This is a big month for Ordinary Vegan. March is nutrition month and I leave at the end of the week for the Holistic Vegan cruise.
If any of you are joining us and just starting out on a vegan diet, I am offering consultations on the voyage. You can sign up here. The vegan power plate is one of the tools I will be handing out on the cruise. The vegan power plate is designed to offer an easy to understand look at healthy eating on a plant-based diet.
There are five main food groups essential for a healthy vegan lifestyle. These five superfood groups provide all the protein and nutrients your body needs.
When in doubt about what to eat just evenly divide your plate into the four food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes. Then add a small portion of healthy fat like nuts, seeds or avocado on top.
You can use this vegan power plate to create soups, stews, pasta, salads or a simple plate of food like above. Your daily calorie intake depends on many factors. You should factor in your age, sex, height, weight, and level of exercise. I recommend eating 2 cups of fruit and at least 4 cups of raw vegetables (2 cups cooked), 2 1/2 cups of whole grains and 1 cup or more of cooked legumes per day.
Remember on a plant-based diet you can fill your plate with as many vegetables as you want. Healthy fats like nuts, seeds, avocados and healthy oil should be approximately 10% of your calories.
Also, I always recommend talking to your doctor and taking a blood test before you embark on a full-time plant-based diet. After a few months, take another blood test to compare the results. I am sure you will be amazed at the improvements in your weight, cholesterol and blood pressure.
I hope this vegan power plate empowers you to make healthier food choices for you and your family full or part-time. Here is a closer look at the health benefits of the five food groups.
Most fruits are naturally low in fat, sodium and calories and none contains cholesterol. Fruits also comprise of many essential nutrients including vitamin C, folate, potassium and dietary fiber. These nutrients are essential for overall health. Studies have shown that eating a diet rich in fruits reduces the risk of heart disease, certain types of cancer, type-2 diabetes, and obesity.
Vegetables, like fruit, are low in fat and calories. Plants never contain cholesterol. Vegetables are important sources of nutrients including folate, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C and dietary fiber. Eating a diet rich in vegetables will reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, certain types of cancer and type-2 diabetes.
Beans, peas, kidney beans, black beans, chickpeas, and lentils are excellent sources of plant protein. Consuming legumes is recommended for everyone because they are an excellent source of fiber, folate, potassium, iron and zinc. These nutrients are often low in the standard American diet so consuming legumes is recommended for everyone to maintain health and wellness.
Grains are divided into two groups, whole grains, and refined grains. Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel like bran and germ. Whole grains include whole-wheat flour, bulgur, oatmeal, cornmeal, and brown rice. Refined grains have been milled, a process that removes the bran and germ. It also removes dietary fiber, iron, and many vitamins. Examples of refined grains are white flour, white bread, and white rice. I always recommend eating whole grains versus refined grains.
Learning about fats can be confusing. Saturated fats are unhealthy and found in red meat, butter, oil, and cheese. Saturated fats can cause heart disease, obesity, and certain cancers. Monounsaturated fats are healthy fats and can help lower cholesterol and improve heart health. Monounsaturated fats are found in avocados, nuts and seeds. Consuming monounsaturated fatty acids may help lower your risk of heart disease by improving your risk factors.
Nuts and seeds also provide a proper balance of omega-3 and omega-6 creating the perfect complete protein. Additional nutrients in nuts and seeds include magnesium, fiber, potassium and Vitamin B6. Magnesium and potassium help prevent osteoporosis, heart disease and may reduce your risk of type-2 diabetes. Vitamin B6 is essential for a healthy brain and can decrease the likelihood of dementia. Avocados are very high in omega-3 fats (food fat) and have a high percentage of protein.
Although these healthy fats are good for you, they are also high in calories. I recommend you keep your healthy fats to approximately 10% of your calories especially if you are trying to lose weight.
Always remember, a plant-based diet is your #1 defense against disease. When in doubt about what to eat, follow this vegan power plate and you can't go wrong. If you are just starting out and need additional help, please visit our “Getting Started” page. You can also sign up here for all our free recipes. Learn more about plant-based nutrition by listening to the Ordinary Vegan podcasts here or on iTunes.
Wishing you a compassionate and peaceful week.