots of tasty flavor.

To enter to win our big giveaway, leave a comment and tell us what your favorite simple “requires no recipe” meal is!

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Natala Constantine
  • Glendalynn

    My 2 favourite no recipe meals are breakfast smoothies (from a fully stocked freezer of fruit and greens) with no filler required; also rice/quinoa and veggies. Great light dinner or lunch option that can be made with whatever is available and cooks up in no time with lots of leftovers :)

  • mary

    My favorite recipe is portobellos baked in the oven for about 15 minutes after you
    Put a drops of liquid smoke. Makes a great burger or sandwicvh with the usual veggie toppings. Onions , picklies, mustard, etc. I love your potato hotdog idea!

  • Sage Norbury

    One of my favorite meals is “refrigerator stir fry”, using whatever veggies are in the fridge at the time, plus onion and garlic, of course. Served over rice or quinoa. Fast. Healthy. Frugal. What more could I want?

  • fdzimmerman

    Oatmeal with cinnamon, ground flax seed, and bannana

  • Michelle Allen

    I like to make “Chalupa’s”, spread some refried beans(low sodium) on corn tortillas or whole grain ones, cook in the oven for about 8 minutes and then top with salsa, cilantro, lettuce, green onion, or whatever veggies you like and then eat:))

  • Melissa

    Brown rice tortilla covered with tj’s low-fat refried beans on it, daiya mozzarella cheese (optional), cooked in oven until crisp like a tostada. Cover in homemade oil-free guacamole, salsa. Can add lettuce or whatever you like on top.
    Cut into triangles like a pizza. I crave this weekly. It’s messy, but awesome.

  • Kyle Plattner

    Cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, a few olives, artichokes, and peas. Sprinkled with Italian seasonings. Amazing!

  • Gordilly

    Quick succotash – heat up 1/2 bag of frozen fajita veggies, 1/2 bag of frozen corn, 1 can of beans. Season with chili powder, cumin, salsa, etc. as desired.

  • Beverly Perry

    I cook some frozen veggies, put in whole grain pasta and spagetti sauce.

  • jen l.

    Hummus and cuke sandwich on sprouted Ezekiel bread!

  • Karen

    A big bowl of fresh fruit!

  • hope64

    Salad. Throw whatever greens you have on-hand in a bowl. Add a handful of chopped nuts. Top with leftovers from the night before – veggie stir fry over quinoa or brown rice work well. If you want dressing combine some balsamic vinegar with Bragg’s Aminos. Yum!!!

  • Hillary M

    Whole wheat wraps! I fill them with anything I have to make a great sandwich – hummus, greens, salsa, and a squeeze of lemon or lime is my most common but today I added quinoa too! I am a newbie (1 month today) but trying my best!!

  • Brooke Walter

    Great post! My favorite ‘recipe’ right now is a bag of frozen rice, a bag of frozen veggies. Maybe some oil free dressing or salsa if I’m feeling “fancy”. Haha!

  • Aggie

    Roasted potatoes dipped in catsup. I could eat them every day for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

  • Deb Hollimon

    I love any Mexican tasting foods, so black beans, corn, fresh salsa and tortillas with any other fixings that are handy.

  • Kristi King

    I use Quinoa with avocado and salsa.. thats it.. omg its yummy and fast and filling!! :)

  • Glenn Sonoda

    Very simple. My favorite quick plant strong meal is old-fashioned oatmeal heated up in unsweetened vanilla almond milk, with banana, and cinnamon.

  • Elaine Kean

    great ideas and encouragement as always natala!! my favorite is baked yam topped with sauteed with water and spices, veggies ie: kale, spinach, yellow or green squash , mushrooms, red/orange/green peppers ..sprinkled with Nutritional yeast !!

  • Ellen Kowallis

    2 medium ripe avocados, peeled, pitted and diced
    1 tablespoon Dijon or stoneground mustard
    ½ teaspoon granulated garlic
    2 teaspoons minced, fresh oregano
    2 teaspoons lemon juice
    ¼ cup chopped red onion
    1 can (15-oz.) chickpeas/garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed (or 1-1/2 cups
    Mix together and spread on toasted bread! Next, LOAD THE VEGIES! YUM!!

