February’s Tiny Change: Eat More Plants

*This post is part of Kale and Chocolate’s year-long #12tinychanges challenge. Each month, we’re implementing one small, super doable change-over a year it really adds up! Read about all changes here and share your progress on Instagram with the hashtag #12tinychanges!

comp-1

You’ve probably heard about the health benefits associated with eating a plant-based diet, like reducing your risk of heart disease, lowering your blood pressure, and adding years to your life. Food experts, nutritionists, and dietitians may disagree about the right diet, but amidst these debates, they have always been able to agree on at least one thing: MORE PLANTS = GOOD.

This month’s tiny change is just that – tiny. No need to cut foods out, restrict, or diet. Simply add more plant-based foods and recipes to your cooking repertoire. If you’re already eating a largely plant-based diet, wonderful! Try something new and interesting like DIY nut milk. If you’ve yet to dip your toe into plant-based cooking, start easy with something like chia seed pudding.

You don’t have to eat less or cut out anything. Just add more vibrant colors, nutrients, and variety to your meals. If a few of those delectable plant-based dishes happen to replace the less-than-healthy ones in your repertoire, that’s just a bonus! So what constitutes “plant-based,” exactly? Great question! Fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts and seeds, and oils are all fair game – all things that originally stem from plants (pun intended!)

FullSizeRender(47)

Here are five ways you can make this tiny change easy and awesome!

1. Incorporate these plant-based foods into the way you already eat

The best thing about plant-based foods? You can fold them into absolutely any eating style – they’re totally inclusive! Eating Paleo? Vegetarian? Gluten-free? Locavore or seasonal eater? Great, simply add more plants to your daily routine!

2. View this as an opportunity to experiment with new recipes + types of food
Consider this a little nudge to explore new recipes or make reservations at a new restaurant. Asian, Indian, and Ethiopian cuisines include lots of plant-based dishes, many featuring interesting spices and flavor combinations. Give them all a try!

Instead of trying to plant-i-fy existing dishes, why not try something totally different? We’re much more likely to enjoy a recipe (and make it again) if we eat it with an open mind…rather than thinking “this was much better when I made it with a whole stick of butter…” This tiny change gives you the perfect excuse to push yourself toward easy experimentation and more adventurous eating.

sautee

3. Know that this isn’t just about smoothies and salads
Gotta love a good green smoothie, but there are tons of luscious, decadent plant-based foods out there. In fact, if you want to try just one new plant-based recipe a week this month, how about some delicious oatmeal, hummuscookies, PB & J, sweet chocolate avocado mousse, and even ice cream?! Plant dishes can be sweet, savory, warm, chilled, and satisfy just about any craving!

4. Swap in one plant-based dish for one meat or dairy dish

Rather than overhauling your entire meal, try just swapping one dish. Munch on a batch of homemade veggie burgers and sweet potato fries for your Friday night Netflix marathon or warm up with butternut squash soup for meatless Monday. Whip up a balanced meal, use DIY nut milk in your smoothie or make guacamole instead of french onion dip. Just one tiny swap at a time; you’ll be amazed how easy it is to eat more plants!

5. Choose plant-based dishes when you’re eating out or grocery shopping

Now, you know I’m a huge advocate of DIY-ing, but most of us are short on time and long on obligations. Who among us hasn’t picked up dinner on the way home from a hectic day?

Remember, there are a surprising number of plant-based options at your local grocery store, and maybe even your favorite restaurant. Grab a tub of guac, baba ganoush, hummus or even black bean dip. Check out the salad bar for freshly prepared veggies, grains, and plant-based proteins to add to a bed of greens.

When you’re eating out, soups, salads, and vegetarian entrees are often plant-based, (and delicious) so give it a try. To help kickoff this tiny change, you could win amazing prizes and tools to fill up your plate with as many colors and nutrients as possible. You’ll be amazed by how simple it is to eat more plants. And the best part? This easy, delicious tiny change can set you on the road to a healthier heart, longer life, and happier body!

One Healthy Breakdown: Crack open you cookbooks and get ready to veg out!

One Healthy Cookie Dough!

Repeat after me: RAW COOKIE DOUGH. Now that I have your attention…check this out:

602878_582537878462770_1634861679_nHEALTHY COOKIE DOUGH:

  •  1 cup chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • ½ cup organic raw rolled oats
  • 5 pitted dates
  • 2 tablespoons organic peanut butter (or nut butter of choice)
  • 1 tablespoon nuts of choice
  • 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 tablespoon dark chocolate chips/1 oz. dark chocolate bar broken into pieces/cacao nibs
  • splash of almond milk or water if needed for consistency

Blend all together in a high-powered blender or food processor and begin to devour. Now tell me that doesn’t taste just like the sinfully delicious raw cookie dough?!

One Healthy Breakdown: try upgrading your recipes…and, eat cookie dough by the spoonful!

 

WHOLE and More!

I recently attended a lecture by Dr. Cambell (author of The China Study and Whole.) Here’s what I learned:

Arranged Vegetables Creating a FaceOur bodies are machines constantly working towards HEALTH. It is how we feed our bodies that determines how easy or difficult it is for the body to get to what we’re working towards. When we feed the body the best fuel, (whole foods) we thrive from the nutrients, making it much easier to maintain a healthy body. When we don’t eat healthy, our body has to work much harder to break down the food, remove the nutrients, and fuel itself to continue to work towards health. If we fuel our machines (bodies) right, they will ‘run’ better and be healthier all around. Whole foods are easily digested, so the majority of the nutrients are absorbed into the body. Since food fuels the body’s processes, the easier the food is to digest, the more we benefit from it.

Nutrition may actually outweigh genetics. We are all pre-disposed to disease through genetics, some more than others, as DNA varies person to person. Nutrition, however, determines which of these genes are turned on. For example, we know that cancer cells thrive in an acidic environment. Eating a diet full of whole foods and plants increases alkalinity, while too much meat and processed foods tend to increase acidity.

MP900387908The good news is that we can actually reverse disease and shut these cells off, just like we can turn them on. Diet can change the body on a cellular level. For example, studies show that people with heart disease can be “cured” through nutrition. Although the genes still exist, they are dormant as a result of dietary changes. How cool is that?! And why don’t most people know that?!!!

Modern medicine is not based on holistic health and nutrition. The food and drug industries seem to be competing instead of aligning in the name of health. Most doctors do not preach a whole food diet because nutrition is the one thing that is not taught in medical school that is actually the leading factor for change.

Lastly, and my very favorite point is a direct Dr. Cambell quote: “when you eat healthy, your taste buds begin to change overtime. You begin to crave a salad. If you don’t have a salad, you want one.” I can’t reiterate how true this is. Overtime, as I’ve become more knowledgeable about nutrition, my body has naturally learned to crave healthy foods. If I go a day without fresh vegetables or fruit, my body wants nothing more than wholesome nourishment. The same goes for poor diet, so why not train yourself wisely?

One Healthy Breakdown: educate yourself. Nourish yourself. You deserve the best.