More and more research points to the health benefits of eating a diet focused on plants. A reduced risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer is linked with this eating style, which focuses on eating more whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. So, naturally, this diet could help reduce health care costs, right? Well, growing science supports this idea. A new study found that the UK government could save “billions” of pounds (money) in healthcare costs if more people switched to a plant-based diet. In fact, 5.21 billion pounds to be exact, if 10% of the population ate this way, per the study. So, save money for society by switching to plants!
Welcome to spring! Here in my neck of the woods (So Cal), it really feels like spring, with my citrus trees blooming, and my garden just bursting forth with produce, like lettuce, bok choy, asparagus, herbs, carrots, cauliflower, and the beginnings of squash and tomatoes. Here’s what I’m happy about this week (including that shot of broccoli at my farmers market). Have a wonderful plant-powered weekend.
Eat and Live Well,
My Daily Garden Greens
Other than those pumpkin seeds, all of the veggies in this salad bowl came from my garden, including the avocado. So fun to feast directly from the garden every day. This is the time to get your garden started (or in some parts of the country, start your seeds indoors to transplant later on). Even if you just start with one pot of herbs on a tiny balcony, it’s a start!
Such an honor to present at ICVN on plant-based cultural practices. This plant-based conference only happens once every five years. We learned about the latest science on the health and environmental benefits of eating more plants and fewer animals. Look for more information from me in the coming weeks on this important conference.
Such an honor to meet Bonnie Hawthorne, the filmmaker behind Dreaming of a Vetter World, and David Vetter, the legendary organic farmer in Nebraska, who farmed organically with his father Donald since 1953 using a unique rotational system. Bonnie’s film showcases the story of the Vetter family, and their dedication to pesticide-free farming.
So fun to get out and enjoy this new restaurant in LA, which has gotten quite the buzz. Located right in the heart of Hollywood, the vibe is really cool, vintage, and lived in—and the food is decidedly plant-forward. Those chickpeas with greens (bottom left), the cauliflower (top), and citrus salad (bottom right) were absolutely amazing. Check it out!
So fun to dig into my bag of hemp hearts this week. This is one of my go-to ingredients. Great over my morning porridge, sprinkled over salads, whizzed into smoothies, stirred into baked goods, and sprinkled over casseroles.
I stumbled across this line of goods in a small supermarket in Sonoma. What a wonderful product to keep on hand!
Note: I am not a consultant for (nor do I profit from) these products or food companies on my regular Favorite Things post. Sometimes I may receive a free sample of a product to review; other times I purchase these foods.
This salad is inspired by my garden—all of the veggies, including Easter egg radishes, purple cauliflower, and mixed salad greens, came straight from the soil. However, you can find these veggies at your nearby farmers market or natural food store, too. I just love these cool, lavender shades of vegetables and salad leaves, don’t you? This is an easy, fool-proof salad you can make that looks like a million bucks. Plus, it’s perfect for your springtime celebrations!
Purple Cauliflower Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette (Vegan, Gluten-Free)
6 cups assorted red and green salad greens (i.e., mache, romaine, chicory, radicchio, red oak, arugula, Bibb)
1 small head fresh purple cauliflower, broken into small flowers
6 small assorted radishes (pink, red, purple, white), thinly sliced
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Pinch black pepper and sea salt
Toss together salad greens, cauliflower, radishes and walnuts in a large salad bowl.
Whisk together lemon vinaigrette ingredients with a fork in a small dish.
Organic, plant-based, kid-approved smoothies are made easy with Sprout Organic baby food pouches. I just love their plant-based offerings, such as the pumpkin, apples, and red lentils, which I featured in this smoothie recipe. Just squeeze into the blender with extra veggies and frozen fruit, push the button, and you have a no sugar added, healthy treat for toddlers and kids of all ages. This smoothie has the earthy taste of pumpkin, with a touch of natural sweetness compliments of frozen peaches, plus a hint of cinnamon. And you’d never guess that red lentils and carrots are in the mix, too!
