The Sleep-Enhancing Vegan Dinner Recipes You Need in Your High Rotation
If you've recently switched to a plant-based diet and are having trouble finding your way back into a good sleeping habit, read our tips on fixing it here. For everyone else, you can always improve on the quality of sleep—whether it's drifting off with ease or snoozing right through to your morning alarm without waking up too often. You might be wondering how your vegan dinner and your sleep are even related, so let us explain. Consistent, healthy sleep patterns directly correlate to your energy levels, ability to concentrate and even your mood. As a fairly new vegan myself, I had to learn the hard way that not all foods labelled with a plant-based approval are a) healthy and b) going to provide me with all of the essential nutrients that my body and mind was craving. So, I had to do a bit of research myself into the types of vitamins and minerals that we as humans need to flourish daily and incorporate foods containing those nutrients into my regular dinner routine. You see, when your body is void of certain minerals such as calcium, magnesium and B6, your brain can begin to feel foggy and you might even see an increase in the symptoms of fatigue and depression as a result. None of this is conducive to a great night's sleep, so we're putting together your ultimate sleep-enhancing vegan dinner list to try this week.
Cauliflower Couscous with Almonds and Apricots
Almonds should be high on your weekly shopping list due to its high magnesium content which is known to help produce serotonin, as well selenium which can help to combat low mood and feelings of depression. Combined with cauliflower which is naturally rich in B vitamins and phytonutrients, we're adding this tasty dish to the cookbook.
How to make it:
Heat frying pan over medium heat. Add olive oil onion and a pinch of salt and cook for 5 minutes until translucent. Add cauliflower rice and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring regularly. Add spices, salt, pepper, apricots, cherries and broth and cook for another 5 minutes until liquid has been absorbed. Top with slivered almonds and mix well.
Rocket, Kiwi and Fennel Salad
If you needed proof that plant-based dinners can be dynamic and full of interest, then you need to try this bright and yummy salad option. Another food that's high in the "feel good" hormone serotonin is the kiwi fruit. It's also great for digestion, so this healthy dinner is beneficial to your physical and mental wellness at the same time. It also contains those nutritious almonds we were raving about.
How to make it:
Using a very sharp knife, very finely slice beetroots and radishes. Stack them up in batches and then very thinly slice again, into strips. Add rocket to a salad bowl, then mix in kiwis, pistachios and almonds. Drizzle on the dressing and mix well.
Mega Lentil Burger
There's nothing worse than trying to get some rest only to be interrupted by stomach issues caused by an unbalanced gut. This is a nourishing dinner option for anyone looking to add some fibre into their diet as it's full of lentils as well as magnesium-rich walnuts. And, who doesn't love a burger!?
How to make it:
Ideally, pre-cook some rice and lentils and let cool. If you have some in the refrigerator as leftovers, even better (the drier they are the better). If not, cook them up, remove from heat and set aside. Preheat oven to 230 degrees C and lightly oil a baking sheet or line with parchment paper.
In a food processor, combine onion, garlic, sweet potato, and walnuts. Process until finely chopped and uniform consistency. Add cooked rice and lentils and process once more, scraping down the sides as needed. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and add tomato paste, mustard, flax meal, salt, pepper, and stir well.
Add cornmeal until mixture is thick and you're able to easily form a patty in your hands. Make small palm-sized patties. You can make them larger, but the smaller ones bake up a little better and have less risk of breaking apart. Place formed patties on baking sheet, evenly spaced apart so they have room to cook and be flipped. Bake for 15-20 minutes, then carefully flip over. Return to oven and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes until both sides are evenly browned and they have a nice crisp coating.
Serve on bread, bun, lettuce wrap of choice, or simply crumble over a salad. Top with your favourite burger fixings and save any for later.
Chickpea Buddha Bowl
This is a great option for anyone (all of us) who don't have a lot of time to prepare dinner or simply don't enjoy cooking and still want their food to taste fantastic. Chickpeas contain a range of vitamins and minerals and are an excellent source of protein and fibre for vegans. Note that the vegetables in this recipe an easily be replaced by your favourites.
How to make it:
Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Place vegetable broth and quinoa in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer until quinoa is tender for about 15 minutes. Place Brussels sprouts, carrots, parsnips, and red onion on a baking sheet and drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Bake in the preheated oven until softened for about 10 minutes. Mix chickpeas with turmeric in a bowl. Heat remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook and stir chickpeas until browned. Mix tahini, lemon juice, and maple syrup in a bowl until well combined. Add hot water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until dressing is thin and smooth. Divide quinoa, roasted vegetables, chickpeas, and mashed avocado between 2 serving bowls. Drizzle 1 tablespoon dressing over each bowl.
And, for dessert...
Banana and Cacao Ice-Cream
After a long day in the office, it's time to treat yourself to a delicious vegan dessert that'll take you no time at all to prepare. Cacao is an ingredient that's known to help produce serotonin in the brain and helps us to feel relaxed. The trusty banana is also a fantastic sleep-inducing food, high in magnesium and vitamin B6. Also, the potassium found in bananas works as a muscle relaxant so this dessert should have you drifting off without a worry in the world.
How to make it:
For 2 servings, simply blend 2 frozen bananas with 2 tablespoons of raw, unsweetened cacao powder. Use a dash of water if needed to help with the blending process. Note: Cacao does contain caffeine so experiment with the amount that works for you and your sleep.
While we're on the topic, these are the ways a vegan diet affects your skin.