Moving Towards Plant Based Eating

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Curious about incorporating the benefits of more plants? You're not alone. In recent years, there's been a massive movement towards meatless meals, and for good reason - this dietary pattern is linked to reduced risk for heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and colon cancer. Plus, with food costs rising, adopting more plants is a surefire way to save on your monthly bills.

But rest assured, plant-based eating isn't all-or-nothing. You can reap the rewards without completely ditching animal products. By simply shifting your focus to eating more plants, you're already supporting your wellbeing. This includes fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains. Here's some easy ideas to get you started.

Five Easy Tips to Eat More Plant Based Foods:

  • Power up with legumes, like chickpeas, black beas, edamame, wasabi peas, mung beans, lentils. Cook a large batch of mixed bean chili and freeze for a rainy day. Keep frozen edamame for a quick, microwaveable snack. Or, make a fresh bean salad and add as a side to your dinner meals. Still missing meat? That's okay - try mixing 50/50 lentils/ground meat in your meatloaves, pasta sauces, burger patties - you won't notice a difference in texture!
  • Join the global Meatless Mondays movement! Launched in 2003 in association with John Hopkins Center for a Liveable Future, Meatless Mondays sends a simple message: Skip meat once a week. You'll find delicious recipes, tip sheets and resources, plus, the support of a global community.
  • Fill up on nuts and seeds, like pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, peanuts, chia seeds, ground flax. You can add 1-2 tbsp of seeds to your morning oats, smoothies or yogurt bowls. Or, add them into your salads and grain bowls for an extra crunch!
  • "Tack on" a fruit or vegetable at every meal! Rather than getting caught up in portions and measurements, simply make a commitment to add a fruit or vegetable at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Think of it as an inherent part of your meal. To oatmeal, add some berries. To congee, add some bok choy. To tacos, add some coleslaw.
  • Freezer scraps. Repurpose your food scraps to make a delicious, warming broth. Keep a scrap bag in the freezer - every time you have food scraps (think carrot peels, herb stems, vegetable trimmings), pop them into the bag. When that's filled, pop the scraps into a large pot of boiling water and let simmer for 30 minutes. Voila - plant-based, virtually free vegetable broth.

Remember, plant-based eating is not a diet, rather, think of it as an approach to eating. Think abundance - what can I add to my meal? By asking yourself this simple question, you can do wonders for your health. Happy eating!

Trista Chan RD MHSc
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