Yields 1 1/2 cups; 4 small (1/3-cup) servings or 2 medium (3/4-cup) servings
Pumpkin Peach Spice Super Smoothie (Vegan, Gluten-Free)
1 4-oz pouch Sprout Organic Pumpkin Apple Red Lentil Baby Food
1 small organic carrot, sliced (about 1/4 cup)
1 cup frozen, unsweetened, organic sliced peaches
3/4 cup organic almond milk, unsweetened, plain
1 tablespoon organic raw sunflower seeds
Optional: pinch cinnamon
Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.
Pour into serving containers. May garnish with pinch of cinnamon if desired. Serve immediately.
Nutrition information per ¾ cup serving: 145 calories, 4.5 g total fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 56 mg sodium, 22 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 14.5 g sugar, 5 g protein
Note: This post is sponsored by Sprout Organic Foods.
I am so glad to have Judith Scharman Draughon, MS, RDN, LD on my plant chat this week! As a dietitian for over 30 years who cares deeply about the taste of food, Judith “Judes” Scharman Draughon provides the newest scientific nutrition information in a nutshell and shows concrete, simple and savory solutions to help busy people and their families live healthier. She empowers many through her workshops, seminars and speaking engagements. Judith is author of Lean Body, Smart Life: 12-Fix Plan to a Leaner, Healthier, Happier Life and former instructor of nutrition and healthy cooking at Loretta Paganini’s International Culinary Arts & Science Institute. Continue reading to learn more about Judes’ latest book, nutrition philosophy, and favorite cooking techniques.
Tell us about your personal journey in the food and nutrition world.
I’ve been interested in nutrition since my junior high track days when I realized what I ate helped me perform better. When I went to college, I chose the most challenging nutrition degree available. I majored in medical dietetics which allowed me to become a registered dietitian. I went on to get a masters of science in health education and work as a clinical outpatient dietitian in Connecticut. Many adventures both personally and professionally followed but twenty-five years later, I started a private practice where I spent much of my time doing wellness speaking and helping CEOs eat healthy while juggling their crazy schedules.
What was the inspiration behind your book?
With so much nutrition information out there and so many choices, it’s hard for people to know which changes to make that will have the biggest impact on their health and weight. I was working with various clients and presenting to employees of different companies in Cleveland. I knew there was a limit of how much energy they would put into it and how much attention they would give me. Consequently, I spent a lot of time and energy researching the most important, most impactful changes people could make. I wanted to help people feel better as they enjoyed delicious food.
What is your personal nutrition and wellness philosophy?
Small is big; less is more. The small things we do each day add up to our big picture of health over time. Instead of having an all-or-nothing mindset, one can benefit from doing less exercise and have fewer food restrictions but do them most of the time rather than “all on” or “all off.” Sustainable habits are the name of the game, but aim to do them most of the time, not necessarily 100% of the time.
For instance, when I make a goal I have A, B, C and D scenarios to accommodate my schedule and my frame of mind and motivation. I can almost always get myself to run around the block but may have a hard time running five miles every day. The ironic thing is that once you run around the block, you are more likely to go a little more. Over time it becomes really easy to run around the block and plan D becomes a piece a cake. Maybe you don’t run five miles as often, but you end up running longer distances more frequently. If it’s sustainable, then you are more likely to do most of the time, the rest of your life. Ironically, just doing plan D of anything most of the time helps you make other healthy choices more often.
It’s crazy but true. Small things help us make big progress, and less is more in the long run!
Why do you think people struggle so much to eat healthfully?
People don’t realize how much better they could feel, how delicious it can taste, and how to prepare healthy food fast. In the end, we all need a few healthy meal ideas to make in our arsenal, so when we are tired and rushed, we can come up with something nourishing and healthy.
What are some of your best tips to help people find their way to a healthy, delicious lifestyle?
Lose the all or nothing mentality, so you don’t have to feel like you failed if you don’t stick to it 100% of the time. Making a change most of the time can make a significant difference to your health. Changes don’t have to be 100% of the time to be effective, yet somehow we feel that when we’re not doing them 100% of the time then that translates into FAILURE.
