Load Up on Plants for Lunch!

Posted by:

Conquering the Midday Meal

Lunch! It’s the much-anticipated break in the day for kids and adults alike (unless you’re stuck in a working lunch, in which case, I feel for you). But when everyone at school is lining up to buy greasy pizza and limp vegetables or the gang at the office is chowing down on fast food, how do you make sure you and your kids have something healthy and delicious?

Tackling plant-based eating is easier when you approach one meal at a time, so now that you have breakfast all sorted out, you have some techniques you can use to make lunch prep quick and easy. Read on for your guide to packing better lunches for the whole family!

mason jar salad healthy lunch idea

Make Salad Simple (and Exciting)

The mason jar salad trend has been going strong for years and shows no sign of slowing down. Why? Because it’s simple and completely customizable. By taking a meal that usually requires a bowl, a separate container for dressing and daily prep time and turning it into a grab-and-go option you can make up to a week in advance, this approach to lunch makes having a nutritious salad with all your favorite ingredients even simpler than hitting the drive-thru.

One Green Planet has a fantastic guide with all you need to pack salad ingredients in glass jars and have them ready in the fridge to toss in your bag as you head out to work. You can easily make a balanced meal by layering up:

  • Homemade dressing
  • Cooked grains
  • Beans, tofu or tempeh
  • A rainbow of raw veggies
  • Dried fruit and/or nuts
  • Greens

When lunchtime rolls around, just shake up the jar and grab a fork! You can also dump the whole thing into a bowl, but why bother dirtying up another dish if you don’t have to?

Conquering Kids’ Lunches

Packing a plant-based lunchbox is possibly the most fun you’ll ever have as a vegan parent. Seriously. When you make plant-based lunches for your kids, you have the chance to channel your inner child and get creative with tons of fun foods.

Wraps and sandwiches are quick, simple and versatile. Make the tried and true PB&J on sprouted bread, or roll a banana and some nut butter up in a whole-grain tortilla for an entertaining twist on this classic. In cold weather, send veggie and bean soups with whole-wheat pita bread or homemade corn muffins.

Even the pickiest kids will eat anything that comes with a dip. Veggies and hummus, fruit and unsweetened nondairy yogurt, whole-grain tortillas and salsa…if they can dip it, it’s a viable choice for lunch. For dessert, you can never go wrong with a piece of fruit or a colorful fruit salad. (And yes, the occasional cookie is also acceptable!)

Pack everything up in a container with separate compartments, such as a bento box, to keep everything neat and give kids the freedom to combine foods any way they like. If you’re feeling artistic, try cutting fruit or sandwiches into shapes like flowers, animals or stars for a fun surprise come lunchtime.

Leftovers: The Easiest Lunch Ever

Leftovers are unfairly made the brunt of jokes and met with groans from those assuming anything remaining from a previous meal is destined to be boring, bland, dry or disgusting. It’s time to free yourself from this stereotype and embrace leftovers as, yes, the easiest lunch ever.

When you’re making dinner, get into the habit of cooking extra food to stash in the fridge and freezer. Some good options are:vegan refrigerator wonder soup served

These all freeze well and are easy to make in large batches. When leftovers have fully cooled, divide them into individual portions in airtight containers and label them, and you’re good to go! In the morning, all you have to do is grab a container and the appropriate utensils. It’s a lunch with literally no morning prep time unless you decide to throw a green salad together to eat on the side (which I highly recommend if you have a couple minutes to spare).

Know Your Takeout Options

There are times when eating out is your only choice. Whether life happened and you didn’t have time to make food in advance or the morning was so crazy that you rushed out the door without the lunch you already packed, you may find yourself approaching the lunch hour with a growling stomach and the dread of choking down a limp salad with no dressing.

Fortunately, restaurants are getting wise to the trend toward healthier eating and are starting to offer plant-based lunch options or even full plant-based lunch menus. To find the best choices near you:

You’ll be pleasantly surprised to discover how many eateries, especially ethnic restaurants, have dishes appropriate for plant-based diets or are willing to adjust existing dishes to meet your requests. While eating out shouldn’t become a habit, it’s nice to have a “go-to” spot you can rely on in a pinch. Keep in mind some restaurants may use animal-based ingredients in vegetable dishes, so be sure to ask about sauces, dressings and soup stocks before ordering.

