No news here that there is new diet advice every moment. And yes, you have me here to passionately help you navigate through the mess. But the one piece of diet advice that no one can argue with is that we all should be eating more plants. A plant-based diet focuses on getting all or most your nutrients from plant sources like vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts and seeds.
Eating more plants and a plant-based diet, in particular, is being encouraged by more scientists and physicians, with good reason—crowding your diet with more plants means taking in more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to support your body. And who doesn’t want that? By adding more nutrient dense plant-based foods into your diet you will slowly start to crowd out heavily processed food and animal products. The crazy thing is, the more veggies you eat, the less of the other stuff you will actually want to eat.
I swear it is an incredible and addictive cycle. Your body actually starts to crave more plants. Could it be the weight loss, the sudden surge of new energy, radiant skin and mental clarity that comes with rethinking your diet? I say YES with absolute authority. I am proof, and have also guided so many others through it. Eating a plant based diet has amazing transformative benefits. I am not saying you need to be 100% vegan. (Just like diets, labels do not work. You do you.) But a lifestyle that focuses on adding in more plants to crowd out the other foods will always help you feel your best. I love the 80/20 rule. This is my food philosophy, a way of eating that is free from restriction and deprivation because we know that doesn’t work. So think of it as eating clean 80% of the time while 20% of the time you are eating food that satisfies another part of you—your son’s bday cake, pizza night, etc. I apply this same 80/20 thought to a plant based lifestyle. 80% of the diet are plants. They are the main stay of the diet; the other 20% can be those animal products you enjoy on occasion, sourced from local, organic, grass fed producers. We are going for quality over quantity here.
It’s not that hard. Trust me. But you do need to make the conscious effort and make the choice to take a step back from what our society’s norms are, what you usually tend to lean towards and eat and think more plant-based, whole foods forward. Check out this short article on what ingredients to watch out for in processed foods even if they are labelled “natural, healthy and organic”.
If you’re new to a plant-based diet or just want to start eating more plants, start with stocking your pantry and your fridge with these foods that will get you get plant-powered up. And FYI, I am talking delicious tasty clean foods that will maximize how you look and feel. Sprinkled in this piece are links to some of my favourite recipes, but you can also get mostly plant based inspiration here.
But before we move anywhere …
I know what you are thinking … the question that is always top of mind when starting to switch to more plants …Where am I going to get my protein from?
Look how much protein are in these plant based staples.
—2 cups greens (a small salads) = 6 grams protein
—½ cup cooked quinoa = 4 grams protein
—½ cup of spinach = 4 grams protein
—½ cup of green peas = 4 grams protein
—1.5 oz. (@ 24) Almonds = 9 grams protein
—1.5 oz. (@ 30) Cashews =8 grams protein
—2 tbsp. peanut butter = 7 grams protein
—1 slice sprouted-grain bread=4 grams protein
—2 tbsp. hemp seeds = 8 grams protein
—1 potato =8 grams protein
—1 sweet potato =3.5 grams per size
—1 cup cooked black beans = 16 grams protein
—1 cup cooked lentil = 18 grams protein
—1 cup cooked chickpeas =11 grams protein
—1 cup cooked edamame = 17 grams protein
—2 tbsp. nutritional yeast = 4 grams protein
—½ cup tofu= 11 grams of protein
These plant-based proteins fill you up with good-for-you fiber and keep you feeling energized. They’re affordable, easy to incorporate into your diet and good for the waistline. Throw them in salads, soups, burgers, tacos, BROWNIES! and stir fries, puree them for dips and sauces. Did you know that 1 cup of chic peas has more protein than your average 3 OZ serving of chicken?
- Black beans
- Lentils (all kinds)
- Kidney Beans—(white too, add creaminess in soups)
Hearty grains are a good source of protein and make a great base for bowls, curries, breakfasts, soups, salads, stews and side dishes.
- Brown rice
Nuts + Seeds
Nuts and seeds can be the base of a variety of different recipes like granola, pestos, dips, dairy-free mylks and sauces and snacks. These are nutrient powerhouses packed with omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and fiber.
- Peanut butter
- Almond butter
- Hemp seeds
- Chia seeds
- Flax seeds
- Sesame Seeds
Including fats is key in plant powered meals, as the fat helps your body absorb all the vitamins and minerals from the vegetables and plant-based foods you’ll be eating. These good fats are what actually helps us maintain our healthiest weights and keeps the body thriving. They keep us satiated, boosts brain function (our brain is made of fat and water), help stabilize blood sugar and maintains even cholesterol—good and bad. If you are constantly choosing low calorie, low fat food, you will always be hungry and never be satiated. You will notice you don’t need much of the sauces because they are so flavourful and filling with the healthy fats. 1/4 a cup is fine.
- Unrefined, Organic Coconut oil
- Cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil
- Hemp, Avocado, Flax Oils
- tahini, nut butters,
- chia, hemp and flax seeds
If you’re just learning how to cook with plants, a little extra spice, flavour, and creaminess from condiments like miso can elevate everything from salad dressings to soups.
- Hot sauce
- Tahini (sesame seed paste)
- Miso paste
- Tamari (gluten-free soy sauce)
- Vinegars (apple cider, rice)