The long-haired, Birkenstock-wearing vegan is a stereotypebrof the past. Vegetarians, vegans, or those of us choosing more plant-basedbrmeals are a rapidly growing percentage of the American population. RegisteredbrDietitian/Nutritionist and health and wellness guru John Massengale tells usbrwhy we should be eating our greens (not to mention many other plants).
Vegetables IncreasebrOur Blood pH
By eating more plant-based options, you will be consumingbrmore foods that have an alkalizing effect on the body. When we’re stressed orbreat certain animal-based foods, our pH drops, and our blood becomes too acidic.brUnfortunately, low blood pH can cause fatigue, kidney stones, and the loss ofbrbone mass. Minerals found in plants are exceptionally alkaline-forming andbrmaintain a healthy blood pH.
Chlorophyll in PlantsbrCleans and Oxygenates
Chlorophyll – the pigment that is responsible for givingbrplants their green color – has many health benefits, including its ability tobrremove toxins from our blood, increasing red blood cell production. More redbrblood cells means easier transport of oxygen into your cells, therebybrincreasing energy levels.
Stress, toxins, pollution, and the foods we eat can causebrinflammation, which can lead to conditions like cancer, diabetes, and heartbrdisease. Many plant-based foods are high in phytonutrients, antioxidants, andbrflavonoids, which reduce inflammation in the body. If you’re an athlete,brplant-based foods are essential for reducing inflammation caused by intensebrworkouts.
Lose Weight WithbrPlant-Based Foods
Plant-based foods, like non-starchy vegetables, are verybrhigh in nutrients but low in calories. By consuming nutrient-dense foods, youbrwill turn off the body’s hunger signal with fewer calories. Many plant-basedbrfoods are also high in fiber; consuming high-fiber foods will keep us feelingbrfuller longer periods of time.
Lentils- A staplebrin many vegetarian communities, lentils are high in protein, fiber, vitamins,brand minerals. They can be eaten soaked, germinated, boiled, fried and baked,brbut the most common preparation method is boiling in liquid for about 30brminutes.
Quinoa- Quinoa,brpronounced (KEEN-wah), is a high-fiber, gluten-free grain that contains all thebressential amino acids our bodies need. Quinoa contains more protein than anybrother grain while also packing in iron and potassium.
Strawberries-brWidely appreciated for its characteristic aroma, bright red color, juicybrtexture, and sweetness, strawberry is great in salsa or salad. Strawberries arebran excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of manganese. Bring out thebrnatural sweetness of the strawberries by adding a sprinkle of balsamic vinegarbrand pepper.
Walnuts- Walnutsbrare rich in B vitamins and an excellent source of omega-3 essential fattybracids. They are also rich in potassium and magnesium, which help maintainbrelectrolyte levels in the body during hot summer months. Walnuts can be addedbrto salads, or take them with you as a healthy snack.
Cabbage- High inbrvitamins K and C, antioxidants, and heart-healthy phytosterols, cabbage offersbra lot of nutrition with few calories. Cabbage is great added into soups,brsalads, 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,brmillet, 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, winterbrsquash, pumpkin, corn)
1 cup non-starchy vegetables (carrot, cucumber, celery,brcauliflower, cabbage, radish, zucchini, pepper, tomato, beet, jicama)
Salt and pepper
Optional: Citrus Basil Vinaigrette
Cook dry legumes and whole grains according to packagebrdirections. Place greens inside a bowl. Top with remaining ingredients andbrseason with salt and pepper. If desired, dress with your favorite dressing, oilbrand vinegar, or citrus basil vinaigrette (recipe as follows).
Citrus Basil Vinaigrette: Whisk 3 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbspbrfreshly squeezed orange juice, 1 tbsp minced basil, a dash of salt and a pinchbrof pepper in a small bowl. Serve immediately, as dressing will naturallybrseparate.
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 spacebrwith sliced vegetables. Immerse the rice paper wrapper in water and let soakbrfor 15-20 seconds, until malleable. Spread wrapper flat on your work surface.brStarting on the side closest to you, add a small pile of an assortment of eachbrof the vegetables and herbs about ½” to 1” from the bottom of the wrapper.
Fold the edge of the paper over the vegetables, fold thebrsides in as if you were making an envelope, and continue to roll until thebrwrapper has formed a cylinder. Repeat until you have no ingredients remaining.
In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients until abrcohesive sauce is formed. Rolls are best enjoyed fresh, with a side of dippingbrsauce.
Chia Pudding with NobrAdded Sugar
Prep time: 15 minutes
Inactive prep time: 2 hours
2 tbsp chia seeds
½ cup coconut milk
1 tspbrvanilla extract
½ cup freshbrblueberries
½ cup fresh strawberries
In a food processor or blender, blend each of the fruits,brkeeping them separate. Set pureed fruit to the side. In a small bowl, mix chiabrseeds, vanilla extract, and banana. Pour pureed blueberry into a clean glassbrjar. Layer chia seed mixture and pureed strawberry on top. Store in thebrrefrigerator for at least two hours. Serve chilled, topped with whole fruit.