Quick plant-based lunch ideas like these make planning and prepping your midday meal simple and hassle-free. It may take a few weeks to get into the habit of making meals in advance and to find foods your kids will happy gobble down, but don’t get discouraged. Every day is a chance to try something new and take a step forward to a healthier lifestyle.

Ready to conquer plant-based lunches?

Join my mailing list and get a FREE tip sheet to be your guide!

0

Simple Plant-Based Breakfasts for Hassle-Free Mornings

Posted by:

The Perfect Healthy Breakfast Menu for Your Busy Life

When you spend the morning trying to get ready for work, get the kids out the door and make sure your husband doesn’t accidentally leave his smartphone in the refrigerator (don’t act like it hasn’t happened!), putting a nutritious breakfast on the table can seem impossible. It’s tempting to toss a granola bar in everyone’s backpack or let the kids forage for themselves from the half-empty boxes of cereal in the pantry.

Never fear — a fast plant-based breakfast is possible, even if you think you don’t have any time at all. These three make-ahead options are the perfect solution for hectic mornings.

Oatmeal is Your Friendoatmeal for make ahead plant based breakfast

If oatmeal is already a go-to breakfast staple in your house, you can turn it into a nearly instant meal by cooking up a big pot in advance. Whether you prefer rolled or steel-cut oats, all you have to do is measure out how much you need to feed everyone for the week; toss it in a pot, Crock Pot or Instant Pot with water or nondairy milk and let it cook up while you go about your business.

  • For rolled oats, use a 2:1 ratio of water or milk to grain
  • For steel cut oats, use a 4:1 ratio
    • Note that liquid amounts for Crock Pots and Instant Pots may vary

Store the cooled cooked oats in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 6 days, or portion them out into glass jars with tasty mix-ins like nuts, seeds, dried fruit or shredded coconut. In the morning, simply reheat in a pan or the microwave with an extra splash of water or milk. Stir, add mix-ins if you haven’t already and serve!

In hot weather, skip the cooking altogether and go for overnight oats, which only require soaking. Measure out individual portions of oats into jars, add nondairy milk in a 2:1 ratio, toss on your toppings of choice and refrigerate for up to 5 days. To serve, just stir and eat!

How to Win at Oatmeal:

  • Buy or gather up glass jars or containers
  • Pre-cook oats in the evening or over the weekend
  • Portion out cooled oats and add toppings
  • Grab prepped jar(s) in the morning and reheat (or stir if it’s overnight oats)

Two Words: Breakfast. Casserole.

Savory morning meals more your thing? Make vegan brunch possible any day of the week with a big batch of breakfast casserole.

That’s right; casserole isn’t just for dinner! There are plenty of healthy plant-based breakfast recipes out there for dishes featuring combinations of beans, veggies, vegan cheese sauce, potatoes, whole-grain toast, vegan “eggs” — pretty much any breakfast food you might want, you can stick in a casserole. Even french toast.

The best part? You can make casseroles ahead of time. If you have a lazy Sunday afternoon (or any day that counts as your “weekend”), schedule some kitchen time and reap the rewards of for the rest of the week. Make a casserole and bake it in the morning, or bake it when you make it if you have the time.

Use a glass dish that’s fridge-, freezer- and oven-safe so that you can easily store and reheat your casserole as needed. Casserole dishes with airtight lids are best for keeping food fresh and preventing accidental spills. An entire cooked casserole can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days or divided into portions and frozen to thaw whenever you want.

Turn Every Day Into Brunch Day by…

  • Investing in a really big casserole dish with an airtight lid
  • Prepping a full (or double!) batch of your favorite casserole over the weekend
  • Cooking or reheating the casserole in the morning
  • Storing leftovers for the week and reheating as needed

avocado beet toast with tomatoesA Toast to Breads

Aside from oatmeal, muffins and quick breads are some of the simplest plant-based breakfast options. Just like a casserole, breads can be made in advance using whole-food ingredients like whole wheat flour, spelt flour, oat flour or your favorite gluten-free blend.

Muffins are the ultimate “grab and go” food, and you can stuff them full of just about anything, including savory pumpkin puree or sweet apples and dried fruit (and yes, banana bread is always an option). Recipes for full loaves of bread can easily be doubled, sliced once they’re cool and stored for a speedy breakfast on your most hectic mornings. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container lined with paper towels to prevent moisture buildup. If you stack muffins inside a container, place additional paper towels between the layers.