  • Jennifer Manriquez

    Homemade pico de gallo and homemade tortilla chips. Oh, and brown rice! And oven-baked french fries in organic ketchup. Tofu chocolate mousse. Oh man, the list goes on and on…

  • Alisa

    My favorite simple go-to recipe is brown rice, frozen corn, black beans and salsa.

  • MaryC

    my favorite is diced potatoes “fried” in a non-stick pan, add fresh spinach, let wilt then add fresh salsa and some balsamic vinegar. So amazing!

  • Lenore McGahy

    A huge salad with quinoa, veggies(everything and anything: corn, jalapenos, beets,spinach, kale, peppers, cabbage, mushrooms, onions-you name it!) fruit and chickpeas. With all that flavor, no dressing is required. :)

  • Gayle

    A rice bowl. Throw in some rice and veggies with a splash of soy sauce or some salsa.

  • Amie G

    My favorite is Banana Butter. Mash 1/2 of banana, add spoonful of raw peanut butter, a drop of honey and mix until creamy. Perfect on top of salt free rice cakes, apple slices, oatmeal, etc… So yummy!

  • Stacy

    Bean tostados or hummus wraps. Easy peasy.

  • Kim Olinger

    I love a baked potato loaded up with salsa and beans – quick and easy!

  • Debbie Kuehnle

    Whole wheat pasta with spinach and a can of diced tomatoes with garlic and oregano, just throw it all in a big pot and steam for 10- 12 minutes. Super fast and easy and my kids love it.

  • Sheree

    Baked potatoes dipped in hummus are fantastic. My daughter turned me on to this great idea!

  • Brenda Rowe

    Natala, I think you are awesome!! You have done such a great job. I only had 100 pounds to loose. I have got 40 pounds lost it has take me a year. I watched Forks over Knives and now I am plant strong. For some reason thinking of things to eat is hard for me. I am stuck right now not loosing. But you have been right there helping me. Thank you so much! Maybe some day I will be off all of the meds I am taking.

  • Mary T

    My Black Bean Salad… Drain can(s) of black beans, rinse, and drain. Put in bowl with fresh grated garlic, chopped green onions, chopped tomatoes, chopped cilantro, and a good squeeze of lime juice. Wow! This can be eaten as is, or with added diced jalapeno, chunks of avocado, or corn. Or, heated and served over brown rice or other grains, or blended to make a dip or black bean hummus.

  • Tiana D

    Baked potatoe with BBQ sauce.

  • Daila

    Brown rice covered w/black beans, onions, roasted peppers, salsa, and a bit of avocado.

  • Julie Davey Johnston

    “Dinner in a Bowl” Shredded kale, then add a heated grain. Last night it was leftover brown rice and black beans, the heat from the grains wilts the kale. Then I added some diced bell pepper, red onion, leftover broccoli and shredded carrots. Braggs and salsa. Yum!

  • Mary

    A baked potato with beans, BBQ sauce and avocado. Easy and yummy.

  • OmnivoreNoMore

    Excellent advice! Thank you…and perfect timing. I love recipes as knowing what flavors work well naturally does not come easy to me. I am learning, but they have been my crutch for years now. While I don’t mind using them, it is nice being reminded every now and then that simple is just as good as complex flavors.

    My favorite ‘simple’ dinner is: baked sweet potato ‘fries’ seasoned with caribbean jerk seasoning and brown rice topped with black beans and salsa. I use a lot of the seasoning to it is nice and *hot*…and oh, so tasty!

  • Melinda Pirone

    Broccoli salad – Steamed broccoli, squeeze fresh lemon juice over, chill 2 to 3 hours in refrigerator and serve. Yummy!

  • Amy V-H

    My favorite “no recipe” is frozen hash browns and what ever I decided to add – usually some chopped veggies (onions, diced tomato, spinach, mushrooms) and spices of the day. I put the veggies in a non-stick pan first with a little water to steam them for a couple of minutes, then add a couple handfuls of frozen has browns and seasonings and stir until the hash browns thaw and heat. Next, add some flavoring… soy sauce, lemon, chipolte salsa, yeast, whatever my mood in the morning dictates. And it takes 10 to 15 minutes tops.

  • Travis

    Black beans, Salsa, Frozen California Blend Veggies & Baby Spinach over Quinoa. Steam the veggies & beans put over cooked quinoa & top with salsa. YUM!

