What is a plant-based diet?

The term “plant-based” can be a bit intimidating to anyone trying to make healthy nutrition changes. Does this mean you have to completely eliminate many of your favorite foods? Do you have to adhere to it 100% of the time? I’m going to answer these questions and discuss the benefits of eating more plants.

Benefits of plant-based eating

  • Numerous plant foods are helpful for brain health including avocados, beets, chocolate, olive oil, and coffee.
  • Prebiotics are a type of non-digestible fiber compound found in plants. Prebiotics allow probiotics to flourish. This is so great for your gut health.
  • Fiber is the backbone of plants. By eating a high-fiber diet, it can help reduce the risk of heart disease, manage cholesterol levels, and aid digestion.
  • Phytochemicals are naturally occurring compounds found in plants that can stimulate the immune system, reduce inflammation, and prevent DNA damage.
  • Consuming mostly plant foods keeps saturated fat intake low, which may help improve blood cholesterol. Thus improving your heart health.

4 Steps to take to include more veggies

I’m not saying you need to only eat plant-based foods. I’m not saying that at all. But as Americans, we don’t get enough of these life-giving foods! So if you concentrate on eating more of them, the healthier your life may be.

  1. Instead of building your meal around meat, try going heavier on the plants and enjoying a small portion of animal protein. I recommend treating meat as your side. I know this is not how a lot of us were raised, but it’s how our mindset should shift.
  2. Make sure you stock up on veggies! If you don’t have it, you won’t eat it. Think about what can you keep in your refrigerator, pantry, and freezer that will make plant-based cooking faster and easier.
  3. It’s much easier to eat more plants when you have them prepped! Try roasting a pan of vegetables over the weekend, making a batch of chia pudding, washing and prepping your veggies, or making homemade hummus. This will make it way easier at mealtime!
  4. If you feel overwhelmed at the idea of switching things up, start with one meal per day, and make it plant-based. Try smoothies at breakfast, vegetable wraps at lunch, or bean chili for dinner.

Bonus: Make a dish that you already eat often and add in veggies! You can add spinach or kale into soups or sauces, you can add them to smoothies, or layer extra veggies on your sandwiches.

Here’s a yummy recipe where you can absolutely add in more spinach than what it calls for!

Must-Have Staple Items

Produce
Bananas
Seasonal Fruit
Cauliflower
Mushrooms
Fresh Herbs
Greens
Avocado
Garlic
Onion
Peppers

Snacks
Whole Grain or Gluten Free Crackers
Popcorn Kernels
Salsa
Tortilla Chips
Dried Fruit
Nut & Seed Butters

Freezer
Berries (and other fruit)
Brown Rice
Quinoa
Cauliflower Rice
Squash
Corn
Shelled Edamame
Plant-Based Ice Cream

Refrigerator
Tofu & Tempeh
Milk Alternatives (Soy, Almond Cashew)
Plant-Based Yogurts
Plant-Based Cheeses

Bulk Items
Nuts & Seeds
Nutritional Yeast
Oats

Pantry
Capers
Olives
Canned Artichokes
Whole Grain or GF Flours
Chocolate Chips
Oils & Different Vinegars
Dried Herbs & Seasonings
Rolled Oats
Whole Grains (Rice, Quinoa)
Dried & Canned Beans
Canned Coconut Milk
Canned Tomatoes
Vegetable Broth

Bottom Line:

Plant-based eating does not mean you are going totally vegetarian, it just means eating more plant foods. By eating more of these foods, you will reap the health benefits. You don’t totally have to give up all of your favorites, just concentrate on eating more veggies!

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