To store plant-based breads for more than 4 days, wrap loaves, slices or individual muffins in wax paper or freezer paper and place them in an airtight container or Ziploc freezer bag. Reheat in the oven, toaster or toaster oven any time!

(And of course, there’s nothing wrong with serving up whole-grain or sprouted toast with oil-free nut butter and low-sugar jam or some smashed avocado with tomato slices when you’re completely strapped for time.)

To Bake and Enjoy Beautiful Breads…

  • Find a recipe you and your family will love (or try a bunch!)
  • Make a full or double batch
  • Store in the fridge or freezer
  • Reheat as desired (and slather on that nut or seed butter, if you like!)

With these make-ahead plant-based breakfast ideas in your dietary lineup, mornings get just a little easier. Choose your favorites or experiment with all three for easy plant-based breakfasts on the go. You’ll never have to worry about what to feed your family again — and you’ll always know everyone is heading out the door powered by whole-food nutrition.

Want more inspiration for your mornings?

Join my mailing list and get a FREE tip sheet with all the “must haves” for a healthy plant-based diet!

0

How Do You #GoNuts4Plants? Instagram Contest Winners Tell All!

Posted by:

I want to thank everyone who followed and participated in my recent Instagram collaboration with Gourmet Nuts and Dried Fruit! In our #gonuts4plants contest, we asked you to share a photo of your favorite plant-based food or meal and tell us how it helps you live a healthy life.

We had a lot of fun collecting photos of your meals and snacks! I hope the stories our three winner share here inspire you to start your own health journey or stick with the path you’re on right now. Read on for great meal ideas and prep tips!

1st place — Christian

A post shared by Christi (@cmarieks) on

Her story:

What first prompted you to start adopting a healthier lifestyle?

I was prompted to adopt a healthier lifestyle after I realized that my diet and lack of exercise was contributing to my constant fatigue. I noticed how out of shape I was when I went to Mexico with my 21-year-old niece and she had boundless energy and I was dead on my feet at the end of the day. I decided to start eating better and exercising more after I got back.

Tell us a little more about the kale salad you posted for the contest. What’s your favorite thing about it? How often do you make it?

I love how healthy yet tasty it is. I like how I can change it up and add different toppings and dressings for different flavors so it’s not exactly the same every time. I probably eat it 3 to 4 times a day, usually as a part of lunch. And it’s something I really enjoy, and I know it’s very healthy for my body. I try to aim for eating to nourish my body instead of eating for entertainment or comfort.

Do you have any advice you’d like to share with others who are on the journey to better health?

I would tell people that a journey to health is that — a journey, not a sprint. It won’t happen overnight. And don’t compare your journey to anyone else’s. Sometimes I catch myself thinking I should weigh a lot less the way that I eat, but I quickly get that out of my head, and remind myself I’m healthy and that’s what truly matters.


2nd place — Angela

A post shared by @goldenblue89 on

Her story:

What first prompted you to start adopting a healthier lifestyle?

I wanted to start a healthy lifestyle because my father passed away from a heart attack when I was a little girl. I knew I did not want to end up in his footsteps, so I vowed to live a healthy lifestyle. I know my Dad would be very proud of me and is with me every step of this journey.

Tell us a little more about the food prep technique you shared for the contest. How can we incorporate the same technique into our schedules?

I take a variety of fresh fruit and I put them into sandwich bags as snacks or even a light meal. You can choose your own fruit and cut it, or you can buy the fruit pre-cut. I like to make it colorful by adding a mix of different colored fruits in there. For example bananas, strawberries, kiwis, oranges, red grapes, pineapples and apple slices are all a great and tasty variety. They are great to add to a skewer for fruit kabobs, to add to a lunch box and to eat as travel snacks.

Do you have any advice you’d like to share with others who are on the journey to better health?

My advice is to know that even small steps end up making a big difference.


3rd place — Dora

A post shared by Dora Ruiz (@dora91607) on

Her story:

What first prompted you to start adopting a healthier lifestyle?

Like many of us, as I started to hit my 30’s my family’s health history became a hot topic as I watched my mother suffer from diabetes.

