Plant-based eating: reasons to fuel up on fruit, veggies, beans, nuts and seeds

SuperfoodAs a self-proclaimed flexitarian and with a vegetarian cooking class in the works later this year, I am honored to be able to offer delicious inspiration for a plant-based diet with a 14-Day Go Plant-Power! Challenge from Sharon Palmer, RD.

March, otherwise known as National Nutrition Month, is the perfect time to take strides toward a healthier lifestyle by incorporating more whole foods in a plant-based diet. According to Sharon, The Plant Based Dietitian, everyone – ranging from vegans to meat lovers – can benefit by taking on a more plant-based diet.

RELATED: Veggie-packed recipes

As Sharon has already stated it so nicely, I’ll let her take the reins from here. She has also been kind enough to share her recipe for a mouth-watering Farro Salad with Spiced Apples and Walnuts – YUM! (Oh and if you are following a gluten free diet, you can easily swap whole grain millet for the farro.)

Hundreds of studies point to one thing:  a plant-based diet – a diet that focuses on plants, not animals – is the healthiest diet on the planet and the healthiest way to lose weight. Most traditional, cultural diets are plant-based – whether you’re in the Mediterranean or Asia. In the United States, we have strayed away from healthy plant-based diets to the typical American diet, which we know is linked with poor health – early death, obesity, disease. Plants are not only rich in all of the “good” stuff, like fiber, vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals; they’re low in all of the “bad” stuff, like cholesterol, saturated fat, and toxins produced in processing meat.

Today, Americans are eating meat at three times the global rate. This is not only impacting our health, it’s impacting our environment. Animals are inefficient “food production machines.” To produce 1 calorie from beef requires 40 calories of fossil fuels, whereas producing 1 calorie from grains requires 2.2 calories of fuel. Even if you ate one less burger per week for a year, it would be the equivalent of driving 320 miles less.

Can you imagine the impact on our health – and the environment and animal welfare – if everyone in the US cut their meat intake by half, and replaced these foods with wholesome plant foods, such as whole grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds!

I encourage you to sign up for the Go Plant-Power Challenge today. By the end of the Go Plant-Power! 14 Day Challenge, you will possess the tools you need to change your diet and health for the better. All you have to do is sign up on the Go Plant Power Facebook page to receive the daily alerts and instructions for the challenge. Every day I will guide you to eating more whole plant-based foods by providing education, daily tips, and recipes.

So what are you waiting for?

Dive into the Go Plant-Power! 14 Day Challenge beginning on Monday, March 3rd!

Sharon Palmer, The Plant-Powered Dietitian™ is a writer and author of The Plant-Powered Diet. Over 850 of her articles have been published in national publications, including Prevention, Better Homes and Gardens and Today’s Dietitian. She is also the editor of the award-winning publication Environmental Nutrition and writes for her blog, The Plant-Powered Blog. Her specific expertise is in plant-based nutrition, including Mediterranean, vegetarian and vegan diets. She serves as the consulting dietitian for the Oldways Vegetarian Network, is a Regional Co-Director for the Association of Food Journalists, and is an editor for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic’s website, eatright.org.

farroFarro Salad with Spiced Apples and Walnuts

By Sharon Palmer, The Plant-Powered Dietitian™

Borrowing flavors from a Waldorf salad, this hearty whole grain salad gets a crunchy boost from Fuji apples, celery and walnuts.  The exotic ginger, cinnamon and caraway seed dressing gives it a spicy kick.

Yields about 6 cups

Ingredients

  • 1 large Fuji apple, unpeeled, cored, diced
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp apple juice
  • ½ Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp low sodium herbal seasoning
  • ½ tsp caraway seeds
  • 1/8 tsp ginger
  • 1/8 tsp turmeric
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 2 ½ cups cooked farro, cooled
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • 3 sprigs parsley, coarsely chopped

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, add diced apple.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together vinegar, olive oil, low sodium herbal seasoning, caraway seeds, ginger, turmeric, and cinnamon. Pour over apples and toss together.
  3. Fold in farro, celery, walnuts, cranberries, and parsley.  Chill until serving time.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I have! And please keep our upcoming Healthy Happenings classes in mind where you will have the chance to explore more tastes and textures of plant-based living.

Cheers to good nutrition and good food!

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