  • Nancy Magill Smith

    Pinto beans and salsa

  • Angela

    our favorite easy recipe is so simple, we place corn tortillas into the oven until crispy and top with pinto beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, lettuce, onion, jalapeño and I also make a “spanish” quinoa with this that my son LOVES. easy and so good

  • saveallsharks

    Portabello mushroom cap with vegan pesto sauce topped with sundried tomatoes…bbq’d and omg it’s pure heaven!!

  • Jennie Zhao

    I’m going to try the potato hotdog, that sounds so good. My new favorite non-recipe is chopped up potatoes with ginger, garlic, Chinese 5-spice, any vegetable, little water, throw in the pressure cooker for a minute. My husband likes it so much that I can get away with not putting meat in it.

  • Angelo DuPont

    Kale, pasta, sauce

  • Rileen

    Steel-cut oatmeal with blueberries, walnuts and almonds.

  • Deborah Youngstein Saas

    I never met a noodle I didn’t like, so love mixing cooked whole wheat pasta or noodles with savory roasted veggies sprinkled with lemon pepper and other spice combinations to add some pizzazz. I use onions, garlic cloves, grape tomatoes, mushrooms, carrots, cauliflower, golden beets, eggplant, corn, asparagus, broccoli… I mix it up each time to keep it interesting!

  • Lisa Atkinson

    Whole wheat english muffins sliced and topped with tomato sauce, veggies and nutritional yeast. Throw in the oven for a few minutes for your own personalized mini pizzas! easy and filling!

  • Carol

    A pita pocket stuffed with hummus and shredded carrots and lettuce and some chopped kalamata olives.

  • rachel

    Big bowl of quick oats and water with a teaspoon of natural nut butter stirred in, topped with a chopped banana and lots of frozen berries and microwaved for 2 minutes. The best comfort food!

  • Denise

    I love hot foods on top of a salad, so I’ll just grab whatever greens I have, put potatoes, rice and/or beans on top, maybe some sunflower seeds, and lots of vegetables. I usually just use salsa, avocado, or balsamic vinegar as a dressing. It’s never the same and it’s always delicious!

    Natala, you’ve inspired me so much, and you were the first person who made me realize just how simply I could eat. Prior to that, I’d been making complicated, time-consuming recipes, and it felt overwhelming. I sure don’t feel that way anymore! :)

    Thanks so much for this amazing giveaway!

  • Karey

    brown rice, frozen chopped spinach, corn, and salsa mixed together

  • zialu

    Soup! Empty the fridge and add veggie broth. Simple.

  • LiseG

    I really love a big Chicken Waldorf Salad Sans the chicken, with pecans, apple slices, strawberries, fresh mushroom slices and avocado! There is no animal and it really tastes fabulous w/ a squeeze of fresh lemon.

  • Michael

    Microwaved potatoes; fresh/frozen veggies; canned, salt-free beans and some fruit for dessert. Quick, easy, affordable, and healthy. Novick-inspired, too. Thanks for sharing your story and for all that you do, Natala. Please keep up the excellent work.

  • Amberley

    Just tried your hot dog potato and holy moly it was delicious! Such a great idea!

  • Melody

    Oatmeal and frozen fruit is my breakfast of choice. It makes for a very easy way to start the day. Thanks, Natala!

  • Mat Grills

    Baby Spanish, dry roasted root veges, toasted cashews (or E2 hommous) and basic E2 dressing. Very simple but oh so satisfying!!!

  • Kathryn Polster

    How to pick just one…I guess what I call taco mess. Brown rice, lettuce, black beans, salsa, nooch if I have it, maybe a few olives or avo slices, corn…anything that could go in a taco goes into a bowl and I stir it up and shovel it down!

  • justme

    Bake 3 corn tortillas on a parchment lined baking pan (then you don’t have to wash the pan) for 11 minutes until crunchy. Meanwhile, heat and mash a cup of pintos and season with smoked paprika, cumin, veg powder, salsa, and green chilies. Prepare other veg. Spread beans on crunchy tortilla top with more salsa, thawed frozen corn, lots of minced baby lettuces, and grape tomatoes. From door to table it’s ready in 15 minutes. Even non-veg types like this meal. It’s good with sliced fruit or banana ice kream.

  • Shontae Alston

    I love making what I call quinoa veggie bowl with black beans, mushrooms and peppers and kale or spinach seasoned with veggie broth and brags. Yummy!

