If your New Year’s resolutions include a goal to eat healthier, forget extreme diets and complicated meal plans that are likely to fail. Instead, try incorporating more plant-based meals and snacks into your diet.
Plant-based eating means filling your plate with fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, tubers and legumes. It doesn’t have to mean giving up all eggs, fish, meat and dairy. For plant-based eaters, animal proteins can be part of the equation, yet they play a supporting versus starring role.
WHY PLANT-BASED EATING?
Plant-based whole foods provide your body with an abundance of nutrients including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. Filled with fiber and with a high water content, they can leave you feeling satisfied on fewer calories.
According to Harvard Medical School, there’s mounting evidence that a plant-based diet—rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy plant oils—may help reduce the risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. The American Cancer Society and American Heart Association now advocate a diet with an emphasis on plant foods.
Other potential benefits of plant-based eating include reduced inflammation, increased energy and clear skin.
“Adopting a plant-based, or at least plant-centric, approach to your plate is the single most powerful and positively impactful choice you can make as a conscious, compassionate consumer. A choice that will help prevent and reverse disease; reduce your carbon footprint; and preserve the planet for our children and animal friends alike.” ~Vegan ultra-endurance athlete Rich Roll, author of The Plantpower Way: Whole Food Plant-Based Recipes and Guidance for the Whole Family.
WHAT ABOUT PROTEIN?
Most people can get adequate protein from plant-based foods. Lentils, beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains are all good sources. Remember: Protein needs vary depending on a person’s age, weight, health status and physical activity. (SEE Can I Get Enough Protein Eating a Plant-based Diet? and The Protein Myth)
Veggie-packed meals can be highly flavorful and satisfying – especially with the right recipe. Check out these plant-based food blogs for inspiration:
Minimalist Baker: Hello, Roasted Vegetable & Quinoa Harvest Bowls and Matcha Green Smoothie Bowl.
Locally and regionally grown produce tends to be fresher and more nutrient-dense because it spends less time traveling from farm to plate. Thanks to a growing number of greenhouses, we now have more access to fresh local fruits and veggies during the dead of winter. Here’s where to find it:
Kraay’s Market Garden: Based in Bellevue, Kraay’s delivers fresh locally grown produce and handcrafted food products every Wednesday. Contact Sherry at email@example.com to be added to their email list.
Idaho’s Bounty: Idaho’s Bounty is a member-owned cooperative that distributes fresh local and organic food from Southern Idaho farms to grocery stores, restaurants and (as of August 2016) home residences. Order Thursday 8am through Sunday at noon and receive your food on Wednesday.
Wood River Sustainability Center: WRSC in Hailey carries fresh zucchini, squash, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, celery, tomatoes, salad mix, potatoes, onions carrots and beets from a variety of local farms from Fairfield to Hagerman.
NourishMe: Stop by the Main Street, Ketchum, store for crunchy mixed greens from Kasota Hydroponics (Hazelton, Idaho) along with The Sage School greens, mixed squash, potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers and eggplants.
HEALTHY PREPARED MEALS
No time to cook? No problem!
A new local meal delivery service, The Chef’s Farm, specializes in Vegan/Vegetarian, Gluten Free and Paleo dishes made from 100% organic ingredients that are “as locally sourced as possible.” Owner/chef Christian Phernetton works directly with Kraay’s Market Garden and other local producers to score the freshest produce around.
The Haven Supper Club offers plant-based options including Vegetarian Green Curry and the Ultimate Detox Salad. Order by Friday for Monday pick-up at The Haven’s new Ketchum location (271 7th Street, on the corner of Warm Springs Road). The Haven is also open for lunch inside Monday through Wednesday, 11:30am to 2pm.
Head over to Glow (380 Washington Avenue, #105, in Ketchum) for inventive raw vegan entrees, soups, smoothies and juices made with highly nutritious, 100% organic food, “locally grown always when available, supporting local farmers and Idaho’s biodiversity.”
Craving something warm? Pick up a vegan soup from NourishMe – selection changes daily – made with fresh local and regional ingredients.