Dietary guidelines recommend filling half our plate with fruits and vegetables and just a quarter of the plate with “protein”, such as meat, fish or poultry.
And when it comes to protein, did you know the same guidelines also suggest eating more plant-based protein? Plant-based proteins include dried beans and peas, lentils and soy. Try simple swaps throughout the day to “green up” your plate!
For example, fold hummus and diced tomatoes into your breakfast omelet instead of ham and cheese, enjoy black bean or lentil soup in place of chicken noodle at lunch or grill a veggie burger instead of your traditional burger on grill night.
So “going green” doesn’t just mean good things for the environment, but also reducing your meat consumption and adding more produce and other plant-based foods to your plate to promote a healthier you.
What are the health benefits of eating more meatless meals?
Studies show that going meatless one day a week may reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
Plant proteins add fiber (keeps you feeling full longer), the B-vitamin folate (linked to reducing the risk of heart disease) and magnesium (role in managing blood pressure).
And, eating plant protein in place of animal protein may lower your overall intake of saturated fat and cholesterol and reduce your risk for colon cancer.
Meatless Mondays are back! But instead of only going meatless at dinner, make it a goal to go meatless all day! And what better time to add more plant foods than summer – just when the produce is ripe for the picking!
Try these tips to get you started:
Breakfast made easy!
- Make old fashioned rolled or steel cut oats with milk or soy milk then sprinkle with toasted nuts and dried fruit. Or, make “instant muesli”: just stir together uncooked old fashioned oats, kefir and berries for a sweet and tangy, chewy and chilling breakfast - perfect on a warm summer morning!
- Spread whole grain pancakes, toast or tortillas with almond or sunflower seed butter then top with sliced strawberries, apples or peaches.
- Make an egg white omelet filled with leftover roasted vegetables, sautéed kale or spinach or crumbled soy “sausage”.
Load your lunch with produce!
- Wrap your salad to go! Fill a whole wheat pita with “salad”! Think of filling a pita with diced tomatoes, sweet peppers, onion, shredded carrot, radishes, Jicama strips and a hefty handful of colorful greens such as spinach, baby arugula or Romaine.
- Make a peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole-wheat bread. Add left over grilled veggies or a “garden salad”, (if it grows in the garden it goes in your salad - bacon bits and croutons don’t grow in the garden!) to round the meal.
- Enjoy a slice of veggie pizza! Top a whole grain crust with diced tomatoes, roasted eggplant, caramelized onions and a bit of goat cheese – serve with a piece of fresh fruit!
Dinner is served!
- Make a tofu and vegetable stir-fry with brown rice.
- Cheese ravioli with fresh tomato sauce and basil served with a side of steamed veggies.
- Fill tacos or burritos with beans, textured vegetable protein, tofu or tempeh.
- Grill a Portobello mushroom for a “burger” then topped with spinach leaves.
- Dish up veggie lasagna.
- Fresh fruit in season
- Handful of nuts
- Low-fat or fat-free yogurt
- Smoothie made with low-fat milk, frozen berries and a banana
- Hummus and pita wedges
- Bagel with nut butter
- Tomato soup and whole-grain crackers