Also, learn how to stop eating when you are a little full so you can enjoy the rest of your food later when you are more hungry. Mindful eating helps us eat slower, enjoy the food more, and allows us time to identify our fullness level. Chew your food until it’s liquid rather than chewing a couple of times and swallowing. Most people don’t chew their food all the way before it slides down their throat. Notice if you are chewing your food thoroughly the next time you eat.
Be sure to eat lots of fruits, vegetable, nuts, beans, lentils and dried peas to take advantage of the powerful nutrients that help us stay healthy.
What are your best suggestions to encourage people to eat more whole plant foods?
When we eat food while doing other things, we end up ingesting more than we would have had we only focused on eating. This works against us if we’re snacking on potato chips or other junk food. If we’re eating vegetables, this can actually be to our benefit, however. This is especially true if junk food is out-of-sight and unavailable.
It’s like magic: if we cut it up and set it on a plate, someone will eat it. We can do this for ourselves. Spend a minute or two chopping up a vegetable that you wouldn’t normally snack on. Then put it next to you while you’re browsing the web. That vegetable will disappear. Magic.
The trick works for other people, too. Just set a plate of cut-up fruits and vegetables near them while they’re doing other things. Just in case they get hungry. Again, those fruits and vegetables will magically disappear.
When I buy pears and leave them washed on the counter, no one eats them. But if I take ten seconds to cut a pear with an apple cutter and set the slices next to my kids, then voilà: the contents of the plate magically disappear. Kids will devour the fruits and vegetables without realizing it, just because they’re there. Not only that, but after a while they start to get used to them. They realize that those pears are actually delicious. And once in a while, who knows? We might even see them grabbing one from the fruit bowl or refrigerator.
Pre-meal vegetable platter. When kids (both big and small) complain that they’re hungry, don’t let them make a beeline for the pantry. Tell them that they can eat any of the vegetables on the table, but that’s it. Be consistent. It’s either the vegetables or nothing. They make the choice, so it’s not a power struggle. They choose to eat their vegetables. This is an opportunity to put new foods to try out as well. People are a lot more likely to try new things when they’re at their hungriest and when they don’t feel like they’re being forced to eat them. It’s a good rule for adults too.
This doesn’t mean we have to put a lot of extra time and effort into cutting things up. We can buy vegetables that are already cut, or vegetables that don’t need much cutting. Sugar snap peas, baby carrots, and grape tomatoes pour right onto the plate. Cucumbers and red peppers are quick and easy to cut. Whatever we choose, I recommend having more than one type of vegetable out there so that people have more choices and more exposure. Hummus or salad dressing may be nice for encouragement at first, but as time goes on and eating vegetables becomes a habit, we can skip the dressing altogether, and the veggies will still get eaten. As previously mentioned, this is a great chance to introduce new vegetables without pressuring someone to eat them. Routinely add an unfamiliar vegetable to the mix without mentioning it. It might be surprising what gets eaten.
Serve vegetables first at mealtimes. Serving veggies before main meal dishes can make a huge difference to your family’s vegetable intake. If you serve vegetables first at mealtimes, people will eat more of them. Why? Because they’re hungrier at the start of the meal than they are at the end of it. Don’t put anything on the table to compete with the vegetable. The salad or the broccoli should go out first and alone. Add the other food only after the vegetable is gone.
What are 5 plant foods you can’t live without?
Nuts – I love the crunch, protein and healthy fats for more satisfaction. I love salad and roasted vegetables with a passion. I adore hummus with pomegranate seeds.
Please share a few easy cooking tips that people might not know about?
Use avocado and a little white balsamic vinegar instead of mayo in egg salad.
Raw cashews can make a great dressing to replace creamy dressings.
Cook dried beans in a crockpot filled with water overnight on low. Add a part of a kumbo seaweed sheet to the water and then discard in the morning to get rid of the gas problem that typically goes hand-in-hand with beans. It works!
You’ve seen the rise of organic certification on food products, signifying that foods are produced under the USDA Organic rules, which restrict the types of chemical inputs farms can use to grow crops in hopes of better preserving the ecosystem. Now get ready for the next wave of food certification: Regenerative Organic Certified.
