If you are not already eating a plant-based diet, make the transition easily and conveniently with the help of the tips and recipes that follow. Everyone makes changes at a different pace. The secret is to do it gradually but consistently, adding a new food to your diet each day rather than changing every meal. Share ideas with others who are eating healthy. Take a cooking class. Borrow cookbooks from the library or look up vegetarian recipes on the Internet: there are thousands from which to choose. Afraid to try something new by yourself?
Experiment with recipes with a friend or ask your kids to help you. Look at your new eating style as an adventure.
Begin by reducing the amount of meat, poultry, and dairy products you eat each day. For example, if you usually have cereal with milk for breakfast, use soy or rice milk on your cereal. For lunch, don’t pass up hot dogs or burgers—make a soy dog or a veggie burger. If you want chicken for dinner, have half the amount you usually eat, and add another vegetable or grain to your menu. Next time, eliminate the chicken and replace it with pasta with olive oil and herbs, or maybe a protein-rich chili with TVP.
Shopping for Nutritious Food
The great variety of soy- and vegetable-based meat and dairy substitutes available in mainstream supermarkets is making it easy to adopt a healthy diet. If you want something they don’t carry, ask the manager. Demand will create supply. When you go to the market, remember these guidelines:
● The simpler the better: avoid processed, packaged foods loaded with chemical additives. Read the labels.
Substitutes for Caffeine and Sugar Products
If you are a coffee (or tea or cola) drinker and you want to reduce or eliminate your consumption, there are several ways to make the transition easier. Some people experience caffeine-withdrawal headache when they cut down or quit caffeine intake. To help avoid this reaction, mix half regular and half decaffeinated coffee for a few days and gradually make the switch. Try a natural coffee alternative, such as Pero Coffee Substitute, Postum, and Yerba Mate. Take a similar approach for tea and colas: gradually introduce decaffeinated brands and phase out the caffeinated versions. Herbal teas are an excellent substitute for regular tea, and sparkling waters, flavored and plain, are good alternatives to colas and other sodas.
Most of us ignore the recommendation to limit sweets to once or twice a week. But there is a safe, natural alternative to sugar: stevia. This herb has been used around the world for centuries, but particularly in South America, Japan, China, and Korea. Depending on the form used (concentrate, dried, pow-der), it is up to 300 times sweeter than cane sugar. If you’re weight conscious, it’s good to know that stevia is virtually calorie-free.
You can satisfy your sweet tooth in other ways as well. Honey and maple syrup in small amounts, as well as fruit, help curb the desire for sugar. The following methods also work:
● Eat bitter foods, such as escarole, endive, dandelion, arugula, and broccoli rabe.
● Eliminate coffee. Caffeine increases your desire for sug-ary foods.
● Reduce the amount of carbohydrates in the form of breads and pasta, which will help reduce your desire for
● Exercise. It helps reduce cravings for sweets.
Easy Food Preparation Tips
When you get home with your groceries, you’re almost ready to cook. The menus and recipes that follow will get you started on the road to better eating. Keep these suggestions in mind:
● Invest in a slow cooker or Crock-Pot. These appliances make preparing grains, beans, rice, soups, chili, and other one-pot meals very easy and time-saving.
● Keep your meals simple, especially while this type of eating is new to you. Plan one basic entree and add other simple foods to complement it. A black bean and barley casserole, for example, can be accompanied by a tossed organic greens salad and whole-grain bread. Steamed broccoli with walnuts goes well with a hearty corn chowder, and every-one loves a baked potato topped with salsa alongside a veggie burger on a whole-wheat bun.
● When preparing basic foods, such as brown rice or lentils, make large portions and freeze the leftovers in meal-size containers. Do the same for one-pot meals such as chili, soups, and stews.
● Be willing to try new things and experiment. Take an old favorite and make it healthy. For example, eliminate the beef from a chili recipe and add TVP instead.
● If you’re short on time, try whole-grain pita pockets for quick lunches and snacks. Simply stuff leftovers, vegetables, dips, or sliced or mashed fruit into a pita and you’re ready to go.