If you could do just one thing this Fall to boost your health and happiness, start by adding more plants to your daily diet! Plants are packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals and other plant compounds (phytochemicals), many of which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action in your body. Most plants are also cholesterol-free and low in sodium and saturated fat. It’s no surprise then that research continues to suggest that meals with lots of fruits and veggies may decrease the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers and may even help lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
Some plants also add a punch of protein while others are rich in healthy fats! For protein power, try incorporating beans, soybeans/soymilk/soy yogurt and legumes or whole grains, such as quinoa, oats, wild rice, amaranth and spelt, nuts and nut butters and higher protein vegetables such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, spinach and potatoes. Healthy plant fats mainly come from avocados, olives and extra virgin olive oil, nuts, seeds, edamame, tofu and soymilk.
While many families are moving toward more plant-forward meals for a variety of reasons including a focus on health, food sensitivities, new flavors and for environmental benefits, there is still work to be done. In the United States, 93% of kids aged 1 to 18 years are not meeting the daily recommended intake for vegetables, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Here are 4 simple and quick ways to start incorporating more plants seamlessly into your family’s diet!
Start with Breakfast
Switch to plant-based options and enjoy a plant-powered breakfast more often.
Sub In Veggies
Some popular plant-forward entrees are eggplant parmesan, pasta primavera or vegetable lasagna, tofu and vegetable stir-fry, bean burritos, veggie scramble and minestrone or lentil soup—all of which are simple and delicious additions to your Fall recipe rotation!
Give a Plant Power Makeover
For many of your favorite recipes, try cutting the amount of meat in half while increasing the amount of plants in the recipe like spinach, beans or mushrooms.
Sneak in Veggies When No One is Looking
Look for opportunities to sneak some veggies into your family’s meal in fun ways so they’ll be less likely to notice. Add veggies to pizza or make a tasty cauliflower crust. Add a small handful of spinach or other dark leafy greens to smoothies and combine riced cauliflower with brown rice for fried rice and other rice dishes. Double the veggies in your family’s favorite casseroles or stews. When making lasagna, add a layer or zucchini or eggplant slices and/or saute some spinach to stir into your ricotta cheese mixture.