What’s the difference? Regenerative organic agriculture distinguishes a style of farming that goes beyond simply organic; it aims to actually improve the agricultural ecosystem. That means increased soil organic matter, improved animal welfare, and increased economic stability and fair practices for farm workers and communities. Studies have suggested that regenerative organic practices could help sequester 100% of the annual global C02 emissions right in the soil. Yes, soil is a powerful thing: teaming with life, it has the unique ability to recycle nitrogen and carbon and nourish plant life that provides food and shelter for all manner of organisms.
Spearheaded by the Rodale Institute, the development of the certification process is currently underway, with standards being set and a pilot program coming next. Several companies and organizations are helping create the certification, including Patagonia, Demeter, and Fair World Project. While it’s too soon to see the certification on labels, get ready to see this hot buzzword more and more in the coming months, as farmers and food companies embrace the new spirit of sustainability.
To learn more about Regenerative Organic Certification, visit Rodale Institute here.
Image: Regenerative Agriculture poster at the Patagonia booth at EcoFarm, Pacific Grove, California, January 2018, Sharon Palmer, RDN.
This Buddha bowl is inspired by tempeh—the traditional fermented Indonesian soy and grain cake. It’s filled to the brim with brown rice, crunchy radishes, baby kale, asparagus, mushrooms, and peppers. And topped with a tahini ginger dressing for bold flavor.
To make Sesame Roasted Tempeh, cube tempeh, and marinate in soy sauce, sesame oil, sriracha sauce, agave syrup, garlic, and ginger for at least one hour before roasting in oven.
Arrange ingredients in a large, individual-sized serving bowl.
Drizzle with Tahini Ginger Dressing.
Sprinkle with sesame seeds and enjoy!
Yields 4 servings
Sesame Tempeh Buddha Bowl (Vegan)
Sesame Roasted Tempeh:
1 8-ounce package plain tempeh, cubed
2 tablespoons soy sauce, reduced sodium
1 tablespoon sesame oil
½ teaspoon sriracha sauce
½ teaspoon agave syrup
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
Tahini Ginger Dressing:
2 tablespoons tahini
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce, reduced sodium
½ teaspoon agave syrup
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
2 cups baby kale
8 radishes, thinly sliced
2 cups cooked brown rice, short grain
2 cups fresh asparagus, blanched* (may use frozen, thawed)
2 cups sliced red bell peppers
1 cup fresh, sliced mushrooms (i.e., enoki, brown, or white)
4 teaspoons sesame seeds
To make Sesame Roasted Tempeh: Place cubed tempeh in a medium dish.
Add soy sauce, sesame oil, sriracha sauce, agave syrup, garlic, and ginger. Stir well, cover, and marinate in refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Preheat oven to 400 F. Place tempeh on a baking sheet, spreading out evenly. Place in top rack of oven and roast for 15-30 minutes, until golden and crisp on outside. Remove from oven.
To make Tahini Ginger Dressing: Mix together all ingredients until smooth and creamy.
To make Buddha Bowls: In four large individual-sized serving bowls, arrange each with ½ cup baby kale, 2 sliced radishes, ½ cup brown rice, ½ cup asparagus, ½ cup sliced red bell peppers, ¼ cup mushrooms, and 2 ounces sesame roasted tempeh. Drizzle each bowl with 2 tablespoons of the tahini ginger dressing. Garnish each with 1 teaspoon of sesame seeds.
*To blanch asparagus, place fresh asparagus in boiling water for 3 minutes, remove from water and drain immediately.
*Nutrition information per serving: 376 calories, 17 g total fat, 3.5 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 456 mg sodium, 44 g carbohydrate, 6 g fiber, 4 g sugar, 19 g protein
Nothing spells comfort like the combination of spicy cinnamon and sweet apples! One of the healthiest, fruit-centric desserts you can whip up is a baked apple crumble, with a thick layer of juicy apples and a crunchy whole grain topping. Every delicious bite is packed with fiber and nutrients.
Yields 8 (1/2-cup servings)
Cinnamon Apple Crumble (Vegan)
5 medium apples (5 ounces each), peeled, cored, sliced
½ cup orange juice
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/3 cup quinoa flour*
¼ cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 tablespoons soft dairy-free margarine spread
Preheat oven to 375 F.
