From The Nutritionist

Power Up Your Plate with Plants

Sharon Palmer, RD
Guest Author:
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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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®.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Happy eating!
From my (plant-powered) plate to yours,

Sharon

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.

References

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.

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En Papillote Technique

1. Prepare the parchment paper
Get a large piece of parchment paper, approximately 2.5 times as large as a single portion of food. Cut the paper into a heart shape, lightly brushing one side with oil. This creates a slight barrier to water, preventing the paper from becoming soaked too quickly. Another option, though not as attractive, is to use tin foil instead of parchment paper.

2. Select the ingredients
This is a very quick-cooking approach, so it works best with tender proteins such as fish and shellfish. The accompanying ingredients, like julienned vegetables (matchstick size), must be small enough to cook at the same rate as the fish. In some cases the vegetables can be blanched, or quickly cooked in boiling water, to ensure proper doneness. Fresh herbs will go a long way in providing flavor.

3. Assemble the packet
Lay the oiled, heart-shaped paper on a baking tray, oiled side up. Season your vegetables with salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil, and half of the herbs. Toss them around for an even coat. Place enough for one portion on half of the paper. Bunch them up to create a bed for your fish, leaving about two inches between the food and the edge of the paper. Place the seasoned fish on the vegetables and sprinkle the remaining herbs. Add a splash of the liquid on top of the fish, just enough to add moisture.

4. Seal the packet
To seal, fold the heart over to enclose the fish and vegetables (so it resembles a teardrop). Starting at the top of the heart, fold about 1/4" of the edge toward the center. Fold over again to create a seal. Continue along the length of the parchment, folding each section twice. When you get to the point of the heart, twist and fold to finish the seal.

5. Bake your dinner
Bake the packet in a 425°F oven for 10-14 minutes, depending on the size of the fish. The packet will puff and brown while in the oven and as the steam builds. When cooked, remove from the oven and carefully place the packet on a plate. With a knife or scissors cut an "X" on the top and fold back the edges for a dramatic presentation and a delicious, healthy meal.

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Spicy Flounder and Clams with Summer Vegetables

Prep Time: Less than 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 10-14 minutes
Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup carrots, finely cut julienne
  • 1/3 cup sugar snap peas, cross cut thinly
  • 1/3 cup zucchini, yellow, finely cut julienne
  • 6 each cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 Tbsp. shallot, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp. parsley, fresh, minced
  • Dash salt
  • Dash black pepper
  • 6 oz. fillet, flounder (2 fillets, 3oz. each)
  • 2 Tbsp. Low Sodium Spicy Hot V8® 100% Vegetable juice
  • 3/4 lb. clams, in the shell

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Combine the carrots, sugar snap peas, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, shallot, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, half of the parsley, salt and pepper in a bowl. Toss well to combine.
  3. Lightly oil two large heart shaped pieces of parchment paper.
  4. With the parchment paper on a sheet tray, place half of the vegetable mixture in the center of one half of each heart leaving about a 2" border.
  5. Lightly season each fillet with salt and pepper. Fold or roll the fillet to create a uniform thickness and place on top of the vegetables.
  6. Top the fish with the remaining herbs and the Low Sodium Spicy Hot V8® 100% Vegetable juice.
  7. Place half of the clams around each portion of vegetables and fish.
  8. Fold the heart over to enclose the fish and vegetables so that it resembles a teardrop.
  9. Starting at the top of the heart, fold about 1/4" of the edge towards the center. Fold over again to create a seal.
  10. Continue with this method along the length of the parchment packet folding each section twice to make an attractive edge.
  11. When you get to the point of the heart twist and fold to finish the seal.
  12. Bake the packets for 10-14 minutes (depending on the thickness of the fish).
  13. Remove from the oven and serve by cutting an "X" in the top and folding back the edges.

Nutrition Information (per serving):

Calories 180, Total Fat 9g, Saturated Fat 1g, Monounsaturated Fat 5g, Polyunsaturated Fat 1g, Cholesterol 50mg, Sodium 450mg, Carbohydrate 10g, Fiber 2g, Sugar 4g, Protein 16g.