Plant-based Food. What are its benefits and what recipes can I cook?
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There are all kinds of diets nowadays. Keto, Low carb, High protein, vegan, vegetarian, and thousands more. But there is one out there that is pretty simple and is very good for our bodies. Let's see what is Plant-based Food. What are its benefits and what recipes can I cook?
Basically, a plant-based or plant-forward eating pattern focuses on foods primarily from plants. This is not only eating salad, you guys. It includes everything from fruits to seeds and beans. The fact you are having a plant-based diet doesn’t mean that you are vegetarian or vegan and never eat meat or dairy. You are choosing more of your foods from plant sources, rather than processed ones.
Sometimes it might seem hard to start, like every lifestyle changes, it takes time. So don't worry about being perfect, just focus on getting started. If you eat a lot of beans, veggies, and fruits you are already halfway there. What I intend to do with this post is giving you some tips and ideas on how to change a little the way you are cooking those ingredients so you have a more satisfying, delicious meal.
Let me tell you, a plant-based diet is sooo wide you won't even miss anything else. Also since the key is using plant-based ingredients, what better than going with the stations to get inspired! First, let's understand a little bit better what a plant-based diet is, and then we'll jump into yo the plant-based recipes.
A Plant-Based Diet Consists on 5 Food Groups
To succeed at a plant-based diet, the secret is to focus on the major food categories:
Fruity fruits! Any type of fruit is included, from grapes, apples, bananas to dates and raisins.
Veggies: Anything you can think of, kale, corn, peppers, pumpkin, and anything else you can find.
Tubers: these are root veggies, such as potatoes, carrots, parsnips beets, radishes, and more.
Whole grains: grains of any kind, cereals, quinoa, brown rice, oat barley, and much more.
Legumes: beans, beans, and more beans. The list includes lentils, chickpeas, and pulses, soybeans, and any beans.
This is the base for a plant-based diet, but the list doesn't end there. Tempeh, tofu, and whole wheat flour, you won't miss a thing.
Having a Plant-Based Diet Have a Few Benefits:
Highly processed food and a diet with high animal consumption make it harder to control what you are putting in your body. It is more beneficial for our health to fill our bodies to have a diet full of nutrients that the different group foods from a plant-based diet provide us.
Research has shown that having a plant-based diet has a few benefits:
A plant based-diet an help lower your cholesterol, since you are not basing your diet on animal fat or processed foods, you can have a richer and less greasy diet.
It can also help you lower your blood sugar, blood pressure and helps prevent and reverse heart disease.
Its also been shown that it can lower the risk of cancer and diabetes as well as reserve and prevent obesity in children.
It can slow down the progression of rheumatoid arthritis.
And it will overall improve your quality of life. I assure you will be feeling more energized than ever.
Tips and Tricks to get Started in a Plant-Based Diet:
Here are some tips to help you get started on a plant-based diet.
Start by eating lots of vegetables. Make an image in your head where you draw lines on your plate as if it was a pie chart. Fill half of the plate with vegetables in every meal. Also, make it a rainbow, be sure to include a variety of colors in choosing your vegetables. This way you will be sure you are getting all your nutrients.
Try to replace processed snacks with plant-based recipes. Instead of having a donut, make some homemade oat pancakes topped with strawberries. Some hummus with carrot sticks are a hit a dinner party and don't get me started on my spicy guacamole.
Change the way you think about veggies. Stop making them supporting actors and make them the stars of your meal. Instead of planning your meals around the meat to cook, try cooking around an eggplant or a cauliflower. This way you will reduce the intake of meat in your day-to-day life.
Choose good fats. Fats are very important to a healthy diet, but not all fats are good for your body. Products such as olive oil, olives, nuts, and nut butter, seeds, and avocados are particularly healthy choices.
Try a meatless Monday. Design these meals around beans, whole grains, and vegetables.
Eat fruit for dessert. Some watermelon slices on a hot summer day are a perfect dessert. Or a baked apple with some cinnamon on it will satisfy your craving for a sweet bite after a meal on a cold night.
Ok. Know that we know what a plant-based diet is and how does it work, lets dive into a few recipes you can try for mixing up your meals. Let's start with a classic:
Plant Based Pizza
This is an adjustment on a regular pizza, focusing on making it a richer meal and it is our first plant-based recipe! What you'll need:
For the crust:
1 cup chickpea flour
1 cup unflavored, unsweetened plant-based milk, I used soy.
1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon sea salt
Ground black pepper
For the toppings:
2 cups arugula
1 cup marinara sauce
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil or parsley
Combine all the crust ingredients and make a soft batter. Place in a round skillet and cook at medium heat for about 20 minutes and it's done.
While that is in the oven chop all your topping ingredients.
Take the crust out of the oven and spread the marinara sauce, but in the oven, for an extra minute so it gets warm.
Add all your toppings and enjoy with a glass of wine.
I assure you kids and grownups will love this recipe.
Plant-Based Lentil Stew
What is more comforting than a stew? Imagine coming home from a long day at work and getting to nurture your body with a plant-based stew. This recipe is inspired by Central American food and you will love it, so you'll need:
2 small onions
6 small white potatoes
1 16-ounce bag brown lentils
1 can tomatoes
8 cups vegetable broth (learn how to make your own Food Scraps Broth int his post)
1-2 cups spinach
salt and pepper to taste
The night before, soak your lentils!
In a big pot, place the chopped onions, potatoes, and carrots with some oil. Let it cook at medium heat until the onions are transparent.
Then add the lentils, tomatoes, and broth.
Cover the lid and let simmer until the lentils are soft on the inside.
Serve with some chopped spinach on top.
Oh! I love this recipe, makes me feel so good every time I eat it. I hope it makes you feel good too.
Stuffed Sweet Potato
If you are craving something filling and junkier, this stuffed sweet potato is for you. This is a Mexican-inspired recipe that will make a Taco Tuesday lover happy.
1 large baking potato
½ cup black beans if you are in a hurry they can be canned
¼ cup salsa of your choice
Salt and black pepper to taste
Lime wedges (optional)
Wrap your sweet potato in foil and bake until you can put a fork through it without any resistance.
Take your sweet potato out of the oven and let it cool
When it is already cool, cut it in the middle lengthwise and stuff it with all your ingredients.
Then open a beer and enjoy with some hot sauce.
This is a recipe that you can change to anything you want. You can do a Mediterranean-inspired one adding chickpeas and a plant-based yogurt with some cherry tomatoes. It's a matter of being creative and listening to your body so you can satisfy its demands!
Plant-Based (no)Tuna Salad Sammy
Who doesn't like a tuna salad sandwich on a warm day of summer? This plant-based recipe will let you enjoy the tuna freshness but with a veggie twist. You will love it. It is also a great recipe for a kid's lunch.
1 package of tofu
Two slices of whole-grain bread
3 tablespoons tahini
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon maple syrup
¼ cup diced red onion
¼ cup diced celery
¼ cup diced pickle
1 pinch sea salt and black pepper
Marinate the tofu. I like placing it in a bowl with the spices I´m using and lightly frying it in an oiled pan.
Then let it cool and toss it together with the mustard, maple syrup, and chopped veggies.
Toast your bread to taste and assemble!
Enjoy this sandwich having a vitamin D bath on your balcony.
As you can see is not hard to have a nice and delicious meal based on plant-based food. You don't need to go full vegan to be healthy or follow those crazy counting calorie diets, you just need to focus a little bit more on incorporating more veggies on your diet and balancing your 5 food categories on your day to day life!