Eat Green: 5 Simple, Creative Ideas for Inviting More Plants into Your Diet
I get asked all the time, “What are you?” (as in, “Are you vegan?” or “Are you Paleo?”) And my first instinct is always to reply that I’m a mom and a wife and an entrepreneur and, most recently, a podcast host who is certified in holistic health and eating psychology. (It’s a mouthful!)
But they always ask again: “But … what are you?” And I don’t have a simple, one-word answer, because I don’t like my diet to define me. (And I don’t want your diet to define you!)
Each of us is so many things, and many of us adhere to a specific eating philosophy. But following a vegetarian, keto, or Paleo, or (fill in diet name here; there are too many to list!) way of eating doesn’t make you only that thing. You’re still all of the other things that you are, also!
Let Go of Labels
When we use dietary labels to define us, it can create a disconnect between us. And that’s a real shame because food is meant to connect us and bring us together. It calls us to the table, nourishes our loved ones and us, and allows us an opportunity to spend meaningful time together.
No matter what you’re eating or not eating, there are some foods that can even bring the most disparate diet “labels” together! While nutritionists and scientists have disagreed for years over just about everything, there’s one thing that they’ve always agreed on: you gotta eat more plants. If they can find common ground, surely the rest of us can, too.
You probably already know that you should be bringing more plants into your diet! Maybe you’re feeling uninspired. Or perhaps you’ve begun experimenting with plant-based cooking, but you want to spice up your repertoire.
No matter where you are on your plant-based journey, here are some easy ways to eat an array of Mother Nature’s amazing plants:
Keep It Simple
New to plant-based cooking? There’s so much to explore! And, yes, that can feel overwhelming. Start with one technique at a time: experiment with an easy sheet pan dinner or a veggie soup. As you get more comfortable using plant-based ingredients, you’ll learn to experiment and cook outside your comfort zone, just like you do now with the ingredients you’ve known and loved for years.
Look Beyond the Salad Bar
Eating more plants is about adding things to your diet, not subtracting! Instead of “I want that burger, but I should just have a salad,” try thinking outside the box. Veggie dishes can be downright hearty! A filling veggie stew can grow your dinnertime repertoire, or complement your go-to non-plant-based indulgence with a fresh tray of roasted sweet potatoes. You’re not denying yourself things that you love, just integrating new and tasty dishes into your routine. (And who knows? One of these plant-based mains or sides might become your new favorite!)
Get Creative with Color
I know! How many times can I mention color? But the thing is that a colorful plate will inspire (and nourish) you more than any colorless plate ever could. And where do you get all the vibrant hues? From plants! So try making a rainbow chopped salad or serving a fun and bright snack board next time you entertain. Not only will you create a visually pleasing feast, but you’ll also be boosting your mood, feeding your brain, nourishing your gut, and getting that glow from the inside out!
Seek Out Familiar Flavors
If you love a summery pesto and tomato combo and are craving pasta, try a gluten-free zucchini pasta with pesto. Inspired by the Mexican flavors from your last beach vacation? Bring that flavor (and fun) right into your kitchen with a sweet potato stuffed with black beans, salsa, and cashew creme, topped with avocado slices. You’ll be so satisfied by the bold tastes you love that you’ll never miss the meat!
Think of the Planet
Going “green” isn’t just about recycling. Industrial animal farms can have a disastrous impact on the environment, too. So, when you’re doing your grocery shopping for the week, consider swapping a protein or two out for plant-based options. You don’t have to go all-in on tofu; a few bunches of leafy greens or bags of hearty beans will fill your cart—and your home—with ingredients that are much friendlier to the planet. Nobody will miss the meat!
As you explore plant-based cooking, your kitchen will be a place for all kinds of eaters to come together and celebrate good food fresh from the Earth, without any labels!