These 3 Protein-Packed Dinners Prove That Eating Mostly Plants Can Be Super Delicious

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There's a lot of conflicting (and sometimes controversial) wellness advice out there, but something many experts agree on is that eating lots of plants does the body good. Advocates of plant-based eating (a way of eating where most but not all of one's diet is sourced from plants) say it benefits the heart, brain, gut, and is good for the environment.

Top functional medicine doctor Mark Hyman, MD, also often preaches the health benefits of plant-based foods without giving up meat altogether, and follows a Paleo-vegan hybrid way of eating that he's termed the Pegan diet. This way of eating is low in sugar, high in plant foods, and includes animal protein. "Despite the title, the Pegan diet is an un-diet—a simple set of principles blending science and common sense into guidelines promoting health, weight loss, and longevity that can easily be adapted to any philosophical or cultural preferences," Dr. Hyman writes in his new book, The Pegan Diet ($22).

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Dr. Hyman says that the whole idea of the Pegan diet started off as a joke several years ago. He was speaking on a nutrition panel with two of his friends, one of which was pro-Paleo and the other who was a vegan cardiologist. "To break the tension, I quipped, 'Well, if you are Paleo and you are vegan, than I must be Pegan,'" he says. He explains that Paleo and vegan diets are very similar except for when it comes to protein sources. With this in mind, the Pegan diet advocates for a primarily vegan way of eating with the addition of ethically-sourced meat and eggs.

What does following a Pegan diet look like? Because it's a style of plant-based eating, it means a lot of plants. Dr. Hyman says a typical Pegan meal is a full 75 percent sourced from plants; meat is a side, not the focus. He also promises that crafting meals this way actually isn't hard—and it's definitely delicious. As proof, here, he shares three recipes from his new book: avocado latke "toast", Thai-inspired coconut turkey soup, and farmers' market salad pizza. (That's right, pizza!) Nab these delicious Pegan diet recipes below, excerpted from Dr. Hyman's book.

3 Pegan diet recipes that are 75 percent made from plants:

Avocado latke "toast"

Serves 4 

Avocado toast has become so popular, but I’m never a fan of store­bought bread full of refined flour. For this healthier ver­sion, I layered yam latkes (potato pancakes) with a simple take on guacamole, a fresh fennel slaw, and a soft­boiled egg. Fennel is an underused vegetable rich in minerals and protective poly­phenol antioxidants like rosmarinic acid, chlorogenic acid, and quercetin, with a unique slightly licorice flavor.

For the yam latkes:
3 cups grated Japanese white yam (or any type of yam/sweet potato)
3/4 cup grated white onion
1 small jalapeño, seeds and ribs removed, finely chopped (optional)
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp ground flaxseed
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup avocado oil
3 pasture‐raised egg whites, beaten

For the fennel slaw:
1 large fennel bulb with fronds
10 fresh mint leaves, torn
2 Tbsp sundried tomatoes, chopped 1 small shallot, finely chopped
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

For the smashed avocado:
1 large avocado, halved and pitted
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, tightly packed
Juice and zest of 1 lime
1 small jalapeño, seeds and ribs removed, finely chopped (optional)
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp black pepper

For the soft-boiled eggs:
4 pasture‐raised eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. For the latkes: Add the grated yams and onion to a fine strainer and press to remove excess moisture. In a large bowl, mix the jalapeño (if using), ground flaxseed, garlic powder, pepper, avocado oil, and egg whites together. Add the yams and onions and mix well until combined.

3. Pack the mixture into a one-fourth ­cup measuring cup and turn out each latke onto the sheet. Use your hands to flatten. You should have eight latkes minimum. Bake for 15 minutes, flip, and bake for another 15 minutes until golden brown and crispy.

4. Prepare the salad by removing the stalks and fronds from the fennel bulb. Coarsely chop the fronds and thinly slice the stalks. Place in a large bowl. Using a mandoline, thinly slice the bulb, cutting it in half if necessary. Add the fennel to the bowl along with the torn mint and chopped sundried tomatoes.

5. In a separate small bowl, add the minced shallots, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

6. Prepare the smashed avocado by scooping the avocado into a small bowl and roughly mashing it. Add the cilantro, lime juice, lime zest, jalapeño (if using), olive oil, and pepper. Mix until combined but chunky.

7. To make the soft-­boiled eggs, bring a large saucepan of water to a boil over medium-­high heat. Using a slotted spoon, carefully lower the eggs into the water one at a time. Cook for exactly six and a half minutes, adjusting the heat to maintain a gentle boil. Transfer the eggs to a bowl of ice water and chill for two minutes. Once cooled, gently crack the eggs and peel.

8. Combine the fennel mixture with the dressing. Assemble the dish by layering one yam latke with smashed avocado, adding another latke, then a scoop of salad, and topping with an egg. Repeat to make four total and serve.