Tell us a little more about the dish you posted for the contest. What’s your favorite thing about it? How has it helped support your nutritarian approach to wellness?

This plate was my blank canvas and my goal was to paint a rainbow of nutrients. Now that I know the veggies’ backgrounds and how they help me help my body heal, it’s a no brainer!

Do you have any advice you’d like to share with others who are on the journey to better health?

My best advice is consistency. 😀 Be consistent with your plan to heal your body.


Thanks again to our three winners!

How about you? Do you have a favorite technique or tip that makes it easier for you to eat healthy?

0

Smack Down Your Stress for Lifestyle Success

Posted by:

You hear it all the time, probably out of your own mouth more often than not:stressed woman at desk “I’m so STRESSED!”

In fact, stress is so ubiquitous that it’s become our way of life. We barely notice it because we don’t know what it’s like not to be stressed. Being busy is hailed as a virtue, and productivity is regardless of the cost.

At the same time, we pursue plant-based diets and carve out time for exercise, rightly assuming these things will help our bodies be stronger and healthier. But there’s one problem:

Stress can sideline your health journey.

As with any health concern, the more you understand how and why stress is affecting your body, the better equipped you are to take steps toward healing.

What is Stress?

Google defines stress as “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.” It comes in two forms:

  • Acute: “I’m changing lanes now and HOLY TOFU WHERE DID THAT TRUCK COME FROM?”
  • Chronic: “I’m stuck in traffic yet again on the way to a job I hate, drinking my third cup of coffee and still feeling exhausted.”

In other words, acute stress spurs you to life-saving action, whereas chronic stress wears you down little by little in ways you may not even be aware of.

Some (Not So) Surprising Stress Statistics

According to Statistic Brain and the American Psychological Association, the top causes of stress in the U.S. are:

  • Job pressure
  • Money
  • Health
  • Relationships
  • Media overload
  • Politics

When asked, around 48 percent of people say their stress has increased in the last five years, and the same percentage also admit stress has a negative impact on their personal and professional lives.

The Stress Effect

Not surprisingly, 77 percent of people say they have poor physical responses to stress — although I would imagine the true number is higher because stress isn’t always considered as a culprit when you’re feeling out of sorts.

But stress is a powerful thing. When you come up against a stressor, you body reacts with a cascade of changes meant to give you a short-term way to deal with an immediate problem:

  • Digestion and other non-essential functions slow down
  • Cortisol is released
  • Blood sugar and epinephrine rise
  • Blood pressure becomes elevated

After the stressor has passed (you slam on the brakes, don’t hit the truck and arrive safely in the intended lane), your body’s processes are supposed to normalize as you come back down from the jolt of the acute response.

In today’s society, when we go from traffic jams and coffee to tedious jobs to smartphones constantly interrupting us with news we’d rather not hear, our bodies never have a chance to normalize completely.

Cortisol Complications

Why? The main culprit is cortisol. This hormone, triggered through a cascade of chemicals from the brain and adrenal glands, prompts your body to break down stored glycogen and convert it to glucose for a quick source of energy during the stress response. Chronically elevated blood sugar decreases insulin sensitivity, meaning your body has to keep making more in order to get sugar into cells. Eventually, you could find yourself in the beginning stages of Type 2 diabetes as your cells simply refuse to respond or insulin production begins to drop off.

stressed lego man at desk

Cortisol can also break down proteins for fuel. Add to this a decrease in growth hormone production and problems dealing with stomach acid, and you could be at risk for muscle loss. Stomach acid is a key player in breaking down the proteins you eat, and if it’s not doing the job, your cells won’t get the protein they need.

And of course, we’re all familiar with the feeling of our hearts racing during times of acute stress. Blood pressure that stays high when it shouldn’t puts a strain on blood vessels, especially small vessels in areas like the eyes and brain. The heart itself is also affected as the body asks it to work harder than it’s meant to when you’re at rest. It’s little wonder some of the most common stress symptoms reported are fatigue, headache and muscle tension.

Stolen Hormones

The other problem with cortisol? It’s a hormone. This wouldn’t be a big deal if it didn’t share some of the same precursors as other hormones you need — namely, sex hormones.

