Remember this line from Bambi: “Eating greens is a special treat, it gives long ears and great big feet.” Well, I don’t want the long ears and great big feet but I am eating more greens these days so we’ll see what happens . . .
I think I lived on crackers and cheese as a child. And cheese pizza. And pasta with cheese. And bread with cheese . . . See a theme here?
I remember hearing about the gluten free diet years ago and thinking people were nuts to willingly give up all the gluteny goodness. Then, six years ago, my husband was diagnosed with Celiac disease. As he completely eliminated gluten my gluten consumption went way down.
A couple of years after that I realized dairy was affecting me negatively.
My main staples as a child were no longer able to be my main staples, hence the move towards eating more plants.
Whether you are moving towards a more plant based diet for health reasons or just want to add more veggies into your regular diet I hope these tips will help you.
12 TIPS FOR ADDING MORE PLANTS INTO YOUR DIET
FIND SOME GOOD COOKBOOKS
One of the first things I did was request (almost) all the cookbooks from my library. Because of our dietary restrictions I actually found that vegan cookbooks were the most helpful. After looking through so many cookbooks I can tell you there is quite the range in vegan cooking! There are the “fancier” cookbooks made from 90% of ingredients I have never heard of, there are vegan cookbooks that are trying to be regular cookbooks by adding in a bunch of fake meat in the recipes and then there are the good vegan cookbooks. Personally, my favorites so far are: The Oh She Glows Cookbook, But My Family Would Never Eat Vegan, Minimalist Baker’s Everyday Cooking, Salad Days (not vegan but plant based) and N’ice Cream.
PLAN YOUR MEALS AND SNACKS
I always eat healthier when I have an idea of what I am going to be eating/making. If I start looking for a snack or something to make for dinner when I’m already hungry it will end up being something quick and definitely less healthy than if I have a plan.
PLANT A GARDEN
There is just something awesome about being able to pick fruits and veggies from your own garden. I find myself and my kids more willing to try things we’ve grown ourselves. Plus it can make some of those more expensive fruits a little more affordable than buying organic ones from the store.
SUBSTITUTE BEANS OR LENTILS FOR MEAT
Swapping beans or lentils for meat is often a good idea, though I am biased because I don’t really like meat. If the idea of this is too drastic for you you could slowly increase the beans or lentils in a dish while decreasing the meat until you are entirely meatless.
TRY NEW FOODS
Every time we go buy groceries we let the kids pick one or two new foods, or something we’ve maybe tried before but haven’t had for awhile. The grocery store we go to has quite a few ethnic foods from different countries and we’ve been able to discover a number of foods that they either like or are on the fence about and are willing to eat a little bit of. This isn’t just for the kids, this is for me too. It wasn’t until I moved out from my parent’s house at the age of 18 that I found out I like broccoli, because I finally tried it for the first time. Who knows what kind of food is out there that you may like!
CHOP & HIDE THEM
I know a lot of my plant food aversions have to do with texture issues so I find for me if I chop things really fine so they can hide in my food it helps. My method is to generally start with chopping veggies really small until I get used to the flavor and then gradually increasing the size. I find this works so well for my kids as well.
Finding ways to hide veggies and beans in my food has been a bit of a game for me. One of my favorite ways to do this is by mashing cauliflower right in with my mashed potatoes. Because it is the same color and there is hardly any cauliflower taste most people would never guess they are in there and yet you are sneaking in a lot of vitamin C, omega 3’s and other good vitamins and minerals as well.
Other favorite food to hide in dishes is zucchini I will put it in my fruit crisp, pasta sauce and other dishes!
HAVE THEM AVAILABLE AND READY TO EAT
I guess I should have started with this, but in order to increase your plant intake make sure you have your kitchen stocked! You’ll eat even more plants if you have them washed and chopped and ready to grab for a quick snack.
If you are eating more plants you’ll probably feel hungry often because they don’t stay in your system for a long time, just plan to have healthy snacks throughout the day and you’ll be set.
I find smoothies are a great place to hide extra fruits and veggies to bump up my intake each day. If you use a blender a lot like I do, you’ll want to make sure you have a decent blender. I have this one.
Start by adding just one plant based item to each meal. Don’t try to go on a complete plant diet in one swoop, just slowly add more in over time.
One thing I haven’t gotten into yet is juicing. I would like to, but it can get pricing juicing fruits and vegetables, plus then you don’t get the fiber from the pulp. That being said, I’ve requested this juicing book from my library and it may convince me to give it a try. I don’t have an actual juicer so I would just be using my blender and a nut milk bag.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
Your meals and snacks do no need to be complicated, personally I prefer most veggies raw and plain, it makes for quick snacks or a side to dinner. A lot of days for lunch my plate will just be raw fruits and veggies with some nuts. Easy peasy as my kids like to say.
Do you have any additional tips for adding more plants into your diet?
I’d love to hear them!