Tips for Adding More Plant-Based Foods Into your Diet
Eating a plant-based diet doesn’t mean you have to give up meat and dairy. But, it does require making a conscious effort to choose more foods from plant sources every day. In addition to fruits and vegetables, plant-based eating also emphasizes grain foods like pasta, nuts, seeds, oils, legumes, lentils and beans. Here are some tips for getting started:
- Consider where you are starting from – for some people, increasing more plant foods in the diet may mean simply adding a vegetable to their dinner every night. Others may opt for vegan cuisine. Think of including more plant foods in the diet as a journey that may take some time to achieve. For help starting out why not try Chicken Pasta with Butternut Squash Caramelized Onions and Tart Cherries.
- Make Mediterranean-style meals – Mediterranean cuisine naturally emphasizes whole fresh vegetables and beans. While seafood, cheese, eggs and poultry are included in the diet they are not the stars. Pasta is central to many Mediterranean dishes and featured in many recipes like this Italian Pasta with Chickpeas. For more recipes on Mediterranean cooking check out our recipes here.
- Think of meat as a side dish or garnish – In the US most of our meals center around a large portion of protein. Plant-based diets however, use protein like a flavoring ingredient or garnish. In fact, many plant-based dishes have no more than 2-4 ounces of protein per person, consider this Shrimp, Penne with Olives, Red Pepper and Artichokes.
- Go meatless at least one night a week – It’s easy to bump up plant-based foods when you cook a vegetarian meal. One way to do this is to substitute the meat for a vegetable such as in this Grilled Summer Vegetable Lasagna. Another option is to look to international cuisines for inspiration. For example, many Asian-inspired dishes like this Sesame Noodles with Tofu and Vegetables are plant-centered.
- Build a meal around a salad – Main dish salads filled with a variety of lettuces and greens like kale, spinach, Romaine and even iceberg make a great base for other vegetables, fresh or dried fruits, nuts and plant proteins. Make salads pop with color and crunch by sprinkling with red pepper, carrots, radishes, lentils and pumpkin seeds or walnuts. Offering ingredients on the side allow each person to customize to their own liking. If you want to be more creative, try substituting whole grains for the greens, then boost protein with lean chicken, seafood or small amounts of cheese. You can even get creative in how you serve it, like this Mason Jar Pasta Salad.