Your body has a specific and efficient process for making sex hormones. Part of this process involves pregnenolone, a hormone precursor normally used to make DHEA and, in turn, estrogen and testosterone. It’s also used to make progesterone and aldosterone through a different pathway.

When you’re not under stress, this process should work just fine, but stress “steals” your pregnenolone to make cortisol. As this continues to happen during chronic stress, important hormonal balances are disrupted and your blood sugar goes even further out of whack due to lower insulin sensitivity from a lack of DHEA.

Together, the effects of chronic stress can spell trouble for anyone, even those who practice healthy habits in other areas of their lives.

The Missing Link

Which brings me to my most important point in this post: Even if you have your diet on track and stick to a regular exercise regimen, you could be putting yourself at risk for some serious problems if you’re constantly under stress. A 2016 study provided a graphic illustration of this when it suggested stress has the potential to negate the effects of healthy meals by making the body react the same way as it would to a large influx of saturated fat, namely by increasing inflammation.

Just like the stress response, your body’s inflammatory cascade is helpful when it works the right way. It sends the proper immune cells and compounds to damaged areas to clean up and speed healing. That’s why you experience redness and swelling when you get an injury.

But what happens when the process becomes chronic? A constant state of low-grade inflammation appears to be at least one of the major underlying factors in heart disease, diabetes and other lifestyle diseases. One possible reason for this could be an increase in “adhesion molecules,” compounds that facilitate the formation of the arterial plaques associated with heart disease. Excess cortisol circulating in the blood can also lead to a less robust immune response, leaving you vulnerable to all manner of invaders and making it more difficult for your body to repair itself.

Smacking Down Your Stress: Techniques to Trystress relief this way

I don’t think I have to tell you how to know you’re under stress. As I said at the outset — just about everyone is! You may feel tired, apathetic or just plain “blah.” You may struggle with headaches or stomach aches with no apparent triggers. You’re probably not sleeping very well. And all of it is undermining your plant-based diet and the time you spend at the gym, running trails or whatever you like to do for exercise.

Identify Your Stressors

The first step in breaking the cycle and gaining control over your stress is to pin down the causes. To do this, grab a notebook and start a stress diary. Every time you feel stressed out, write down:

Over time, you’ll begin to see patterns. For example, if you look back at your diary for the week and see a lot of entries like,

“Boss called another last-minute meeting. Critical; everyone had to go. Got angry and fumed through the whole thing. Ate too much Chinese takeout for lunch.”

Or,

“Husband called ten minutes before kids needed to be picked up and asked me to get them. Essential; couldn’t make other arrangements. Didn’t talk to him all through dinner. Stormed around slamming things until I felt better.”

…you know you need to learn a better way to cope.

Rule Your Stress

Fortunately, you don’t have to do anything fancy or mystical to bust stress. You don’t have to go on a retreat and do nothing except sit next to pools of calm water and listen to yourself breathe (unless you want to!). Here are some of my favorite simple, calming activities that I suggest to clients and have seen work for friends and family:

  • Reading favorite books
  • Adult coloring
  • Crafts like knitting or sewing
  • Stretching and/or restorative yoga
  • “Unplugging” from devices and media
  • Spending time with laid-back, supportive friends
  • Having a cup of chamomile tea before bed
  • Spending time in prayer, reading the Bible and connecting with God

You can engage in these activities any time during the day, but I recommend incorporating one or more into your evening routine. Stretching, fixing yourself a cup of tea and settling in to relax without your phone blaring push notifications at you every ten seconds helps you unwind from the day’s events and prepares you for a good night’s sleep — the ultimate restorative stress-buster!

You can’t escape all stress, but you can beat the stressors life throws at you every day. A stress management program is an essential part of staying healthy — without one, all the kale and burpees in the world won’t help you stay well!

Are you ready to get off the stress train and stop feeling “blah” all the time? Book a personalized 4-week package! I’ll walk you through the lifestyle changes you need to find relief and gain control over what’s stressing you out.

0

It’s Okay to Hate Healthy Foods — Really!

Posted by:

Ever feel like you’ll never learn to like some of the foods you’re “supposed” to eat? It seems like a new “superfood” appears on the scene every other week, so you go and grab some at the store only to find you really, really hate it. No matter what you do, you just can’t warm up to it, and you’re left feeling guilty for despising the amazing healthy food everyone else is raving about.

