There are many benefits to eating more plants – a decreased risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity are a few of the upsides.
If you’re just starting to incorporate plant foods into your diet, I guarantee you will notice positive changes in your overall well-being.
But, where do you start?
What is considered a plant food?
- Fruits (fresh or frozen)
- Vegetables (fresh or frozen)
- Whole grains
- Oats, brown rice, quinoa, teff, buckwheat, sorghum, couscous, whole grain pasta, whole grain bread are just a few examples
- Beans and lentils
- Including edamame and tofu products
- Nuts and seeds
- Herbs and spices
Each of these foods provides a wide array of health-promoting phytochemicals, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fibre!
So, how can you incorporate more of these foods into your diet?
(1) If you’re just warming up to the idea of eating more plants, focus on what you can ADD to your plate, rather than what you can take away.
Like oatmeal? Try adding berries, flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp hearts and/or nut butter for an extra plant powered punch.
Toast more your thing? Try topping with avocado and nutritional yeast for a more savoury toast, or sprinkle cinnamon and/or seeds like hemp, chia or flax on top of your nut butter toast.
Try adding at least a cup of vegetables on the side of your lunch and dinner plate. This can be but, doesn’t have to be, a salad. I love roasting vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and beets, or, sauteeing up some green or purple cabbage with onion and garlic to add to the side of my plate!
Add 1 or 2 different vegetables to your pizza topping or pasta sauce.
Try adding greens, like spinach or kale, to your fruit smoothies.
Top your salad with edamame for some extra protein and fibre.
Use different herbs and spices in the kitchen. Some of my favourites are cumin, paprika, oregano, thyme, turmeric and cinnamon.
(2) Pick one new recipe per week that uses plant-based proteins
I find that plant-based proteins, particularly legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas, soybeans, tofu, tempeh), are what people seem to be the weariest to try or simply just don’t know how to cook!
Beans and lentils not only provide a great source of protein, but are an excellent source of dietary fibre! And bonus, they are actually very easy, and inexpensive, to incorporate into your meals!
Here are some of my favourite recipes using plant-based proteins
(3) Make simple swaps
Milks tend to be the easiest substitution for people to make! With so many milk alternatives on the market these days, you’re sure to find one that you enjoy.
Almond, cashew, hemp, coconut or oat milk can all be good options. Just be sure to check that your milk alternative is fortified with vitamins like vitamin B12 and vitamin D, along with minerals like calcium. These alternatives are not good sources of protein – want to up the protein content, try my trick here.
Soy milk most closely resembles cows milk when it comes to its nutrient (including protein) profile and is the best choice for growing children.
Try a veggie patty instead of a meat patty at your next BBQ!
Try a tofu scramble instead of scrambled eggs.
Try subbing a flax-egg for eggs in your baking.
- 1 tbsp ground flax
- 2.5 tbsp water
See how simple it is to start eating more plants?
Not only will you feel better eating more plant foods, you’re likely going to save some money on your grocery bill as well.
It is still a common belief that eating more plant-based is more expensive – and I will be the first to tell you that if you stop eating meat and switch it our for meat substitutes every day of the week, it MAY end up being more expensive.
However, staple items on a whole food, plant-based diet, including whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds are some of the most economical food choices that you can make!