3 Hacks to Eating Plant-Based
So at this point you probably know I eat a plant-based and that I’ve experienced a lot of success nourishing my body this way. I’ve got more energy, strength and mental clarity and less grogginess, acne, and bloating. I’ve accomplished some of my most athletic feats while being plant-based and I am at my healthiest, most steady and consistent body composition ever.
Not convinced? There are even more benefits to eating plant based. For one, eating more plants and less animal protein is has huge benefits for the environment. It might also be easier on your grocery budget. Even when buying organic produce, I find I’m spending significantly less money on groceries each week than my omnivore friends. The medical benefits are endless as well including reduced risk of heart disease, type II diabetes and some cancers to call out a few.
That all sounds awesome, right? And I get that shifting your diet to plant-based might seem daunting or you might be asking yourself, “where do I even start?” because I asked myself the same question. Don’t worry. Whether you want to simply eat more veggies or start reducing your consumption of meat, I’ve got three easy peasy plant-based eating hacks I’m going to share with you:
1. Double your veggie intake with smoothies
I know green smoothies just seem so yesterday, but really they should be a staple every day. Smoothies are an amazing way to pack in the greens, especially leafy greens, to your diet. Plus, you can totally disguise your greens by adding fruit and using other flavorful ingredients like cocoa powder, maca root powder, and natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup. One of my favorite things about blending my veggies in a smoothie is the texture. Sometimes chewing on spinach gets OLD! Am I right?! Drink it instead.
Don’t know how to make a healthy and flavorful smoothie? Use this formula:
1 cup leafy greens + 1/2 frozen banana + 1/4 cup fresh or frozen fruit or veggie of choice + 1/2 to 1 cup unsweetened non-dairy beverage like almond, soy, or oat milk or coconut water + any extras (see below)
Then you can get creative. Here are some things you can add into your smoothies for an extra boost of nutrients and flavor:
ground flax seed
maca root powder
fresh ginger or turmeric
Please be careful - not all smoothie combinations taste good or are good for you! If you’re only adding fruits and sweeteners you will be drinking in a lot of sugar and calories. Avoid using fruit juices in your smoothies, as they strip out all of the beneficial fiber and leave you with the sugars. Another tip: arugula DOES NOT, let me repeat, DOES NOT taste good in smoothies! Save the rockets for a salad. Stick with leafy greens like spinach, kale, chard, and romaine.
2. Make salads a staple
Repeat after me: salads ARE a meal! And if you disagree, I’m afraid your salads need some love. I’m going to give you my salad formula just like we used for making smoothies:
1-2 cups green leafy base + 1 serving protein + 1 serving healthy fat + 1/2 cup fruit and/or veggies with texture + 1-2 tbsp dressing + extras (see below)
lemon or lime juice
nuts and seeds (pecans, sunflower, walnuts, etc.)
edamame (more on that below)
salt & pepper
Picture this: freshly shredded green and red cabbage topped with taco-seasoned tofu, chopped avocado, toasted pepitas, chopped bell peppers, green onions and grilled corn, topped with a cilantro-lime vinaigrette. Y-U-M!
And sometimes simple is better. Like the photo of a kale Caesar with Marcona almonds above.
3. Experiment with plant-based proteins
I have to be honest and tell you that I was no fan of tofu before I tried prepared several different ways. At first I was like, “I’m fine never eating chicken again, but I don’t need to eat this tofu stuff.” And I was SO WRONG. But there’s more to it than tofu. Soy-based plant proteins include tofu, tempeh and edamame. Other plant-based proteins include lentils, beans, nuts, quinoa and seeds like chia and hemp. Here is some basic nutritional info and ways to prep for the protein sources listed above:
Tofu (extra firm) 3 oz: 80 calories | 9 grams protein | 3 grams carb | 4 grams fat
fry or bake
bend silken tofu in smoothies
Tempeh 3 oz: 140 calories | 16 grams protein | 10 grams carb (7g fiber) | 4.5 grams fat
steam or boil
fry or bake
Shelled edamame 2/3 cup: 140 calories | 12 grams protein | 11 grams carbs (4g fiber) | 5 grams fat
steam or boil
have in-shell with salt as snack
top salads + protein bowls
Cooked lentils 1/2 cup: 110 calories | 8 grams protein | 18 grams carb (7.5g fiber) | <0.5 gram fat
use in soups + stews
Cooked quinoa 1/2 cup: 115 calories | 4 grams protein | 21 grams carb (1.5g fiber) | 1.75 gram fat
use in salads, salad bowls, or as a side dish
Chia seeds 1 tbsp: 60 calories | 2 grams protein | 4 grams carb (4g fiber) | 4 grams fat
add to smoothies, smoothie bowls
soak in liquid for porridge like consistency
To start cooking with plant-based proteins, it’s best to follow a recipe by someone who is a pro. I get a lot of inspiration from Minimalist Baker’s, minimalistbaker.com, and Love and Lemon’s, loveandlemons.com, recipes.
There are environmental, health, and financial benefits to eating more plants. And I think once you start making plant-based foods the center of your diet, it becomes a lifestyle. A healthier and more sustainable one.