You guys asked for more fitness tips and healthy vegan recipes, and peta2 friend Nick Diener has come to the rescue! Ask and you shall receive. 🙂

Aside from singing in No Sleep Records’ four-piece punk band The Swellers, Nick is a fitness junkie, and he’s ready to share his tips on eating right so that you can feel your best. Take it away, Nick!

Swellers 2013 promo photo
Brett Gross 


If you’re like me, you don’t have hours to spend preparing a meal and you’re tired of vegan fitness websites telling you to eat like a rabbit. I’ve compiled a list of 10 simple meals (including one great money-saving recipe) that are designed to keep you healthy and full of energy while on a weightlifting plan.

Swellers live photo
Leah Jensen 


About the author: I got into lifting weights and eating to get bigger and stronger about a year ago. Since then, I’ve gained 30 pounds and have made significant gains in size and strength. Warning: I am in no way a professional trainer or nutritionist—but I’ve found what works for me, and I’m happy to share it! Follow me and hit me up on Twitter @nickdiener. I’m happy to help with any questions that you may have, and I’m always open to advice and suggestions as well!

Note: I didn’t include measurements for a lot of these recipes, so use your best judgment to decide how much food you want to be eating—a handful, a serving? I’m sure you can figure it out.


1. Proatmeal (or Proatmeal Shake)

Nick diener oatmeal shake

Start your morning off right! All you need is:

To make, just mix all the ingredients together and heat!

I personally get bored with hot oats in the morning, so I opt for a quicker and tastier shake version. It’s the same idea, but you just mix all the ingredients together in a blender and add some nondairy yogurt. If you’re feeling zesty, add some ground flaxseeds or almonds. Just mess with the consistency until you dig it. POWER!

2. Tofu Scramble

Nick diener tofu scramble

Tofu scramble is another great breakfast meal, but it’s delicious any time!

  • In a pan with some coconut oil (or any cooking oil), mash up a block of firm tofu (pressed and drained) and some vegan sausage.
  • Once the tofu and “sausage” has started to brown, add some nutritional yeast (don’t be afraid to use a lot!), fresh garlic or garlic powder, and soy sauce. Black beans, mushrooms, onions, or other vegetables make great additions, too.
  • Sauté until it looks and smells awesome.
  • Enjoy the awesome.


3. An Apple With Nut Butter 

For this snack, you need to:

  • Get an apple and some peanut butter, almond butter, etc.
  • Put it in your mouth.

The universe doesn’t care how you cut it up, slice it, or serve it. This is a super-easy and healthy snack. Try to go for a natural peanut butter as opposed to the ones that are loaded with extra sugar, and stay pretty close to the serving size.

4. Protein Bar

Clif builders bars

My two go-to plant-based protein bars are:

These do have a bit of sugar in them, so I save them for immediately after workouts to spike insulin and replace glycogen … or something like that. Myth? Broscience? Either way, they taste great, and it works for me!


5. Homemade Seitan

This may be the only elaborate recipe in this list, but making this dish is worth it. A small box of seitan (two servings) can cost $5 to $6 at the store, but this recipe yields three times that amount and costs maybe $2! Seitan, or wheat meat, is super-high in protein and very tasty. It is primarily made of gluten, so if you’re gluten-intolerant, avoid this one. All others: Enjoy getting buff on this homemade goodness.

  • 1 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. sage
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth or water
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 8 cups water
  • Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine all the wet ingredients except for the 8 cups of water.
  • Pour the wet mixture into the dry and knead until a sticky dough ball is formed. Divide into 1/2-inch-by-1/2-inch pieces.
  • Bring the 8 cups of water to a boil in a large pot. (I like to add vegetable bouillon to enhance the flavor.)
  • Reduce the heat to a simmer and carefully drop the pieces of dough into the water.
  • Let simmer in the broth for 1 hour, then remove the pot from the heat and let cool.
  • Remove the dough from the water and store in a container.
  • When you’re ready to use, remember to sauté the pieces in some oil before serving so that they’ll be crispy on the outside!

6. Sweet Potato and Tofurky Kielbasas

I came up with this combination randomly when I was running out of groceries, and it ended up being one of my absolute favorites. Tofurky Kielbasas are absolutely delicious. All you need to do is:

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  • Poke holes in a sweet potato with a fork, then wrap in tinfoil and drizzle with a bit of olive oil and a little salt and pepper. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes.
  • While the sweet potato is cooking, slice some vegan kielbasas and warm in a pan or the microwave.
  • When the sweet potato is done, slice it and add a dash of cinnamon and a small amount of vegan margarine (try Earth Balance brand).
  • Top with the vegan kielbasa pieces and chow down!

7. Chicken and Brown Rice or Quinoa

This is your typical bodybuilder meal: good carbs, good proteins—the end. This is a pretty standard meal for me when I am not feeling creative and need something that will fill me up.

  • Prepare some vegan chicken, such as Gardein Chick’n Scallopini or MorningStar Farms Grillers Chik’n, according to the package directions.
  • Add some hot sauce, soy sauce, or salt and pepper, to taste, and serve with quinoa or brown rice.
  • For good measure, add some vegetables to your plate so that your mom doesn’t yell at you.

8. Tofu/Broccoli/Anything Stir-Fry

gardein mandarin orange chicken stirfry

This recipe is similar to “chicken” and rice, but a lot more fun.

  • Get your favorite faux meat or tofu and sauté it in coconut oil with some broccoli.
  • You can add other stir-fry vegetables, such as sugar snap peas, carrots, etc., as well as some soy sauce, black pepper, Sriracha, or anything, really, to hype it up.

If I’m eating this earlier in the day, I serve it over a bed of brown rice. If this is a later meal, I omit the rice and eat just the protein and vegetables. Meat-eaters like to hype bacon like crazy, but this is the perfect recipe to shut them up with, especially if you bust out the vegan hype machine known as Sriracha.

9. Super (or Naked) Burritos

Vegan burrito
Photo by: SweetOnVeg | CC by 2.0 


Just like you’d get at those big burrito chains!

Add whatever you’d like, really. This meal is great for a big chest or leg day at the gym, and you won’t be spending $7 on one burrito! You can reuse these ingredients for other burritos or salads throughout the week.

10. Super Salad


This is a great low-carb option that I eat later in the day or at night.

  • Start with a base of lettuce, kale, or spinach.
  • Add Tofurky deli slices (cut into cubes or strips), your favorite faux-chicken strips, or crumbled tofu.
  • Throw in some sunflower seeds, walnuts, chickpeas, black beans … whatever you like!
  • Don’t mess this dish up with a crappy, fatty dressing. A little olive oil, some hot sauce, and even some vegan Parmesan cheese on top will make this the best salad ever. Buff dude approved! No rabbit food here.