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Health Tips

The Ins and Outs of Plant-based Eating

By 08/01/2017 No Comments

Plant based eating gained much popularity during 2016 and the momentum for this style of eating is set to continue strong into 2017. In fact, for the health conscious, plant-based eating is at the top of the list for 2017 New Year resolutions. If you aren’t well acquainted with this style of eating and are curious as to what it involves, here I am taking you through the ins and outs of plant-based eating!

Plant-based Defined

Plant-based diets involve high intake of vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts/seeds and tofu and reduced/limited intake of animal-based foods including eggs, dairy and meat. Plant-based foods are rich in fibre, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants whilst typically being lower in trans and saturated fats as compared to animal-based foods.

Plant-based Health Benefits

The purported health benefits linked to plant-based are far and wide, including:

  • cardiovascular health
  • anti-inflammatory
  • healthy weight management
  • reduced type 2 Diabetes risk
  • digestive health
  • anti-ageing

Additionally, eating plant-based means you receive the health benefits of a strictly vegetarian diet but don’t miss out on important nutrients and minerals such as zinc, iodine, omega-3 fats and iron. Such nutrients can lack in vegetarian diets if not balanced correctly. This is because a higher content of such nutrients are found in animal-based proteins and absorption is best from animal-based proteins.

How to plant-base

The best part about plant-based eating is that unlike most ‘diets’ there are no rules or restrictions. It is completely flexible! It may be that that you:

  • Cut down on the amount of animal-based protein eaten at each meal for eg 1 egg instead of 2, 50g chicken instead of 100g or ½ cup yoghurt instead of 1 cup
  • Garnish your salads with meat as opposed to the other way around
  • Opt for a vegan/vegetarian meal 1 x daily
  • Opt for 1 x meal containing animal-products daily
  • Eat animal-based products a few times per week

If opting to eat animal-based foods, as quantity is reduced, quality counts! Make sure to choose the greatest quality for instance; grass fed/finished, organic, wild, free range to get the most nutrition out of what you are having.

Plant-based Protein sources

Most plant-based proteins are considered incomplete, as they do not provide all of the essential amino acids. However, the body maintains a pool of amino acids, this means as long as a variety of plant-based proteins are consumed day in day out, proteins needs will be met. Here are some examples of plant-based proteins:

  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Red kidney beans
  • Cannellini beans etc
  • Nuts and seeds (chia seeds)
  • Tahini paste
  • Tofu and tempeh
  • Soy beans
  • Soy/almond milk
  • Quinoa/brown rice/amaranth etc
  • Sprouted grain bread – more protein than most breads
  • Protein powder – brown rice and pea
  • Hummus

Quick plant-based tips:

Here are some quick tips if wanting to give plant-based a try:

  • Swap eggs for avocado & seeds on your morning toast
  • Scramble tofu instead of eggs for a quick meal
  • Swap dairy milk for soy milk on your muesli
  • Add cannellini beans to salads in replace of chicken
  • Made vegetable and lentil soup for dinner
  • Add roasted vegetables to pasta instead of a meat based source
  • Make a stir-fry with 50% tofu and 50% pork
  • Add 50% lentils and 50% lamb to a curry

Plant-based Meal Ideas

A few plant-based meal ideas to wet your appetite and show how easy (and delicious!) plant-based eating is.

Breakfast

  • Chia seed porridge with almond milk, fruit and tahini paste
  • Smoothie using soy-milk, banana, LSA and oats
  • Sprouted grain bread with mashed cannellini beans, avocado and tomato

Lunch/Dinner

  • Quinoa and miso-marinated tofu stir-fry
  • Lentil and carrot soup with sprouted bread with optional feta cheese
  • Leafy green salad with roasted vegetables and chickpeas with optional boiled egg

Snacks

  • Fruit salad with chia seeds, almonds and coconut
  • Slice of sprouted toast with peanut or almond butter
  • Hummus and tomato on brown rice crackers