Farm to Table: Veggie State Of Mind
By Kayla Butts
The long-haired, Birkenstock-wearing vegan is a stereotype of the past. Vegetarians, vegans, or those of us choosing more plant-based meals are a rapidly growing percentage of the American population. Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist and health and wellness guru John Massengale tells us why we should be eating our greens (not to mention many other plants).
Vegetables Increase Our Blood pH
By eating more plant-based options, you will be consuming more foods that have an alkalizing effect on the body. When we’re stressed or eat certain animal-based foods, our pH drops, and our blood becomes too acidic. Unfortunately, low blood pH can cause fatigue, kidney stones, and the loss of bone mass. Minerals found in plants are exceptionally alkaline-forming and maintain a healthy blood pH.
Chlorophyll in Plants Cleans and Oxygenates
Chlorophyll – the pigment that is responsible for giving plants their green color – has many health benefits, including its ability to remove toxins from our blood, increasing red blood cell production. More red blood cells means easier transport of oxygen into your cells, thereby increasing energy levels.
Plants Reduce Inflammation
Stress, toxins, pollution, and the foods we eat can cause inflammation, which can lead to conditions like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Many plant-based foods are high in phytonutrients, antioxidants, and flavonoids, which reduce inflammation in the body. If you’re an athlete, plant-based foods are essential for reducing inflammation caused by intense workouts.
Lose Weight With Plant-Based Foods
Plant-based foods, like non-starchy vegetables, are very high in nutrients but low in calories. By consuming nutrient-dense foods, you will turn off the body’s hunger signal with fewer calories. Many plant-based foods are also high in fiber; consuming high-fiber foods will keep us feeling fuller longer periods of time.
Lentils- A staple in many vegetarian communities, lentils are high in protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They can be eaten soaked, germinated, boiled, fried and baked, but the most common preparation method is boiling in liquid for about 30 minutes.
Quinoa- Quinoa, pronounced (KEEN-wah), is a high-fiber, gluten-free grain that contains all the essential amino acids our bodies need. Quinoa contains more protein than any other grain while also packing in iron and potassium.
Strawberries- Widely appreciated for its characteristic aroma, bright red color, juicy texture, and sweetness, strawberry is great in salsa or salad. Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of manganese. Bring out the natural sweetness of the strawberries by adding a sprinkle of balsamic vinegar and pepper.
Walnuts- Walnuts are rich in B vitamins and an excellent source of omega-3 essential fatty acids. They are also rich in potassium and magnesium, which help maintain electrolyte levels in the body during hot summer months. Walnuts can be added to salads, or take them with you as a healthy snack.
Cabbage- High in vitamins K and C, antioxidants, and heart-healthy phytosterols, cabbage offers a lot of nutrition with few calories. Cabbage is great added into soups, salads, or fermented into a gut-healthy condiment.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
1 cup fresh greens (spinach, kale, lettuce, chard, arugula)
½ - ¾ cup whole grain, (couscous, brown rice, bulgur, millet, amaranth)
½ - 1 cup legumes (lentils, beans, peas, edamame)
1-2 oz healthy fat (avocado, nut butter, nuts, olives)
1/2 cup cooked starchy vegetable (sweet potato, winter squash, pumpkin, corn)
1 cup non-starchy vegetables (carrot, cucumber, celery, cauliflower, cabbage, radish, zucchini, pepper, tomato, beet, jicama)
Salt and pepper
Optional: Citrus Basil Vinaigrette
Cook dry legumes and whole grains according to package directions. Place greens inside a bowl. Top with remaining ingredients and season with salt and pepper. If desired, dress with your favorite dressing, oil and vinegar, or citrus basil vinaigrette (recipe as follows).
Citrus Basil Vinaigrette: Whisk 3 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice, 1 tbsp minced basil, a dash of salt and a pinch of pepper in a small bowl. Serve immediately, as dressing will naturally separate.
Vegan Spring Roll
Makes approximately 8 rolls
Prep time: 40 minutes
1 (7-12 oz) package rice paper wrappers
1 cup fresh spinach
1/2 cup red cabbage, julienned
½ cup carrots, julienned
1/3 cup jicama, thinly sliced
1/4 cup basil, julienned
1 medium avocado, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
½ cup soy sauce
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp mirin
1 tsp brown sugar
½ tsp red chili paste
Fill a shallow bowl with water. Organize a large work space with sliced vegetables. Immerse the rice paper wrapper in water and let soak for 15-20 seconds, until malleable. Spread wrapper flat on your work surface. Starting on the side closest to you, add a small pile of an assortment of each of the vegetables and herbs about ½” to 1” from the bottom of the wrapper.
Fold the edge of the paper over the vegetables, fold the sides in as if you were making an envelope, and continue to roll until the wrapper has formed a cylinder. Repeat until you have no ingredients remaining.
In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients until a cohesive sauce is formed. Rolls are best enjoyed fresh, with a side of dipping sauce.
Chia Pudding with No Added Sugar
Prep time: 15 minutes
Inactive prep time: 2 hours
2 tbsp chia seeds
½ cup coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 ripe banana
½ cup fresh blueberries
½ cup fresh strawberries
In a food processor or blender, blend each of the fruits, keeping them separate. Set pureed fruit to the side. In a small bowl, mix chia seeds, vanilla extract, and banana. Pour pureed blueberry into a clean glass jar. Layer chia seed mixture and pureed strawberry on top. Store in the refrigerator for at least two hours. Serve chilled, topped with whole fruit.