Tips & Tricks for a Plant-Based Summer
June 29, 2018
Tips & Tricks for a Plant-Based Summer
by Alyson Monaco
Summer has officially arrived and just as the seasons change, so do our dietary choices. Many people shift from hearty winter stews and start to crave fresh salads and smoothies. In fact, the number of people who are adopting plant-based diets, not just in the warmer months, is on the rise. This is no surprise after documentaries like “What the Health” sweep the nation. Plant-based diets boast an incredible amount of health benefits including increased energy, sharper focus, and glowing skin. While going completely vegan may seem extreme to some, we can take away some excellent tips from our vegan neighbors on how to enjoy a plant-based summer.
1) Keep an open mind.
Dietary changes are scary at first sight. You may be worried about finding sustainable food alternatives that you actually enjoy. Not just that, but it may seem like your nutritional option are significantly narrowed. This, however, is far from the truth. When exploring a new diet, it is important to keep an open mind and try as many new things as possible. Some may seem pretty unique and out of the box. Keep trying until you find foods that stick. Do your research and collect recipes that catch your eye. It may take some time, but sticking with your plant-based goal will inevitably lead you to foods you love.
2) Plan ahead and stock up.
Plant-based diets, especially vegan diets, require a good amount of pre-planning to be successful. We are used to fast-food or pantry snacks that are easily acquired on-the-go, but many of these choices are covered in cheese, or have hidden animal by-products from being overly-processed. It is important when focusing on being plant-based, that you plan your snacks and meals ahead of time. Stock up on veggies like broccoli, kale, cauliflower, mushrooms, beets, and sweet potatoes. When it comes to vegetables, the sky’s the limit! It is a great practice to visit your local farmer’s market each week to pick up fresh ingredients and do a little bit of meal prep. One of the great things about being plant-based is that your food will stay fresh longer, so meal prepping will be a breeze. Cut up some carrot sticks and make up some jar salads that are easy to grab-and-go. This way, you will never have to fall back on fast food.
3) Learn about meat alternatives.
Probably the hardest change to make on your journey is giving up meat but with so many great options available, this no longer has to feel like a sacrifice! , Try your hand at meat alternatives such as tofu, tempeh the insta-famous jackfruit or any of Beyond Meat’s delicious products like the Beyond Chicken Strips and Beefy Crumbles. Each of these alternates has the uncanny ability to take on any flavor you desire and are extremely versatile. Jackfruit even boasts a texture eerily similar to pulled pork. Love a burger at your BBQ? There are plenty of options at your local supermarket that will satisfy your craving and keep the party going like Beyond Meat’s revolutionary Beyond Burger. Meant to look, cook and taste just like a beef burger, this one is sold in the meat case and will even have your carnivore friends drooling. If you are hopping on the vegan train, luckily the experts have already made lists of appropriate swaps that are easy to implement including egg-less aioli and vegan friendly cheeses
4) It is not just all about the veggies.
That’s right! Many people hear “plant-based” and assume they will be eating nothing but lettuce. How wrong they are! In fact, surviving off of vegetables alone will not get you very far and it is necessary to also include whole grains such as quinoa or rice. Fruits are also an obvious addition, as well as nuts and nut butters for a good dose of protein. “Salad” sometimes gets a bad name, with some claiming they are still hungry after eating one. But start with some spinach, top it with quinoa and chickpeas, colorful veggies, avocado, and some sweet potato, and you have yourself a hearty meal any day of the week. It is hard to find ingredients like these that do not taste delicious when piled in a bowl.
5) Bake it Off!
If you worry you will get bored with bowls of veggies from day-to-day, try mixing it up and testing your baking skills. There are tons of recipes that are packed full of hidden fruits and vegetables that will make you forget you are even eating a hefty dose of vitamins. Treats like avocado chocolate mousse, banana and zucchini breads, or quick snack bites made from dates, not only taste amazing, but they will also satisfy that sweet tooth. Better yet, baking really lends itself to ingredient substitutes, so vegetarians and vegans alike have plenty of options without giving up those sweet favorites.
6) Know what is in your food and supplement when necessary.
Your body is used to a certain influx of vitamins and nutrients in any given day. During a major dietary change, this ratio is bound to shift, potentially leaving holes in a well-balanced diet. It is a common worry that things like protein, calcium, and other vitamins may fall by the wayside, so it is important to know which foods provide what. If you notice that you are lacking in a particular area, invest in quality supplements to make up for the deficiency and maintain your optimal health.
The benefits of going meatless this summer far outweigh the initial cravings. Set your fears aside and dive into the challenge. Whether you decide to go vegetarian or full-on vegan, plant-based diets are completely attainable if you have the right tools. All you need is a sense of adventure and the willingness to commit to the change. Remember, a little planning goes a long way, and after a short period of time, you will be thoroughly enjoying your new lifestyle!
About the author:
Alyson Monaco is a professional dancer by trade, performing, teaching, and choreographing out of her home base of New Jersey. A former dance major at the Boston Conservatory, her love of how the body moves lead her to become a Certified Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor through AFAA. She is currently pursuing her teaching certification in dance. Alyson loves working one on one with people of all ages and ability, and truly enjoys helping people find a better quality of life.
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