A plant based diet? I know what you are thinking; you are going to be living off of carrot sticks, celery, and lettuce. You will never feel satisfied after a meal. You need meat and dairy for essential nutrients, such as protein and calcium in order to maintain optimal health. But this could not be further from the truth!
A plant based diet can be as strict or as lenient as you choose it to be. Adding just a serving of spinach or 1 apple to your diet per day has been shown to decrease your risk for certain diseases! However, the more plants you incorporate into your daily meals and the less meat and dairy you consume will have the best outcome for your health and prevent chronic disease.
Think switching to a plant based diet is too difficult? In all honesty it does not have to be, but it can seem difficult depending on your current lifestyle. If you think about it, you have probably been eating a Standard American Diet for most of your life. You were probably told that milk builds strong bones and you need meat for protein, and other nutrition misinformation. If you are now asked to cut out the very foods your diet has been centered on this can leave you feeling frustrated and wondering what you are supposed to eat. Good thing there are plenty of easy recipes that can help you make a transition and start a healthier lifestyle today!
If you are curious about transitioning to a plant based diet, or you are ready to add some plant based meals into your current diet then the following are some very simple recipes that I eat most days. It does not have to be difficult. It can be as simple as trading your bacon and eggs for some hearty oatmeal or opting out of chicken or steak fajitas and instead piling on the veggies!
I start every morning off with a fruit smoothie so I will begin my day with about 1 ½ servings of fruit to boost my energy. Did you know that berries have the highest amount of antioxidants compared to most any other food? And may help to prevent diseases such as cancer and heart disease? Bring on the berries! I also add 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed to my smoothie because it is extremely good for you. Flaxseed has been shown to not only protect against high blood pressure but also to prevent and treat breast cancer.
Berry & Banana Smoothie
½ cup of mixed berries
1 handful of spinach or kale
1-2 tbsp. of ground flax seed
Add Water or your choice of dairy free milk (cashew milk, almond milk, or soy milk)
I usually get hungry for something a little heartier in the mid-morning. I keep oatmeal with me at work and at home so I always have access to a healthy and satisfying breakfast. Oatmeal is good for you because it provides your body much needed fiber as well as help to prevent heart disease.
Hearty Bowl of Oats
½ cup dry oatmeal
Add hot water
Dash of cinnamon (if desired)
2 tsp of chia seeds
1 handful of fruit and nut trail mix, or any nut such as almonds or walnuts
Top with unsweetened shredded coconut (if desired)
If I am hungry before lunch I will reach for a handful of nuts and seeds. I like almonds, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds. Not only are nuts and seeds an inexpensive source of protein they are a good source of healthy fats. They have also been shown to protect the body against cancer growth and lower the risk of heart disease.
Lunch time is when I try to get my large serving of greens for the day. Most days my lunch will consist of a bed of greens with choice of beans, choice of grain, and topped with whatever veggies I have leftover in the fridge. Did you know that spinach is high in antioxidants and protects against several different types of cancer? It is also a good source for protein, and can reduce the risk for anxiety and depression. Beans are also an excellent source of protein. I usually add chickpeas to my every day salad. Chickpeas specifically have been shown to lower cholesterol and to prevent and treat diabetes.
Greens, Beans, and Grains Salad
2 cups of dark green leafy vegetable of choice
Add veggies of choice (carrots, broccoli, tomato, cucumber, zucchini etc)
½ cup of grain of choice (brown rice, quinoa etc)
½ bean of choice (chickpeas, black beans etc)
Choose a salad dressing without oil. I usually make my own dressing by mixing horseradish mustard with white wine vinegar and a little agave nectar to sweeten and then mix to the right consistency.
I will usually get hungry again in the late afternoon before dinner. I always take a piece of whole fruit with me to work, or else I will bring a bowl of fresh berries to snack on. One of my favorite and most convenient snacks to keep with me during the day is an apple. Apples have so many health benefits including lowering your risk for heart disease as well as providing your body with much needed fiber. Apples have also been shown to increase energy and improve your mood, which is why I try to eat one when I am starting to feel a little sluggish on a mid-afternoon workday.
Dinner time is when I like to experiment with new recipes if I have time. I have about 5 go-to recipes that I make if I am short on time and veggie fajitas is one of them. I like to use bell peppers, onion, mushroom, and zucchini, but you can use any type of vegetable that you wish. Pile on the fresh salsa and add fresh avocado slices or guacamole to make it even yummier!
The benefits of including a variety of vegetables in your daily diet are endless. But it has been shown that eating a large variety of vegetables daily lowers your risk for Type 2 diabetes, a disease that is currently on the rise due to the Standard American Diet.
Veggie Fajitas with Fresh Salsa and Avocado
1 zucchini chopped
2 bell peppers chopped
½ white or yellow onions chopped
5 white or baby bella mushrooms sliced
Whole grain tortillas (Stacey’s Organic Tortillas are Vegan)
Lightly sauté mushrooms and zucchini in a pan with vegetable broth. (Just enough so the veggies don’t stick) Add garlic powder and pinch of salt and pepper to taste.
In separate pan lightly sauté peppers and onions with vegetable broth (Just enough so the veggies don’t stick) Add cumin, chili powder, and pinch of salt and pepper to taste.
When veggies are tender to your liking take off heat and add them to a whole grain or corn tortilla. Top with fresh salsa and avocado if desired.
You can also make a side dish seasoned of black beans and brown rice if desired.
As you can see a plant based lifestyle does not have to be difficult or leave you feeling unsatisfied. These recipes are not only easy but they all took me under 30 minutes to make and left me feeling full. Adding more servings of fruits and vegetables to your current diet will not only make you feel more energized, it has countless advantages for your health! I hope I was able to introduce you to some new ideas for replacing even 1 of your current daily meals.
Thank you for reading and stay posted for more tips on living a whole health lifestyle!