I’ll tell you a secret — and this is going to sound nuts coming from a wellness consultant. It’s okay if you hate healthy foods. Really, it is. There’s no dietary law stating you must enjoy every health-promoting food in existence. While I tend to encourage clients to try preparing new foods in more than one way before deciding they’re not fans, it’s silly to try and force yourself to eat something you truly can’t stand.

Of course, I’m not giving everyone carte blanche to toss the kale in the trash and stockpile dairy-free Ben & Jerry’s and Oreos. What I want to do is put healthy eating in perspective, because sometimes it seems as though people think of it as all-or-nothing. How often do we hear — or say — “I was good today!” when meal choices include a lot of whole, fresh foods? Or the opposite: “I was bad” or “I blew it” when a processed treat was on the menu?

This kind of mindset is what’s behind the idea that we need to somehow pile on the healthiest foods possible to give our diets superpowers, when the truth is much simpler and involves absolutely no food-related guilt trips. So let’s take a look at why it’s not going to kill you to leave the goji berries for someone else and why you’re not a horrible person if quinoa isn’t your favorite thing ever.

Personal Tastes (and Restrictions) Guide Choices

The foods you ate growing up did a lot to shape the tastes you have now. This includes ethnic flavors, favorite dishes your parents made on special holidays and any influence the food industry had on your family’s meals. The latter is where most people get into trouble when it comes to food choices and where the majority of “food guilt” comes from. These tastes — the deeply ingrained preference for sugar, salt and fat — are the ones worth changing, and they can be overcome by shifting dietary choices toward whole plant foods.

Intolerances, allergies and diseases also need to be considered when choosing which foods to eat. According to Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), over 170 foods are known to cause allergic reactions, and as many as 15 million people in the U.S. have at least one food allergy. Reactions range from mild, such as an itchy tongue or a skin rash, to severe, including fatal anaphylaxis.

I’m often upset when I hear a doctors are advising patients to take Lactaid pills and continue consuming dairy when suffering from lactose intolerance or when I hear stories of people struggling with non-celiac gluten intolerance for years because the medical establishment isn’t convinced of its existence. If you eat a food and get sick every time, you don’t have to eat it. No matter what nutrients it contains, no matter what anyone tries to tell you, the best thing to do is give it up.

Superfoods Aren’t Always So Super

The term “superfood” has become an almost magical word most often used to describe exotic, expensive or hard-to-find ingredients. Trying to track down acai berries and spirulina when you don’t have a specialty store or food co-op nearby can be a challenge, and hitting the internet to order some can leave your credit card smoking.

You don’t have to spend a fortune to get the nutrients found in some of the most hyped superfoods. Common foods like blueberries, bell peppers, broccoli and lentils pack just as much of a punch at a fraction of the price. Yes, some nutrients may be more concentrated in foods touted as super, but if you’re already eating a plant-based diet, you’re getting an abundance of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients every time you enjoy a meal. All whole plant foods have beneficial nutrients, and balancing your food intake between whole grains, beans and legumes, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds in their unprocessed forms is one of the best ways to take care of your body.

It’s All About Diversity

With that said, you don’t have to eat every plant food to enjoy superior nutrition; you just have to mix things up during the day. That’s one of the hidden perks of realizing you don’t like some healthy foods: There are so many others waiting to be discovered and a multitude of delicious combinations to experiment with. Mainstream food and nutrition news tends to only highlight the latest fads, loudly proclaiming the benefits of whatever the most recent study has found to be “good” for you. The next day, there’s either a new superfood celebrity or the darling of the previous day is being denounced as not so good after all.

Don’t let it all confuse you. Thanks to creative plant-based doctors, there are a couple of easy ways to envision a healthy, diverse diet. Dr. Greger has his Daily Dozen, and Dr. Fuhrman champions G-BOMBS. Both provide firm foundations on which to base your meals so that you get the best bang for your buck with every dish — no superfoods required.

Try an Alternative

Although it might feel like you’re missing out if the trendy superfoods — or even some plant-based staples — don’t excite your taste buds, an abundance of alternative choices makes it possible to thrive. Give these choices a go the next time you’re looking to pack super nutrition into a tasty meal.

