The words plant based can be very scary. Is it vegetarian? Is it vegan? You may think it means eating nuts, seeds and green things and always feeling hungry. You don't have to classify yourself as vegetarian or vegan if you want to experiment with plant based foods.
Having a plant based lifestyle doesn't mean you have to give up meat entirely! I follow a mostly plant based lifestyle. For me that means four days a week, I do not eat any foods from animal products. I eat plants!
I may eat vegan meals or vegetarian (because of cheese) but I am certainly not vegan or vegetarian. Not that there is anything wrong with that! The three days I do eat meat, it may be chicken, fish or pork. Sometimes even a steak. I simply balance how I eat versus eating one way only.
The good news is the more meals you can make plant based the better your health will be. Even if it is only one meal a week, reducing the amount of saturated fat results in a healthier gut. When our gut is healthy, so is the rest of our body. Including the immune system! 70% of our immune system is in our gut. Our gut needs to be healthy so our immune system is healthy.
When we eat excess saturated fat, not only is it harder to lose weight but it also alters the good bacteria in our body. The good bacteria that we need to fight pathogens, illness and disease become dysfunctional and unable to fight for our health. When the good bacteria are dysfunctional, it is easier for our gut to become inflammed and leaky.
Leaky gut is become more widely known the inflammation and reduced effectiveness of the gut to stop bad bacteria from penetrating our body leads to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, some cancers, diabetes, disorders such as Parkinson's. (Source: NIH)
How do you know if you have an unhealthy gut? The body has very specific signs, if we just listen. Does any of this sound like you?
👉Diarrhea and/or constipation, and intestinal discomfort 👉Inflammation 👉Congestion, coughing, wheezing 👉Brain fog, difficulty recalling words, short term memory issues 👉Headaches and migraines 👉Hives, flushing, and itchy skin 👉Fatigue and malaise 👉Sensitivity to fragrances and chemicals
If you said yes to even just one, your gut is unhealthy.
However, gut damage can be reversed and eating plant-based foods is just one way. Not sure where to start? I'm here to help!
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Making your gut healthy is not the only benefit of eating more plant-based foods. Below are additional plant based diet benefits:
You'll add more fiber to your diet, helping to keep your digestive system moving and eliminating waste in a timely manner.
Your cardiovascular system will benefit since you won't be eating as much saturated fat. This can translate into lower cholesterol levels.
You may lose weight since you'll be bulking up with fruits and vegetables, which are low in calories and high in fiber.
You won't get sick as often since fruits and vegetables will be giving your cells much needed nutrients and energy to keep your body healthy.
With those types of health benefits, why not go plant based once a week?
You may be thinking that eating plant based means only eating salads but that is not true! There are a ton of quick and easy recipes and meal ideas you can use to stay satisfied and not eat meat or fish. In fact, when you start getting into the routine of eating plant based once a week, you won't even miss meat or fish. It just takes time to learn how to use plant based foods in your routine.
Here is what a typical plant-based day looks like for me.
Overnight oatmeal made with soy milk and blueberries. I am dairy free but you could use cow's milk if that is important to you.
Sliced apple with almond butter.
Cooked vegetables and beans on top of arugula. The vegetables are typically, zucchini, mushrooms, red onions and broccoli. The beans are usually canned chickpeas or white beans. Maybe tossed in basil pesto or a drizzle of olive oil.
Vegetable stir-fry over rice. The sauce will vary, either a balsamic reduction, a teriyaki or just spices and coconut oil.
That doesn't seem so hard, does it? There are so many ways to eat plant based meals one day a week. Even if you don't cook, there are some great products that you can buy to simply heat and eat. A standard in my house is using frozen organic vegetables. They make cooking simple because they cook quickly, are already chopped and are usually inexpensive.
Here are some other ideas for eating plant based one day a week along with some of my favorite products.
Yogurt mixed with almond butter and a healthy cereal/granola. The yogurt can be dairy or non-dairy, depending on your needs. Cascadian Farms has a variety of organic cereals.18 Rabbits organic granola is grain-free, has very few ingredients and not a lot of fillers. If you don't want to use the cereals as a mix in with yogurt, you can eat them alone with nut-milk.
Instant organic oatmeal. Like most people, the time in the morning is very limited. There are organic instant oatmeal cups that you can take with you for breakfast. Bob's Red Mill, Nature's Path, and Quaker Oats all have instant single serve cups. Perfect for busy mornings.
Chopped mixed fruit with yogurt, almond butter or granola. I love mixed fruit! I make it on the weekends to either snack on during the week or eat as a meal. I combine whatever is seasonal and on sale. This week it was apples, grapes and strawberries. Chopped fruit is easier for me to eat at the office and does take a little planning. But some supermarkets sell fruit already chopped for you if you don't have a lot of time.
Protein bars. Organic protein bars can be eaten for breakfast. Orgain is a plant-based protein bar that does not have a lot of sugar and has 10 grams of protein per bar. Another great option for a quick breakfast.
Any organic vegetable soup is a great lunch. You can make it yourself if you have time or buy any of the great brands readily available. Some of my favorite organic soup brands are Imagine and Pacific Foods. Or make your own. Soup is a very easy dish to make. I like making a quick miso soup with vegetables (fresh or frozen) to eat for lunch.
A favorite plant-based lunch that my significant other likes is a twice-baked potato. I make this on the weekend since the potato has to bake, which takes time. Just bake the potato, scoop out the inside, mash it, stir in cooked broccoli and spinach. Then stuff the potato and vegetable mixture back into the skins. This lunch is so filling he can only eat half a potato at a time. While he prefers white potatoes, I like sweet potatoes. So I make myself a stuffed sweet potato. I will cook red onions, chickpeas, spinach and broccoli. After cooking the sweet potato, I will slice it in half and top it with the bean and veggie mixture. Try this recipe from Delish Knowledge.
Veggie wraps. What I like about wraps is that I can cook the veggies on the weekend, pack them up in a container and simply put the veggies in a wrap at lunchtime. I get a healthy sandwich without a lot of work.
Veggie stir-fry. The most time intensive part of veggie stir-fry's can be the chopping of veggies. You can cut down on the time in two ways: use frozen for some of the veggies or chop up the veggies on the weekend and store them in the refrigerator until you want to use them. Serve over rice or pasta.
Veggie burgers. I rely on veggie burgers when I have had a really long day at work and I don't feel like cooking. Veggie burgers cook up in about 15 minutes. I serve them with a veggie side dish like organic canned green beans or corn kernels and a salad. A fast dinner that is satisfying and full of plant based protein.
Plant based meat is a great way to make any meat based recipe vegetarian or vegan. Filled with plant based protein, plant based meat has changed how people think about cooking. Try these recipes using some of the most popular brands of plant based meat.
Vegetable casseroles. I like making casseroles on the weekend because all we have to do is reheat them during the week. No further thinking required! Below are some classic vegetable casserole recipes.