How To Eat a More Plant-Based Diet

I don’t relate to people who say they loathe grocery shopping. In the right store at an ideal time without crowds of people, food shopping is like therapy. Bright lights, energizing colors, familiarity and ample choices make the experience more gratifying than clothes shopping…or at least close to it!

I’ve always thought how great it would be to work as a supermarket dietitian, knowing all the trendiest foods available to help people eat better. This morning when shopping at my local Wegmans I was pleasantly surprised to run into my friend Ericka, who is Wegmans’ nutritionist for the Boston area, setting up a fun information table with refreshing smoothies. Another regional supermarket dietitian Julie Hersey, MS, RD, for Stop & Shop New England, periodically sends me tips and recipes to share on my blog. I recently asked her for some plant-based recipes and meal ideas. She was thrilled to oblige, agreeing that whether you follow a strict vegan lifestyle or a flexitarian plan with some animal products, everyone can benefit from eating more plant foods. Check out her tips, recipes, and a yummy very easy recipe I found for peanut slaw!

  • Eat with the seasons. This helps ensure that you find foods with the best quality, taste and nutrition. Learn what produce is “seasonal” by checking the USDA Seasonal Produce Guide.
  • Focus on variety, variety and more variety. Rotate forms (fresh, frozen, dried or packaged) of produce each week or simply mix up the colors you select. Think about the rainbow of colors for pears, peppers and leafy greens. This will keep your plate colorful and expose your body to a variety of nutrients.
  •  Include complex carbohydrates for steady energy. Look to include more whole grains since they provide more fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals. Options include oats, quinoa, brown rice, freekah, sorghum or starchy veggies like sweet potatoes, corn, peas and beans. Start the day with these whole grain Overnight Oats.
  •  Fill up with unsaturated fats to reduce inflammation. Add fats at each meal to stay slim and satiated. Use avocado, nuts, seeds, olives and olive oil. This Avocado Chia Smoothie is a great pick-me up between meals.
  •  Make friends with beans, lentils, legumes. These help keep your appetite at bay and digestion regular. Make a large bean salad, dip veggies into hummus or try Vegan Lentil Burgers.
  • Reinvent family favorites.  Pizza, pasta, grilled cheese, and tacos can all be made veggie-friendly. Substitute each time you make it until you find the right balance for you and your family. Try this recipe for Roasted Chickpea Tacos with Spicy Avocado & Cucumber Salsas!
  •  Try new recipes with tofu, edamame and tempeh. These are good alternative protein sources and stand in well for meat in dishes. The key is to adding flavor with seasoning. Try this recipe for Crispy Tofu & Broccoli Stir-Fry.
  • Add flavor with herbs, spices and condiments. A must is adding layers of flavor when trying new foods. Stock up on fresh/dried herbs and spices, salt-free seasonings, liquid aminos, vinegars, hot sauce and salad dressings. Try this recipe for Hummus Dressing that goes great on salads, whole grains or roasted tofu.

As I explored Julie’s recipes, I found this Southern Peanut Slaw. It’s a great spring/summer side dish. If you add beans, tofu or extra peanuts like I did, it transforms into a main dish. Just heat the sauce ingredients in a microwave, stir and pour over slaw and other sliced veggies. Only change I made was to use agave instead of honey. I used pre-bagged and washed broccoli slaw, cole slaw and red cabbage, and then added a few grated carrots and chopped red onion. I threw in extra peanuts for more crunch and nutrients. Below, my crunchy-sweet-tart slaw is paired with Gardein Fishless Filets.


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