INGRID FAN Special to The Standard
Plant-based eating has become very popular. A plant-based eater consumes mostly foods that come from plants, including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and legumes including lentils, dried beans and peas. Some people choose to eat strictly a plant-based diet, but others may choose to also include animal foods like poultry, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products. However, these animal foods will typically only make up a small portion of the overall diet.
Why go meatless or restrict animal foods? Plant-based eating has been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer, and can be helpful in maintaining a healthy weight. Eating more plant-based foods can also help the environment! Animal agriculture is a significant contributor to global warming and environmental damage, so reducing the demand for meat production can help reduce our carbon footprint.
You can meet all your nutrient needs by eating a plant-based diet, as long as it is properly planned.
When you are ready to add plant power to your next party, try including some of these ideas:
Vegetarian burgers. It is so important to include a protein source at every meal. When eating plant-based, protein should come from plant foods like nuts, seeds and legumes. So turn those beef burgers into black bean burgers instead! Find a recipe, or grab a prepared option at the store. You can also experiment with other meat substitutes, including tofu and texturized vegetable protein (TVP).
Veggie skewers. Much more than meat can be grilled on the barbeque. Try layering chunks of colourful veggies like onion, peppers, mushrooms and zucchini on a skewer for an easy side dish. Vegetables cook quickly on the grill, and do not need any marinade to make them taste delicious.
Grill your fruit. If you have never cooked fruit on the barbeque, you are missing out! The grilling process caramelizes the sugar in fruit, creating a decadent dessert that is rich in good nutrition. It’s easy to find locally-grown produce in your local grocery stores or at Farmer’s Markets, plus it’s a great way to keep your carbon footprint small support local farmers.
Bean-based sides. Take advantage of a variety of bean dishes at your next gathering. Blend them up into a hummus dip for veggies, add them as a layer to your nacho dip, or use them as a main in a six-bean salad.
Salads are also a great dish to serve with grilled meats. A cool and refreshing summer salad can become the main attraction of your meal! If you are new to plant-based eating, give this recipe featuring grilled chicken with a corn and black bean salad a try. Brushing the smoky-sweet barbecue sauce on near the end of cooking ensures it doesn’t burn on the grill and gives the chicken a nice glossy sheen. Sprinkle with sprigs of fresh cilantro and serve with plenty of lime wedges for squeezing over top.
For more recipe ideas, or to book a free consultation or grocery store tour, visit Ingrid at the local Zehrs Uxbridge or call 905-904-0190 or email her at: Ingrid.Fan@loblaw.ca for more information! She offers complimentary services, such as personalized counseling for individuals, couples, or families with specific conditions or needs, grocery-store tours for groups of all ages, meal-planning/recipe makeovers, educational cooking classes/workshops, and much more.
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