Don’t like kale? Try…

  • Rainbow chard
  • Mustard greens
  • Dandelion greens
  • Broccoli raab
  • Beet greens
  • Turnip greens

Don’t like quinoa? Substitue…

  • Barley
  • Bulgur
  • Spelt berries
  • Millet
  • Brown, red or black rice

Not a chickpea fan? Say hello to these legumes…

  • Red, brown or black lentils
  • Black-eyed peas
  • Kidney beans
  • Black beans
  • White beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Edamame
  • Adzuki beans

However, as I mentioned at the start of this post, try some new ways of preparing a food before you write it off completely. When people tell me they “hate” a food, I almost inevitably find out it was either cooked to death or not used in a way that brought out its best flavor. If you try something a few times and still can’t get past the taste or texture, don’t feel guilty removing it from your menu.

What’s the takeaway here? All diets, even healthy diets, are influenced by individuality, culture, experience and tastes. Even though tastes do change over time, there will always be some foods you don’t like. Building your daily meals around the variety of choices you enjoy and trying new foods to add even more diversity will create a menu you can feel good about.

And those popular “superfoods?” Most of the time, they’re not bad. There’s nothing wrong with splurging on some hemp seeds or throwing a bit of maca in your smoothie, if that’s your thing, but none of them have to be staples of your diet for you to eat well and feel great. So the next time the mainstream media tries to send you on a guilt trip because you’re not mainlining coconut water and green smoothies, remember how much your tastes have changed so far, think about all the great food you are eating and happily ignore the hype.

2

Struggling with Seasonal Eating? This Infographic Makes it Easy!

Posted by:

Thanks to ZeroCater for providing this great post! Save the infographic to your favorites or pin it on Pinterest so that you can refer back whenever you’re planning a seasonal meal. You can see the original post here.

Step into any grocery store at any time, and you’re likely to find the same collection of produce. There will be carrots year round, as well as bananas and apples, probably even blueberries, peaches, spinach and cucumbers.

Most of us realize those food items aren’t actually in season most of the time they’re available for sale. Out-of-season produce lacks taste, texture an even nutrition. (Ever had an imported tomato in the middle of winter?) It’s rarely grown close to where you live, meaning huge amounts of labor and fuel go into getting you your peaches in December—when the fresh season in places such as Georgia usually winds down in August and September.

What you may not realize is how great and far-reaching of an impact searching out as much local produce as you can will make on your community. You’ll be supporting local growers and reducing the need for long transport times for food. Why else are these choices beneficial, and what should you look for? This graphic can help take the mystery out of seasonal eating. (If you take a look at fall, the whole pumpkin spice craze becomes a little more understandable. But only a little. Pumpkin spice Cheerios, anyone?)

zerocater seasonal eating infographic

Need help planning healthy seasonal meals? Join my next Q&A session for diet and lifestyle tips you can rely on all year long.

Save

0

Starting Your Day the Plant-Based Way — Healthy Vegan Breakfasts Made Easy

Posted by:

You’ve made the leap and gone plant-based, but now breakfast is a big question mark. With bacon and eggs off the menu, what is there to eat?

Before you panic and rush to the drive-thru, remind yourself why you decided to stop eating animal foods. Bacon is on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) list of processed meats to avoid due to its potential to cause cancer, and the risk goes up when the meat is fried. Adding eggs increases heart disease risk by as much as 40 percent and makes you 29 percent more likely to develop diabetes. Slap it all on a refined white bun, and you have a recipe for chronic health problems with a side of digestive distress.

A balanced breakfast combines complex carbs, fresh fruits or veggies, clean proteins and healthy fats to deliver the nutrients you need for energy and breakfast satisfaction on a plant-based diet. What does it all look like when you put it into practice? This guide walks you through a typical whole food breakfast so that you can make healthy, delicious choices every morning.

Get Creative with Carbs

After a whole night without food, your body needs nourishment. Unlike proteins and fats, carbohydrates are efficient energy sources and are the body’s preferred fuel. Any plant-based breakfast should include a healthy helping of “carbs.” Your body breaks carbs down and uses the resulting glucose to create energy. Leftover glucose is stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen and turned back into glucose when more energy is required.