  • Cindy Sparks McVay

    My commute includes an airplane 3-4 days a week. I usually don’t have a lot of access to healthy food (but there is a cafe and a “salad” bar – which I can sometimes find some decent fresh veggies.) I take my breakfast and lunch – but have to pack light for it all to fit in the very small overhead compartment.

    Breakfast: Refrigerator Oatmeal – 1/2 cup oats, 1 cup of unsweetened soy milk, tbs of chia seeds (optional), can add any fruit – throw it in a container in the fridge at night. Ready to go in the morning easy to eat and easy to travel (I usually add a banana.)

    Lunch: Leftovers – usually with hummus and a whole grain tortilla. Easy to take to work – I eat sometimes hot, sometimes cold – depending if I have access/time to a microwave.

    Dinner: Rice noodles (boil water and cover noodles in a bowl), frozen stir fry veggies (or pre-chopped fresh veggies) stir fried in low-sodium tamari with some ground ginger (sometimes fresh if I have it on hand and it’s ready to grate), curry powder, some fresh or ground garlic (and any other spices I feel excited about). Drain noodles and mix with veggies and white beans adding a bit more tamari. 15 minutes (includes the water boiling time). If I want it faster, I use frozen brown rice.

  • melissakennedy

    Brown rice, beans, whatever cooked veggies are in the fridge, and green chile for flavor.

  • Jane

    I am new to this way of eating, but my favorite so far is broccoli, red onion, garlic cloves and chickpeas, tossed together with lots of black pepper, garlic salt and turmeric, and roasted at 400. I could eat this every day and not get sick of it. Odd how that works out, huh?
    Another fast favorite is kelp noodles, tossed with tons of veggies, and a quick peanut sauce: peanut butter, tamari, lime juice, ginger and sriracha sauce. YUM.

  • Donna Helvey

    I enjoy making quinoa pilaf. The quinoa is cooked in low sodium vegetable broth, then adding chopped celery, carrots, onions, garlic, kale or spinach, and black beans. Seasoning depends on my mood at the time. Yum!!

  • Laura Henderson

    Sunday am is hashbrowns cooked in a nonstick pan with waster sautéed onion, mushrooms, red pepper, and kale on top.

  • Caroline

    My favorite meal is fresh kale steamed in veggie broth with no salt seasoning, cooked chickpeas (I cook a huge batch in the pressure cooker), and a cooked grain (I make a huge batch in the rice cooker, usually rice or barley). I sometimes put salsa on it.

  • Jennifer Bowman

    I love to bake a potato and load it up with steamed veggies! It’s a great way to clean out the fridge and best of all, FAST!

  • Karen

    For breakfast before a bike ride, I use a toaster oven to heat up 2 corn tortillas loaded with whatever beans on hand. Top with fresh or jar salsa. Today I added some cubes of cooked butternut squash to the beans. Sometimes I have leftover corn kernels to add or rice. For dinner, fastest meal is a whole wheat pita pizza again using the toaster oven. I bake it with any crushed tomato such as Pomi or jarred/canned tomatoes,. Top with slices of fresh zucchini, mushrooms, fresh garlic slices or dehydrated minced garlic, frozen roasted onion/pepper mix, frozen or canned artichoke hearts cut in half, olives if desired. Sprinkle with pizza herb mix and nutritional yeast flakes.

  • SurfSeraph17

    I love to do a lentil soup in the pressure cooker with an onion, garlic, celery stalks, can stewed tomatoes, cumin, chili powder, oregano, braggs liquid aminos, braggs apple cider vinigar split peas and lentils. Goes great over brown rice or fresh spinach leaves and topped with hot sauce! That’s a quick and easy go to in our house.

  • Sherry Huber Riley

    Do you cook the potatos then freeze them or just keep them on hand ready to go in the fridge?

  • Brandie Britt

    The easiest ‘simple’ meal for us is beans (cooked or canned), either brown rice or a rice pasta, and kale sprinkled with nooch. My son and I both love it, and it’s SO easy! :)

  • Chelsea Bates

    My simple “no recipe” go-to meal depends on my mood, but it will either be some sort of Mexican dish (tacos, taco salad, bean burritos) or a One-pot quinoa dish with whatever I have on hand. I also like to do Chili potatoes – baked potato w/ a can of vegan organic chili topped with avacodo, or taco potatoes – baked potato w/ beans, lettuce, salsa, anything you like. :)

  • Dee Watson

    My favorite simple meal is a sweet potato (I always have these pre-cooked in the fridge) that I load up with black beans, baby spinach and salsa. I pack it for lunch a lot, and it’s great for a quickie dinner idea!

