Tips for Eating More Plant Foods

Without a doubt, research tells us over and over again that those consuming more plant foods are the healthiest. A diet based on plant-foods has been shown to help prevent and reverse symptoms of type 2 diabetes and heart disease and prevent cancer. Plant foods that provide health benefits include vegetables, fruits, legumes (beans, peas, and lentils), and whole grains. We know we should eat more of these healthy foods, but how do we do it with our busy lifestyles? Below are some proven tips that you can start using today to get more plant foods into your diet.

  • Rely on frozen vegetables & fruit for convenience. They are as nutritious as fresh!
  • Add a handful of frozen blueberries, strawberries, or blackberries to your cereal.
  • Eat a high-fiber, whole grain cereal for breakfast. Chose a cereal with at least 6 grams of fiber per serving.
  • Try a hot cereal for breakfast for variety. Try oatmeal with some frozen berries stirred in.
  • Add sauté vegetables to your breakfast tofu scramble
  • Chose whole grain, high fiber breads. Chose bread with at least 3 grams of fiber per serving. Read labels: If you see the word “enriched” in the ingredient list, it’s not whole grain. Instead look for words such as “whole grain”, “stone ground”, “whole ground”, “whole wheat flour”, “whole oat flour”, and “whole rye flour”.
  • Have a glass (6 ounce serving size) of 100% fruit juice each day. This counts as one serving of fruit.
  • Keep small 6 ounce cans of low-sodium vegetable juice handy for a quick serving of vegetables.
  • Snack on baby carrots and humus, which gives you both vegetables and legumes (beans)!
  • Eat low-sodium bean or lentil soup for lunch. It’s quick, convenient, and it counts as a serving of beans and/or vegetables.
  • Regularly use canned beans. Rinse beans well (until water runs clear) and sprinkle them on salad to add protein and fiber to your meal.
  • Use whole grain pasta instead of plain, white pasta.
  • Make a homemade pizza crust with whole grain flour. Even wheat germ can be added in for a great texture and hearty taste.
  • On your next homemade pizza, substitute shredded carrots for 1/3 to 1/2 of the cheese. Most people say, “No way! This won’t taste good.” But even the most die-hard pizza lovers and vegetable “haters” tell me this tastes great and is an excellent way to squeeze in another vegetable serving!
  • For a tasty salad, steam several cups of frozen or fresh vegetables (cauliflower, carrots, broccoli, Brussels sprouts), until tender and crisp. Add 1/4 cup of low-fat salad (Italian) dressing. Mix well and refrigerate until chilled.
  • Improve the nutritional value of your family’s favorite main dish casserole by adding one cup of frozen mixed vegetables.  For example, try the veggie blend that includes cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots.
  • Stuff your favorite potato with healthy toppings such as stewed tomatoes, green and red peppers, onions, broccoli, and low-fat cheese. Try a sweet potato instead of a white potato and you get even more nutrition value!
  • Get acquainted with green leafys. Try adding a few leaves of kale, chard, mustard greens, collard greens, dandelion greens, or any other green leafy food to your regular salad.
  • Aim to have three-quarters of your plate covered by vegetables, fruit, whole grains and legumes.
  • Focus on variety in your plant foods. The more color you eat, the better. Try to eat all colors of plant foods including green, red, yellow, orange, purple, and white foods. Think leafy greens; red peppers and strawberries; squash and lemons; carrots, oranges and sweet potatoes; blueberries, purple cabbage, and eggplant; and cauliflower, garlic, and onions. The more color and variety, the better.

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