Finding Nutritional Balance in a Plant Based Food lifestyle & Mexican Bean and Quinoa Lettuce Cups

Finding Nutritional Balance in a Plant Based Food lifestyle & Mexican Bean and Quinoa Lettuce Cups

Eating from all five food groups is the simplest way to achieve all of our over 35 essential nutrients or bodies key tools. When we have them all, in the right amounts our body can function optimally. We are not all identical beings so there will be some differences, especially in energy requirements.

The “Lean Meat and Poultry, Fish, Eggs, Tofu, Nuts and Seeds and Legumes/Beans” food group are characterised by providing similar nutrients. Honouring YOUR own appetitive should be your best guide to HOW MUCH you need.

Cutting out all animal proteins means there is definitely a limited choice and less of a variety. Beans and legumes (e.g. chickpeas, red kidney beans and lentils etc.), soy products (tofu and tempeh) and nuts and seeds provide  similar nutrient profile to animal protein.
Calcium Fortified dairy alternatives (such as soy, almond and coconut milk) also provide a similar nutrient profile although often much lower in protein to ‘Dairy’.
It doesn’t mean a nutritionally balanced plant based diet cannot be done or enjoyed, it just means being a bit more creative if you want more variety! One nutrient that will be greatly challenged and needed to be supplemented in the diet though is Vitamin B12.
Vitamin B12 is only found naturally in animal products or ‘fortified’ products. Vitamin B12 is needed for the production of red blood cells and also plays a role in the nervous system where they are required for the myelin sheath around our nerve cells.
For more information of recommend food groups and serves  click here.

See below a recipe I created and tasted a while ago but am excited to reintroducing this week.

Mexican Bean and Quinoa Lettuce Cups

Cooking time: 10 minutes


  • Quinoa, pre-cooked, 100-200g (1/2 – 1 cup)
  • 4 Bean Mix, tinned, drained, 125g tin or 1 cup
  • Onion, brown, diced, ½ medium, 70g
  • Chilli, red, fresh or dried, 3-5g (optional amount)
  • Paprika, spice, 1-2 pinch’s, 2g
  • Tomato paste, 1-2 tbsp.
  • Crushed tomato, tinned, 120-150g
  • Corn, tinned, fresh or frozen, drained, 75-100g
  • Capsicum, green, raw, sliced, 80g
  • Eggplant, diced, 80g
  • Lettuce leaves, 3-4 large and frim, 20-30g
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 1-2 tsp.


  1. Heat fry pan to medium to high heat with oil and cook onion, capsicum and until starts to soften
  2. Add 4 bean mix, corn, pre-cooked quinoa, chilli and paprika and stir a further 1 minute.
  3. Add tomato paste and crushed tomatoes and stir in for 30 seconds before reducing heat to low-medium.
  4. Stir gently for a further 1- 2 minutes on low-medium heat to allow flavours to combine.
  5. Serve hot on 3-4 large lettuce leaves


  • Feel free change up the vegetable portion to what you prefer or have available. Spinach, kale, peas and squash also work well.
  • For more heat add extra paprika and small red chill’s during cooking.
  • Can be enjoyed cold or made in bulk and reheated.

Now I’d love to hear from you!

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