  • Treesa

    My favorite no recipe needed meal:

    Chia breakfast (or anytime) pudding – chia seeds soaked in orange juice (or coconut water) topped with berries and nuts/seeds.

  • Bob

    Whole grain pasta, tomatoes, and vegetables do the trick. Thanks for the giveaway, and for all your hard work.

  • Carol

    lovr the potato hot foot!! Will use it this summer.

  • Leia

    My current obsession: southwest veggie mix (black beans, red bell, jalapeno, corn), corn, basmati brown rice, salsa!

  • Ellen Kessler

    An avocado reuben! Toast the rye bread, slice the avocado, tomato and vegan cheese, add some sauerkraut. Sauce is Vegenaise and ketchup with pickle relish and spices to taste. Yum!

  • SweetallyB

    I love beans, sprouts, potatoes, rice, tomatoes and not necessarily all at one time!

    Beans: green, red, pinto, butter any type. I love either cooking slowly from hard packaged with lots of spices (i decide by smell) or fresh, quickly steamed in microwave or blanced in as little liquid as possible which I freeze to use to cook other vegi’s.

    Sprouts garnish/topper for EVERYTHING.

    Potatoes, baked or microwaved (steamed in microwave). I get hungry so this is a quick snack or my main meal.

    Rice, in steamer w/vegi’s (broccilli, califlower, red, green yellow peppers, WHATEVER is fresh and striks my fancy that day).

    Tomates, with everything, steamed, fried, microwaved, broiled with anything. I love tomatoes.

  • Lisa Jensen

    Salad is my favorite no-recipe meal. I can eat one every day and never make it the same way twice. 😉

  • Tania Thompson

    Grilled veggies in quinoa. Yum!

  • Kathy McLean

    Whole Wheat Tortilla with FF Refried Beans, Avocado, tomato and lots of greans!!

  • christina kochanek

    My favorite simple recipe is quinoa with apple compote and a dash of vanilla. It is the best and last me throughout the day until breakfast. I can also eat plain avocados with tomatoes chopped and mixed throughout. I crave raw veggies.

  • Graceful

    I’ve been on a kick lately with canned pinto beans, chopped tomatoes, cilantro, sweet onion, jalapenos, and a tablespoon of mustard. I haven’t tired of gobbling up this this meal and it is real fast to prepare.

    I have to try the potato hotdog it sounds awesome. :)

  • Kathy

    Banana ice cream!

  • Cecilia

    I love any kind of wrap – rice, beans, corn & salsa, or leftover tastes veggies with hummus, or whatever is in the fridge.

  • Kathy G

    I like to water saute onions, mushrooms, and whatever else might be laying around, add some herbs/spices. Plus Steamed green beans, and either potatoes or brown rice.

  • Liana Honda

    My simple go to meal is bean chili. Seriously the easiest meal ever. Made similar to regular chili (hmm. I bet Pomi tomatoes would make it even better). Chili and cumin powder. 3-4 cans of various beans. Corn. Olives. Maybe even mushroom. Zucchini. Definitely onions. All on brown rice.

  • Laura Oliveri

    Black beans (rinsed and drained) mashed together with black olives, then throw in salsa, guacamole, cumin, and hot Mexican chili powder. Yummy!

  • Lindy B.

    My favorite “requires no recipe” meal is my refrigerator oatmeal I make in the evening to take to work. Rolled oat and steel cut oats, chia seeds, coconut milk yogurt, dried cherries or goji berries, maple syrup and almond milk! Simply the best to keep my going all morning long!!

  • Sonja Hilton

    cooked brown rice, coconut and almond milk, vanilla , cinnamon,, top with more nd milk add bananas, berries, hemp walnuts and a touch of maple syrup.. This can be modified with whatever cereal items that you have on hand…

  • Elissa

    I make a bunch of baked falafel and freeze them. They are ready to pull out anytime and throw in microwave or eat cold from fridge with a squeeze of fresh lemon. Use them in sandwiches, on salads, and serve for dinner with lots of toppings and tahina sauce. Yum.

  • Ora Emmerich

    I make double recipes of great veggie soups and freeze in one serving sizes. Lunches at work are so simple…just heat and eat a great, veg-strong soup!