  • Serving size:½ cup cooked grains, 1 slice bread, ½ English muffin, 1 small bagel
  • Focus on: Whole, intact grains or breads made from sprouted grains
  • Avoid: Refined grains, refined sweeteners, added salt, chemical or artificial additives

healthy plant-based fruit bowl breakfastVary Your Veggies (and Fruits)

Savory food isn’t just for dinner! Filling your plate with veggies at breakfast is a great way to get on the right track for the rest of the day. Fruit satisfies your natural sweet tooth without the inevitable sugar rush you get from boxed cereal or pancakes drenched in maple syrup.

Eating fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables for breakfast (or any meal) gives your body an infusion of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients in their natural states. When consumed whole and unprocessed, these foods form a complete package in which all the nutrients work together in ways that aren’t possible with the synthetic forms found in “enriched” products. Mixing veggies and fruits with grains at breakfast gives you additional healthy carbohydrates to power your day.

  • Serving size: ½ cup chopped or 1 medium piece of fruit,1/4 cup dried fruit, ½ cup raw or cooked crunchy/starchy veggies, 1 cup raw leafy veggies
  • Focus on: Eating a variety of colors, experimenting with different combinations, seasonal foods
  • Avoid: Processed fruit or vegetable juices, dried fruit with added oil or sugar, canned fruit in syrup, frozen vegetables with sauce or salt

Pack in Powerful Proteins

You don’t have to chug a shake made with dubious powdered ingredients to get a healthy helping of protein with your morning meal. Beans and legumes deliver the biggest protein bang for your buck on a plant-based diet without any of the hormones, chemicals or additives found in meats and commercial protein powders.

It may sound strange to eat beans at breakfast, but English, Mexican, Ethiopian and other cultures regularly include them in the morning meal. Adding beans or foods made from beans, such as tempeh, to your breakfast plate provides essential amino acids to:

  • Help muscles recover after an early workout
  • Produce enzymes to power important chemical reactions in your body
  • Make hormones
  • Maintain healthy skin and hair
  • Transport nutrients around the body

Although it’s not necessary to obsess over protein intake on a plant-based diet, a big helping of breakfast beans makes the meal heartier and more satisfying.

  • Serving size: ½ cup cooked beans, tofu or tempeh; ¼ cup dry lentils; 1 cup sprouts; 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast or ¼ cup hummus
  • Focus on: Unprocessed plant proteins, fermented or whole soy, varying protein choices
  • Avoid: Isolated soy protein, processed vegan meat analogs, processed protein powders, commercial hummus with added oil and salt

Don’t Forget Fabulous (Healthy) Fats!

Fat plays a key role in helping your body absorb certain vitamins and phytonutrients. Vitamins D, E and K are all fat-soluble, as are the carotenoids that serve as precursors to vitamin A. Inside the body, fats protect your organs, build cell membranes and insulate nerves. Your brain is also about 60 percent fat, and several key hormones require fat for production.

A serving of healthy fat makes a nice condiment for or accompaniment to your breakfast. Use your preferred whole source to make oatmeal creamier, add crunch to breakfast scrambles or boost nutrient absorption from green smoothies.

  • Serving size: 2 Tbsp nuts or seeds, 1 Tbsp nut or seed butter, ¼ of a medium avocado, 1 Tbsp coconut (use sparingly)
  • Focus on: Whole fat sources, raw nuts and seeds
  • Avoid: Processed oils, salted nuts, nut or seed butters with added oil and/or salt

Some Tasty Ideas to Jump-Start Your Morning

whole grain toast with hummus

Ready to become a plant-based breakfast champion? Fill your plate (or your bowl) with these delicious combinations:

  • Oatmeal with red lentils, spinach, nutritional yeast and hemp seeds
  • Millet and black beans with sautéed onions, bell peppers and kale, topped with salsa and avocado
  • Chopped fruit bowl with walnuts and cinnamon
  • Leftover cooked rice simmered with almond milk, dates and cinnamon, topped with walnuts
  • Sprouted bagels with sliced tomatoes, leafy greens and avocado
  • Chickpea or tofu scramble with your favorite veggies and greens, garnished with sunflower seeds
  • Sprouted whole grain toast with avocado, tomatoes and nutritional yeast
  • Large green salad with all your favorite veggies, cooked lentils and lemon-tahini dressing
Love this post?

Get all the info condensed in a convenient handout you can hang on your fridge.
Download it now!


Save

Save

Save

0
Page 2 of 81 12345...»