To make filling: Toss apple slices, orange juice and cinnamon together and arrange in a 10-inch pie dish.
To make crumb topping: Stir oats, flour, walnuts, cinnamon and brown sugar together. Mix in margarine spread with a fork to make a crumbly dough. Sprinkle crumb topping over apple filling.
Place dish in oven and bake for about 1 hour, until topping is golden brown and apples are tender yet firm.
Remove from oven and serve while warm.
*May substitute a different type of whole grain flour, such as whole wheat (contains gluten), sorghum, or millet flour.
*Nutrition Information per Serving: 137 calories, 4 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 35 mg sodium, 26 g carbohydrate, 13 g, sugar, 4 g fiber, 2 g protein
Scientific support is growing for the benefits of a vegan diet on diabetes, for prevention and even treatment. It makes sense that a diet rich in fiber, healthy fats, and antioxidants would help prevent and manage this serious condition. And in a new study researchers used a cohort of 75 overweight or obese adults without diabetes history, ages 25 to 75, and found increases in insulin secretion after eating and improvements in insulin sensitivity among those who followed a low-fat vegan diet for 16 weeks, compared with the control group. The findings in the journal Nutrients showed that the low-fat vegan diet group also experienced reduced blood glucose levels during meals and while fasting and a significant reduction in body mass index, which suggests that a vegan diet could help prevent type 2 diabetes, researchers said.
It was so exciting to stop by the Daiya Foods booth at Natural Products Expo West and check out all of the great new foods on display. I am a huge fan of this tasty, inventive, plant-based foods company, and you will always find at least one Daiya product in my fridge. Take a peek at the products I sampled over the weekend.
Listen in on my Facebook video at the Daiya booth live from Expo West.
Come on down to Daiya Foods at #Expowest. Loving all of the new #plantbased foods to try: burritos, pizza, duets, frozen bars, cheez sticks—all 100% plant based. #client
It was great to taste the first bite of this pizza, right out of those smoking pizza grills. This is the first-ever plant-based meat lover’s pizza, made with meatless sausage and pepperoni, Daiya’s melty shredded cheeze, and a zesty sauce—all on an artisanal gluten-free crust. This pizza is entirely plant-based and free of dairy, gluten and soy.
Tasting Daiya Foods pizza in the booth
Daiya Yogurt Duets
I just love these new Daiya Duets, which offer a wonderful combination of creamy and crunchy, with toppings of crisp nuts and fruits, with smooth yogurts. Each provides 5-6 grams of plant-based protein per serving. These Duets come in a variety of flavors, such as Chocolate Coconut, Key Lime Crumble, Cranberry Harvest, and Salted Caramel Crunch (my favorite!).
Daiya Savory Burritos
These easy, convenient savory burritos are the quintessential plant-based comfort food, with a powerful nutrition kick, as each packs 7-12 grams of protein to your meal or smack. Daiya Burritos are free of dairy, gluten and soy and come in four varieties: Tex-Mex, Tuscan, Santa Fe, and Santiago.
Daiya Frozen Dessert Bars
Everybody needs a sweet touch now and again, such as these light and delicious non-dairy frozen dessert bars. I tried this Classic Vanilla Bean flavor and loved it!
Tasting Daiya Frozen Dessert Bars at Expo West
Daiya Foods Cheeze Sticks
I just love these new Mozzarella and Cheddar dairy-free, plant-based cheese sticks, which come individually wrapped and 6 per package. Perfect for vegan cheese platters, lunchboxes, snacks, and on-the-go eating.
Of course, my favorite all-time product from Daiya is the non-dairy “cheeze” shreds. I use these babies on everything, from pizza and casseroles to tacos and salads. They really do melt, and are such a handy item for your plant-based kitchen, coming in a variety of flavors. My favorite is the Mozzarella Style Shreds.
Just a reminder that anytime is deliciously plant-based!
Check out Daiya Foods for more suggestions on how to use these products in a healthful, delicious, plant-based lifestyle.