  • Barbara Kaaikala

    Although I love spice, I have problems with it now, so I eat a lot of mild food. I love the flavor of millet, lima beans, and cauliflower cooked together. I cook dry beans until almost soft, add millet and cook until it is almost done, then stir in bite-sized pieces of cauliflower. Cook until cauliflower is soft. Add water at any points necessary so that the meal doesn’t become too dry. I don’t need salt or spices added, although I am sure most people would want to add their favorite spices.

  • Kathy

    I put 3 cups oatmeal, 2 thinly sliced apples, some cinnamon and nutmeg and about 7 cups of water in the crockpot before I go to bed at night and in the morning the house smells wonderful and I have a delicious breakfast ready for about 3 or 4 days.

  • Barb Willett

    Hi Natala,
    I have enjoyed reading your articles. I too have had extreme success with a plant strong lifestyle. So far I have lost 150 lbs and have stopped my blood pressure medicine. I find that the best recipes are the simplest. Basic salads, potatoes, rice, corn, kale, etc. My favorite treat is my frozen banana “ice cream”. I use 2 frozen bananas, 1/2 cup of almond milk, a splash of vanilla, a sprinkle of cinnamon and some unsweetened cocoa powder. It’s delicious and filling! I too am in the process of getting my Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition through Cornell University. I just finished the first class. It is awesome! Thanks for your encouragement.

  • Sarah Cotter

    Definitely Pumpkin PIe oats. Mixing oatmeal with pumpkin puree and some almonds. Yum!

  • Elna clark

    A favorite is brown rice, black beans, baked yam pieces and kale cooked.

  • owsla

    For breakfast I have steel cut oats with a banana, chia seeds, almond/coconut milk and maple syrup topped with some cinnamon, nutmeg and stevia.

  • veggieshell

    Throw a couple cups of grits (I use bobs red mill because I’m gluten free, too) in the slow cooker and you have a perfect side dish or basis for a main dish. You can use as hot cereal or add cheese and herbs for a savory dish. I also grill up veggies like asparagus, peppers, tomatoes and corn in advance ( just a quick grill so they have a bit of crunch still) and keep in Tupperware. Then I can throw them into a salad or have over rice or quinoa for a quick meal.

  • Michael McCabe Guitarist

    I call it “Morning Delight”. I bring to a boil1/2 cup of organic quinoa in 1.5 cups of cold 9.5 alkaline water with about 1/2 cup or less of organic raisins for about 10 minutes. When done, where most of the water is gone, I like to let it stand with a lid for about 5 -10 minutes for more fluff. I add a sprinkle of organic cinnamon, a shake or two of sea salt, 1 tbs of vanilla and 1/2 cup of organic rice milk. I like adding organic nuts/seeds, e.g. almonds, walnuts, and sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sometimes organic cacao powder. I also replace the raisins, cinnamon, vanilla, rice milk and cacao powder with an organic avocado, organic tomato and adding organic turmeric, fresh ground pepper, fresh organic garlic, organic cayenne pepper, and Braggs instead of sea salt. Also, I indulge in a cup of hot organic green tea to sip along as I enjoy my “Morning Delight”. Nicely filling, YUM! YUM! YUM! YUM! You like? Let me know!

  • Spinsagoodyarn

    I love to eat quinoa with canned beans on the side and a wonderfully huge salad with lots of plant-strong veggies with balsamic vinegar and, of course, nutritional yeast. Yummy!!!

  • noremac778

    I love being able to use leftovers! and my slow cooker!

    Throw in some leftover Quinoa and/or potatoes. Saute some onions and mushrooms and throw that in there for some juice (you can add some water too if you think it is too dry). Throw in some frozen mixed veggies (peas, carrots, broccoli). You can throw in anything leftover in your fridge that you think will taste good in there and you need to go ahead and use up (use all those servings or fixings that don’t have quite one serving left but you don’t want to throw away!) or add some crushed tomatoes/salsa and black beans for more of a chili like feel or throw in any seasoning you are in the mood for. Heat it up in the slow cooker on low for 1-3 hours since everything should already be cooked. When done you can sprinkle with nutritional yeast and enjoy!

