Without a doubt, research tells us over and over again that those consuming more plant foods are the healthiest and leanest. A diet based on plant foods has been shown to help prevent and reverse symptoms of type 2 diabetes and heart disease and reduce our risk for cancer. Plant foods that provide health benefits include vegetables, fruits, legumes (beans, peas and lentils) and whole grains. We know we should eat more of these healthy foods, but how do we do it with our busy lifestyles? Below are some proven tips that you can start using today to get more plant foods into your diet.
Go to frozen vegetables & fruits for convenience. They are nutritious and fresh!
Add a handful of frozen blueberries, strawberries or blackberries to your cereal or oatmeal.
Eat a high-fiber, whole grain cereal for breakfast. Choose a cereal with at least five grams of fiber per serving.
Add sautéed vegetables to your breakfast scramble.
Choose whole grain, high fiber breads. Choose bread with at least three grams of fiber per serving. Read labels; if you see the word "enriched" in the ingredients list, it's not whole grain. Instead, look for words such as "whole grain," "stone ground," "whole ground," "whole wheat flour," "whole oat flour" and "whole rye flour."
Snack on baby carrots and hummus or other bean dip. This will give you both vegetables and legumes (beans)!
Eat low-sodium bean or lentil soup for lunch. It's quick, convenient and it counts as a serving of beans and/or vegetables.
Reach for canned beans for convenience (Eden Organic brand does not use BPA in the lining of their cans). Rinse beans well (until water runs clear), and sprinkle them on a salad or add to soup for added protein and fiber or use as a main dish.
Use whole grain pasta instead of white pasta.
Make a homemade pizza crust with whole grain flour. Even wheat germ can be added in for great texture and a hearty taste.
On your next homemade pizza, substitute shredded carrots for ½ of the cheese, and substitute the other half of the cheese with extra sauce.
For a tasty salad, steam several cups of frozen or fresh vegetables (cauliflower,
carrots, broccoli or bell peppers) until tender and crisp. Add ¼ cup of low-fat
salad dressing and drained chickpeas. Mix well and refrigerate until chilled.
Improve the nutritional value of your family's favorite main dish casserole by
adding one or two cups of frozen or fresh mixed vegetables. For example, try the
veggie blend that includes cauliflower, broccoli and carrots.
Stuff your favorite potato with healthy toppings such as stewed tomatoes, green
and red peppers, onions, broccoli and/or your favorite salsa. Try a sweet potato
instead of a white potato to get even more nutritional value!
Get acquainted with green leafy vegetables. Try adding a few leaves of kale,
chard, mustard greens, collard greens, dandelion greens or any other green leafy
food to your regular salad.
Aim to have at least three-quarters of your plate covered by vegetables, fruit,
whole grains and legumes.
Focus on variety in your plant foods. The more color you eat, the better. Try to eat
all colors of plant foods including green, red, yellow, orange, purple and white
foods. Try leafy greens; red peppers and strawberries; squash and lemons; carrots,
oranges and sweet potatoes; blueberries, purple cabbage and eggplant; and
cauliflower, garlic and onions. The more color and variety, the better.
Makes it a better day!