Thai-inspired coconut turkey soup

Serves 4

This unique spin on a Thai­-style coconut soup is incredibly flavorful and satisfying. I love that it has everything I need for a nourishing meal in one bowl. For years people were afraid to enjoy dark turkey meat, but when you focus on pasture-­raised high-­quality turkey thighs, you get heart-­healthy monounsaturated fats and immune-­boosting minerals like iron, zinc, and selenium. Plus dark meat is always more tender than white meat, something every chef wants.

For the turkey balls:
3/4 lb pasture‐raised ground turkey thighs
1 medium zucchini
1 medium carrot, peeled
1 bunch scallions
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
2 Tbsp ground flaxseed
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 Tbsp coconut aminos
Hoisin sauce (optional)

For the soup:
1 Tbsp avocado oil
2 lemongrass stalks
2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 (2‐inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled
4 cups low‐sodium chicken broth
1 (13.5 oz) can unsweetened full‐fat coconut milk
Zest and juice of 1 lime
1/4 tsp sea salt, plus more to taste
1 small Fresno chili, thinly sliced
1 tsp red curry paste
1 medium bok choy, stemmed and chopped
5 kale leaves, stemmed and chopped
1 1/2 tsp gluten‐free fish sauce, plus more to taste

For the garnish:
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, loosely packed
1 lime, quartered

1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.

2. Place the turkey meat in a large mixing bowl. Using the finer part of a grater, grate the zucchini and carrot into the bowl. Thinly slice the scallions, adding the white parts to the bowl and reserving the green parts.

3. Add the garlic, sesame seeds, ground flaxseed, salt, pepper, sesame oil, egg, and hoisin sauce (if using) and mix together.

4. Form and shape the turkey mixture into 2­inch balls. Place the balls on a baking dish covered with parchment paper and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven when golden brown and fra­ grant and set aside.

5. Meanwhile, start preparing the soup. Heat a large pot with the avocado oil over medium heat. Prepare the lemongrass by peeling off any tough outer leaves and trimming the root end. Lightly smash the stalk with the side of a knife to break it open, cut into one-­inch pieces, and add to the pot. Add the shallots and ginger. Using the wide flat side of the knife, smash the garlic and add to the pot, stirring well.

6. Cook for five minutes, then add the chicken broth and coconut milk. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 35 minutes.

7. Strain the soup using a large fine­mesh strainer and add the liquids back to the pot. Add the lime zest and juice, salt, Fresno chili, red curry paste, and the baked turkey balls. Cover and continue to simmer for 10 minutes.

8. Add the bok choy and kale to the soup with the reserved green parts of the scallions, letting them wilt. Add the fish sauce, stir, and cook for five more minutes.

9. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and individually garnish with cilantro and a lime wedge.

Farmers' market pizza

Serves 4

Pizza can still be a favorite, without the dairy, gluten, and bel­ly ache. This savory crust is made with cauliflower flour and classic Italian herbs, then it’s topped with a fresh salad of aru­gula, heirloom tomatoes, basil, and easy pickled red onions. You can swap out the toppings for whatever is in season; some of my other favorites are spinach, peppers, and mushrooms. This is a great dish to get creative with and make your own pizza. You won’t believe how good it is!

For the pizza crust:
2 cups cauliflower flour
30 fresh oregano leaves
1 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp ground flaxseed
3/4 tsp sea salt
4 pasture-raised eggs
1 cup water
1 Tbsp avocado oil

For the pickled onions:
1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp sumac
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

For the other toppings:
2 heirloom tomatoes
1/2 cup fresh basil
1 large handful arugula
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of Maldon or sea salt, or more to taste
Black pepper to taste
2 Tbsp tahini paste

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the cauliflower flour, oregano, garlic, flaxseed, and salt. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with the water, then combine with the dry ingredients. Mix until a soft dough forms.

3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and grease with the avocado oil. Transfer the pizza dough to the center of the sheet and press down until it’s one-fourth inch thick. Bake in the center of the oven for 15 minutes.

4. While the crust bakes, prepare the pickled onions: Combine the thinly sliced onions with the sumac and lemon juice in a medium jar or bowl and place in the fridge until serving.

5. Prepare the other toppings: Roughly chop the toma­toes and finely chop the basil. In a large bowl, toss them together with the arugula, olive oil, Maldon salt, and pepper.

6. To assemble the pizza, top the crust evenly with the salad and pickled onions, then drizzle with the tahini. Serve immediately.

Excerpted from THE PEGAN DIET. Copyright © 2021 by Hyman Enterprises, LLC. Used with permission of Little, Brown Spark, an imprint of Little, Brown and Company. New York, NY. All rights reserved.

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