  • Marianna DeGarmo

    My favorite “no recipe – recipe” is my bean soup…I throw one bag of soaked beans into the crockpot, or a couple of cans of beans if I forget to soak the beans, but that would never happen ;), a large jar of roasted garlic pasta sauce (I know this sounds weird but this is a great short cut when you are making tomato based soups / stews), 4 jars of water or stock (could be more, could be less, it just depends on how much broth I want), and whatever seasonings i am in the mood for. Sometimes it’s a spicy southwest soup, other times I add in veggies and pasta, and sometimes I just leave it as is. It cooks in the crockpot all day, and I have dinner plus lunch the next day.

  • Nikki D’Alessandro

    My ultimate go to meal is Museli. I plan ahead for the week by putting oats, raisins, dates, coconut flakes, sunflower seeds, nuts, and some kind of fresh fruit I have on hand, in little containers for the week. When I’m hungry, I grab a container and pour almond milk over the deliciousness sit back and enjoy. This takes zero time (way less than 5minutes, although I ave yet to time myself) to throw together and so sweet, beneficial, yummy, and just overall, well…yummy. Sometimes I heat it up…sometimes I don’t. :)

  • Candyce

    This is a fantastic list! I’m trying to think of something that my whole family loves, and I think it is lentil tacos.

    I throw a cup of lentils in a pan with some water and an 8-oz. can of tomato sauce, add spices like cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, and oregano, and let the majority of the moisture cook out. I add water as needed, and stir occasionally Then, when the lentils are done, I serve them on warmed corn tortillas with chopped lettuce or cabbage, chopped tomatoes, salsa, lime juice, cilantro–whatever toppings my family is interested in. My daughter seems to like homemade hummus mixed with nutritional yeast for a cheesy topping.

    Thanks for this giveaway!

  • Ann Burris

    My favorite no recipe meal is breakfast. A version of Happy Herbivore’s overnight oats:
    1/3 cup 5 min. steel cut oats soaked in 2/3 cup water, a little cinnamon, and 1 T. carob powder-overnight. Then in the morning, I make a parfait with frozen banana cream, a few walnuts, a little flaxseed, maybe some blueberries, and the oats. I look forward to it every day!

  • Christina Beyer

    My favorite no-recipe meal is a quick chili. I just take a can of tomatoes, beans and corn, then add quinoa or millet or whatever I like. Heat it up and season to taste. That´s it.

  • Sabrina Sutherland

    My favorite no-recipe meal is bean tostadas. I take a can of beans (for me, usually fat free refried black beans) heated up with some salsa. At the same time I heat up a couple of corn tortillas in the oven – flat. I then make tostadas by smearing the heated beans with salsa on the now crispy tortillas and on top add lettuce and tomatoes or whatever vegetables I have on hand. Delicious!

  • Sally G.

    Black Bean Salad – Combine a can of rinsed black beans, diced tomatoes, and corn. Squeeze the heck out of a lime and maybe add a little zest. Some Braggs vinegar and a touch of salt and pepper. This is nice and basic. You can add your favorites: maybe…shredded carrots, a colorful pepper, a jalapeno, diced onion,…. I like to keep all the add-ins finely chopped, diced, or shredded. This turns out so colorful and tasty. Enjoy.

  • Celina

    I love all of these “no recipe” ideas, they are my kind of delicious recipes, and I plan on trying the ones I haven’t thought of already! :)

    Favorite no recipe food: any wrap or burrito type food: beans, rice, veggies, mmm…

  • Candyce Loescher

    Left over or warmed beans (any kind) in a tortilla with greens – your choice – tomatoes, salsa. You can also add other veggies, rice, etc.
    Also brown rice with steamed veggies – season to taste – Chinese, Mexican, Indian – let your imagination go wild!

  • chrysanthe

    This may sound boring to some, but my absolute favorite ad hoc meal is a gigantic warm/cold salad with a whole kabocha squash as the basis. I just poke holes in a whole kabocha, microwave it for 10-15 minutes, then cut into pieces and remove the seeds. I then mix about half of the kabocha pieces in with whatever raw veggies I can find in my fridge – today’s salad (which I just finished eating) had kabocha squash, purple cabbage, bok choy, spring mix, sweet red peppers, cherry tomatoes, red onions, and zucchini with hummus, salsa, spicy brown mustard, ginger, turmeric, cayenne, and flaxseed as flavorings. By the way, the other half of the kabocha that doesn’t go into my salad just goes in a bowl on the side, so I can finish my kabocha salad with a side of kabocha as well. It’s sort of an addiction…

  • Megan

    My fave simple recipe is sauted tofu with tamari and snap peas. Yummmm and so simple!

