Power Up Your Plate with Plants
Sharon Palmer, RD
As the Plant-Powered Dietitian™, I understand the importance in promoting habits that are not only attainable, they’re enjoyable, too. A plant-based diet, which centers on vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, may help reduce the risk of many chronic diseases, including heart disease, and help you keep a trimmer waistline.1,2 Whole grain intake is associated with a lower body weight, while fruits and vegetables are relatively low in calories—making them ideal for maintaining a healthy weight.1 Plant-based eating patterns offer some of the most mouth-watering, satisfying dishes you could imagine. You see, a plant-based diet is more about what you can eat than what you can’t eat.
Simply start by planning your meals with veggies first. You’ll soon realize that this offers much more variety than restriction. When you focus on animal foods at every meal, your choices are limited to a basic beef, pork, chicken, or seafood selection. But when you plan your meals around plant foods, the sky’s the limit. For example, you may have purchased a can of black beans at the supermarket. Start there. You can incorporate them, along with onions, green peppers, and V8® 100% Vegetable juice, to make Hearty Vegetarian Chili. This plant-based recipe has some interesting spices, such as cumin and chili powder, which boost flavor without adding sodium. Now that’s an interesting—and healthy—dish. And for those days you don’t have time to make a plant-based dish from scratch, look for delicious products with a great nutritional lineup, such as Campbell’s® Homestyle Healthy Request® Spicy Vegetable Chili soup.
Don’t let the idea of a plant-centric diet intimidate you. It’s a common misconception that planning veggie-inspired meals can be laborious and complicated. Try one of these five simple cooking strategies to power up your plate with plants:
- Unleash plant-powered proteins. Toss nuts and seeds into your favorite salads, snack on edamame before dinnertime, and stock your pantry with a variety of bean or lentil soups as part of a quick and easy meal any day of the week.
- Enjoy whole grain goodness. Eat a hearty bowl of oatmeal or whole grain pancakes for your first meal of the day, pack a peanut butter sandwich made with whole grain bread for lunch, and throw half a cup of uncooked whole grains such as barley, quinoa, or wild rice into vegetable soup while it’s simmering.
- Fall in love with vegetables. Mix vegetables into your favorite casseroles and one-pot meals; try peas in your macaroni, carrots in your soup, and kale in your lasagna. Try this delicious Vegetable Stir Fry or Herb Grilled Vegetables recipe, both great-tasting, veggie-inspired recipes from Campbell’s Kitchen®.
- Use nature’s perfect sweetener. Many fruits already come with single-serve packaging: their outer skins. Pack along apples, pears, oranges, bananas, peaches, and nectarines for a midday snack. Use the natural sweetness of fruits, such as bananas, applesauce or dates, to sweeten breads, cookies, and desserts, while increasing your intake of nutrient-dense fruit. On-the-go? Campbell offers many beverages that can help you get more fruit servings. Find your favorite flavor of V8 V-Fusion® or Bolthouse Farms® 100% juices.
- Embrace plant fats. Turn to whole plant fats, such as nuts, seeds, and avocados, and turn to olive or canola oil as your preferred cooking and preparation fat.
From my (plant-powered) plate to yours,
Sharon Palmer, The Plant-Powered Dietitian™ is a writer and author of The Plant-Powered Diet. Over 850 of her articles have been published in national publications, including Prevention, Better Homes and Gardens and Today’s Dietitian. She is also the editor of the award-winning publication Environmental Nutrition and writes for her blog, The Plant-Powered Blog. Her second book, Plant-Powered For Life: Eat Your Way to Lasting Health with 52 Simple Steps and 125 Delicious Recipes, will be in stores spring of 2014.
1. USDA, Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010, 7th ed. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, December 2010
2. Position of the American Dietetic Association: Vegetarian Diets, Journal of the American Dietetic Association 109, no. 7 (2009): 1266-1282.