Pass the plants, please

Tips to adapt to a plant-based diet

Diet fads have come and gone, but one of the biggest trends in recent years — a plant-based diet — is much less a craze and more a desire for real, honest food.

Cayman-based holistic nutrition educator Andrea Hill says there are several reasons for this shift.

“For one, there is a greater emphasis on the quality of the food we eat today, more than ever before,” she says.

“Having transparency in food production has become important to consumers, and the days of buying a food package solely based on a flashy health claim are on their way out.

“In other words, people are now more concerned in knowing where their food comes from, how it was grown, raised, and treated,” she says.

Supermarkets and restaurants in Cayman are responding by offering more plant-based and vegan options, with some dedicating shelf space to these products.

For those interested in exploring a plant-based diet in 2020, Hill offers these tips:

Eat a lot more veggies

Fill half your plate at lunch and dinner with dark leafy greens and colourful vegetables.

Limit meat

Have smaller amounts. Think of it as a condiment or side dish versus the main feature of the meal.

Add good fats

They provide that feeling of being satisfied after a meal. Extra-virgin olive oil, olives, nuts, seeds, nut/seed butters, and avocadoes are particularly healthy fat choices.

Cook a vegetarian or vegan meal at least once a week

If you’re already doing this, increase the frequency.

Get enough protein

Top plant-based protein food sources include black beans, spirulina, hemp seeds, chia seeds, almonds, lentils, and chickpeas. Honourable mention: plant-based protein powders and nutritional yeast.

Meal plan ideas

Simone Sheehan, a dietician at the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority, offers these handy meal suggestions
for those looking to incorporate plant-based eating into their lifestyle.

Breakfast:

Rolled oats with walnuts, banana, and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Breakfast wrap: Fill a whole-wheat tortilla with scrambled egg, black beans, peppers, onions, Monterey jack cheese, and a splash of hot sauce or salsa.

Whole-wheat English muffin topped with fresh tomato and avocado slices, and blueberries.

Lunch:

Greek salad: Chopped mixed greens with fresh tomato, Kalamata olives, fresh parsley, crumbled feta cheese, extra virgin olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.

Whole-wheat pita on the side, fresh melon for dessert.

Tomato basil soup, whole-grain crackers with tabbouleh, and an apple.

Vegetarian pizza topped with mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, broccoli, onions, peppers, and mushroom. Fresh strawberries for dessert.

Dinner:

Grilled vegetable kebabs with grilled tofu, and a quinoa and spinach salad.

Whole-wheat pasta with cannellini beans and peas, and a romaine salad with cherry tomatoes, dressed with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Vegetarian chili with a spinach-orzo salad.

What is a plant-based diet?

A plant-based diet focuses on vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fruits, nuts, seeds and unsaturated oils. It includes modest amounts of fish and other seafood, poultry, dairy products (such as eggs or cheese) and very small, occasional amounts of lean red meat.

Did you know?

The number of new US food and drink products that mentioned ‘plant-based’ grew 268% between 2012 and 2018, according to consumer research company Mintel.

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