  • Beth Fellows

    I make a quick corn chowder. Just saute chopped onion in a little water, then add either frozen corn kernels or a can of corn, some veggie broth and some frozen cubed hashbrowns. sprinkle with pepper. Cook til potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes.

  • Sheri A

    My favorite easy meal is my “no cheese grilled cheese” sandwich. I take 2 pieces of whole grain bread. I make my own hummus with no oil( blender hummus recipe from the fat free vegan website.) Then I add in1-2 Tb of nutritional yeast to a big scoop of the hummus and mix well. I put it in a nonstick skillet on low heat until bread gets nice and toasty! I really love these. Sometimes I add slices of tomato before grilling also.

  • Veggie365

    In a pinch, a whole bag of frozen veggies cooked and then topped with hummus or salsa or hot sauce or balsamic vinegar is quick & easy! (and delicious!)

  • Sheri Gitthens

    Quinoa with black beans, mixed vegetables, sweet peppers, a little cumin, and mango.

  • Simona Faro

    Tomato, avocado and green chili salad!

  • dateach

    Quick, Easy, Yummy. . . a can of black eyed peas and salsa on brown rice or quinoa!

  • Belinda Richardson

    My favorite no recipe meal is…a green smoothie. Spinach, Banana, and some green trea. Yum! :)

  • Crissy Durst

    Everyday I enjoy a big salad with greens, tomatoes ,avocados, and any other veggie I have around and a variety if nuts and seeds and top it with nutritional yeast flakes and EVOO and balsamic vinegar

  • Jerilyn

    My favourite “no recipe” meal is a stir fry made from whatever’s kicking around in the fridge :) Great way to use up produce that’s about to go bad soon, and it’s sooo yummy.

  • Karen Cecil

    I make “fajitas” weekly. Whatever veggies I have at the time – broccoli, zucchini, potatoes, peppers, spinach – plus a can of fire roasted tomatoes. Cumin, chili powder smoked paprika – put it in an E2 tortilla with brown rice. Leftovers for days.

  • Renée Duplissis

    Good ol’ brown rice with tomatoes, avocado, corn and black beans!! Also I drink kale smoothies every day in my vitamix and just started adding in wheatgrass powder. A girl’s gotta get in gear for her BIG (wedding) day! And the engine 2 is def a good start to a future ahead. Although, sometimes I definitely get stuck wanting to emotionally eat with all the stress! :/

    • Renée Duplissis

      Oh and my pressure cooker is SERIOUSLY a life saver!!!! Everyone needs to invest in an electric one

  • Mandy Kauk

    Our favorite “no recipe” meal is avocado, mango, black beans, brown rice and cilantro. We’ve been eating mango & avocado together for years, but added beans and rice when we started the engine 2 plan. It was very overwhelming for the first couple of weeks, but I’m learning to change our favorite meals with plant based foods. Without a doubt, an adventure!

  • Robin

    My favorite breakfast is slow cooked oatmeal with apples, pears and cinnamon. Wake up to a great hot meal.

  • Robin

    I do a green smoothie every morning with whatever fruit I have available to me.

  • Jennifer

    My favorite no recipe, recipe is the many different variations you can do with Rip’s Big Bowl for breakfast. Every time I have it, it is different based on the fruit I have on hand or the mixture of cereals or the type of plant-based milk I currently have. Loving it! I could have it every morning and not be sick of it.

  • Terri Jones Cole

    One of my favorite easy, no-recipe meals is whole grain pasta with veggies and beans. I make it different every time by varying the kind of veg and the seasonings. The combinations are endless!

  • James Newman II

    My favorite after a hard day at the hospital is a burger and sweet potato fries. Preheat the oven to 450. ( for the fries) Wash and slice up some sweet potatoes. Season with greek seasoning powder. Place on parchment and put in oven. . Take some kidney and black beans that I always have soaked, mix and mash with some quick cook oats and seasoning. Form into patties and place on Foreman grill. :-) serve on whole, multigrain bun with microgreens or avocado.
    all will be done in less than 30 min. I usually hop into the shower while its cooking.

    Comfort food!

  • kat mckinney

    love the article!! :)

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