As a food blogger, many opportunities come my way to review products but I only pass along the items that I truly enjoy or find value with. Recently, I was provided a review copy of The Plant Powered Diet by Sharon Palmer, RD and I am happy to pass on this great resource. Being a nurse & nutrition geek, I was really excited to see that this book covers the basics of a plant-based diet which is easy to understand, provides examples for healthy living and includes tasty recipes. This book is a great resource for everybody, no matter what nutritional eating plan you follow, because plants are good for everyone! Sharon has graciously provided some quick nutritional tips, shared one of her tempting recipes and has offered a book to give away …
Are you ready for the latest buzz word in healthy eating patterns? Make way for the era of plant-based eating, the diet coined for an optimal eating pattern that focuses on plants, such as grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds, rather than a diet of animal products like meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy.
The diet debate among dietitians and nutrition scientists has moved beyond the low-fat versus low-carb versus high-protein – even beyond micronutrients like vitamins and minerals. Now they’re starting to take a fresh look at diet patterns, the overall style in which people eat food. And everyone, from internationally renowned health experts to government nutrition-policy makers to food system advocates, are beginning to agree on one overarching principle: All of us can benefit from shifting to a plant-based diet.
The beauty of the plant-based diet is that it’s flexible – and it doesn’t mean that you have to give up animal foods all-together. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee defines a plant-based diet as one that simply “emphasizes plant foods.” Thus, plant-based eating covers a spectrum of eating styles, from a strict vegan with no animal products to an omnivorous diet that includes more plant foods.
And while plant-based eating undisputedly has its health benefits, including lowering levels of obesity, reducing risk of cardiovascular disease, and lowering total mortality, people are interested in reducing their animal intake for many reasons. Reducing animal suffering, as well as lowering eco-impact are other factors that come into play for individuals.
Consider this: Since animals are essentially inefficient “food production machines,” simply eating one less burger per week would be the equivalent of driving 320 miles less.
Another added perk is that vegetarian, plant-based eating has come a long way –thanks largely due to a long list of vegetarian celebrities, ranging from Anne Hathaway to Woody Harrelson to Alicia Silverstone. No longer is plant-based eating about as hip and trendy as munching on alfalfa sprouts and granola. There’s now a huge variety of plant foods available to us, a much bigger variety than meat, chicken, and fish. There is much more choice than less choice. All it may take is a simple shift in mindset and a willingness to explore and discover the new food possibilities.
Making the shift towards more plant-based foods is not as difficult as you may think. Try one of these 5 strategies and before you know it, you may be making friends with plants.
- Ease into it. If you eat meat at every meal, you have room to cut back. Start out slowly with having one completely vegetarian meal per week or even having an entirely meatless day. The Meatless Monday (www.meatlessmonday.com) program is a great place to start with delicious recipes and cooking tips.
- Change the plate. When planning your meal, start with the vegetable or whole grain component. Meat doesn’t need to be the “center of the plate.” You can even try using on individual portion of meat or chicken and use it to flavor an entire family-size meal of stir-fry, casserole, or stew.
- Plant-power your morning. Breakfast is one of the easiest meals to skip on the meat. With so many delicious breakfast foods, such as whole grain cereals and breads, fruit, and even vegetables – you’ll be too busy eating buckwheat pecan pancakes with peaches to even notice the bacon missing from the table.
- Take your taste buds on an adventure! Visit a Mexican, Indian, Thai, or Vietnamese restaurant, observe how dishes are prepared and what spices are used, and then take home a few culinary tricks or ideas with you.
- Keep it whole. The “whole” point of a plant-based diet is to reap then nutritive benefits of whole foods. Rather than piling up on refined grains, which do little for your body from a health standpoint, load up on fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains like quinoa and bulgur, legumes, seeds, and nuts. The recipe for this Southwest Black Bean Quinoa Salad from The Plant-Powered Diet is the perfect starting point.
- 1 – 15 oz can black beans, no salt added, rinsed, drained
- 1 cup cooked quinoa (according to package directions)
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 1 small red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 cup chopped fresh mango
- ¼ cup chopped red onion
- ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped (or 2 tsp dried if not available)
- 1 small fresh jalepeno pepper, seeded, finely diced
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 1/2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ tsp cumin
- ½ tsp chili powder
- ¼ tsp turmeric
- Mix beans, quinoa, corn, pepper, mango, onion, cilantro and jalapeno together in a mixing bowl.
- In a small bowl, whisk lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, cumin, chili powder and turmeric together.
- Toss into salad mixture and chill until serving time.
- Makes 6 servings (about 1 cup each)
Nutrition Information per Serving: Calories: 201 Fat: 5 g Sat Fat: 1 g Sodium: 9 mg Carbohydrate: 36 g Fiber: 8 g Protein: 8 g
Recipe from The Plant-Powered Diet: The Lifelong Eating Plan for Achieving Optimal Health, Beginning Today, copyright © Sharon Palmer, 2012.
Sharon Palmer is a registered dietitian, food & nutrition writer, editor, and author of The Plant-Powered Diet. She is passionate about foods that are grown locally and sustainably. Check out Sharon’s Blog at http://www.sharonpalmer.com/blog.php
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