Healthy Diet Makeover, Phase Two: Kitchen Groove!

chopped veggies in a crock potLeaning Veg

If you’re hoping to get in touch with your inner vegetarian, or to simply incorporate more veggie dishes into your menu, two easy tricks can make transitioning to a plant-only (or plant-mostly) diet much easier than you might expect.

First, seek out healthy fats: going from a standard American diet to a veg-centric plate can cut a huge percentage of the fat from your menu. That’s a good thing! However, cutting fat suddenly and drastically can leave you feeling hungry and unsatisfied. To avoid craving unhealthy fatty foods, be sure to incorporate some healthier fats like avocados, olive oil, sesame oil, walnuts, almonds, cashews, and sunflower seeds into your meals.

If you’re aiming for a more plant-rich food life, make it your mission to try new things! The key to satisfying veggie fare is crowding the animal products off your plate with other delicious foods — not simply removing the meat from your current diet. There’s a world of plant-based ingredients that many omnivores have never explored: quinoa, jicama, kale, tempeh, seitan, cashew cheez, nooch, edamame, miso… the list is long and delicious!

Even if you don’t plan to eliminate animal based foods from your diet entirely, veg staples often create tasty and satisfying meals that are cheaper and healthier than their animal-derived counterparts. The very best way to get those old, unhealthy foods out of your diet is to get some better new ones into it: constantly seek out new veggie foods to try!

I’ll talk next week about sourcing any animal foods that you do decide to keep in your diet. For now, just work on incorporating more fruits, veggies, legumes, and whole grains. Meanwhile, keep reading about the health, environmental, and ethics issues related to food choices: you can’t make informed decisions about what to eat in the absence of information!

ย Goals for This Week

  1. Continue building your spice cabinet and pantry staples, emphasizing whole grains, dried or canned beans, spices, vinegars, marinades/ dressings (if you don’t want to make these from scratch), nuts, seeds, and produce. If you haven’t found a good farmers’ market or other source for fresh cheap produce, many frozen fruits and veggies taste fresher than canned versions.
  2. Buy a good cookbook, emphasizing simple recipes from unprocessed whole-food ingredients. Use online recipe resources to find and try out at least two simple recipes. Cook something in your crock pot.
  3. Make sure your fridge has plenty of quick-fix salad/sandwich and stir-fry ingredients, like spinach, cabbage, arrugula, onions, mushrooms,ย zucchini, carrots, canned beans, nuts, sunflower seeds, and avocados. Make pre-chopped veg mixes, for easy wing-it unrecipe menu options.
  4. Include healthy fats in your cooking, and try as many new foods and seasonings as you possibly can!

Perhaps most importantly,ย keep seekingย informationย about why food choices matter — stay motivated, and the battle against the unhealthy habits of the past is more than half-won!

Image credit: Creative Commons photos by stevendepolo, USDAgov, and Saucy Salad.

Next series installment: Healthy Diet Makeover Part 3: Out with the Old!

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